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Ask Polly: Why Do Women Obsess About Babies and Fertility?

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Row of chickens in coop, one sitting on pile of eggs

Hi, Polly,

I have a question about pregnancy jealousy. I work for a company in the fertility field. In the interest of getting to know our customer base, I’ve become very involved in what they call the TTC (trying to conceive) community online. And as a recently married early-30-something who...More »

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pfctdayelise
1 day ago
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great answer <3
Melbourne, Australia
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skittone
1 day ago
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Yes. Great answer.

my boss is constantly commenting on my face and telling me to smile

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A reader writes:

I was hoping for your input on something that has plagued me all my life. I am a woman who has a very masculine/serious looking face that many would consider to be RBF (or resting bitch face).

I am only in my mid 20’s and it seems to constantly be an issue at work. My male boss is always walking by my desk (while I am focused) and making joking comments like “Don’t you like working here?” or “Come on, smile!” I’ve heard comments like this ever since I started working in high school … and they always are out of male mouths. I have never had to face them on a near daily basis.

When I was younger, I thought it was something I was doing wrong. Now that I am older, I realize that this is because I am the splitting image of my father! He is a serious looking man due to his heavy brow and a droopy eye — but unlike me he seems to have always been respected for his serious look. No one ever told him to look happier.

I’ve tried to look “happier” by pulling my forehead back and consciously smiling, but it is exhausting and gives me headaches since my muscles aren’t relaxing. I make an effort whenever a client comes in (not often) and I am often praised for how friendly/kind I am to clients. I am a friendly person and customers always love me.

If I lose my “look” when speaking with a client and they make a comment, it is very easy to laugh it off. They often will complement me instantly about how nice I look when I smile and it can boost my day. But I cannot laugh it off with my boss because of how it makes me feel – I can muster a feeble smile but it looks very awkward and forced.

This is a very small workplace (two employees under this boss – no HR) so I need to deal with him if I want anything to change. My other female coworker just rolls her eyes at him and says that is how he is, but she is lucky enough to be tucked away in her own office where he can’t bother her as often.

He will also commonly make a comment like “you are so beautiful” when he wants something. The first time I thought it was a genuine compliment. After that, I started laughing it off, and now I can’t even smirk and just silently (and awkwardly) wait for him to tell me what he wants. Don’t even get my started on the constant mansplaining and insensitive jokes about women, minorities, and the poor.

I don’t know how to respond when he is making these comments. I want to shut it down and make sure he gets that there is no need to be saying this when I am working on reports and focusing on my work. I almost feel like I need a tattoo on my forehead reading “This is just how I look, keep your comments to yourself.” I’ve tried ignoring it but it is starting to lower my self-esteem as it is a constant reminder of my masculine features.

I don’t know if it will help you to see this stated plainly but: Your boss is an ass.

It’s 99.9% likely that if you were a man, your boss wouldn’t be telling you to smile. Men just don’t seem to tell other men to smile. It’s women’s work!

And it’s 99.999% likely that he definitely wouldn’t be buttering up a male employee by telling him he was handsome.

So this is all pretty gross.

Oh, and look, he’s a mansplainer and makes sexist, racist, and classist jokes! How surprising.

I’m going to suggest that you stop trying to adjust your face. It’s your face! It looks how it looks. I mean, yes, if you were constantly glowering at people because you were in an actual bad mood, I would tell you to stop that. But this is just your face, looking serious. I know that Serious Ladies are not so comfortable for everyone, but you are never going to win by trying to play to that crowd’s issues.

Instead, I suggest that you tackle this head-on and address it with your boss. I’d say this: “I have a serious looking face when it’s at rest. That’s just how it is. It doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy. And I think you know that I get a lot of feedback from clients about how warm and friendly I am to them. Can I ask you to stop commenting on my expression or telling me to smile while I’m working on my own? It really is just the way my faces rests, nothing more, and I feel uncomfortable having you remark on it so often.” Or, another version: “Hey, could you humor me and stop asking me to smile? It makes me feel like there’s something with the way my face sits while I’m focusing on work, which I know isn’t your intention. Thanks, I appreciate it.” (Caveat: Caveat: Not everyone is comfortable or willing to be this direct with their boss. If that’s the case for you, then you have my blessing to use a softer version if that’s the only way you’ll realistically be able to speak up. But do say something.)

Also, the next time he tells you you’re beautiful, some options are:
“Eeeww, I don’t want to hear that from my boss.”
“Please don’t make comments like that.”
“Let’s leave your assessment of my appearance out of our work discussions.”

If you’re not comfortable with those, your current strategy of not responding also seems reasonable.

And for what it’s worth, the longer I write this column, the more I become convinced that tiny, three-person organizations are nearly always terrible news for the employees who work there — rife with boundary violations and unprofessionalism, among other problems. So when you’re ready to move on, aim bigger — I think it will lower your chances of another boss like this guy.

my boss is constantly commenting on my face and telling me to smile was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
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Melbourne, Australia
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My Childhood Was Appropriate For Children

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VOYA Magazine, a publication for youth librarians, recently said some really gross and bigoted things about bisexuality and the queer community. Bisexual Books has a good run-down.

The short version is that they said a book was for ‘mature readers’ because it had a bisexual character and foul language (the section on the maturity rating neglected to mention the actual heterosexual sex in the book. Just the existence of a bi character). When criticized, they issued a series of increasingly bizarre and hostile statements, then eventually deleted everything and locked down their social media accounts.

I want to focus on something VOYA said in one of its now-deleted non-apologies:

“I simply did not recognize that including bisexual and ‘bad language’ in one sentence was effectively ‘lumping them together.’ I saw it as two pieces of factual information that led to the age recommendation.”

They use the existence of a bi character as a contributing factor when labeling the book as ‘mature.’ They’ve doubled down on this repeatedly, in spite of being told—repeatedly—that it is offensive, insulting, and harmful to children.

They don’t seem to understand how their actions could possibly be harmful. They claim to support our ‘lifestyle’ (yes, that’s right, they called bisexuality a ‘lifestyle’ in this, the year two thousand and sixteen). We must be overreacting, or ‘looking for enemies to destroy’ (yup, they said that too), because they have said repeatedly that they are not bigots, and saying it makes it so.

I thought perhaps an example might help them out.

When I was in middle school, I was outed as bisexual against my will.

I knew I was bi before I even started sixth grade. In fact, I had the good fortune of growing up in a faith community that loved and affirmed same-sex couples, so until I started middle school I thought everyonewas bi.

Reality caught up with me pretty fast. I learned that any deviation from heterosexuality was considered wrong and gross, and bisexuality was particularly bad because even gay and lesbian folks didn’t hesitate to let the hatred directed their way roll downhill to us. I found myself a safe enough closet and I stepped inside.

Until I trusted someone who didn’t deserve it, and suddenly the whole school knew.

I was not a quiet kid. I was used to advocating for myself to authority figures. But when it came to being bullied for being queer, most of the adults I sought help from were useless. They didn’t even want to discuss it with me. They couldn’t look me in the eye and have a conversation about what was happening, because they considered bisexuality an inappropriate topic for a middle schooler to be discussing.

So they let the whole school go right on discussing it around me, rather than acknowledging that my childhood was a perfectly normal and appropriate childhood, and that it was perfectly normal and appropriate for me to be discussing it, and for me to ask  for help when I was being bullied because of it.

When you tell people that even acknowledging the existence of bisexuality renders a book ‘too mature’ for kids, you’re contributing to a hostile environment for bi and other queer kids. By treating their stories as dirty, you’re treating themas dirty. You’re not just denying the lived reality of bi kids; you’re depriving them of support they desperately need at a time when they’re trying to figure themselves and the world out. You’re normalizing the shameful cowardice I experienced when I needed help and couldn’t get it.

There is nothing shameful about being bi, and kids need to hear that. Not just bi kids—straight kids need to hear it too. In fact, they might need to hear it even more, because they’re the ones bullying queer kids to death.

And if you’re trying to warn parents that a book contains bisexual characters in case the parents find it offensive—why? Why are you choosing to help parents pass their bigotry on to their children? Why are you placing their feelings of discomfort at having to justify their bigotry to their kids over the feelings of fear, pain, and alienation that bi kids face growing up in a world that treats them as dirty?

Bisexuality is a perfectly appropriate for children, because many children are bisexual. Treating bisexuality as an ‘adult’ topic? As if it’s a deviation kids couldn’t possibly understand? That’s what’s not appropriate for children. It’s not appropriate for anyone, really, but it’s especially not appropriate to leave that toxic waste of an opinion in the middle of a library, where kids will trip over it on the way to the information desk.






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acdha
1 day ago
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Washington, DC
pfctdayelise
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Melbourne, Australia
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Four short links: 20 September 2016

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Aligning Incentives, Git Recovery, Google's Public Service, and Quadruped Robots

  1. Lessons on Comp Structures from Wells-Fargo -- employees were evaluated for continuing employment by supervisors on cross-selling. Yet, they did not receive the same financial incentives to make such cross-selling. Branch managers and supervisors could receive bonuses of up to $10,000 per month for meeting cross-selling quotas when employees who hit their monthly quotas received, in addition to continued employment, $25 gift cards.
  2. Oh Shit, Git! -- recovering from common mistakes made with git. Caution: contains even more swearing than you've already read.
  3. Inside Jigsaw (Wired) -- Jigsaw is Google's moonshot not to advance the best possibilities of the Internet but to fix the worst of it: surveillance, extremist indoctrination, censorship.
  4. Minitaur: An Affordable Quadruped Robot (IEEE) -- ok, not affordable YET, but the $10K current price could be as low as $1,500 if manufactured at scale.

Continue reading Four short links: 20 September 2016.

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pfctdayelise
4 days ago
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Jigsaw sounds promising, and overdue
Melbourne, Australia
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my coworkers keep asking me out

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A reader writes:

I work in a smallish department of a medium sized division of a huge company. I’ve been here for about a year and I’ll probably be leaving for a new job very far away in a few months. I’m wondering if there’s a tactful way to suggest to the heads of the department on my way out that they might want to run some harassment (or interpersonal? is that even a thing?) training. I wouldn’t think that what I’ve been dealing with was legally actionable as harassment (I am a lawyer!), but it’s annoying and I think some sort of training or something might be able to stamp it out.

Over the past year, four of the men I work with have asked me out, and at least one other has indicated that he sort of wants to, so I’m avoiding him. Some of them were my supervisors. Every time this has happened, it plays out in the same way: they are a little too interested in me, I try to indicate that I am definitely not going to be into them asking me out (ignoring/laughing off their hints/misunderstanding their jokes), they ask me out anyway, I say no as nicely as is possible, things get weird. I understand being a little awkward for a while, but this is going beyond that. Things like my supervisor telling me I looked hot with my hair up in a ponytail, or a team lead asking me not to join his group for lunch because it would make his ex-girlfriend, who eats with them, unhappy because she knows he likes me. I’m TIRED of this. And furious about it. I know this is happening to other women here, too.

I know the department would take this seriously, but I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, and I’m fairly sure if I mentioned what’s been going on it would be pretty obvious who one of these guys is. And it’s not just him, it honestly feels like it’s everyone right now.

Is there a way to suggest some sort of training in such a way that it doesn’t get anyone in trouble? Am I crazy for thinking this is even an issue that needs to be dealt with? Also, the job I’m expecting to jump to will be in a male dominated field with a very strong/necessary social aspect to it. Is there a way to shut this stuff down before it starts while still being open to friendships? I’m just so exhausted and demoralized by it all.

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

my coworkers keep asking me out was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
4 days ago
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Fuck oooooooooff with this shit
Melbourne, Australia
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Fashion Police and Grammar Police

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* Mad about jorts
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pfctdayelise
5 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
acdha
6 days ago
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Washington, DC
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