Elevator Sexism, Or How The Patriarchy Got In The Way Of A Funny Joke

Elevator Sexism, Or How The Patriarchy Got In The Way Of A Funny Joke

How a 90 second ride turned into a situation that's not okay.

What Would Dale Do

You may have heard about elevator pitches, a 30 or 90 second pitch of an idea to someone important. While I have had to write many of them and gave my fair share at a literary writing fair, I’ve never had such a startling one given to me.

It started as a joke, one between two athletes and two coaches I was sharing the elevator with. I ignored them, invested in the BuzzFeed article I was reading, until they roped me into the joke. “Look, even she rolled her eyes!” To join in on the fun I did my best, bratty, dramatic eye roll and "ugh," leaning onto the wall and digging my nose deeper into my phone, making everyone laugh. All was fun and games until:

“She doesn’t count, women roll their eyes all time.”

Said. The. Adult. Coach.

The elevator went silent.

I looked to the other coach, asked if he heard what his friend just said and how not okay that was. I was not being backed by anyone. Everyone was looking at the floor. One of the students cleared his throat. Finally, I looked at the man himself.

“I have a girlfriend,” he said in the same tone I’ve heard racists say, “I have a black friend.”

“So do I,” I didn’t say, since it’s not remotely true. But I wanted to, just for the effect. Instead I just stared at him, biting my tongue, looking at his adult friend and not at my fellow students, feeling like I was about to cry.

The elevator dinged, the door opened and I followed one of the students out onto my floor in a daze.

Never in my life has anyone told me that I didn’t count. Therapy, family, friends and teachers have only told me the opposite: I matter, what I do matters and how I express myself matters. Ends up, I was wrong, because I don’t pass as having the right tools for the job. Nor do I want to. I am a woman, and proudly so. So why did an adult man feel it necessary to not only dismiss my being in, what was obviously a joke, because of my gender, and then feel the need to qualify his actions?

Over the rest of the day, this question bothered me. Why was he suddenly so hurtful when I simply played along? Then it hit: he thought he was simply continuing a joke. All women are the same, we can dismiss them all and their opinions don’t matter. By saying he had a girlfriend, he verified his insight, and I’m sure if I weren’t standing there, if I weren’t part of the joke, all the other men in the elevator would have laughed to some degree, even if they didn’t agree. Comedians do it all the time, and we laugh! We all laugh because women should be dismissed for comic effect! I can’t blame the guy, he was only following in the footsteps of Larry the Cable Guy or Jeff Foxworthy. Their wives spent money or did said something rude, how hilarious!

As many women would probably agree, the fact that we exist isn’t a joke! And if he was “just joking,” then my point is only driven home. His “just joking” is exactly what’s not okay, and not because I’m being sensitive, but because an entire gender shouldn’t be a joke. Especially when that gender is cornered in an elevator. Can’t laugh that one off.

In the time span it takes for the elevator to go from the first to fourth floor, the cultural defect of putting women last because we have actual emotions fell into place. As the only woman in the elevator, I was also the only woman of which it had to fall upon. Is that what it feels like to be the only woman in a corner of the office? On a medical team (see "House, MD", "Scrubs")? In a super hero squad (again, see "The Avengers," "Batman v. Superman")? All around us, every day, television and magazines and even books (one more time, see "The Maze Runner"). Women in mass quantities is an anomaly, and is only just starting to emerge as a popular and normal view of humanity, despite the world population being 51 percent female.

So, what is it? What’s the deal?

I know for a fact I’m not stupid, and have the credentials to prove it, although I shouldn’t have to. None of my five other roommates are stupid, either, or else we wouldn’t be in the honors program. But despite it all, there I was, laughing at a pleasant joke when the patriarchy had to go and ruin all the fun once again.

Then again, I’m a woman. All women roll their eyes.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Everyone remembers the first time they went to one of the Disney parks. Spinning in teacups and having Goofy wrap his arms around my 8-year-old self were some of my fondest childhood memories, and I'm surely not alone in that.

Keep Reading... Show less

These Superfood Beauty Products Show Kale And Matcha Work For SO Much More Than We Thought

Just another summer's day with a cold glass of kombucha on my face.

I've been vegan for about six years now, so a love for fresh vegetables and superfoods has now become a core part of my being. Don't get me wrong. I love my indulgent, creamy pastas and truffle fries more than anyone. But I keep most of my focus on eating clean and healthy so I can indulge guilt-free.

But I'd say about a large part of my diet has always, unknowingly, included superfoods. Being Indian, lentils, beetroot, garlic, ginger, and whole grains have been core essentials on the family dinner table since I could digest solid foods.

Keep Reading... Show less

Now that college is around the corner for most if not all young adults, students once shook by a pandemic now have to shift their focus on achieving their career goals. As if we thought we had it together already! As an NYC girl, I have always seen myself as a hustler, hungry to advance my career in journalism by having one skill: working hard.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 BBQ Essentials Every Vegan Should Bring To Avoid Summer Cookout FOMO

You'll have your whole family drooling when you bring these goodies over too.

All vegetarians and vegans can relate when I say this: summer barbecues aren't fun when there's nothing you can eat.

Keep Reading... Show less

Kourtney Kardashian has decided to leave "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" after nearly 14 years and although we saw this coming, it breaks our heart that she won't be there to make us laugh with her infamous attitude and hilarious one-liners.

Kourtney is leaving the show because it was taking up too much of her life and it was a "toxic environment" for her.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

We Asked You How You Felt About Resuming 'Normal' Activities, And Some Of Your Answers Shocked Us

The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists when they'd feel comfortable doing "normal" activities again, considering COVID-19. We asked our peers the same thing, for science.

Last month, the New York Times surveyed about 500 epidemiologists asking about their comfort level with certain activities once deemed normal — socializing with friends, going to the doctor, bringing in the mail. That's all well and good for the experts, but they are a very niche group, not the majority of the population. What do "normal" people feel safe doing? In certain states, we've seen how comfortable everyone is with everything (looking at you, Florida), but we wanted to know where Odyssey's readers fell on the comfort scale. Are they sticking with the epidemiologists who won't be attending a wedding for another year, or are they storming the sunny beaches as soon as possible?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments