Monday 8 April 2013

I live in a little bubble in a wider culture. It's nice in my bubble. All my friends are good people; no one talks about Cosmo magazine or Shorty Street, and generally the world is a very lovely place. But every now and again, I spot something truly vile, which reminds me how bad it is the rest of the world has it.

Today it was a coffee mug. Trigger warning, picture after the jump.

I started typing out the words on the mug, but I don't want my blog to be searchable by them.

This is what we mean when we say "society" is giving women the message they're not worth anything. It's not necessarily individuals delivering that message; we are all complex, beautiful and broken creatures, with our own battles to fight. The "society" is a way of thinking that's so ingrained that we can't see it anymore, even though it's written on the goddamn coffee mugs.

It's written on the coffee mugs because a lot of people decided that it'd be a good thing to have on coffee mugs.

This coffee mug was at work. (Immediate disclaimer: this coffee mug has absolutely nothing to do with work. We do not sell them, work did not purchase it. We are a little low on mugs, so occasionally people bring in a mug from home. Let's imagine the best possible things about the people I have to work with, and think this coffee mug was a jokey gift which someone brought in without thinking too hard about it.)

I spotted the mug on Coworker's desk, where it crouched, embarrassed. It didn't belong to Coworker, but someone had brought it into the building, disrupting my little bubble with the cold harsh light of reality.

That this is the way that some people think women think. Whoever brought that mug in may be looking at me or a coworker and thinking that we think like that; that our minds have been constricted and twisted to the point where our internal dialogue is that that's written on the cup; and that in a country where one in four women will be victims of rape that it's somehow okay to joke about this publicly in an office full of women.

It takes a lot of people to make a mug, to buy the mug, to bring it in, but only one to say, "I am confiscating this mug," and drop it in the bin.


  1. I for one am shocked. Have nothing more to say.

    Quote of the day - "drop it in the bin" - Rachel Rayner

  2. It's so shocking that it took much longer than it should have to notice that there's an unneccessary apostrophe.

    Not trying to jokingly avoid the subject here, trying to show that I was shocked so far out of character that something that would jump out at me usually didn't register until the third time I tried to look at the picture and not be shocked.

    1. Yeah, usually I look for apostrophies, but I'm too distracted by the message to critique the grammar in this case.

  3. Speechless. You should have had a ceremonial mug-smashing.

  4. I'm not a frequent reader of your blog; I wound up here via your post about CAH being linked by a friend. I was with you 100% right up until the very last sentence. But I think you handled this badly.

    Yeah, the mug's offensive and reprehensible. If it was me, there would have been two possibilities: if I liked the person, I'd have pulled them aside and told them it's not cool, could they please take it home and bring in something else? You'd be amazed how often people are shocked into line by the relatively minimal embarrassment of this sort of private conversation.

    If I didn't like them, or they blew me off, HR would have heard about it.

    But at what point in this did you decide it was morally acceptable to *steal the mug* because it offended you?

    1. Thanks for reading! If I had known who brought the mug in, I would have spoken to them first, but I could hardly interrogate all 80 people in my office. HR was not approachable. I'd also like to make it clear that this was not a high quality, expensive mug, even as mugs go.

      I'd like to turn your comment back around: at what point does the mug become okay? If it only said "I'd rather have a son, so he won't get raped, unless he's in prison," would that have been totally fine in a work environment? What if it was a nude calendar? There's a line, and like the cliche says, you know it when you see it.

      I made what I felt was the best choice in the situation, and the one which defended my right to a safe working environment. My team of five people saw me toss the mug, and they all (including my boss), supported that.

      I would be happy to buy Coworker a replacement mug, but no one ever approached me about this blog at work, except to compliment me on it!

    2. Sirithil ,you are just trolling aren'y you ? You must be .No one could be so stupid as to even consider if it is "stealing" ,it just doesn't matter.Removing racist ,sexist ,homophobic or any other item or product that promotes the abuse of another person or group of people cant be considered stealing,ever !
      I'm shocked someone ever thought to make this mug.I'm more shocked someone thought it was acceptable to bring it to a place of employment and yes I'm also shocked that anyone would bother to think that removing the mug from any location ( perhaps the owners own property ,house ect,is not right ,but Id be removing myself from there ,not the mug ) would think it is stealing.If you are not trolling then I can only conclude that you have lost a gripe of what actions real people of change need sometimes to take and have slipped into a PC world of the damned .

    3. Rachel, thank you for your clarification that you were willing to pay for the mug, and that this was cleared with your boss; I admit I'm not entirely surprised that nobody was willing to come forward and reveal it was theirs! Certainly at no point do I think it's okay to bring this sort of thing in to a work environment (or a nude calendar, or what have you); as I said, I was with you right up to the last sentence.

      @Anonymous: No, I'm not at all trolling, if you take something that doesn't belong to you without the owner's permission that's stealing. I agree with you completely that the fact this thing exists, or that it was brought into the workplace, was shocking. And under the circumstances it seems that Rachel had no other options; this wasn't clear in the original blog entry. In any case I thank you all for the spirited discussion. :)