Being ignored is a frustrating experience. But being ignored because of your gender, race, culture, or sexuality is enough to make you livid. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, being stereotyped and written off at a glance is still possible.
In a viral thread on the r/AskReddit community, redditor Teacherspet5859438e (wow, that’s a long username!) asked the women on the site to share the times that they were being ignored in favor of their male partners, colleagues, or friends, despite them being the clients.
Have a scroll through some of the top responses and let us know if you’ve ever experienced anything similar in the comment section at the bottom of this list. Keep in mind, some of these stories might get you worked up with how unfair they are. Rude? Lacking manners? That’s just the tip of the iceberg...
We were buying a new mattress. It was a joint decision for the feel of it, but my decision for the price-point and warranty because I was paying for it. I noticed the salesperson talking to my husband more than to me (the one with the money), but I'm used to it. Then, my husband wandered away as if he'd never seen a furniture store before.
Weird, but okay. He came back and said, 'Hey, can I have some money? I'm going to go check out the *insert dumb little decorative thing.*' I was weirded out because I have never seen him care about even a lamp enough to go examine it on his own. But I said sure and handed him some cash.
The salesman IMMEDIATELY stopped paying attention to my husband. Suddenly, in his mind, I was wearing the pants. He started asking me what I did for a living and whatnot, and I was able to negotiate for a slightly lower price. I love my husband so much. He knew exactly what he was doing.
I'm an Army veteran. My debit card is with a military-affiliated bank. Every time I pay for dinner at a restaurant, they bring it back, set it in front of my husband, and thank him for his service.
My husband was never in the military. The card has my name on it, and sometimes, they even have watched me pull it out of my bag!
I have also been by myself somewhere, paid for something with the card, and had the person who sees the card look at me and say, 'Oh, was your husband or dad in the military?' Um, no. No, they were not. I was. Thank you.
This August I bought a new truck and took my boyfriend with. He is white and I am mexican, we arrived at the dealership and I asked about the explorer they had front and center. Salesman comes over and is asking a bunch of questions to my bf. He told him its for me. I was ignored for the entire conversation. I got up and started looking at the truck. A Hispanic Salesman comes and asks me if I need help. I was out of there within 1.5 hours keys in hand. Found my bf with the other salesman. I looked at bf and said I bought the one I wanted Manny G got me squared away. The look of utter disappointment and anger on the guys face was worth it. My bf chuckled and told said "I told you she was the one buying." Manny you were great.
The redditor’s thread got 63.6k upvotes and over 200 awards, proving that it’s a topic that resonated with the online community. Though the thread pointed out that there are plenty of guys out there who have old-fashioned attitudes, there’s a positive flipside, too: some men are more than happy to stand up for their loved ones and coworkers, setting the record straight.
Gender stereotypes, according to the Council of Europe, are one of the main obstacles on the path to “real gender equality” because they lead to gender discrimination. These stereotypes are “preconceived ideas whereby males and females are arbitrarily assigned characteristics and roles determined and limited by their sex.”
My old teacher told me a story about a cold caller. A man phoned the house phone (this was around the 80s/90s when people still had house phones) asking for the man of the house to talk about changing supplier for something or other. My teacher (a woman) told the man that her husband was away on a business trip and to call back the next day.
He called the next day, again asking for the man of the house, and she informed him that her husband had been delayed and to call back the next day. He called the next day, and she informed him that due to bad weather his flight had been delayed until later on that night, so please call back the next day. He called the next day, she put her husband on, the man asked about changing to his company's service. The husband informing him that his wife dealt with all the bills and please talk to her. My teacher took the phone, said "no thank you" and hung up.
I’ve been on the flip side of this.
For years, I worked at bicycle shops and regularly sold some pretty expensive bikes.
One day, a couple came in. The wife was interested in a bike, and it quickly became apparent that the husband was an overpowering, dominating type. “She wants to do this, she doesn’t want to do that, she likes this, she doesn’t like that” etc.
When it became clear she wasn’t being allowed to do much speaking at all, I would let the husband as the question, and I’d reply by physically turning and giving the answer to the wife, making eye contact with her only and pointedly ignoring the husband. It was pretty blatant.
She loved it. She lit up, engaged with me, and genuinely seemed to enjoy the process of learning more about riding and getting into a new sport/hobby.
I was at Best Buy getting some PC components because my friend asked me to help update his motherboard and processor. The first employee was respectful and sent for someone with keys to get the parts for me. The guy with the keys kept asking my friend what he wanted. And when I would have to answer, he would ask me twice and sometimes three times if I was sure about it.
Yes. I’m sure. I have a computer science degree. Give me the processor.
The Council of Europe explains the dangers of such stereotypes: “Sex stereotyping can limit the development of the natural talents and abilities of boys and girls, women and men, their educational and professional experiences as well as life opportunities in general. Stereotypes about women both result from and are the cause of deeply engrained attitudes, values, norms, and prejudices against women. They are used to justify and maintain the historical relations of power of men over women as well as sexist attitudes which are holding back the advancement of women.”
As with plenty of other sensitive issues, education is one of the key ways how attitudes can be changed. But personal responsibility is just one part of the solution. New government and business policies can contribute to fighting gender stereotypes in the workplace and outside of it. That and reminding everyone that basic manners, like not turning your back to someone or pretending they’re not even there, still mean a lot, even in 2021.
I took my colleague out to lunch. When the bill came around, the waitress gave it to him because she assumed he would be paying.
He wasn’t a subordinate, he was at the same level as me. However, I was given a company card, and he wasn’t due to the nature of our jobs. He graciously grabbed the bill and gave it to me, saying, 'She’s the boss.' Smart move: It made me feel validated, and he got a free lunch.
I’m a female business owner with a male business partner. I’ve had a few customers and reps born in the Dark Ages who ask to 'speak to my boss.
The worst was a guy who snapped his fingers and told me to 'put the kettle on, girly.' Needless to say, he didn’t get his cuppa, and he certainly didn’t get the discount he asked for.
He wasn't my husband, not even my boyfriend, but a guy friend I happened to have around when a carpenter came to fix something in MY home.
I welcomed the joiner in and started talking to him about the issue. Then, he saw my friend and did a 180° to talk to him. He literally turned his back on me while I was mid-sentence. In MY home.
I have a chronic pain disease that runs in the family. I noticed that my father and male relatives have no problems securing pain meds, but my doctors would never give me any — despite me clearly indicating how much pain I was in.
So I started bringing either my father or my husband to my medical appointments (which is hugely intrusive), would have them repeat how much pain I was in, and low and behold, suddenly I get pain medication.
Oh, comic cons. I’ve learned to just tell men that I’m not that into comics when they try to ask me what I’m into. Otherwise, half the time, it turns into an interrogation where they try to prove I’m 'not a true comic fan.
I’m a comic book artist.
When I had my appendix taken out, I asked my doctor when sex would be okay again. He turned to my husband and said, 'Whenever you feel ready, you can begin sexual relations again.
I don’t know if he was uncomfortable talking to me about it or was deferring to what my husband would prefer. Either way, it was strange.
I was trying to collect a parcel from the post office that was addressed to both me and my husband. They told me that my husband had to come to collect it. I asked whether they meant both of us had to be there, and the response was no, just him.
Needless to say, I was not happy. After a while of arguing, they gave me the parcel.
We had our backyard completely relandscaped. When the landscaper came over for the estimate, he almost exclusively addressed my husband — even though I'd made it clear I was the one doing the designing and knew what I wanted to be done. Afterward, when I paid him, he kept looking behind me for my husband.
He almost didn't give me the aftercare instructions for the new sod, saying he wanted to make sure it was done right so he'd email them to my husband. I finally snapped, 'Give me the damn piece of paper, Bruce! I'm the one who will be home during the day to do the damn thing!' (I worked nights at the time.)
He reluctantly handed it over and called my husband the next day to make sure the lawn got watered. My husband told him, 'You'd have to ask her, Bruce. She told you she'd do the damn thing,' and hung up. I had, indeed, done the damn thing.
My husband and I wanted a fence around our house. A man came over to give an estimate during a workday. I was ready to sign the papers, and he said, 'I’d rather talk to your husband about the numbers and get his signature since he will be the one paying for it.' I asked him to leave my property and never come back.
I have always worked from home, and my husband has always worked in a field where he cannot take time to meet with contractors, etc. He and I agree on terms upfront, and then I make decisions from there. It doesn’t matter in life, but for this story it does: I make more than my husband. For the fence, we had already agreed on this company based on various factors, and the estimate had ended up being less than we expected to pay.
We had already agreed on this company based on various factors. A man came over to give an estimate during a work day, which ended up being less than we expected to pay. I was ready to sign the papers and he said “I’d rather talk to your husband about the numbers and get his signature since he will be the one paying for it” I asked him to leave my property and never come back.
When my husband and I were looking for our first house, he had just graduated and still had student debt. I had been practicing law and had $20k saved for the downpayment. The real estate agent only spoke to him, even if I asked the questions.
In one house, we went to look at the basement, and the guy said, 'You don't want to go there. It has spiders.' I told my husband that I wouldn't ever buy a house from him
Later, the guy ran for office, and I told everyone the story, including a woman that called me randomly to promote his candidacy. Turns out, she was his mother. It's a small thing but indicative of his attitude toward 'the fairer sex.'
I was trying to buy a TV, and my boyfriend came along to help carry the box. Every time I asked a question, the employee would answer by turning to my boyfriend and talking to him. Even when my boyfriend said stuff like, 'I don't know, it’s her TV,' the employee still faced and made eye contact only with him.
I was getting pretty irritated. The last straw was when I was handing him MY credit card, and he turns to my boyfriend to ask if he wants the two-year warranty. Finally, I snapped at him, 'IT'S NOT HIS TV! I AM BUYING THIS TV! STOP TRYING TO SELL IT TO HIM!' I was pissed, and it was the most irritating and sexist customer service I’ve ever experienced.
When I was a baby, I wouldn't 'latch on' when my mother breastfed me, so I wasn't eating well. The doctor completely ignored my mom and only talked to my dad because she was 'too hysterical.'
He was on the verge of finding out what that looked like.
Not exactly this scenario, but it rankles me to this day. There was a particular car I wanted and I wanted it with a manual transmission, which was tough to find in that car. There was one at a local dealer that was near my office, so I stopped in during my lunch hour to see what they'd do on price. At the time, I was a young, professional woman in my twenties. The car was for me and I was paying cash.
I wander in around noon on a Tuesday. No one even acknowledges my presence though there was NO ONE else in the showroom. Finally, I go up to one of the salespeople and say "Hey, do you still have [model] car? I thought you had one in stock." The guy looked at me, in total seriousness, and says in a very condescending tone, "Oh, honey, you don't want that car, it has a manual transmission. Let me show you these others that would be better for you."
Ummmm, wtf? After the initial shock wore off, I looked at him and said, "Well, first off, my name isn't 'Honey'. I have a name which you'd know if you'd bothered to ask. Second, I know what I want and don't need you to tell me. I think we're done here." And, with that, I walked out the door.
I ended up finding the same model, manual transmission, at another dealership about a hour from my house. TOTALLY worth the drive. I did most of the deal over the phone. The salesman DGAF that I was female. We got to a price we could both live with and the deal was done. SO MUCH BETTER. Drove that car until it died about 10 years later.
The first dealership went out of business about a year later. Can't say I'm surprised.
I was the guy in the scenario but I was at a comic con with my girlfriend. It was her idea to go to the con as she actively collected comics (I have a pile of graphic novels but usually don't bother with individual issues.) At one booth there was an indie artist trying to hawk his new book. He saw us both looking through a copy and came over to engage. He started talking to me but then she asked him a question about the book. He gave a short answer and then tried to talk to me about the book again. She just got an annoyed look for a second and then moved onto the next booth. I set the book down and cut him off to say "sorry dude, she's the comic fan, I was just looking at the drawings" and then moved on too.
Assuming I was the nerdier one was acceptable. Still a somewhat sexist assumption, but if you look at the traditional gender split of a comic con it's a reasonable assumption. But once she tried to engage and he ignored her in favor of a male then that just showed he was an idiot. And seeing it first-hand I really kind of felt bad for nerdy girls who have guys gatekeeping nerdy things or assuming the girls don't have the right to be interested in them.
At work, I was meeting a new vendor ('Pat') that was to be servicing one of the facility systems I oversee. Pat had already met the facilities engineer (also a man), who was introducing me to Pat. Instead of talking directly to me, Pat shook my hand, turned to my coworker, and asked him, 'And what does she do here?'
A few weeks later, Pat had the unpleasant opportunity to learn that I’m the one who calls him when his company falls through and doesn’t deliver. Needless to say, I was not overly polite about it when Pat failed to do his job.
I work on male-skewing TV shows, and a lot of my colleagues are male. I'm the showrunner, and I direct the shows. We hire local drone operators, so when we meet our drone team, I give them an overview of what we're looking for in the shot. Conservatively, 75% of the time, follow up questions will be directed to my male colleagues.
We hire local drone operators across the US and globally. No matter where we go, it happens. My colleagues are now in the habit of just staring back in response, letting it get real awkward, and then saying, 'Ask her.'
I'm not a woman but I witnessed this scenario. I've posted it on reddit before but here it is again
A little more than a decade ago I (male) was at a party with a few friends and a whole bunch of strangers. I got into a conversation with another guy about our work. He was a programmer and I was a physicist, and at some point we started talking about quantum computing. He asked me a whole bunch of questions to which I gave answers, but my subfield was not quantum information. Fortunately my friend came to the party with me, and she was also a physicist, and specifically a quantum computing specialist. As soon as I saw her cross my field of vision I waved her over thinking she'd both appreciate the conversation and be able to contribute a whole lot more than I could.
Y'all. Even after I introduce her as a fellow physicist and quantum computing expert, the guy kept asking me questions. And I kept being like, "I honestly have no clue, [friend], you're the expert, what's going on there." And like, I deflected three or four questions that way before I think he got the hint that maybe he's addressing the wrong person.
He changes his conversation strategy so that instead of asking me about QIS, he starts trying to show off, to her, what he knows about it. Like, in his brain this flipped from an opportunity to learn more about quantum computers to an opportunity to get laid showing off what little he knows about the subject. So he's mansplain-flirting quantum information science to a woman who had literally built and programmed what was, at the time, one of the world's only functioning multi-qubit quantum computers.
I wish I could say I watched her die a little inside, but apparently this was so common a kind of occurrence that she was inured to it, and just laughed and went to get another beer.
I once caught some hunters trespassing on my property. I wasn’t rude to them at all, I just waved from the other side of the field. The next day, they show up at my house. One gestures towards the police car in the driveway and asks to speak to my husband about hunting in our woods.
I was like, 'You can talk to him if you want, but that’s my cruiser, and this is my land, not his.' They still insisted on getting permission from my husband.
One time, I described my car problem to the desk guy at the auto shop as a 'clicking' when I turned the key and asked if they'd check the timing belt. He said I'd have to leave my car there, so my husband arrived 10 minutes later to pick me up. The mechanic came out and asked him what was going on with the car, never looking at me.
I finally asked if he'd checked the timing belts as I'd asked the guy at the desk to do. He had not. Gotta say, mad turned to cocky when it turned out to be the timing belt. This happens a lot with auto repair.
I ordered a grill from Lowe’s for curbside pickup and called my best friend with a truck (who is male) to drive. The Lowe’s dude took forever before coming outside MULTIPLE TIMES to let my friend know the grill is missing, give him status updates, and apologize.
The whole time, he's looking my friend in the face and ignoring me. Every single time, my friend says, 'Talk to her. I’m just the ride.' Women are allowed to make purchases. We like food, too. Friend earned major additional kudos that day for calling out the Lowe’s dude’s sexism.
We wanted to replace our roof and had found a company that was running a promotion. I called and scheduled for someone to come out for a quote. I was able to answer all of his questions, but he refused to give me a quote without my husband present (with some 'sign before we leave for best price' excuse). He was intent on driving back over the following day when my husband would be home.
I called their main office shortly after he left and told them that I wasn't interested in any high-pressure sales tactics, I just wanted a quote, and if they wouldn't give that to me, the one who would be paying for it, then to not bother coming back out. I didn't see them again. The three other roofing companies I contacted had no problem dealing solely with me.
We were buying a car for me. Because we were paying for it outright but financing the minimum amount, we had to sit in the salesman's office for an inordinately long time answering questions. The salesman — who was great in every other way — would ask my husband the questions. My husband pointed at me and said, 'I don't know, it's her car.' The salesman said, 'Of course, but we all know how it goes, right?' and kept asking him.
We both wanted to get the paperwork signed and get the hell out of there with the car, but we were also on the same wavelength wondering how far we could go with this. So, the salesman would ask my husband a question. My husband would blatantly turn to me and repeat the question. I would answer him, then he would turn back to the salesman and repeat exactly what I'd said. The dude never got the idea that maybe he could just ask me the questions.
We bought my husband a car later and put both of our names on the paperwork. When we had to sign, the finance guy saw that my last name was different and asked when we were getting married. He was confused when we said, 'Er, eight years ago?'
When my parents and I went to look at colleges, the admissions guy opened by shaking my dad's hand, constantly directed questions at my dad, and would look to him for confirmation whenever my mom said something.
My mom is defacto the money person of our family unit. She manages the family finances and investments, and she was way, way, way more qualified to comment on things like student loans or expected contribution. When we left that meeting, she was absolutely furious that she had to basically fight the admissions person to have a normal conversation.
When I was shopping for a car, the salesmen at every dealership kept talking to my husband instead of me — even though I was the one who contacted the dealerships and made sure to introduce myself first.
My husband got sick of it and started telling them, 'Don’t talk to me, it’s not my car. Talk to her.' I wound up buying from a saleswoman who treated us equally — until she pretty quickly figured out my husband was not involved whatsoever in the decision.
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