Our organization recently hired a new staff member. A man who felt entitled enough to apply for a position at a women’s organization. A man who reaches over me to grab things without even a “sorry” or “excuse me.” A man who decided on Day 2 that our office arrangement “simply won’t do.” Having a man on staff at a women’s organization changes things.
Today, he has decided to play Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and other pop songs very loudly from his office. Slowly, the women staff members began to close their doors one by one. We, as the interns, were stuck out in the common space being bombarded by the shrill voice that is Taylor Swift. We just stuck in our own headphones, but couldn’t manage to drown out the sound. Everything about the situation was aggravating. I hated seeing that women knew all too well how to adjust themselves around the exorbitant amount of space that men took up. I hated that this was a self-proclaimed feminist organization where I was still being worn down by ridiculous microaggressions. I hated that if I confronted him, I would have to go through the overly apologetic shuffle of politeness, instead of being able to tell him to just (please) dial down his male privilege.
I felt unable to do anything about it, because in the end, it wasn’t about the music. It was his lack of hesitation in playing loud music throughout the office and his unapologetic assumption that he didn’t have to ask for our permission. It was the manifestation of his male privilege that made me upset — the reminder that power and privilege still pervade small interactions like this, even for a man working at a feminist organization.