Female teachers (or anyone) -- how would you have reacted?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by ms.irene, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Jan 9, 2015

    The other day I was in the library talking to our librarian after school about a project I want to do. He is male, I am female, and we are around the same age (early 30's -- I'm guessing for him). An older (50-60?) male teacher came over and said to the librarian, "Talking to the pretty girls, like always!" I know he was joking and didn't mean anything, but it made me feel awkward and on the spot. So, trying to be funny also, I said, "I know, right?" Afterwards I felt like my response just made it more weird and awkward. What do you think? How would you have responded? Do you have co-workers who joke around like this, or is this considered inappropriate at your school?


    I am probably over-thinking this, but it keeps coming back to me and I wanted to hear what others think.
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The comment was borderline out of line, and I'm not surprised you felt uncomfortable. I like having an arsenal of from-the-hip phrases ("That's an interesting assumption" comes to mind) in times like that, but sometimes, total silence with the right expression says everything.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    For me it wouldn't be a big deal. It's innocent, it's flattering, it's non-suggestive and not harassing. I would have probably made a comment like you, my go to is laughing and saying 'wow' as in pointing out that I'm shocked that he said that, shocked at being called pretty (modest, right?) but moreso to break up any awkwardness if there is.

    I think you're overreacting to this. If it was a superior, like administrator, it'd be different.
     
  5. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    ICAM.
     
  6. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I'd definitely say nothing to add to or encourage that comment. I'd pretend like I didn't hear it.
     
  7. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Ugh, I find those situations so annoying and awkward. I want to say, you know you don't always have to have a comment...if you have nothing productive or mature to say, just shut it. But of course, THAT is not socially acceptable, while harassing women is.

    I'm with cat, I think a blank stare would have been perfect.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I'd say that particular comment was harassing the male colleague more than the female.
     
  9. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I would have to respectfully disagree. I don't think it's innocent or flattering at all. Addressing women by calling them "pretty" is enforcing the idea that the most important trait she possesses is her looks. Blech.

    Why didn't this person say to the OP "hey, always hanging out with the hot dudes?" Because that's not socially acceptable. It is acceptable to call out women based on their looks, but start commenting on a man's appearance and you're weird, or gay, or both. Probably both.

    I know what you mean by innocent-actually it is fairly innocent, in that this is how society has become. But just because it happens all the time doesn't make it right, or any less awkward for anyone.
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    You're right-it is, I totally agree. We don't know if the man here is married, or attached, or straight, or anything...so how awkward for that guy to have to be "caught" with a woman. Even more evidence that these kinds of greetings should just be buried.
     
  11. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Had it been a 50-something woman instead of a man, the comment probably would have been something to the effect of "always hanging around with these handsome men." That does happen.
     
  12. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Very good point.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The comment "Talking to the pretty girls, like always!" cuts against both of the younger people: she's marginalized by being discussed in the third person in her presence (as adults do with children), and he's marginalized by the implicit claim that he's neglecting his job, again (viz. the tag "like always"). A message does not inhere solely in what the speaker intends. Now it's possible that the speaker's remark was a verbal lapse that he noticed but from which he couldn't figure out how to recover, so he just barrelled on. If it's a one-off incident, I'd chalk it up to that. If it's a pattern, given his age, it may be that he genuinely doesn't get how it comes across (because some part of his brain is convinced that it's appropriate for men to pronounce on the attractiveness of "girls" in this way and that he is entitled to dispense judgment on a younger person's workplace habits). Whether or not he intends to disparage his colleagues, he nevertheless bears some responsibility for the message he sent, and it would be a kindness were someone to take him aside and tell him so - though it would pretty much have to be a male who ranks him.

    The fifty-ish woman who utters the same remark is much likelier to be aware of the messages it sends.
     
  14. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    I think the appropriate reply would have been 'you should be so lucky'.
     
  15. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    LOL!!!

    I think it really depends on the relationship (friendship or whatever) with both parties. While embarrassing for both you & the younger man...the older man may have been like dad/gpa saying this.
     
  16. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    Agreed. Seems like it was just an old man trying to be funny.... I'm sure he didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable.
     
  17. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I guess you might be within your rights if you feel offended. For me personally, I can absolutely say that I would assume it was meant as a compliment and not be offended in the least.

    I really feel we are all way too offended these days and it bothers me to think we all have to walk on eggshells and dissect every word before it exits our mouths to ensure we don't offend anyone. Sorry, that's just how I feel.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Ditto.
    Move on.
     
  19. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    As a male that has been the subject of more than one "handsome man" comment from women older than my mother, I am honestly confused what you mean by that final sentence.
     
  20. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Call me old fashioned but I wouldn't be offended. Why would I be? So someone called me pretty?? OMG....the horror! I understand feeling uncomfortable given the situation, but certainly wouldn't think twice about it. I am sorry you were made to feel uncomfortable. I'd say move on and take it for what it is. I am sure he meant no disrespect.
     
  21. Ms.Blank

    Ms.Blank Companion

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    I'd be incredibly uncomfortable in this situation. Yuck. You're coworkers, not potential dating partners! (in rare instances, sure...but for the purpose of this thread...)
     
  22. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Thank you all for the thoughtful and candid replies! I completely understand that this teacher didn't mean anything harmful by it, and in fact probably thought he was giving me a compliment. I also realize he is from a different generation when things like that were still normal. And I wasn't offended so much as I was caught off-guard since my school is generally a very progressive and professional place to work. I think what got to me was:

    1) Being called a "girl" which to me will always sound somewhat disrespectful, being a 30-something woman. I don't think most men would appreciate being called "boy."

    2) Being uncomfortable and not knowing how to respond, so I ended up saying something that seemed to make it even more awkward, which made me then feel guilty, as if the whole thing was somehow my fault.

    I realize that I do have a tendency to be hyper-aware and to over-think things, but the more I think about it, the more I think that while I could have responded better (perhaps by saying nothing at all), it was not my fault that someone else put his foot in it and put us all in a potentially awkward conversation.

    All that being said, I'm sure the whole thing has been forgotten by anyone but myself, so I am going to shake it off. My take-away: next time someone calls me a "girl" in a professional situation, I will just do my best "not impressed" face and refuse to go to that level!
     
  23. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    WHAT??? Someone can't call a woman pretty without it being demeaning? :eek::rolleyes:

    I find "pretty" flattering and not offensive in the least. But, I don't get offended/sensitive over people giving me compliments when I know that THEY see their words at being complimentary and don't have bad intentions.

    To me, it seems that some people look for bad intentions or "hidden meanings" in everything said to them and then they get upset/hurt because they have chosen to read too much into what the other person meant. I'm not saying this is you, but I know many people like this.
     
  24. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Exactly.
     
  25. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Heck, being a grandma at 49 and looking in the mirror at noon (when I can finally go to the bathroom) and seeing how I look; I'd absolutely LOVE being called pretty. As I said, call me old fashioned. I'm still a woman who loves to called pretty.
     
  26. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Since I went on to explain why I hold the opinion I do, and since I'm on my phone and don't want to type it again, I'll refer you back to pages 1-2 for explanation.

    If someone said "you look pretty today" or "you look pretty in red" I'd take that as a compliment (maybe-if it was in school I still think it would be weird). But this was not that. This was addressing an adult woman, to another man, as a "pretty girl". Again I'll ask-would it be ok to reverse rolls and to her "hey what are you always doing with the good-looking boys?" No, it wouldn't, it would be weird. Double standard, and completely unnecessary in 2015.

    As for the issue of hypersensitivity-I am merely aware of the way words feel and come across. If that means I expect someone to address women as professional and more than just "pretty", well then call me hypersensitive. It's 2015. Ain't nobody got time for that nonsense.
     
  27. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I must be prehistoric....I still enjoy being called pretty or beautfiul....it doesn't define me..but hey, I enjoy compliments. I wouldn't hold it against anyone who said it. I don't need it, but it sure as heck nice to hear....sorry if you feel otherwise. As I said before, take it with a grain of salt. I don't think that it is 2015 takes away from the way a woman feels.
     
  28. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I wonder how much our age impacts how we see this situation? We have a young, late 20's early 30's teacher at our school who is cute, pretty. She does not want anyone to mention how cute she is. She wants to be known for the work she does. I totally get that. She was in a situation that I advised her to go talk to our Principal about.

    Apparently, she did. One of the men in our building gave me a compliment about what I was wearing the other day and quickly followed it up with Oh, I'm not suppose to say that. My response to him was, well I'm an older (maybe I said 50ish), overweight woman. I'll take the compliment. Thank you.
     
  29. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sometimes I worry that these sorts of conversations imply that attractive women can be empowered enough to reject these sorts of comments but unattractive women should be grateful for them.

    It's okay to appreciate these sorts of comments. It's also okay to dislike them. If it bothers you, you should speak up.

    For me, a lot depends on what I perceive to be the intention of the speaker. I used to work with someone who regularly called me "sweetie" and "honey". I know that for this person, those terms were just terms of endearment, not meant to be condescending or harassing. I don't love being called sweetie and honey by people I don't really know, but I wasn't super offended. If I would have been, I would have said something, and that would have been my right.
     
  30. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    In my old school it would have been something of the norm for a comment like that to be said. In reality that comment would have been pretty harmless for us. We joked around all the time with each other. There were incidents that occurred probably daily in our school that many other places would have considered sexual harassment. We just had fun with it, made us all closer to each other.
     
  31. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I think of those words completely differently, maybe its because I am a guy. For me if I hear boy I think of a little kid. When it comes to young adults (late teens to mid 20s ish) I use the terms guy and girl. It just helps keep the thought of them younger and not old.
     
  32. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    That was the first thing that popped in my head as I read the scenario. I would never refer to any of the adults as "girls," regardless of age. If someone referred to me as "boy" in a similar situation, my smart-aleck self would probably respond with something like, "Boys? I don't see any boys over here."
     
  33. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    As a 57 year old male I have no problem being described as a boy by a colleague or friend. In fact when I had my convertible a few years back it was constantly referred to as a 'boy's toy' (I preferred the term Batmobile as it was black and sleek, think 1960s Batman not 2000s).

    I think the problem lies more in the mindset of the OP than the attitude of her colleagues (why do you call them co-workers)?
     
  34. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    OP, regardless of others' opinions, your feelings are valid and you have every right to feel uncomfortable if a situation makes you feel that way :). It is your right to be comfortable in your work environment.
     
  35. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    I would rather be called girl or gal than lumped like a lot of people do with "you guys"! I would always say guys & gals....
     
  36. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    So I'm going to guess that when talking to your class you never say "hey guys" in reference to something. I use guys for both males and when referring to a specific group of people. Just because of the way the terms sounds. Gals, just sounds wierd as a word itself to me. Women as a word, I think older. If I said to a friend "hey check out that girl over there", she could be in here 30s as long as she has a youthful look about her. So girl to me, would more of a compliment than woman.
     
  37. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    As a young-male teacher, I get comments like that all the time from the older teachers. It's annoying, and it just makes things awkward. But I've experienced worse. I actually respond just like you do "I know right," but I don't really let it get to me too much. I know I'm speaking from a different perspective than what you are experiencing (the person on the other side).

    Life is all about awkwardness and dealing with people. His comment was insensitive to both you and the man. But whatever. If it's just a fleeting one time thing, ignore it and move on with life.
     
  38. daisycakes

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    I just try to ignore comments like that completely so the person does not make them anymore. Some people are so rude!
     
  39. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    It's been really interesting seeing everyone's perspectives, especially from the male teachers. Peregrin, it's interesting to hear that you get similar comments -- I wonder if this is more of a generational issue/difference rather than a gender thing?
     
  40. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    "Guys" as gender-unspecified plural seems to be a West Coast thing, bob.

    I for one stopped using "girls" to refer to female people over the age of consent before I left high school.
     
  41. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Interesting idea on the guys word.

    I guess I don't see the issue with the word girls. But again its because I use guys and girls. Like if I were to say to a friend "thats a hot girl" I'm not talking about a kid that is for sure. We sure don't say to each other "that woman is hot". Gotta keep them a little youthful.
     

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