In my seven years in London, I think that I have been lectured like never before. I have had my fair share of condescending comments and guess what: I can’t take it anymore. From now on, I will fight, with humoristic weapons, all condescending comments. Simply put: enough is enough! On top of this, I hate to be patronised.
In this country you see, condescending comments are made in a very subtle way, which means that the answer must be adapted. Here are a few examples and some suggested responses –feel free to add more in the comment section, we need to devise a strategy for each type of comment and fight consistently:
1. “We need to tread more carefully with you women every month.”I confronted the author of this comment and told him that it was plain sexist. He maintained that no, it was the opposite: he understands women and knows that they are more difficult to handle at this time of the month. I was fuming. The next time he was a bit nervous, I asked him whether he had PMT. It did the trick. He hasn’t mentioned it ever since.
2. “He is very bright: he had a first at Oxford”. This basically implies that you are plain stupid (the Brits find it hard to believe that they are other universities than theirs in the whole world – Something to do with living in an island perhaps). You should point out that he is nearing 50, and things change in 30 years, you know. Not to mention that he hits on his 4-year old PA (what an old pig!).
3. “I am sure that knowing X, Y or Z helped you get the job”. That one is a classic. There is no point in denying it, it would make your case even worse (“she is trying to justify herself”). The best defence, in this case, is to attack. Your various lines of attack range from “yes, we made out on the sofa last week. It was intense. You should try it, it is obviously the sort of things you have never experienced.” to “yes, and I even got my friend the Prime Minister involved. He is the Godfather of my son, you know”.
4. “Why didn’t you tell me that we had a meeting today?” Well, if you had opened your inbox surely you would have seen it. The fact that you “worked from home” last Friday didn’t help. (“working from home”, in my company, usually means that you are in reality taking some undeclared leave. I am one of the unhappy few who is not “working from home” on Fridays. Go figure).
5. “You can work late because you have a nanny”. Well, I actually pay for it, you disorganised moron!
The list doesn’t stop here. There is always the old trick of saying “that’s a very condescending comment, isn’t it?”, but all it will achieve is a long-winded justification that no, it is not a condescending comment. Or it wasn’t meant to be.
I sometimes ignore such comments, just to give me a break. Is it worth educating the guy/woman who has made the comment? I wonder.
Please let me know how you fight condescending comments. We simply need to eradicate them -and frankly, I think that I have had all I can take!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London