The person sitting next to me was a strikingly attractive young woman. She raised her hand to ask a question and we were stunned when the lecturer failed to address her by her name (as he had all of the males that were asking question). Instead, he said, “What’s your question blondie?” The room immediately became uncomfortable but the lecturer seemed to have no idea that what he had said was sexist. She asked her question, received her answer and sat fuming and embarrassed for the remainder of the morning.
I regret that I did nothing. I felt horrible for her but felt powerless to do anything. I didn’t want to speak up because I was a new hire and besides, this gentleman was so well regarded in the community. At the very least I think I should have said something to the offended party afterwards, but I didn’t. I think that if I had it to do all over, I would have taken a moment to say something to the lecturer at the break for lunch. I think I should have let him know that I think he offended one of the new hires by the way he addressed her. I think at the very least, I should have let him know that he made me feel uncomfortable by referring to her as “blondie”.
I understand that this man was from a different generation and that such a comment might have been tolerated when he was much younger. But that isn’t an excuse. It does place the comment in context, but I can still remember that embarrassed and uncomfortable emotion I felt in the training session that