I bus tables at a restaurant and a coworker today asked me if I was married. He’s older, in his thirties or forties and though I knew he wasn’t asking me out, I was deeply uncomfortable.
I told him no, I’m not married and he proceeds to tell me that he’s surprised because with my sweet personality he’s sure some nice guy will snatch me up soon. Bull shit. He thinks this a compliment but I went from being uncomfortable to being offended. I don’t want to be snatched up! I’m not some dessert made for someone’s pleasure. Who I am cannot be broken down into ‘sweet’ and if I am sweet it is not for the benefit of anyone else, regardless of sex or gender.
The worst part was he was trying to be nice! But questions like this are heteronormative. He assumed I was straight, assumed I wanted (and needed) a man in my life and assumed that I had the privilege of being able to get married if I so choose. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong again. I have ace friend who worked at a restaurant and she pretended to be a lesbian because it was more convenient for her than having to explain being ace. I don’t want to pretend to be anything. I am asexual and I don’t want to hide this fact, but I don’t know how to bring it up. It’s not my place to explain my sexuality to my coworker and I am not comfortable having that conversation at work, especially with an older man I barely know.
I feel gross and objectified. I’m not a person in his eyes because all I am is a sweet girl ripe for marriage. Is it so much to ask to be treated as a human being?
I pulled him aside and told him his comment made me uncomfortable. He asked why and I said because it was a personal question. This is true; it is a personal question. But more than that, it’s a loaded question. Even with the best intentions, asking someone questions about romantic or sexual relationships can make the other person feel threatened. I am immediately on edge if someone asks me if I have a boyfriend. Even the non gender specific question of “Are you dating anyone?” holds assumptions about my sexuality and I will inevitably disappoint with my answer.
Does anyone have advice on answering or diverting loaded questions? Any advice on how to watch your language so you don’t make someone else feel unsafe? I would appreciate the feedback. Thank you.