Sexual Discrimination

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I guess it depends on the men you are working with. Some of them are just not from this generation yet. It's futile even trying to get respect from those types.

On the other hand, there are lots of men who are easy to work with, and treat women with the respect they deserve as equal professionals.
 

kuan

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You cannot escape it. I'm not saying that there exists *** discrimination in every kitchen, but I'm saying that our cuisine is male dominated. The next time you look at a cookbook, notice the colors. Notice the oozing masculinity in the colors and flavors. We are unfortunately stuck with the notion that food has to be the way it is, bold, big, crunchy, primary, strong, and highly contrasting. Lines have to be sharp and focused. The food has to lead the eye, and the palate needs to be tantalized immediately or it's no good. This is a product of male dominance in the commercial kitchen over the last several hundred years.

I have always fought this male dominated conception of artistic excellence with gusto. Not only in the kitchen is this view prevalent but it also manifests itself in other areas of our world. Science is an example where male dominance controls our world view. Fashion, unfortunately, is another. Females don't control their bodies, males do. We have a certain idea of how women should look, what they should wear, and how they should act, and how they should cook. To this I say... Horsecrap!

Ladies! take charge of your kitchens! Pastel colors, softer lines, and subtle flavors. Not everything needs heat and crunch. Forget the other stodgy stuff, show them yours!

Kuan :)
 

isa

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I was trying to find a snappy comment that you could used when one of those guys get son to you. Something along the line of yeah that's because they all learned from their mother. Unfortunaly my head is not all with me tonight.

One thing you should do though is to make it clear to this bunch of *&^%^ that you will not stand for such behaviour in your kitchen. Because if you give an inch to those guys and they'll take a yard and you'll never hear the end of it.

Maybe blowing a gasket and putting them back in their place is what you really need.
 
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Well, I dont' know how to improve the unfair wages, etc, since we've previously established that lack of unions in kitchen workers even chefs causes problems.

When I worked in a restaurant, I was the only woman as well, but if the guys started making that a problem, I would just sweetly ask if they had PMS. I also referred to them all collectively as "the boys," which also annoyed them, but let them know that I was not threatened by the overwhelming sense of masculinity they exuded (READ SARCASM HERE, PLEASE!!!)

In my experience, anyone who has to cling to a group to prove their ability or worth (whether it is gender, religion, race, etc) is really struggling or being challenged by someone else. They must know you have talent, or they would not be so into putting you down.

And all the best chefs are NOT men. What about the grandmother of them all.. Julia Child? So not only are they being dumb, they are showing their ignorance.

So sorry this is your situation, Iza, but how can I say don't let it get to you when I know it is anyway? But the trick is fooling them into believing it doesnt' bother you, even if it does.

~~Shimmer~~
 

kuan

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I Respectfully disagree Shimmer. I don't believe that you should pretend they don't bother you. If something bothers you, let them know and tell them to stop it! Whoever you are, whatever the type of harrasment, whether it's sexual, racial, or otherwise, you need to stand up and let them know... OR ELSE! I've experienced this before and it's not good to lay on the ropes and keep taking it on the chin. As a minority Executive Chef, I have had to battle my way through a bunch of mistaken notions about my abilities, skills, and believe it or not, ethnic heritage. Now why this comes up I don't know, but whatever it is that bothers you, let it be known that you won't take no bullsh*t from these people. Sometimes people are genuinely baffled, but most of the time it's just ignorance.

For all the time we've lived in a world whose population is half female, we men know little about the opposite gender. Things like stupidity and ignorance are amplified when men get together in traditional "safehouses" for men like the commercial kitchen, hooters, and titty bars.

Don't pretend like everything is OK because it's not. Let the world know and hand ignorance its due. Stand up for yourself, we're with you.

Kuan
 
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*Sigh*

I should never write something late at night, because I never write clearly.

I agree, Kuan, that harassment must always be addressed. I was the only one in my tiny private college to confront a notorious harasser, and I didn't mince words. I made it very clear he understood what he was doing was not okay, and why.

It's important, however, to distinguish teasing and ignorance from harassment. I could be wrong, but I would guess those same guys that constantly made comments about male chefs also insult each other openly. If they don't, then yes, it is a problem. But I learned pretty quickly that political correctness isn't exactly the goal in a restaurant kitchen, and that is why some people (I'm not saying all) are drawn to working in one. It's also one of the reasons I too was uncomfortable a lot of the time, and was always told I needed a thicker skin. But I'm still here, thin skin at all, and I just had to figure out where to draw the line.

~~Shimmer~~
 
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I would hate to take sides but I REALLY agree with Anneke on this one.

Right on, Anneke!

 
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Wow Anneke, Good post!
May I add that, from my experience, a lot of the crass conversation that occurs in a restaurant kitchen is merely a way to cope with stress. An off-color joke, just at the right time, can immediately extinguish tension that has been building during th lunch and dinner crunch. Men are the most frequent culprits, but I've heard plenty of outrageousness come out of women's mouths too.
The key to dealing with the situation and determining whether it's harrassment is figuring out whether it's directed at someone or some group in particular. If it is, or is so constant that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, then harrassment is the appropriate term. Make an issue of it to the powers that be. Nothing will ever change if we don't speak up about such behavior.
Regarding the equal pay issue, go talk to a counselor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will help you figure out and gather the kind of documentation you need to make a case. I filed against a companay I worked for once and won a good chunk of back pay as settlement. It wasn't that hard to do.
 
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Joined Oct 15, 2000
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you can keep up, put out good food, do prep efficiently, and generally bust your buns for 8-12 hours you can work with me anytime. I don't care what your *** (or anything else) is? When I think of the truly great cooks I've ever worked with, almost all of them were women. Heck, one of them was 16(!) and came from a very well-off family. Amaazing work ethic.
 
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I also agree w/ Anneke,

But I also would like to point out, as a woman, that I have been discriminated against by another WOMAN, and this is a woman who thinks men should be the only ones who drive the catering truck. EXCUSE ME??? Not that I'm dying to drive it, but I had to become a truck driver, just to prove her wrong!!
 
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If your in a senior position then you have to stand your ground and push back (even if your not). Arm yourself with a couple good come back lines before you walk into work. Be prepared, even if it means going to the book store and looking thru some books for some really sharp humor. They probably do respect your working abilities, sounds like they are pushing you to learn locker room abilities (be one of the guys and play this game, it will help quite it down).

Turn it into a game so they aren't a team working on you. Start picking out people to divide the group up, if you play you cards well you can turn there childish behavior against each other and off of you totally. I've done this many times because honestly there isn't any other way to control this locker room poking behavior it's rather normal. If you tease them about "adjusting" themselfs it seems to work rather well to divide them against each other. Get one guy laughing at another.

P.S. The pay problem is a whole different issue and you shouldn't let them take advantage of you!
 
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You have to remember that most men, myself included began in the kitchen to use the cool equipment, play with all the neat toys, and to show off.
:rolleyes: :D
 
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Ok, I feel I have to put my 2 cents worth here. First of all, I thought it was interesting what you said Kuan about cook books and recipes being geared toward the male eye and the male palate. I have to disagree. I like quiche, but I really like a nice big steak and the big bold flavours of peppers and spices. Why must that be described as masculine? I don't see anything especially masculine in any cookbooks that I've come across... Does that make me masculine?? :confused: Gosh I hope not! (My husband might object!) I would also like to say for the record that I HATE pastels. I stopped liking them when I turned three years old. Sorry Kuan, with respect, I think you're wrong about that one too.

I think part of the problem is that we are so focussed on trying to define what is masculine and what is feminine and then we try to compromise which means that nobody is happy. Here's the good news: compromise is not always necessary when it comes to taste. Women spend money in restaurants too: if you make something they like, they'll buy it, and believe me, you'll know when they like it!.

As for the women in the kitchen issue, many of the problems that exist stem from fact that men and women communicate differently. I know many highly intelligent women that ended up looking like idiots faced with male humour because they didn't 'get it'. This goes for jokes AND other forms of communication as well. I'm not saying that women should turn into men when they are at work, just be aware of what's going on so you can react to it in a way that is clear to a man. THe first day that I worked in a professional kitchen, there were looks and whispers and one guy called me 'baby'. I probably could have been offended but instead I cracked up and addressed him as 'baby' also to show him how ridiculous he had been. He got the message loud and clear. Never had a problem since.

Men have a certain way of dealing with things which annoy women. We call it primitive, regressive and what have you. Well, put yourselves in their shoes: one women comes along, and suddenly everyone has to walk on eggshells? I'm not condoning or accusing anyone here, but I think for peace to exist, we have to understand both sides' differences. Men belch together, women buy shoes together. So what? As long as no one gets hurt in the process, then lets just be aware of eachother's differences and learn to live together. Women, just remember: you are just as strong, just as clever and just as powerful as any guy. THe minute you allow a man to intimidate you, you're in trouble and likely engaging in a downward spiral. So stand up for yourself and never discount the power of humour.

As for the issue of equal pay in the kitchen, that's a different chapter in the 'Tao of Anneke.' ;)
 

kuan

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I still maintain that most of the way we see the world is male dominated. From the time we start learning our ABC's till the time we die. Hopefully somewhere in the middle we can start seeing things a little different. The reason I say our standards for what we call "good" in food are masculine. These are standards set by men who dominated the industry from the time it was created. No, liking something like a big juicy steak does not make anyone masculine, but that big juicy steak itself is a manifestation of masculinity. In a more liberal artistic setting, we can see the differences between works created by men and works created by women. Put Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo together for instance and the difference is obvious. (to me at least)Women also write differently, draw differently, have different approaches to Mathematics and Science, have different systems of values and different ideas of morality.

I keep asking why it is not the same way in food. I feel the answer is stuck in the way we think about food. It's VERY difficult to break the mold set by the food police. Whether you're moving from one genre to another, or if you're simply just changing the menu. Alice Waters was very successful in doing this. She stuck by her convictions and did whatever she thought was right. Her food is a small snapshot of the way she views the world, yet, in her food, she opens up whole new world for us. She introduced a whole new paradigm to us and I'm thankful to her for that.

Kuan
 

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