A gay woman’s truly awful experience in Brazilian company where sexualising women was the norm

I worked at the franchisor of a well known course in Brasil. The franchising company is big, but the franchisor itself is a small company. There were around sixty employees, mostly women. The president of the company would work upstairs from the room where I worked and he would be often there. Soon after I was hired, my boss – a woman – told me that the president’s driver might approach me at some point to invite me to have dinner with the president, and that it was polite to say yes, and then the rest was on me. I was appalled and went ballistic. Excuse me? She was quick to explain that a woman who worked at that time in the marketing department has started as a secretary, but after accepting a few invitations she had started her university course in marketing as soon as she was promoted to the department. She explained to me that if I was invited and said no, I might be fired before the three months experience ended.

She explained to me that if I was invited and said no, I might be fired before the three months experience ended.

I gave my boss a piece of my mind and told her he had better not approach me, as I wouldn’t take it well. Other women in the company told me about how I should put my pride aside, and be open to possibilities, as they would probably come with professional growth. Soon I learnt the ‘marketing girl’ was nicknamed “lanchinho” (‘snack’ in Portuguese). I was never formally approached, but I had to endure many other uncomfortable situations. The company had grand misogyny displays: all the male directors and coordinators were very open about screwing this or that person from either the franchisor or the franchises, and would make open derogatory comments on women in general. Every month there was a party at the company’s rooftop and there was usually beer and barbecue, and it was also a situation that women would be openly approached or objectified by all the males. The president would serve the women he was interested in, and people would dance and flirt openly, so as either keep their jobs or get a promotion. I had a close male friend at the company and I told him I was gay. I slowly opened up to people that worked in my department, until my boss (same boss, a woman) called me to a separate room to tell me I shouldn’t be open about my sexuality, or I would be punished, and that if I had told her that I was “sexually depraved” when they first hired me, I wouldn’t have been hired.

my boss called me to a separate room to tell me I shouldn’t be open about my sexuality, or I would be punished

She went on and on about me not “coming out” to her – I never did, I told some people that were closer to me and they outed me to her. She claimed she was giving me an opportunity to explain myself and that it was very difficult for her to work with a women who had sexual deviations. I was so shocked, I was rude to her. I told her when she had mentioned being married, I didn’t imagine her husband and and her having sex, she should return the favor. This woman was so afraid of gay people, I went to a coworker’s wedding and she was there with her family and she didn’t allow me to touch her daughter, which was a cute one year old at the time and everyone was hugging and kissing the girl, and she was so adorable I approached the kid as a coworker had her in her lap and leaned forward so as to squeeze her cheek, as I often do with kids. She abruptly removed the girl from my coworker’s lap as my hand was still halfway to the girl’s cheek and she looked desperate. She tried to be polite and tell me she would rather I didn’t touch the girl. Later I learnt she was afraid I might either do something to the girl or ‘make her gay’. There was a lot of discrimination against gay people at the company and they would make jokes all the time. All kind of homophobic jokes and sayings. I had to keep quiet as to keep my job. It was the worst job I ever had.

It was the worst job I ever had.

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