Man Won't Talk to Female Coworker, Fiery Internet Debate Over Sexism Ensues

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Jul. 27 2023, Published 12:51 p.m. ET

Annoyed businessman and angry businesswoman
Source: Getty Images/Reddit

As much as we want to believe that our places of work are inclusive, equal, and fair to each of its employees regardless of race or gender or orientation, that may not extend to our coworkers. Company policies on fair and equal treatment can only go so far, but you may end up having to deal with an annoying coworker whose prejudices rear their ugly heads every so often. In this particular Reddit AITA, however, the internet is having a hard time pinning which of two employees is the annoying coworker in this scenario.

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In late July 2023, a presumed male Reddit user posted in the AITA about asking a female coworker "if they could possibly leave [him] alone" after a workplace interaction went wrong. The woman called out this coworker for being "a misogynistic a------," but interestingly enough, the rest of the internet isn't so convinced. Here's the scoop on the full story and how this AITA pretty much divided the internet in half.

Businessman and businesswoman
Source: Getty Images
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A man asks "AITA" after he won't talk to a female coworker.

In their thread, OP opens up by admitting that they are "not comfortable around women" and does what they can to "minimize [their] interactions" with women as much as possible. That might raise a number of red flags for people already, but OP does try to explain their whole situation.

Reportedly, his company recently hired a woman who was trying to get to know her fellow employees better. Whenever she came around, OP would try to excuse themselves from the interaction. Eventually, she came to actively pursue OP's friendship. OP kept it civil, but never let it go for too long.

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After the woman made repeated attempts to earn their friendship, OP asked directly if she could leave them alone. She apparently "lashed out" in response and called him out for misogyny.

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OP later explained that their aversion to women was "something rooted in trauma" that they weren't comfortable sharing. They also admitted to being able to handle work situations but chooses to limit "general interactions" with women whenever possible. They also regularly attend therapy for these issues.

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Folks in the replies are starkly divided over the issue to the point where the thread has been locked as of this writing. Many people believe that OP's aversion to women is highly problematic and needs to be addressed.

"You will have many female coworkers. You will have female bosses. You will never have female employees because you won't get promoted until you fix these issues you have. You are limiting yourself and alienating your coworkers," one person argued.

"Treating women like they're a completely different species from you is not exactly trying very hard," another person commented.

Many also noted that in the original post, OP consistently referred to women as "females," which they then corrected.

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According to OP, however, they used to not be able to leave their house over their alleged trauma.

Because of this, many have decided that OP was not the a------, believing that their lingering trauma justifies their actions. Some also believe that the woman in question was not being respectful of their personal space.

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"I don't understand how he's the a------ for setting boundaries in the workplace," one person argued. "He doesn't need to open up to anyone that makes him uncomfortable."

Similarly, another user recognizes OP's trauma but feels as if their boundaries need should be adjusted for equal treatment.

"I sympathize with him, I really do. I sympathize with women who have difficulty working with men for similar reasons to OP, too," they begin. "However, what he is currently doing is not the solution."

Respecting personal boundaries with coworkers is never a bad idea, but the details in this particular workplace crisis make it all too murky.

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