How do you deal with a misogynist boss who is on a power trip and thoroughly enjoys yelling at people, especially me, a woman? I would like to quit with a bang. How can I give him a taste of his own medicine and also walk out feeling empowered? What exactly would you say? I have had to keep my mouth shut from saying how I really felt because I knew I would be fired. Well, I’ve had enough of that horrible treatment. I want him to have a taste of his own medicine. Please help.
Won’t Back Down, This Time
Dear Won’t Back Down,
Here’s what you do. First, go buy a watch, something big and garish, maybe one designed by Jessica Simpson. Second, purchase a notebook, look for a shiny or brightly colored one so it doesn’t go unnoticed, but compact enough to carry with you. (Bonus if you can flip it open with a flourish.) Start wearing the watch to work and carrying the notebook with you at all times. Now, the next time your boss (I’ll just call him SOB for short) starts yelling, belittling, or even hints at horrible behavior look at your watch with as much pageantry as you can muster, retrieve your notebook and make a quick note of the date, the time and what was done or said.
2/1 10:05am – blonde joke followed by fiftful screaming and use of the word cunt
2/2 11:15am – mimed masturbation while stomping on a framed photo of co-worker’s grandma
Hold the notebook close to you as if you’re protecting the contents and glance up at that SOB intermittently as you write. Do this every time he starts in on you (or anyone else), and make sure he notices. If he asks you what you’re doing just play dumb and say you’re writing in your nightmare journal. Or mumble that you’re working on a special project for HR.
This is going to do two things. First, it’s going to condition him into checking his behavior every time he sees you reaching for your notebook or checking your watch. Eventually all you’ll have to do is lift your wrist and, like a dog who sees you reaching for the spray bottle filled with vinegar, he’ll likely lower his leg and rethink pissing all over you. Secondly, and most importantly, it’s going to provide you with a detailed log of all his shitty behavior to take to your human resources department.
Even if you don’t have an HR department, a log of his behavior could still be useful, in case he fires you and you want to sue him for wrongful termination or harassment. You could also just privately keep a log but that would be way less fun.
Whatever you do, I hope your main goal is to get the hell out of there ASAP. I don’t care how much the job pays or what kind of experience you’re getting, nothing is worth getting emotionally abused over. You may not realize it now but by putting up with this you are unconsciously training yourself to tolerate shitty behavior and that’s a hard thing to unlearn. The bar for what you will take is being raised by this person and moving forward you might find yourself tolerating other manager’s crap because, “At least it’s not as bad as my last situation.” So, do plan on getting out of there. Whether you leave a trail of fire behind you or not is your call.
I’ll end with an anecdote. It’s not advice, as I would never advise this sort of immature behavior, it’s just a good story. I had a friend, I’ll call her … me. Many years ago this friend worked for a really creepy, pervy dude who hired her to do marketing for a website showcasing his lackluster, shitty art. After a couple of months of borderline creepy behavior he confessed to her that he had developed feelings for her and asked her out. After she rejected him he began cutting her hours, criticizing her work, and emotionally abusing her through emails. Then one day, about a month later, he fired her. She was working freelance, was not part of a union, and didn’t think she had any legal rights. So, a couple of weeks later, she went on to his Wikipedia page and changed the links to all of his books and websites so that they redirected to sites for erectile dysfunction, IBS, and flesh eating skin conditions. The page stayed that way for about a month before he discovered it. Now I’m not condoning that sort of behavior, it was a bit immature and could have gotten her in trouble. But man did it feel good, or so my friend tells me.