I Asked 27 Women About The Worst Thing A Man Has Ever Said To Them At Work, And To Say I'm Fuming Doesn't Truly Capture My Rage

·15 min read

Okay, so the stereotype goes that women are too emotional, and hence, men are the professional standard. However, has it ever occurred to anyone that, hypothetically, if women were "overly" emotional at work, it's because of all of the sexist bullshit they have to tolerate on a regular basis?

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Don't know what I'm driving at? Don't worry. We asked women of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the downright worst thing a man has ever said to them in their workplace and received more than 300 responses. Check out some for yourself, and let me know where you rank on the emotional scale after:

1."When I was 23, I was working as a cashier at a retail store. I had finished closing my till for the night, so I asked my 36-year-old manager what else I could do to help close the store. He answered, 'Don't worry. Just keep standing there and looking pretty, that's what you're good for.'"

—Anonymous, Toronto, 29

—Anonymous, Toronto, 29

Image Source / Getty Images/Image Source

2."'You're like a feisty, little chihuahua when you're angry.' This was said to me by my 38-year-old boss, the owner of the company I worked for at the time. It was not said as a joke."

"I was 33." —Anonymous, New Jersey, 36

3."Once, I was training a new hire on what services our agency provides. Instead of asking questions about what we do or anything related to the topic I was covering, he commented on how the title for that specific PowerPoint slide should 'really be centered' because it makes it look more professional and that I'd 'learn the ins and outs eventually.'"

—Anonymous, Pennsylvania, 30

4."I was actively having a miscarriage at work, and when I realized what was happening, I left to go to the emergency room. I only took one day off to process. Within the first hour of coming back to work, a man from my department walked by my desk and very loudly said, 'Nice of you to show up.' My jaw hit the floor. Most of the office knew, but even if he didn't, it was absolutely none of his business."

—Anonymous, Maine, 24

5."My graduate advisor (in chemistry) told me that I would never be a successful scientist in my field because I was short and a woman. He had a theory that all the great chemists in our area were tall men, which included himself."

—Anonymous, Louisiana, 34

6."As a Ph.D. scientist and the only woman in this technical meeting, I was asked by a visiting male customer to take his paper cup and refill it with water for him — like I was some kind of waitress."

—Anonymous, Louisiana, 34

—Anonymous, Louisiana, 34

Jacoblund / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7."I'm an industrial chemist working at a facility that houses a 75% male workforce. When I was 35, my direct manager, who was 50, told me to 'wear a beard' if I expected to be taken seriously by men in technical or engineering positions."

—Anonymous, Michigan, 50

8."When I was 22, I worked as a clerk at a county government office. At a gathering, my boss's boss, who was in his mid-40s, told me that I 'had a headlight out' — not referring to my car — in front of our entire office. I was mortified."

—Anonymous, Florida, 47

9."I was working as a claims adjuster for a major insurance company. After I delivered news of an adverse decision to a policyholder and explained the reasoning behind it, he told me that he disagreed with me, adding, 'This is the problem with your gender. You should be lying on your back and taking it instead of making decisions. 'Let me talk to your manager, and he better not be a woman, either.' My manager was male, but he absolutely backed my decision and told the policyholder to never call me again."

"He also told me I don't get paid enough to deal with assholes like that. He was correct." —Anonymous, North Carolina, 33

10."I'd recently returned to the office following my honeymoon, and I was pushing a trolley full of marketing materials back to the store room. A male senior manager held a door open for me, gestured to the trolley I was pushing, and asked if I was getting practice in for pushing a baby buggy now I was married. This was made worse by the fact that I privately knew I had fertility challenges and a hard road ahead. For a split second, I was going to let it go, smile politely, and move on. Instead, I said, 'Excuse me?!' He panicked, muttered a sorry, and fled."

"He's not looked me in the eye since." —Anonymous, United Kingdom, 36

11."At my last job, my 60-year-old coworker called the admin team his 'girls' — as in, 'I'll have one of my girls fax that over to you.' That lasted about a day with me before I cut that shit off. I got a call from someone needing him, so I said, 'Sure! I'll have my boy call you back!' while he was within his earshot. Of course, he came into my office all, 'How dare you!' but he never referred to us as 'girls' again."

<div><p>"At the time, I was 42." —Anonymous, Georgia</p></div><span> Eduleite / Getty Images</span>

"At the time, I was 42." —Anonymous, Georgia

Eduleite / Getty Images

12."I was interviewing for a managerial role with a colleague who had already been promoted to manager. During the interview, he asked me, 'How are you going to handle commuting an hour each way with two young children at home?' I answered his question with a question, 'Tell me, you have an hour commute each way and two young children at home. How do you handle it?'"

"We were both 35." —Anonymous, New Jersey, 64

13."During my interview, he said to me, in response to how old I was, 'So, you haven't been broken in yet.' I was 19, and he was in his 50s."

—Anonymous, Oklahoma, 20

14."'The only reason you even got hired is because the manager is getting divorced and wants to fuck you.' I was 25, married with a wedding ring on my finger, had a bachelor of science degree in computer science, and was a member of the dean's list and National Honor Society."

—Anonymous, Montana, 51

15."'That's a very interesting research idea. Did [male boss] assign that to you?' No, believe it or not, I came up with that idea with my own pretty little head."

"This guy was 65, and I was 45." —Anonymous, New York, 54

16."I was younger (26) and a much older man in his 60s told me that I shouldn't be at work, I should be at home having babies. As a woman with a wife who already has four kids, this was beyond unnecessary. I told him that I would fight him in the parking lot if he ever said something like that to me again."

—Anonymous, Virginia, 34

—Anonymous, Virginia, 34

Pastorscott / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17."Every time I would ask for clarification on a statement he made, he would loudly tell me, in front of others, 'not to get worked up' and to 'stop being over emotional.' He's 60 and does this to myself and other women in our company."

—Anonymous, New York, 38

18."The day my mother died, a coworker in his 50s followed me to my desk telling me to smile. A year later, I bought a house. That same coworker felt compelled to mansplain my new commute. Without him, I would've gotten lost and missed my weekly reminders to smile."

—Anonymous, Colorado, 44

19."While I was talking to him about the toxicity in our work environment and his responsibility to fix it, my boss/military commander said, 'We only have these problems because I just have a bunch of women working for me.' Later in a meeting with EO, I called him out on that statement. His response: 'I just regret that I confided in you about what I was struggling with.'"

"We were both 40 at the time." —Anonymous, New Mexico

20."I was in the Army at the time. I loved being a soldier, but as a mixed-race woman, I, unfortunately, had to deal with sexism, racism, and sexual harassment, and assault. However, one particular story comes to mind: I was speaking with another soldier, discussing our past education. I mentioned that I went to a private, college-prep high school and received a full scholarship for a four-year university, where I'd gotten my degree. An officer heard our conversation and, in extreme shock, loudly said, 'You went to college?! Seriously, YOU went to college?!' The soldier I was speaking to immediately picked up on how demeaning, condescending, and disrespectful that was — especially given how I was sick of the harassment during our deployment."

"I used to fire patriot missiles for God's sake! It felt as if everyone would tell me, on a daily basis, that I did not belong there. Luckily enough, I am quick-witted.

I looked at the officer with a straight face and replied, 'What is shocking about the fact I am college educated? Because I am Black or a woman? I know being outside the ghetto and kitchen is scary, but I have managed to find my way.' The look on that man's face was absolutely delicious!" —Anonymous, Texas, 34

21."I was a sales rep for a Fortune 1000 company. When I was 27, I was meeting with a male customer. He said that he was pressed for time and asked to continue our meeting over lunch. Prior to that, he was showing me pictures of his newborn son. At lunch, he told me that he does not consider this a business lunch but more social. I told him that I considered this to be a business lunch and proceeded to talk about my company's products and the benefits he would have from using the product. After we concluded our discussion, he wanted to know what was new and exciting in my life. I told him that I had gotten engaged over the weekend and was excited about my future. Rather than congratulate me, he said, 'Oh, that's too bad. I was hoping that we could get together.' Really?"

<div><p>"He was 45." —Anonymous, New Jersey, 64</p></div><span> Sanjeri / Getty Images</span>

"He was 45." —Anonymous, New Jersey, 64

Sanjeri / Getty Images

22."When I was 23 and in college, I worked a retail job. About a month after starting, a maintenance man introduced himself to me. He asked me a few questions about myself — nothing too crazy. A few days later, he told me that he had been thinking and would like to call me Elsie. I'm a very well-endowed woman, and Elsie is the name of Borden's (the milk company) mascot, which is a cow. Immediately, I was very offended and pissed, so I said, 'Did you seriously just ask me that?' He responded, 'What? You don't think that's cute? I think that's a cute nickname.' I went completely off on him and told him to never open his mouth to speak to me again."

"He did apologize and keep his distance for a while. In hindsight, I definitely should have reported him to HR. He regularly said horrendously offensive things, and it really became a problem when I started dating a girl who was a coworker." —Anonymous, Louisiana, 34

23."When I was 26, I was a junior project manager (PM) at a large telecom firm. To gain experience working on bigger projects, I was paired up with a senior PM. During our first meeting with the customer, he introduced himself as the 'brains' of the project and me as the 'beauty.' I wanted to be professional during the meeting, so I shrugged it off but later reported it to our (female) line manager. She told me that I was being too sensitive and that he was just joking."

"Shortly after, I left the company. I then retrained as a teacher — which I love — and have never encountered the sexism or ageism I encountered at that company." —Anonymous, United Kingdom, 33

24."I'd been looking for a new budtending job and, and due to my experience, was being courted by a few different dispensaries. I had accepted one offer but was still taking interviews elsewhere. (I live in an at-will hire and fire state, and I was really looking for the right gig.) I went in to chat with a manager before my first official shift. As we were saying goodbye, he gestured to his chest while looking at mine and said, 'Now, just remember not to wear anything too revealing to your first shift. We don't go for that here.' He then caught sight of the 'I love pro-choice boys' pin on my lanyard and added, 'Oh, and nothing too political.' They had mentioned nothing about a dress code in their employee handbook, and I'm sure they wouldn't have said that to a masculine-presenting person."

"I gave him a funny look and left. When I got my dream offer an hour later, I sent them an email thanking them for the opportunity and letting them know I would be accepting a position elsewhere." —Anonymous, Colorado, 33

25."At my first job out of college, I was an administrative assistant and had around 15 senior and C-suite level managers on my roster in our firm. We streamlined who every assistant 'owned,' and every manager had to adjust their settings in their travel profile so that we could handle their work. All but one had done it, and the deadline had passed. I'd politely asked him a number of times to complete this 15-second task. The final time, I stood in his office and said, 'I know you're busy, and I'm sorry to ask again, but could you please—' Before I could finish, he said, 'I'm doing it right now, bitch!' I froze. Both his office mate (a fellow managing director) and an associate who sat outside their office stopped and stared at him. No one said anything. I simply said, 'Okay,' and walked back to my desk, holding in tears."

<div><p>"I was 22 at the time, and that manager was 50. Later that evening, the other senior partner called me into his office. He said he would not only talk to his office mate but asked if I'd like to confront him the next day as well. I said yes. </p><p>The following morning, he left his office so I could get the apology I deserved. After many excuses were made ('I didn't mean it maliciously,' 'It was just my sense of humor,' etc.), I finally got a half-hearted apology. </p><p>A few months later, I found a new job. The firm had given me my first-ever panic attacks for a myriad of reasons, and I had to rebuild my professional confidence over the course of the next few years. If that happened to me today, I would have immediately gone to HR, but even just 10 years ago, it wasn't necessarily an option for a new college graduate to go against an old-school firm's longtime managing director." —Anonymous, New York, 32</p></div><span> Ljubaphoto / Getty Images</span>

"I was 22 at the time, and that manager was 50. Later that evening, the other senior partner called me into his office. He said he would not only talk to his office mate but asked if I'd like to confront him the next day as well. I said yes.

The following morning, he left his office so I could get the apology I deserved. After many excuses were made ('I didn't mean it maliciously,' 'It was just my sense of humor,' etc.), I finally got a half-hearted apology.

A few months later, I found a new job. The firm had given me my first-ever panic attacks for a myriad of reasons, and I had to rebuild my professional confidence over the course of the next few years. If that happened to me today, I would have immediately gone to HR, but even just 10 years ago, it wasn't necessarily an option for a new college graduate to go against an old-school firm's longtime managing director." —Anonymous, New York, 32

Ljubaphoto / Getty Images

26."I was working in a male sector where women are usually in admin or HR. However, I broke through that glass ceiling and was smashing it! It was my job to win contracts, and not only had I been doing that but I'd brought in the biggest contract the company had ever seen. When I finished the contract review, instead of getting a pat on the back, I was told, 'After you've sent the contract back, can you empty the dishwasher? The lads are complaining that there are no plates.' Wow!"

"I don't work there anymore. Now, I work in an equal sector with a female CEO and a male boss, but he empowers every day. If I'm honest, I'm still getting used to that." —Anonymous, United Kingdom, 39

27."When I was 21, I had recently started a new job, and our office had a room on a lower level that protected private information. This room was dark, secluded, and had a lock on the door. One time, I'd gone to the room to do some calculations on a computer, and one of my male coworkers walked up behind me and said, 'You know, I'm the type of man who could make your toes curl.' I was so shocked. I thought I'd heard him incorrectly, so I turned around and said, 'What?' He had the gall to repeat the comment! The blatant sexual harassment was overwhelmed by the fact we were completely alone, and nobody would hear any screams — that was a legitimate thought that crossed my mind."

"Instead, I laughed and asked if he was the type of man who could do this calculation for me. I will never forget my confusion followed by the immediate dread that one comment caused me.

Not to mention, he couldn't get the calculator to work! These moments make being a woman in any career feel like navigating a tight rope over a minefield." —Anonymous, Arizona, 27

What would you have done if someone said this to you? Or, have you a similar experience of your own? Tell us your thoughts and stories in the comments below.