I’m used to it

So here’s the thing: I’ve been working in audio for 15 years now. I’ve done composition and various sound design projects, in theater and elsewhere. I worked at Meyer Sound for eight years, in product development. I’ve mixed FOH and monitors, recorded live orchestra performances, programmed show control touch screens, and drove around town hauling speakers from site to site in the middle of the night. I’ve worked directly with a lot of people in the audio industry, people with pretty much every related career imaginable: theme park designers, famous musicians, scientists, radio techs, engineers (of the audio, electrical, mechanical, production, manufacturing, network, and software varieties), designers, directors, A2s, audiologists, even actual tonmeisters

And across all the places I’ve worked, in professional audio, there’s one situation which has happened over and over again.

Imagine this: You’re starting a new gig, at a new venue, or with a new crew, a new town, whatever. You’re meeting the new people, getting things set up, figuring out who does what, and you’re all hanging out during a break. If you happen to be female, you get the doubting glances, the exchanging of questioning looks with others, the unspoken “Is she supposed to be here?” skepticism that requires you to repeat everything you say, followed up with some irrefutable proof that you know what you’re talking about.

But it’s ok… you get used to it.

And then it happens – some guy makes a misogynist comment, an inappropriate joke. He looks at you: “Sorry”, he says, in that challenging, sorry-not-sorry tone, waiting for you to either condone or condemn his behavior in front of the group.

The social pressure to accept is extreme – if you condemn them, you’re the outsider, you’re the one who can’t take a joke, you’re uptight, easily offended, and most ironically, they won’t respect you. 

So what do you do? 

“It’s ok…” you sigh, in a half-jokey long-suffering kind of way, or try to laugh it off convincingly, possibly bringing up some other time when you had to deal with similar or worse personalities.

“…I’m used to it.”

And maybe you are used to it. Maybe you’re used to it because it’s the same thing that’s happened at every other place you’ve ever worked. Maybe it’s something that you are required to get used to in order to just have the kind of job you want.

So here’s my question: Why is this a requirement in this industry? Or any industry? Why do I have to “get used to” men making “jokes” about women, acting unprofessional, talking down to me, and telling me immature sexist shit while I’m just trying to do my fucking job?

Who the hell wants to be exposed to that so much that they have to get used to it?

So please, don’t blame the women who chose to do something different for not being passionate enough, or knowledgeable enough, or interested enough to work in the audio industry – they definitely are. But it’s immediately clear, in any community, what kind of behavior is accepted or rejected, and you, as a member of your community, have the power to cast your vote on any behavior you see, good or bad. I consider myself fortunate to now be a part of communities and a workplace where this does not and would not happen. Consider what you want for your community, and act accordingly.

3 thoughts on “I’m used to it

  1. Peter Bouvier

    I worked for Ellen and loved being challenged by her. I freaked out when she left Meyer because her momentum would be lost, at our expense, and I would have to carry more of the load. Being who I am (a gay man) I was super sensitive to her having to justify herself when others didn’t have to just because she was a woman. It isn’t fair, and it’s gotta be tiring. Fortunately there wasn’t much of that at Meyer Sound Laboratories (at least not that I could see). But where I could see it I called it. Strong women don’t need to excuse themselves.

    • Peter, thanks for reading and sharing! I agree, there are a lot of good and supportive people at Meyer Sound, and while any company has its quirks, this kind of harassment was definitely not one of them. Good to hear from you 🙂

  2. It’s completely unacceptable. No one should have to be ‘used to it.’

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