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An Introvert’s Guide To Calling Out Sexism At Work

Posted: June 15, 2021

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As a society, we expect that women who speak up must be extroverted. What about the introverts who quietly do what they have to?

Feminism is the best thing that has happened to me. I know that I’m even writing this article because feminists across centuries have fought for my rights. We are standing on the shoulders of feminist giants and we need to pay it forward to the coming generations.

However, when we think about any kind of revolution, we mostly think of extroverted people. Just search for the word ‘activist’ on Google and you will see images of people revolting on streets and loudly raising slogans. As Susan Cain points out in her famous TED talk, this is kind of unfair because a lot of revolutionary leaders in history have been introverts.

It’s interesting that Cain compares our extrovert bias with the alienation and the pain that women feel in the patriarchal setup. “Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women living in a man’s world,” she writes in her book, Quiet.

Calling out sexism at work, my way

When I began my career, I knew that I would be calling out my co-workers, irrespective of their position, if they happen to be sexist or promote discrimination in any way. I’m now seven years in my career and barring one, all of my bosses have passed sexist comments. I’ve called them out but my way of calling out hasn’t always fit the extroverted feminist template.

I called out one of my bosses on social media (he was on my friends’ list and he was my boss at that time). He read what I posted, and even though he didn’t admit his mistake, he got the message.

In another case, I bought a t-shirt that called out people who enjoy sexist jokes. I wore it to my workplace. Being an introvert and also someone who battles Social Anxiety Disorder, the attention made me uncomfortable. But my boss got my message and was at least careful before cracking such jokes. At that point in time, this was the choice that honored my feminist principles and helped me handle my anxiety at the same time.

But why is the quiet way not always recognised?

Over the years, I have become more comfortable in calling out seniors and other co-workers. I have made choices that required me to move out of my comfort zone.

But why are introverts always expected to move out of their comfort zone? Isn’t it fair to sometimes expect extroverts to do the same? Why do introverts like me have to fit into the extrovert ideal? What if I’m not like the extroverted ‘boss lady’ that a lot of people admire? Are extrovert feminists superior to introvert ones?

The idea is not to compete – we need both introverts and extroverts to lead and change the world with their unique gifts. We need both groups to challenge themselves to move out of their comfort zone. Unfortunately, we seem to have a rigid idea of how we should be changing the world and who can bring in change.

Revolutions are not always about loud slogans or flamboyant rebellion. Sometimes, it is just a woman on a bus quietly refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger.

Image source: a still from the film Kaasav

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Feminist. Autodidact. Introvert. Highly Sensitive Person. Optimist. Bookworm. Spiritual Seeker.

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