There is always talk on various online ‘spheres about “male privilege” and “female privilege”. The only examples of male privilege I can say are real and true is that of respect, especially in the business world. If you think I’m lying, bear with me…
When you’re a female bodied person in the business world, you have to get used to;
-Men kissing your hand instead of shaking it. They may think they are being cute, but it does nothing except single you out. It is even worse if it is done during initial introductions to a group of new business partners who are all men. Automatic loss of respect for you as a person…now they see you as “other”, or worse, unworthy of a handshake.
-Men coming over to a booth you are setting up, and introducing themselves to the hired muscle instead of you. My most noted example is when one of my coworkers boyfriends insisted on carrying the last box of product (a whopping 30lbs) up the stairs instead of on the elevator to our booth. I knew it was a masculine display for her benefit, and so allowed it. As my coworker and I are setting up the tables and displays, the manager of the convention hall comes over, gives the boyfriend a hearty handshake, a clap on the back, a huge smile, and guides him over to meet one of the other vendors. I watch this with amazement, as he’s not even wearing a staff uniform like I am…he’s in filthy pants and a hole-filled shirt. Luckily he’s not stupid, and as soon as introductions are finished, he points at me and informs them that I am probably the one he should talk to. This type of scenario has played out many times in similar ways.
-Bringing your looks or relationship status into conversations happens a lot as well. I can’t tell my readers just how many times my coworkers have been invited out to drinks by new business partners, and I receive a patronizing smile and a question of whether my boyfriend/husband would be angry if I “came along”. When I point out that I don’t have a relationship like that, it takes up even more of the conversation than it should…normally because it then turns to “oh, but that can’t be true”, “you’re too good looking to be single”, or “well, maybe we can find you one tonight”. Yes, because it’s inconceivable that I’m happy as is and simply want to finish talking about the product list for the year over drinks. Note that my coworkers who are male are not asked if their wives/girlfriends are fine with them going out, nor are they given false flattery if they’re single.
Then of course there’s little things, like being told to sit down before the men do, restaurant staff serving you before everyone else, the check never automatically being given to you, men standing up to give you their chairs in a crowded room, and being pat on the head like a child while your male coworkers are clapped on the back. It is worse if you look younger than you are…I’m currently 29, but get confused for a 21 yr old constantly. Potential business partners will make references to life experiences then say “but you are too young to know that” or “maybe you’ll find this out one day”. They are less likely to take your opinion seriously, and will consistently second guess your facts but not your male coworkers. They will talk over and interrupt you without apology, but not over your male colleagues, and spend about half the time looking in your direction/making eye contact as they do to them. And no, I don’t mean they stare at my chest although that happens sometimes (even when I’m in a fully buttoned polo shirt). I’m talking about standing directly in front of someone I’m discussing shipping costs with, and the entire time they are looking at Coworker Dude X instead of me.
It’s little wonder that so many businesswomen are called bitches. We have to be louder, more up front, and more assertive than a typical female if we want the same results as our male coworkers.
*The majority of men don’t act this way, I’d say it happens about 25% of the time I go to conventions/meetings. My point though, is that it shouldn’t happen at all, and that business people who were born female should NOT be treated differently (whether that means preferential or inferior treatment).