Nice Cans?! FFS, Really?

26 Jul
Melissa Lee (a.k.a. LilaMae)

by Melissa Lee (a.k.a. LilaMae)

“You have nice cans. That should count for something! I wish I could help. I really don’t know much about networking. I’m a software guy.”

That, dear readers, is a quote from an email I received from a fellow skeptic and TAM attendee. (I was asking him if he knew of any net admin jobs available) And because I’m sure you’re curious, here’s my reply:

I can’t believe you just said that to me. Nice cans?! What are you, Larry from Three’s Company? Jeez. Next time I see you I’m measuring your dick just so I can make references about its size, henceforth. Software huh? Yeah I bet. Oooooh!

Yes I have my own style, don’t I?

I’m not going to get up on a soapbox and preach about sexism here. I’m still kind of suffering from sexism-fatigue in the aftermath of…you know. What I find interesting is that after reading that email, I immediately questioned myself and what I must have done wrong to let a man believe he could say something like that so casually to me. Is is because I wear low-cut tops? Is it because I curse? Is it because I’m too permissive when it comes to sexist jokes?

I know some would say it’s totally not my fault at all. But is that really true? We do teach people how to treat us. Have I been a poor example for my gender? Every once in a awhile, not very often, but occasionally I ask myself these questions and I wonder if other people do too (of either gender)…and what they do about it.

And just for S’s & G’s, here’s the rest of this lovely exchange:

“If you want to measure my thingy, you’ll need a yardstick.”

Me: You seemed so nice & quiet in person. And then you got behind a computer….sigh.

(Update: I would like to note that this person has since apologized profusely and sincerely. And I accepted his apology. So, the moral of this story is, if you get some jerkwad telling you that you have nice cans, posting it on your blog is an excellent way to teach him a lesson. And a good life lesson he did learn. )




32 Responses to “Nice Cans?! FFS, Really?”

  1. Gary L. Birge at 6:30 pm #

    That is just unacceptable!…and he says it so off the cuff, like it is a normal start to conversation for him……dude has issues.

  2. Aaron Johnson at 7:04 pm #

    Have you considered outing this sexist pig?

  3. Jesse at 7:23 pm #

    I would argue that this exchange was not something you brought on yourself. While we certainly teach others how to treat us, I think it falls under the category of treatment of the individual, not a far reaching group. Had this been a close friend who’d made this comment, I would expect it wouldn’t have garnered this reaction because, hopefully, their tongue would be firmly planted in their cheek. I, certainly, have established behavior that I accept from my friends that I wouldn’t tolerate from a stranger. It’s a matter of respect, I know (or hope) that my friends respect me, whereas I can’t make that assumption of anyone else.

    It could be that the person who wrote this is sexist, or at least harbors some misogynistic ideas. It seems just as likely that this individual is just a hapless boob (hur) who’s making a pass at you and doesn’t quite grasp that this is not the appropriate way to go about it.

    As a side note, is this seriously a grown man referring to his penis as a “thingy”? My hapless boob theory is starting to feel a little more likely.

    • Stephanie Z at 7:50 pm #

      Actually, Jesse, the parting shot argues against haplessness. Insulting women when they question your (rather, his) “right” to sexually comment on any woman is well-trained behavior.

      Melissa, your only crime was asking for something other than what he wanted to give you.

      • Jesse at 9:44 pm #

        I was really just making fun of his choice of words rather than what he meant by the comment, but I definitely see your point there. Regardless of intent, I think it’s safe to say we can all agree it was juvenile, crass and wildly inappropriate.

        Additionally, my apologies my comment came off as defending institutionalized sexism, whether or not the person realizes what they’re doing. It’s disgusting behavior irrespective of how aware he was of the sexism of what wrote, it just also happens to be a little sad if he’s completely oblivious. I would hope that, if he is at all following this, that it would provide an opportunity for personal introspection, growth and improvement. (Wishful thinking?)

      • Stephanie Z at 12:04 pm #

        No worries, Jesse. I’m all for snark. You provided an opening more than anything else. 🙂

  4. Christian Walters at 7:28 pm #

    Shit. It looks like one of our rednecks snapped his lead. *sigh* It happens sometimes. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    It is unusual that he would get all the way to Minnesota. The yellow-bellied Bucktoothus Assholish is not commonly migratory. Interesting. Did you guys have Bob Seeger performing at your most recent state fair?

    Anyway, I’ll contact the CDC. They will deploy their Behavioral Anthropologists, Gomer Division. In the meantime, you’re probably not in any danger unless it’s hunting season. However, prolonged exposure can make the condition contagious. We don’t want a biohazard or a “Redneck Zero” situation. Stay away from grits and fried meats, and keep your radios tuned to NPR or anything giving a stock report.

  5. Ian Wood at 8:15 pm #

    Oh, how droll.

    It took being hit on in very biologically specific ways (as part of an arsenal of hit brought to bear against me) for me to realize that what I dislike most about crass people is that they’re just so obvious and unimaginative. Who wants to be around that, in any capacity?

  6. TurboFool at 8:20 pm #

    Am I the only one who sees his “nice and quiet” comment as an even bigger insult? I mean no question the initial comment was crass, uncalled for, and just plain stupid, but I find the implications of him preferring you “nice and quiet” even worse. It implies to me that women who speak up are, of course, NOT nice, and that he’s turned off by women who speak their mind. Quiet, submissive, “seen but not heard” types are preferred. Blegh. if my partner’s not challenging me, expressing opinions, and caring about things enough to speak up, I’m not interested.

    • Thatjoeguy at 8:43 am #

      It was my assumption that she made the “nice and quiet” comment to him. “You seemed so nice and quiet when we met, and now you make comments on my breasts.”

      • Melissa Lee at 10:29 am #

        I was actually the one who made the “nice & quiet” comment. Sorry, I’ll make a correction so it’s more clear. 🙂

    • quarksparrow at 9:48 am #

      Yeah, me too. I’m not fond of the casual sexist comment, but THIS is what really pissed me off. The insinuation that not only do ‘nice & quiet’ girls shut up and take this kind of bs, but that she’s only acting this way because being behind a computer activated the dickish side she’d covered up in person (and not because he did anything wrong).

  7. dovil at 8:48 pm #

    I think you were right to question yourself because everyone knows that sending out an email to someone inquiring about job opportunities is secret code for “My Cans: Hot or Not?”. As someone working for a job agency my day is filled with correspondence where I thank people for their applications and then rate their body parts dependent on what kind of font they used (Times New Roman normally means they have nice thighs).

    In conclusion, at least you can now be assured your worth as a woman having had a body part validated by a software guy who apparently has freakish genitalia.

  8. Soooo, he liked you better when you weren’t being assertive, so he could stare at (maybe photos of? eek) your chest some more without interruption…

    Le Sigh. Men!

  9. Oouie at 8:56 pm #

    Unf@(king believable! I’m so sorry that u seem to be taking the brunt of so much of this sh!t, RW. You go girl! And thanx a bunch for helping to bring to the forefront the kind of crap we women deal with every day.

    • Joey at 9:23 pm #

      “RW”? Have you checked the byline and photo? My thanks to Melissa for her own work, despite the ickiness of the “research.”

  10. Pieter B at 9:58 pm #

    When I hear a guy say something like this in my presence I’ve been known to ask “How the f*** would you feel if I said that to your sister or your mother?”

  11. Kelci at 11:02 pm #

    I’m particularly disgusted by the response to your response. Apparently, he’s only looking for a “nice and quiet” girl who will nicely and quietly let him objectify her. Lovely.

  12. heywhatarewedoing at 12:12 am #

    How unfortunate.

    I’m lucky to be able to say, with confidence, that the vast majority of my friends (skeptics or otherwise) shake their heads with me on this one. I wish there was quick fix to that kind of insane garbage. Also, wish I could say that all of my friends were on the same page.

  13. Tom at 4:32 am #

    No, it’s because breasts have evolved to be noticed by men. They are sexual attractors. You may not like it, you may think whatever you want about it, but you can’t deny basic biology.
    So what really happened is that one man said what every other man thinks, at least subconsciously. Not because we are sexist swine, but because we are, you know, male members of the species who have inherited a brain that predates political correctness.

    Whatever happened to Free Speech? If he fondled you, I’d be with you on the outrage. But if you are that deeply hurt by WORDS, maybe the problem is with you, not the speaker?

    • Niki M at 11:14 am #

      With all due respect, Tom, are you serious? I mean, are you seriously saying that Melissa didn’t have the right to be annoyed (as I’m reading it, more annoyed than ‘hurt’) that the response she got by asking about a job is a comment about her ‘cans’? What do “nice cans” have anything to do with a net admin job?

      Yes, one of the purposes of breasts are secondary sexual identification. Yes, straight men take notice of them. However, most have the presence of mind to not stare, or leer, or randomly give an unasked for opinion on them. That’s not political correctness or depriving Free Speech, that’s just being polite.

      Also, the ‘boys will be boys’ evo-bio excuse is a rather lame insult to both reasonable men and women.

    • theprocrastinatrix at 3:29 pm #

      Oh Tom. What decade are you living in?

      If it were a social conversation and he said, “Nice cans.”, it would be one thing and that one thing would be boorish. But this was in the context of a professional conversation. It’s not the WORDS that hurt or annoy, it’s the IDEA that all of Melissa’s education and work experience are are being ignored in favor of her appearance.

      “Whatever happened to Free Speech?” The battle cry of the constitutionally illiterate. Nothing happened to free speech, idjit. He spoke freely. Now Melissa and the rest of us are freely speaking. You are freely speaking. Unless the government tries to fit him with a ball gag, Mr. Nice Cans will continue to speak freely. And a lot of us will be further convinced that he’s a stupid jerk who calls a woman’s breasts cans and his own penis a thingy.

  14. Thatjoeguy at 8:47 am #

    To be fair, one can measure 2″ on a yard stick. He was probably just expressing a preference for the imperial system over the metric. (5 cm)

  15. Niki M at 8:59 am #


    Words, I has a few. And they’re loud and really, really rude.

  16. jeffwagg at 11:05 am #

    Nice cans? You have more than one ass? Maybe I’m behind in my terminology. (Or I’ve been hanging around Hal too long.)

    At any rate, sounds like someone to avoid.

  17. Jacob Vohs at 11:12 am #

    Toads never get kissed and very rarely turn into prince’s. I doubt he even knows he’s a toad, sad for him.

  18. Christian Walters at 11:20 am #

    I think we’re overlooking a different level of insult here. Not just the obvious one to Melissa specifically and women in general. And not the embarrassment of all the guys who would never say that kind of thing, but still feel collectively lumped in with those boors. There is also a breathtaking lack of creativity in play.

    So you somehow get the attention of a woman like Melissa, and you can’t be bothered to come up with something better than “nice cans”? I don’t know what his success criteria are, but does he think so little of women that he feels “nice cans” are a step towards that goal (whether that goal is ongoing friendly communication, a torrid thigh-blistering love affair, or somewhere between)? Put some EFFORT into it, man! You may not sweep her off her feet, but you have made a stand against being boring, predictable, and aggravating. “Nice cans” stopped being creative to men at around age 12, and I’m not sure it was ever creative to women. (My youngest niece is about 4. I’ll try it on her and report back. I expect an eye-roll from her and a threat of violence from my sister.)

    I don’t know Melissa well enough to know what kind of thing would get her attention — at least, in a positive way. (If negative attention was the goal, then bravo!) But I don’t have to know her at all to know there are a lot of higher-percentage approaches if I’m interested in getting/staying on her good side. That’s a safe bet for anyone else I encounter, too. While there may be people out there who would say “he noticed my breasts, I must have him!” generally you’re better playing the odds.

    Minnesota gave us Mystery Science Theater 3000. You guys have a legacy to uphold.

    Mr. Software Guy — if you’re reading this post and these comments in horror, thinking that “nice cans” is both appropriate and creative, then you have my sympathy. But you’re not off the hook. Embrace this Teaching Moment and contact your mother/sister/female cousin/any other woman you can maintain eye contact with and ask her why it’s not a good thing to say. Do NOT look at her boobs while she’s explaining it!

    • Bjorn Watland at 4:53 pm #

      I might be reading too much/little into the comment made, but I don’t think this guy was hitting on Melissa, but was rather insinuating that she wouldn’t have a hard time getting a job in IT, even with a lack of skills, due to her “nice cans.”

      Melissa has a friendly, caring personality, which would be a benefit on top of whatever skills she may bring to a career. This alone would lead me to hire her over the anonymous “nice cans” guy.

      • The Man Version at 8:49 pm #

        Oh, I know. It’s difficult to tell what his motives were. I’m assuming only that that email exchange wasn’t the last contact he wanted to have with her.

        If he *was* hitting on her, it becomes even more astonishing that he thought that was a primo line. But not having sex on his mind doesn’t get him off the hook for being a boring communicator.

      • Melissa Lee at 10:45 pm #

        Aw, Bjorn, you’re so sweet.

  19. Brian Toberman at 11:19 pm #

    I’ve never heard of anyone calling their arm a “thingy” before, feelings of inadequacy maybe?

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