Electronic shop sexism works the other way too

// 25 February 2008

Surely many female readers will have had the experience dealing with condescending, sexist assistants when shopping for anything vaguely technical (or something which uses electricity and is not, say, an iron or kitchen appliance!)

But, as this story on (The Customer Is) Not Always Right demonstrates, women who work in these shops have to deal with the same crap:

Customer: “Listen, I just need to talk to a computer guy! I did everything right. I put the hard disk in but it still won’t work. Just get a guy to fix it!”

Me: “Well, the most common mistake is when people forget to format the hard disk. I can have that fixed in 5 minutes.”

Customer: “Yeah sure. Get one of the tech GUYS to do it and call me when it’s ready.”

Comments From You

Jennifer // Posted 25 February 2008 at 1:03 pm

Oh, the stories I have about sexist male customers! My days working in Gamestation provided many.

I can’t tell you how many times I would answer a question for a male customer and then he would turn around and ask my male colleague the EXACT same question. Breasts obviously impeded my ability to any knowledge about xbox, playstation, nintendo, etc.

vibracobra // Posted 25 February 2008 at 2:11 pm

“My days working in Gamestation provided many”

Oh, I bet. Although I haven’t encountered that much sexism in game shops, there is one thing that comes to mind: every time I buy a Metal Gear game the assistant asks me if it’s for me or for someone else. No other game, just Metal Gear. Weird, the adventures of Solid Snake are a bit on the macho side, but no more than a lot of other games.

Otherwise, I’ve felt a little patronised in Gamestation and a smaller shop in Cardiff, but it’s not just women, they’re like that to everyone.

Danielle // Posted 25 February 2008 at 10:37 pm

Heh heh! This reminds me of a story my mum told me regarding her days at B&Q, the story is too good not to share.

It was a relatively quiet day, and a guy came up to my mum and asked her for some tool or other. So she went and got it only to receive a lo of abuse when she gave it to him, he told her she was a stupid woman who didn’t understand anything about DIY, she should call a man over, the usual, blah blah blah. Apparently he got quite aggressive. But she kept her cool, and got a male member of staff to help him.

A while later she went on the tills, and being a quiet day she was the only one working there. She saw him walk confidently up to the tills, look up at her, stop, and hover around hesitatantly, clearly looking for someone else to serve him.

So she called out to him, asking if he wanted to pay at her till. Having no choice, he reluctantly walked up to her till and threw down an item- the exact same tool she had fetched for him.

Now my mum decided she would have a bit of fun with the arrogant prick before he left. “Oh!” she said, “This wasn’t what you wanted was it? Why don’t I get another member of staff to help you again?”

Avoiding eye contact, he murmered something indistinct. “But I got this one for you and you told me it was the wrong one!” She exclaimed. “I wouldn’t want you to go home with the wrong thing.”

Of course, he had no choice then but to admit it was what he needed. He then paid and hurried out of the shop as fast as he possibly could while trying in vain to retain a scrap of dignity.

Lara // Posted 26 February 2008 at 6:29 am

Oof, I hear ya ladies. I work at an art gallery and I deal quite frequently with disgusting older men that try to hit on me and ask me out to dinner. I mean, men that could easily be my GRANDDAD! It’s a wonder I refrain from calling the security to haul their misogynist pedophile asses out of the gallery.

I also once worked at a kitchen/dining supply store several years ago. This man walked up to the register (where I was working) and was buying a blender. He was cold with me, and then when he looked up behind me he saw one of our large old photographs that show people cooking in their homes. One of the photographs was of a man cooking at his stovetop with an apron. The customer then sneered and said sarcastically: “ohhh, isn’t that cute? a man cooking!” Which I just tried to ignore (I was warned ahead of time about this customer as he apparently makes sexist comments every time he comes in). But it gets better, then when I was trying to get change for him after he paid and I was recounting the change to make sure it was correct he angrily mumbled “just like every other WOMAN I’ve ever met..”

I was so caught by surprise and shock at his comment that I didn’t have any time to respond or say anything.

Needless to say I was tempted to whack him really hard with a spatula….or some other culinary paraphernalia. Lawd knows why he was even buying stuff at a cooking supply store in the first place!

Danielle // Posted 26 February 2008 at 12:46 pm

“Lawd knows why he was even buying stuff at a cooking supply store in the first place!” — Lara.

Well he might be a chef. Because men don’t cook, they “create”, or whatever it is they say to try and elevate themselves above lowly (female) cooks.

Cara // Posted 27 February 2008 at 10:40 am

Oh yes, completely agree.

Worked in an off-licence a few years back.

The morons who assumed a girlie can’t know anything about wine, much less manly drinks like lager, beer and whiskey…oh yes, I remember it well.

The being hit on…euw…I was *working*, guys. That does not involve being there for your entertainment, and especially not when there is a queue behind you!

The patronisingness. One smug arrogant suit told me how much change he should get, as if I was a moron…actually, I can count, thanks (and the till even tells me), I was just waiting for the till – it was very temperamental.

The morons who expected me to walk over to them, because they couldn’t be bothered to walk the 3 steps to my till, the one I was signed onto! You wouldn’t expect the cashier in Tesco to move to the till you fancied, would you?!

The idiots trying to tell me where the cigarettes/ booze they wanted was – as I was going to get it. Yes, I know, I work there. And if as it happens you want some obscure thing I haven’t sold before, quite capable of finding it thanks, easier without you shouting (incoherent and unhelpful) directions.

The prick who came behind the counter to try to get his cigarettes because I couldn’t reach them, being a mere ickle woman and all – although I had a box to stand on, but no, couldn’t have that, he had to be all chivalrous. I would have loved to give him an earful for coming behind the counter, but would have got into trouble for being “rude” to a customer, and at that time did not know how to be assertive.

Sorry for the rant, but ooh, that’s better.

Cara // Posted 14 March 2008 at 3:09 pm


I was reminded of this article, as I had two sexist experiences today, as a shop customer, this lunchtime.

1. I was making my purchases at a self-service till in a supermarket. I had scanned them and was getting my wallet (and this took about 2 seconds, I’m not a fumbler) when a male shop assistant casually breezed up, and pressed a button as the till hadn’t registered that one of my items had been put in the bag. It quite often does this. The screen comes up with a message saying “Skip bagging” which you press. Simple, right? Apparently the sexist pig assistant thought that mere women are too stupid to do that, though – nope, just can’t do 2 things at once! And anyway sometimes the till does register the item is bagged eventually.

Second, I was browsing in Accessorize and reaching for a bag on the highest rail, can’t reach them (can anyone under 5″8? Why do they put them so high? The physical world is designed for men!) but was stretching up and with a bit of effort would have got the bag. A male sales assistant asked me if I wanted him to get it, I said no thanks I can manage, then *he got it anyway* saying (quite aggressively, too) “Let me get it for you”.

No means no…seriously…remind you of anything? Oh yep, the way many males are convinced that *they* know better than silly wimmin and don’t need to listen to them, ‘cos what they say doesn’t matter! Quite seriously, if he can just not hear “No thank you, I don’t want you to get that for me” then does he hear “No, I don’t want to have sex”?

I did not buy the bag, so they lost custom.

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