Calling Out a Supervisor. Advice?

I just moved and am settling back in to the frantic pace and physical work of a restaurant job. For all the flaws my previous job through AmeriCorps had (and there were many), if nothing else I could trust to work in an environment where I did not have to fear casual misogyny.

Tonight one of our chefs made a joke about gang rape. A few of the other male members of the kitchen staff laughed. When I asked the chef why he repeated a joke that wasn’t funny and he said he repeated it because it’s funny.

I spoke with him again about half an hour later when he was not busy and I told him, “Even joking, can you please not make rape jokes? That made me very uncomfortable.” He said, “Heard”, responding in standard restaurant protocol.

I don’t think he understood why his joke was grossly inappropriate. And I need to take responsibility for the fact that I approached the situation the wrong way. I statements only go so far. By framing my point as “the joke made me uncomfortable” I put the issue as focused on me. Meaning: he can make this type of joke again so long as I’m not able to hear him. Meaning: it was my perception and my filter; someone else might not take offense.

Me speaking to the chef twice didn’t resolve the issue. The issue is company culture and whether I feel safe and respected as a female employee. I cannot trust someone who finds gang rape something to joke about. But in restaurant hierarchy, he’s basically my immediate boss. I’m way at the bottom as a busser/serving assistant. And I’ve been at this job for not even a week.

I’m planning to send an email out to a manager or an HR staff member tomorrow about the situation. My ultimate hope is that instead of a punitive measure enacted on the chef, we can have some type of diversity training for the entire staff and a greater conversation on how we behave in the back of the house (where guests cannot see).

Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on how best to approach my email to management? I do not know what is the most professional way to handle the situation. I do not want to call out the chef and get him in trouble. I do not want to sit down with him and management to have a conversation because I believe the issue is broader than his joke and my reaction.

Has anyone had any success in calling out a supervisor or superior? Please let me know. I want to do this as professionally as possible to have the greatest impact on our restaurant’s culture. Thank you for your help!

Advertisements

Explaining Sexism to the Oblivious

I knew it was going to be a long conversation when a male co-worker, upon learning I graduated from a women’s college, asked me, “So you hate men?” I told him that it has nothing to do with hating men but with believing in equality and valuing myself and others no matter their gender or sexuality.

I’m busing tables in a restaurant. I’m not part of the waitstaff. I didn’t think I would need to deal with this much blatant and oblivious sexism immediately, especially not two days into the job. How I was that naive, I don’t think I’ll ever know.

everyday sexism

The man who asked me this question told me he never had to think about sexism before. He said, “I can’t really say much because I’m not a woman but in my mind men and women are equal.” If you did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. “Women might even be smarter than men. Men suck.” That’s an appeasement tactic. You’re throwing me a bone thinking that by praising women as greater I’ll believe you’re one of the nice men. The gentlemen who think holding the door for a woman means you’re not a misogynist. Try again, sir. Try again. “I just think that women only think men treat them differently. I think most men believe women are equal.” Tell that to the wage gap. 

“No.” let me say that again: NO. I told him that everything about our culture praises traditionally masculine qualities and devalues traditionally feminine qualities.

“Do you have an example to prove your point?”

The English language is inherently misogynistic. There are more ways to describe women than men and most of these terms are sexual and insults. The female equivalent to male terms always go the way of insults. For instance, a master is in command, but a mistress is a sexual being. Boys will be boys, but don’t hit like a girl/run like a girl/throw like a girl.

I laid out one or two examples as we stood in the back of the kitchen peeling potatoes. It was a moment of pressure because I was defending all women and all feminists. My answer would be the answer. I hated his smug white face as he nodded occasionally, but clearly didn’t believe me. He did not see sexism in the world because he never had to deal with it, only reap the benefits.

Just the fact that he needed proof is evidence enough that he valued my opinion less than a man’s. I had to defend myself. I had to explain sexism, knowing he wasn’t interested in anything more than being polite. I’d rather he wasn’t polite. I don’t want feminism to be tolerated and on the margins. Tolerance is far from acceptance.

I told him, “Feminism is more than just equal rights or thinking you treat women equally. You have to act on it. Feminism is active and you have to want it. You have to want to tear down the structure of male privilege.”

You have to seek out equality, not just ask about everyday examples of sexism too numerous to count. You have to want it more than anything else in the world.

and that I (gasp!) wanted to be there