Earmuffs On: Creating a less than culture

Imagine this: You’re sitting in a conference room for a meeting. You’re a new-ish officer eager to learn from the leaders around you. You’re the most junior ranking individual in the room.

Chit-chat begins – this isn’t out of the norm as side bar conversations are frequent in this environment (especially as you wait for a meeting to start). But then it happens. It’s a moment you prayed you would never encounter and yet somehow it’s come so quickly.

A senior ranking officer in the room – field grade type – turns to you (the only female present) and says, “Earmuffs on.”

He then proceeds to comment on how unbelievable it was that the movie Sicario showed a female as the point (wo)man for a breach in the movie’s opening scene.

Now riddle me this.

By telling her to essitentially cover her ears FIRST, he knew the words that were about to exit his mouth could be offensive AND not appropriate, but he CHOSE to say them anyways. He actively decided to create an environment in which it’s clear in his eyes a female is not capable of completing he same task as her male peers.

If anything, the idea of that is humorous.

I would argue maybe it’s not his fault – a historically Ranger Battalion guy raised in an environment females are not historically a part of. But this case doesn’t warrant a devil’s advocate. He knew he was wrong and proceeded anyways.

Have you ever felt powerless? I imagine that’s how she must have been feeling as this unfolded.

Do you say something in the room? Do you give him the benefit of the doubt and swing by his office, praying he is a reasonable human being?   The reality is you fear the perception this male officer will now have of you and the manner in which he will portray you to others. The reality is you fear reprisal.

Is that always the case? No. Is there a chance he would take the feedback well and hold nothing against her? Yes. Are the odds in her favour? There’s only one way to know and that requires her to put her neck on the line when she never should have been put in the situation to begin with.

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