The Suit Does Not Make the Man — Quality of Character Does

Gillian Sisley

To the boys in suits on my flight: the way you talk about women isn’t charming — it’s revolting.

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Photo by Bambi Corro on Unsplash

This week was a massive milestone for me.

In my almost 4 years of business, I went on my first official business trip.

It involved fancy meals with my biggest clients, a massively inspiring Tony Robbins conference in Toronto (you know, the guy who got Oprah to run over those hot coals), which featured one of my favourite entrepreneurial speakers Rachel Hollis (Author of ‘Girl, Wash Your Face’), and plenty more fantastic presenters.

But before I could start my many client meetings, I first had to hop on a flight to get to their city.

And that was when I encountered a couple of men, seated next to me in the aisle and middle seat, who I originally only assumed the best of.

Unfortunately, I was wrong in that assumption.

It started out like any other interaction in my life — optimistically.

When they first sat down, I looked up and offered a polite smile.

I may write fairly often about the misogyny I encounter online, but I don’t assume every man I meet is going to be a douchebag.

In fact, quite the opposite — I always assume the best in people. Until they give me reason to believe otherwise.

And two very handsome young men in suits to boot? It’s hard to argue with that!

I may be a married woman, but I can appreciate a couple of handsome businessmen.

The thing was, while their suits communicated a mature, professional and ambitious demeanour, their attitudes did not match that narrative.

While talking about the on-flight entertainment system, a rom-com trailer started to prview.

“The movie ‘The Proposal’,” they erupted into laughter. “Oh God, no. Never.

Just to be clear — it wasn’t the not-wanting-to-get-engaged part that set off a red flag for me.

I have many friends who never plan to marry — and by all means, we all have the right to live our best lives!

For me, that involves marriage, for some of my closest friends, it doesn’t.

That choice is no one else’s business but our own, because it’s our own lives, and we can do what we very damn well please!

No, it wasn’t their lack of desire to get married that tensed me up.

It was the way they said it and the way they laughed about it.

These were two professional grown men in their 30s, and yet I had immediate flashbacks to the high school jocks of my past and cringed.

They shared their best tips for tricking women into bed.

Their lives are their business — but that doesn’t mean what they were saying was appropriate.

Like damn, I was just trying to mind my own business and read my book, in peace.

But I caught myself more than once rereading the same page 3–4 times over because I couldn’t help but tune into their loud and obnoxious conversation.

Here’s a snippet that says it all:

“I’ve been a pilot, a doctor, a military guy in camo , and everything in between — chicks eat that sh*t up. Whatever it takes to get it done, you know?”

Cue joyous and sexist laughter.

There is a chance I sincerely gagged at this statement.

And recoiled a little further to my window because it made me feel so damn icky.

While also making me feel very grateful for the diamonds on my left hand ring finger, and the zero interest these guys had in engaging with a married businesswoman travelling on her own (hey, maybe I was just extra lucky and wasn’t their type to begin with!).

I wanted to groan and roll my eyes and vomit all at once.

It was like I wasn’t on a plane afterall, but instead at a frat party in university I was unwillingly dragged to by a friend, and really wished I could peace out, but didn’t want to leave my friend behind just in case a guy like one of these dudes tried to pick her up.

When a guy sleeps with a bunch of people, he’s a hero.

When a gal does the same, she’s a whore.

It’s just such a twisted double standard that guys like this not only benefit from, but perpetrate so that they can keep their advantage and use it as much as possible.

They complained about women who refuse to take on supporting roles.

Now, being a married woman, I know full well just how much equal partnership it takes to make a relationship successful.

I am a strong feminist woman, and I’m currently taking on all the traditional roles in our household.

Why? Because while my husband and I both have full-time jobs, he’s also studying full-time on top of that to become a certified professional accountant.

His designation is a massive step in his career, and will directly benefit our life as a couple, and the future of our family as a whole.

As his partner, I’ve taken on the responsibilities of the rest of our shared life so that he can focus on his designation.

The reason I cook every meal and clean for us has nothing to do with my being a woman.

It has everything to do with my being in a partnership.

But that’s the catch — eventually that supporting role needs to be balanced out.

But for these guys, it wasn’t about balance — it was about expecting their ex-girlfriends to have worked full-time as well as taking care of all of the household needs.

Just ‘cause.

Because after a long day at the office, they deserved to kick back with a beer and watch the game.

And as you all know, those silly “lady jobs” their exes were at all day weren’t real work, an(yways.

(Via giphy.com)

Final word.

In the end, I didn’t say anything.

In fact, their conversation was so stereotypically on brand that it bored me to the point where I took a nap.

I’ve heard this narrative a million times before throughout my short 26 years of life.

I’ve gotten offended and worked up and enraged while encountering everyday instances of sexism like this.

That’s one of the driving forces behind why I’m co-editor for an online feminist publication where I post pieces just like this one.

On my flight back home following my business trip, I pondered if I was in the wrong for staying silent on my flight 4 days prior.

But the fact of the matter comes down to this:

Those guys, as frat-boy sleeze as they were, are entitled to their own lives.

And I am not the National Representative for explaining to sexist bros why their behaviour is problematic.

I wasn’t part of their conversation — I was instead an eavesdropper.

And as a communications professional, I know that the quality of a willing conversation is just as important as the words that are said.

And truthfully, most days I decide that I don’t want to be an aggressive champion for equality who chimes into conversations on the airplane between two man-children and berates them for being dicks.

And that’s okay.

Plus, being a woman is f*cking hard enough in day-to-day life.

And when I’m on a flight for business purposes, just minding my own dsmn business and reading a book on personal growth while sipping ginger ale, I don’t feel like telling a couple dudes they’re gross and then sitting next to them awkwardly for the next 2 hours.

And I’m happy being fully within that right, and doing the good work when I’m in positions where some real constructive conversation and change can actually take place.

You’ve got to choose your battles, friends!

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