Posted in Life

Ain’t This Some BS?

I sit on several boards through my job. One is for an arts organization. I received this email about an upcoming board meeting:

The meeting will be followed by dinner  in the (deleted) Room for Trustees and their spouses at 6:30 p.m.
Thank you!

I promised myself five years ago that I wasn’t attending anymore baby or wedding showers (they depress me). And, I wasn’t going to any more weddings in which I was invited without a guest. Yeah. Weddings are expensive. I get that. But, I’d pay for my guest if given that option so I don’t have to go alone.

When I RSVP’d for the meeting, they asked if I was attending the dinner. I sadly didn’t have the guts to tell them how rude I thought the invitation was. I mean seriously, way to invalidate me as a person. I don’t want to go in the first place. Then, you tell me that I can’t bring a guest because I’m not married to them? Right.

45 thoughts on “Ain’t This Some BS?

  1. I am all rared up and ready to go; ready to back you up on this.
    But, wait. I don’t get it.
    (slightly embaressed now)
    can you explain what part of this is bothering you?

    I get the baby shower thing. I had several miscarriages in my early 30’s and baby showers were too painful for me, too.
    Also, I was single for a long time and hated that ‘left out’ feeling you sometimes get.
    So, like I said, I am pissed off! Just need to understand what I am pissed about, LOL!!!!!

    1. Well, these things can be fun. But, they are more fun with a date or a friend. It’s also isolating because at this age and group of people most people *are* married. So you just feel singled out and on your own. Plus, when you don’t know all that many people there is some swkward standing around. I should be allowed to bring a guest. Why just married people?

  2. That sucks! They should have at least given you the option of whether or not you wanted to bring a guest and let you decide if you were going solo or with the additive. Insensitive people!

  3. I agree. It is rude to just assume that the whole spousal unit thing. Whenever I see an invite like that I wonder what century these people are still operating in!

    But on to another point, I really enjoyed your recap of your trip to China, especially your observations. It reminded me of my time in India. Yes, I was the BIGGEST one there! I didn’t get the picture taking but everywhere I went people would want to touch me – as if my skin-since it is a different color-must feel different too. At first I was a little ‘freaked’ by it but after a while I just figured ‘whatever’. It was fun talking to the teenagers and their perceptions of the US and how we live and what we drive. This one young man was truly disappointed that I drive a Ford and not a Ferrari! In retrospect, it was really funny. I also enjoy all yor sewing projects – truly inspirational. Thank you for all you blogging 🙂

  4. These are clearly insensitive, and somewhat backwards folks! Maybe you could be boorish back and just bring a guest *assuming* that’s what they must have meant!

  5. …and we can suppose they are not expecting same sex spouses either? Even Emily Post has changed with the times.

  6. Perhaps the invite was just thoughtlessly worded. Maybe it’s too late now, but next time perhaps you can politely challenge their question with, “In place of a spouse may I bring a guest instead?” You donate your time to the board; you and your guest deserve to be included in the meal.

    1. This would be my exact response. Kill them with kindness, and they will feel like itty bitty worms for not wording that invitation differently!

    2. Yes. I think you’re right. I have a friend on another board for a museum and they asked her on the first day if she was married. She’s not been invited to an event with a guest since.

  7. Give them a chance to prove they were not intentionally being insensitive. Send them an email asking, “I am assuming those like me who are without spouses may bring a guest?”

    If they are indeed being asinine, you need to propose cultural diversity training for that organization.

  8. It is rude for them to specify “spouses”. The invitation should have read “guest”. I would have mentioned it to them but then I’m old and cranky. 🙂

  9. Yeah, the invitation was worded badly–should have said “spouse or guest”. I don’t have a problem with going to these types of events alone, but you should have the option.

    One of my friends at my last job won the sales performer of the year. Nobody was allowed to bring a spouse or guest to the recognition dinner!! Totally lame or what?

  10. Just a thought — this is a board meeting, not a party. I’m surprised spouses are included at all but when they are, it’s usually an acknowledgment of the trustee’s personal partnerships, not a social occasion where you bring a date. Having said that, if you want to bring a friend, do so without bothering to clarify the relationship to the board (do NOT ask permission for this). You can be the person who brings interesting people to the dinner. Think networking. (Disclaimer: if this is a working dinner where private board business will be discussed, you really should not bring anyone). Remember to socialize primarily with the trustees and only secondarily with the spouses. AND — I feel your pain about navigating the world as a single woman. I married “late” and incredulous when I did at how differently the world viewed me, as though people finally knew how to deal with me. Hang in there. The world is changing — it gets better all the time.

    1. Yes, I felt like I had to ask permission to bring a guest. The board meeting is closed. But, in the words of the chair, ‘The dinner is a wonderful time for us to socialize and become reacquainted with one another”.

      1. Then bring someone to the dinner part. Just be aware that if they want to “become reacquainted” with you, your choice of date will be part of how you present yourself to them and how they view you. Not good, not bad — just be mindful. And remember this is a game. You can play it successfully and have fun too or you can be resentful and uncomfortable. It’s a choice! Good luck and tell us what happens.

  11. Wow what a conundrum. On the one hand, as a single woman who intends to remain single but does have a beaus, this is offensive and would make me want to either bring a guest with or without clearing it first. On the otherhand, having sat on Boards before, I understand the spouse thing because it is not really a social event and the same standard would be applied to men and women across the board.

    I do think single women continue to be invisible in this society regardless of the type of job held.

    I say that if you do want to make a point or find it uncomfortable for any reason not to bring a guest, just bring someone. Do not clarify first, remember it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    I truly do not know what I would do in the same situation.

    1. Yes. I thought about it that. But, this board definitely leans to the social activities too. They are great with trustee engagement. But, the social is definitely the focal part. What I also found odd about the ‘spouse’ wording is that as an arts board, there are several non-straight couples as members.

      I guess the thing, ultimately, is that my being there is ‘work’ so to speak and not social. And it looked like a good time as I went by. Live jazz band, open bar, tours of the galleries. Something that several of my friends would have enjoyed and that I would have enjoyed sharing with someone.

      I do love this qoute “it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission”.

      1. What the heck? They had a jazz band, open bar and gallery tour? and single/unmarried/divorced people can’t bring guests? That’s discriminatory and unfair–sooo 19th century. The invite (the part you quoted) made it sound like a sit down formal dinner.

        Rose in SV

  12. Ouch. The assertive me says that you should contact them and let them know you will be brining a guest. Notice I didn’t say “ask.”

  13. Oh, I’d have gone if I were you, and just brought anyone I thought they’d think unsuitable. A girl, preferably. After all, nobody shows up at these things with a marriage certificate..

  14. I do not understand why the invitation couldn’t say trustees and their guests. That is quite an assumption that everyone on the board is married. This is the thing, if you decline the invitation, everyone on the board will not think well of it. It is unfortunately that is fine for them to be rude, and you have to suffer for it.

  15. I was recently invited to an Institute of Chartered Accountants event to receive a pin for 25 years service. The invite was for me and my spouse. Well I declined, cos I didn’t just want to go and stand around by myself. LOTS OF PEOPLE DON’T HAVE SPOUSES!!! Yet it would have been fun to take one of my daughters…sigh. Which I did to a recent work do. The invite was for me and a partner. No one battered an eyelid when I took my daughter.

  16. You know, I think more and more people are really wanting those who sit on boards to do something and not just rubber stamp decisions that are made in advance. What are the spouses supposed to be doing while you are deliberating.? I’d give them the benefit of the doubt this time and as someone else said, just tell them that you will be coming and bringing ——- as your guest. My guess is that someone did it innocently and it would be good for them to realize what they did so the same mistake would not be made again. I assume they would not want to offend people so you’d be doing them a favor.

  17. This is SO RUDE 🙁 I understand your point. America tends to be SO PREJUDICED. ‘Married’ doesn’t mean anything…not in 2010 and beyond. Marriages come and go, relationships come and go.. GOOD people who offer to help with your organization..are IMPORTANT…whether single,married,attached,whatever…. WARNING..If you do get married and remain child-free….you will experience PREJUDICE because of THAT fact also 🙁 🙁 I REFUSE to attend any type of social event ALONE if I don’t already know a few people there. If I cannot bring a guest (girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/spousal equivalent/etc) I would rather stay at MY beloved HOME…alone 🙂

  18. Obviously whoever wrote the invite is clueless and or insensitive, but clueless is my vote. Take the time to educate them and bring a guest.

  19. Girl I am married and I back you up fully! It’s rude! If most people come with a date then can’t you? How boring would this event be for you?!

  20. I’ve been thinking about your post since yesterday and I’m so angry that people still treat singles this way. I’ve been married less than a year so I still remember all too clearly that outcast feeling I had at functions that only allowed spouses. I made it a point to stop going functions where a qualifier was put on who could be a guest. My husband’s company holds a banquet for employees every year. They invite the employee and “whoever the employee wants to share the evening with.” They also tell the guests several times during the evening “thank you for supporting our employees the way that you do. Without your support, our company wouldn’t have done so well this year.” The spouses, girl/boyfriends, roommates, etc. all love it. Heck, I’ve even taken my sister to events. Sometimes, if I wasn’t sure about a guy I was dating, I’d take him to the event. One guy acted like a total jerk within the first hour. We left because I wasn’t feeling well (wink, wink) and then I dumped him as soon as we got home. Ditched his sorry butt and went back to the party. If an organization doesn’t want to pay for guests that may not be “significant enough” in your life, than they shouldn’t allow guests at all.

  21. i agree with the other comments– this would really irritate me as well. it’s discriminatory against single people as well as gay men and women. ridiculous. i think that the way i would deal with it is to inform them very politely that i will be bringing a guest (without specifying relationship) and very politely point out that “spouse” excludes single people and gay people.
    also, my head almost exploded when i read your comment about your friend on the museum board and how they asked her if she was married! what?!?!

  22. Honestly cidell grass is always green on the other side..When I get sick of DH and my autistic kid I just want to be single again…Sometimes I think what fun I would hve if I were still single !

  23. Now, I would have assumed they were trying to indicate (albeit thoughtlessly) that you could only bring one other person. That they were trying to limit the size of the event. I would have brought a date or friend without batting an eye or even thinking to ask.
    This has been an interesting discussion.

  24. Take someone with you. It is assumed that each member will bring a guest. I’m sure it is budgeted that way. Why should you feel isolated just because you are not married to someone in the conventional sense?

  25. I would definitely take someone with me. I’ve been married for 10 years now but married “late” and have been the third wheel often enough and have definitely had my share of insulting invitations (including the wedding invitation with “1” already filled in on the R.S.V.P. card — needless to say I didn’t attend that one.) People need to be more sensitive and more aware of others.

      1. To add insult to injury, the ceremony and reception were about 50 miles and hours apart so I guess people were just supposed to hang out. The funny part is that later the bride saw my mom later and was completely perplexed and hurt about me not going to her wedding.

  26. You know I’m a little in your boat these days. After years of “spouse-dom”, I have a “friend” but we are not married, will never get married and have no plans for marriage – I am not of the age where I will be “settling down” or “building a family” or anything like that, and we enjoy each other’s companionship and it works just fine for us.

    When I get invites like this, I am so hopeful that they are clueless and need a little education, so I will ask, and then tell them that their wording sounded very exclusive. Hopefully that’s friendly enough that they will take it in the right strain. In this day and age of all sorts of partnerships, if they do want to remain exclusive, they will have a very small turnout.

  27. I think/hope they are just clueless and worded this in a not very elegant way and that you may be reading too much into it? I hope it is not because you are very uncomfortable being single – you usually strike me as a strong, independent woman?

  28. OMG!
    I am totally with you. I get so angry about stuff like that but then I just ignore the word spouse and bring someone anyway. Recently my brother-in-law’s fiancé emailed me to ask me if I broke up with my boyfriend so she could take off “and guest” from my invitation to their wedding. Yeah, cause what I want to do is go to your wedding alone having newly broken up with my boyfriend. Someone must have told her that’s bad etiquette because it just arrived with and guest on it. It really gals me that people don’t consider there are more lifestyle/status out there!

  29. Thirding Karin. Just bring a friend (preferably someone unsuitable) and assume they meant “guest”. But then, I’m an ornery old baggage and you’re not.

  30. I’m going to be glass half full here and hope that it was just carelessly worded.

    I once had a similar experience – there was a literature dinner at the college where I tutored and tutors were allowed to bring partners to the dinner. My brother was a huge fan of the author that was speaking so I asked that since I don’t have a partner could I please bring my brother instead. They said no because it would apparently be “inappropriate”. I still don’t see the inappropriateness of it, since it was just a dinner and he would have actually appreciated being there, unlike me who was just there because I had to be. And anyway, how is a brother less appropriate than a boyfriend? If I’d known their attitude beforehand I probably would have said he was my partner just so he could come.

  31. Not that I’ve ever looked it up… but I always assumed that ‘spouse’ included non-married/gay/lesbian partners as well as married.

    I have a long term partner – I would take him to any event regardless of the wording on the invite.

    Also – if I were you I’d just take date/friend along with me to the dinner – I doubt they’d say anything.

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