There’s a lady present?!

Today is a guest post from Susan – a lovely, good friend of the empower couple.  Thanks for writing, Susan!!

“I would say, it but there’s a lady present.”

I’ve heard this phrase plenty of times before, often in books, TV shows, movies, rarely in my regular day to day or social circle but I’ve been aware of it for the majority of my life.  I thought nothing of that phrase until a co-worker said it the other day in regards to a recent sex scandal involving a football player (I can’t recall the player’s name and I attempted to Google the article for context purposes but…let’s just say it didn’t go well and I can’t believe Kapernick is the #1 most hated NFL player). Anywho…

To set the scene, ESPN radio was on in the background and announced that when they come back from their commercial break they’d discuss this recent case. One of my co-workers then commented saying, “It’s actually a really interesting story, but I won’t get into it since there’s a lady present.” We all then chuckled and continued on with our work.

But now I’m kicking myself for not making that a teaching moment for my co-workers and I. Because as we all continued working I started pondering to myself what he possibly could have said that would have been acceptable in front of an all-male audience but not in front of me.

Regardless of the content, why should anyone stop themselves from saying anything because a lady is present? Can my dainty lady ears not handle it? Is it something I won’t find funny or amusing because I identify as female?  Do you not feel like engaging in conversation about the topic at hand if a women is present, especially if the topic is about rape, oppression, the wage gap, sex, etc.? Is it offensive to women in general?

Ultimately, the big question at hand is, why is it ok for you to say it around all males but not when a lady is present? If you believe that joke, statement, or observation will make me uncomfortable or is offensive to women then why say it at all regardless of my presence?

So maybe the next time you find yourself holding conversation or a joke back because you’re wondering if there’s a lady present perhaps you should either:

  1. Not say it at all because the comment/joke is offensive to women and you shouldn’t speak that way regardless of if a women is there or not
  2. Say it if a women is present so you can engage in conversation with her about the topic and hopefully you’ll both walk away learning something.

Going back to my co-worker and the teaching moment I wish I would have taken; if I could do it all again I would have asked him to say it anyway and use it as an opportunity to engage in discussion, possibly about the double standards you come across when it comes to male sex scandals vs. female ones. Not your typical water cooler talk you hear around the office but hey you gotta start the conversation somewhere.

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