6 Tactics to Shut Down Sexists at Work

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

Fuel them no more! The Muse offered up some great tips for shutting down the sexist jerks you work with, and we think they’re spot on.

1. Be bemused and dismissive.

Treat this person like a child you’re babysitting. Roll your eyes. Laugh at him. Say things like, “That’s nice, buddy.” And if that doesn’t work, take it to the next level by making fun of him a little. “Get a load of this guy,” you can say to other people in the room. Be the grown-up to his adolescent, and make sure he (and everybody else) knows it.

2. Beat him to the punch.

Sometimes you can tell that your passion for a particular subject is going to get you labeled emotional or shrill, maybe even hysterical. Beat him to it! When things start getting heated, call that sexist you know emotional, and suggest that he take a minute to calm down so you can get back on topic. Heh.

3. Don’t let him call you “sweetheart.”

When you hear it, don’t just dismiss it. “Do you call all the managers ‘sweetheart’?” you can ask. Act like you think it’s the weirdest thing in the world, and consider gently laughing at him in a superior, amused way.

4. Call him out.

Sometimes the direct approach is best, but don’t be confrontational about it; act like you’re on the same team. “Oh, you’d better make sure nobody hears you say things like that, or they’ll think you’re really backwards.” It’ll make him think twice the next time.

5. Feign ignorance.

When a guy makes a sexist joke or comment, act as if you don’t understand it. “What do you mean? I don’t get it.” If they try to mention some stereotype, stay just as blank. “Women like shoes? They do? Um…okay.”

6. Make him feel OLD.

Obviously this won’t work if the guy making the comment is younger than you are, but if not, act as if it’s a generational difference that’s confusing you about what he just said. Take the “I don’t get it” to the next level with a shrug and something like, “I guess it’s just a generational thing,” or “Oh, right, I guess people used to think that.”

Smart ideas, all.

This article was originally published on