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A PSA for Well Meaning Coworkers This International Women's Day

thejessleigh profile image jess unrein ・2 min read

I usually try not to post twice in one day, but this is timely. My standup this morning started with the following exchange.

Dude: Oh, yeah, Carol is at that women's thing. Jess, why aren't you there? What do you have against women?
Me: Well, I'm not a woman.
(group laughter)
Me: Yeah. I'm nonbinary.
(group silence)
Dude 2: I.....didn't know.

Now, I'm not militant at work about enforcing correct pronoun usage, and I don't remind people that I'm nonbinary all the time. But I do have it in my public profile at work and on slack, and it stings when the people around me put in so little effort.

But even if I weren't nonbinary, there are a few pieces of advice I'd like to give.

1.) Don't ask women why they are or aren't participating in a woman focused event. Not all women focused events are safe for every woman, and not every woman wants to center her career on her gender. This is a rude and uncomfortable question.

2.) Don't ask women to explain why women-centric spaces are necessary, or why they're okay when a "men's group" would be given side-eye. That's a question you can google for, or you can reach out to group organizers in private if you have earnest follow up questions.

3.) Don't ask women or nonbinary people what they have against women or why they hate women, even in jest. Don't make jokes at your coworkers' expense that are designed to make them defensive or feel bad. That's a shitty way to be a coworker, an ally, or a friend.

This has been a public service announcement

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Posted on by:

thejessleigh profile

jess unrein

@thejessleigh

Pronouns: they/them | | | Pythonista, cat lover, avid reader, and gamer in Chicago. Tip jar: https://ko-fi.com/thejessleigh

Discussion

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"Don't ask women or nonbinary people what they have against women or why they hate women, even in jest" goddd this one kills me. Honestly: I don't know a single afab trans person who hasn't agonized over whether or not living the way that feels most comfortable and honest is just internalized misogyny, and it's excruciating to have that trotted out as a "funny" "joke".

 

Thank you for sharing. I'm an ally looking for more ways to be supportive, so advice like this is helpful. I hope I wouldn't make these mistakes myself, but now I'm more aware I can be mindful to watch our for others making them!

 

"1.) Don't ask women why they are or aren't participating in a woman focused event. Not all women focused events are safe for every woman, and not every woman wants to center her career on her gender. This is a rude and uncomfortable question." <-- this!! We shouldn't have to represent "our people" or whatever. We just wanna work. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today, the community is better for it.

 
 

I'm worried it might be a bit too salty, but this was a very irritating way to start my morning. I hadn't even had coffee yet. :\

 

Having lived with a non-binary partner for a decade... these are super clear and useful. Thank you!

And, I hear you about the extra and sometimes exhausting effort to educate and correct everyone around you especially in a non-aware culture.

 

thanks for writing this--i really needed to read this today <3