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What I wish I could tell my boss: ‘Women aren’t all man-haters’

When you told me you needed my help dealing with “man-hating” clients, I raised an eyebrow. You went on to explain to me, with increasing incredulity, that there were a rising number of female clients who treated men differently to women.

I think you were waiting for me to gasp in shock, but the only thing I could think to say was: “Well that should make up for all the years women have been treated differently by men, I guess.”

Kudos to you, you graciously acknowledged the truth of this statement – but quickly swept it aside by saying we are all in this together.

Which is kind of funny, because we are not.

When I returned from maternity leave, I found out you had promoted a man called John above me. A man I had mentored, who had significantly less experience, and had recently made an error which lost us a significant amount of money. Your main praise for him seemed to be that he was single, white, and male.

I had been working with you for years and you had promised me promotions many times. These promises evaporated when I had children. When I returned from parental leave, you began to tell me our clients are man-haters.

The thing is, it turns out that there are a significant number of female clients who really don’t like working with John. They told me he’s “arrogant, talks down to them and other women, and adds little value”. These women work for and alongside many men without any difficulty. But they have a problem with John because of the way he speaks to them – yet you assume this is because they’re “man-haters”.

The obvious answer (although it escaped you) is that they are intolerant of anyone who does not give them the respect to which they are entitled. The fact that these clients are all women is due to John’s biases, not their own.

Ultimately I decided that I didn’t want to build my career in a culture that blames women for men’s misogyny. The idea that if a man treats women poorly at work it is their problem for being a “man-hater” is problematic on so many levels.

So from next month I’ll be working with one of our clients, who happens to be a man who respects all people. Please, therefore, consider this my resignation – and feel free to chalk me up as another one of your “man-hating” clients.

*not his real name

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