A quick note on how I feel about men and coffee…
I got some interesting comments on my last blog, and for the most part I feel proud to be able to say I might have sparked some interesting dialogue. I just wanted to make a quick note in response to a few people who seem to have grabbed the wrong end of the stick.
For a start, I don’t for a moment believe the entire hospitality industry is completely tainted with sleaze. As I said in my last post, my experiences have been mostly positive. It’s an industry I continue to contribute to, which wouldn’t be the case if it was something I hated. I don’t think calling attention to something, or speaking honestly about it, “ruins” an industry. It would take a lot more than one blog post to ruin coffee for everyone. I do think speaking with candor about sexism within an industry is important, if we ever want it to change.
I know there are female managers out there because I work for one. I know there are great female baristas out there because I am one. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong of me to share my experiences with sexism within the coffee industry, and when considering reasons why there might be less women competing in the WBCs, I think sexism has to be examined.
I have had so many women contact me to say they had shared similar experiences to mine, but hadn’t known how to express them, and it was both wonderful and heartbreaking to know I wasn’t the only one.
To say that sexism doesn’t exist within hospitality because there are female managers and baristas in existence is kind of like saying there is no racism in America because there’s a Black president. It just doesn’t add up, and it is dismissive to those who are experiencing prejudice on a daily basis.
Secondly, if you are male, I don’t think you’re an asshole for flirting with me, or any other waitress or barista out there. I don’t think all men should just shut up forever, or stay out of coffee, or hide in their rooms for the rest of their lives. Sheesh.
Privilege is a tricky thing, and most of us go our whole lives without acknowledging even half of what we have. I think many people with privilege lack the capacity to comprehend the accumulative effects of their individual actions. To put that a little more simply, most men can’t understand why flirting with a waitress is detrimental, because they have no way of knowing they’re the tenth guy that week who has done so, and even if they did know that, they wouldn’t be able to sympathize with what that meant in the context of systemic sexism. I mean, sure, waitresses get hit on a lot, but if you’ve never had to deal with being made into a sex symbol, or constantly evaluated by your looks instead of your skill, or the threatening aspects of sexual interest, how are you to know that that’s a bad thing?
This is not me saying that men shouldn’t worry about their privilege, since everyone should worry about their privilege, but privilege and prejudice are two very different things. Being privileged doesn’t make you sexist by default, nor does it make you a bad person. What makes you sexist, or prejudiced, or a bad person, is when you consistently refuse to acknowledge your privilege, and ignore or dismiss the viewpoints of those who don’t have it.
Lastly, if you think women are just ‘different’ and less competitive or focused by nature, or that they simply choose not to compete for no other reason than that being their personal choice, you are ignorant.
Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m ignorant of a lot of things. We all are. There’s a difference between ignorant and stupid. To assume, however, that a group of people who have been systemically oppressed for thousands of years would simply ‘choose’ to exclude themselves from a particular interest or activity shows ignorance of any historical context for your comments. It shows you are unwilling to look outside of yourself, your own privilege and motivations, your own history, and see the bigger picture.
If you think women are just more interested in the social aspects of hospitality, and aren’t as good at training for one thing in particular, or don’t have enough testosterone or the right ‘kind of brain’ for competition, it shows you are ignorant of any historical or societal reasons why women might not act in the same way men do, not to mention your ignorance of the way brains and hormones work.
p.s. By request, here’s a lolcat: