February 11, 2023

Why does "sorry for my language" feel like "sorry you are female"

In my last job I was in a meeting with three male colleagues.  While discussing something akin to "put your money where your mouth is" one of them said "yeah, put your C*ck on the block!" 

Then he looked at me and said "sorry Rachel"

I was so instantly aware of being "the other" and "not like them".  Because of my gender I had ruined their otherwise effortless conversation.  And there was nothing I could say, just laughed, and got on with the meeting.

I was recently in a meeting with two male colleagues.  During a call one said sh*t.  Then immediately said "sorry Rachel"

I felt that same sense of "otherness" and "not belonging" that I felt years ago.  

But I am older, and I am more tired of incidental sexism, even under the guise of politeness.

"You should apologize to neither of us or both of us" I said, referencing my colleague in the meeting.

It was slightly awkward.  I wonder if he realized why what he did was wrong.  I wonder if he will think before doing it again.  

Or I wonder if he will avoid talking to me, and in making myself less "other" I have just made myself "differently other"


  1. Ugh. That's just such blatant sexism. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this on a regular basis.

  2. There are moments in my line of work (e.g. fieldwork) where I appreciate when make colleagues look out for me because I am female, but yeah, this was an awkward situation.... similar to "locker room talk" where it's ok for men to say whatever sexist thing they want as long as no females are offended. Sheesh.

    1. I know - I think that's what gets me. Swearing is either OK or isn't OK -it not that it's OK as long as there aren't gentle women around.