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The Men in the Room

It’s a fact: most men only greet other men and ignore the women in the room. It mainly goes unnoticed but ‘Master of None’ has shone light to this issue and got us standing up for ourselves in similar situations. It served as inspiration behind a recent episode at work, where a female colleague called out a male colleague for not greeting the two women in the room as he did to the men. “Why did you only salute them and not us?”, she said. We were all shocked.

I felt stupid for being astonished that she had stood up for both of us and asked myself if I had done the same. Truly, I wouldn’t have. It’s surprising to think that we are brought up to not recognize these acts of sexism in the workplace and daily lives. Furthermore, as females, we are supposed to keep quiet and take them as part of being women, the second sex.

After the incident, I proceeded to watch ‘Master of None’. Admittedly, I wanted to take a sip of my friend’s courage. In the episode, the situation is presented when a colleague of Dev (Aziz Ansari) only greets the men at the table and ignores the two women present. When the women confess to Dev that this interaction is sexist and part of their daily lives, he arguments that they were overreacting over a silly greeting, a common response of the male population.

Situations like these are so ingrained in our society that, when someone like my friend stands up against them, it’s distressing. Sexism is not a topic that most people are comfortable with and, when it is called out, men often don’t know how to react. The truth is that most of these behaviors are acquired through our absorption of culture and is not our or their fault. We are all doomed.

Playing victims will not serve for anything. Instead, both sexes (and all non-binary) should listen to each other in order to understand how programmed we have been raised and how we can deconstruct our believes of the opposite sex. What we ask of our male colleagues is to listen, to not think we are overreacting and put themselves in our shoes when someone walks in a room and doesn’t greet us properly, leaving a sense of pettiness to your persona right from the beginning. In the meantime, I keep trying to mimic my brave friend calling out to the best of my ability any acts of sexism around me, not with aggression, but education.

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