Many women have called attention to “weaponized incompetence” on TikTok, something often utilized by men to avoid doing things. While much of the viral content about the concept revolves around the labor imbalance it can create in romantic relationships, several users have called out how it affects women in the workplace.
In one such viral video, user @itsjessilyn says she believes her co-worker is utilizing weaponized incompetence to get away with shirking responsibilities.
The concept behind this term is simple: if someone asks you to do something, do it so badly that they’ll never ask you to do it again. This is exactly what @itsjessilyn claims her co-worker did. She states that she was nearly fooled into believing that it was an honest mistake until she took the man’s experience with the company into account.
@itsjessilyn #weaponizedincompentence #malecolleague #womenintheworkplace #MakeASplash ♬ original sound – itsjessilyn
“Can we talk about the fact that weaponized incompetence also factors into the workplace?” she prompts fellow TikTokers at the beginning of the video.
The creator alleges that her male coworker “[threw her] under the bus to a client,” after she had asked him to schedule a call. While she claims this is part of his job role, he didn’t complete the task.
“Now I have to go clean that up and deal with it because I asked this man to schedule a call. Which is his job, not mine,” the TikToker continues. “And I nearly got fooled by it, and I nearly thought, ‘Wow, he’s really bad at his job. I guess I’ll just have to do this next time.'”
She argues that her co-worker didn’t schedule the call because he knows that if he doesn’t, @itsjessilyn would have to take on the responsibility herself. While she says she almost fell for his alleged incompetence, she reconsidered after taking his salary into account.
“Then I thought about it for a minute and I thought this guy’s been with the company for multiple years,” she says. “He gets paid maybe $40,000 more a year than I do. And he can’t schedule a fucking call? He knows how to schedule a call and he’s making this purposely difficult.”
While the TikToker notes at the end of the video that she’s concerned about his behavior becoming a persistent problem, she shared an update in the comment section. She says the coworker in question put in his resignation and is leaving the company.
The Huffington Post reported on the TikTok phenomenon of “weaponized incompetence” in January, noting the significance of gender imbalance in workplace responsibilities, in addition to its impact on household labor. The story quoted Melanie Ho, author of “Beyond Leaning In: Gender Equity and What Organizations Are Up Against,” about a previous work experience in which she and other women in the office took on extra responsibilities.
“In a previous job, I had a group of female co-workers where we’d joke about our ‘gendered task of the day’ every time we did something that wasn’t an official responsibility but that women did to disproportionate extent,” Ho told the Huffington Post.
The pandemic also had an adverse impact on women’s experience in the workplace, according to a 2021 report by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company. The report found that women have contributed even more labor that goes unrecognized since the onset of COVID-19. The additional tasks some women take on are seen as “office housework,” things that are necessary for the proper function of the workplace but are often not rewarded.
Under @itsjessilyn’s video, some viewers still provided some helpful tips on how to best handle folks who are trying to make your job harder than it should be in the workplace.
“Is asking HR to document it possible? Because if it’s part of his role that should be factored into his review…,” one viewer commented.
Others fully supported “gaslighting” in this instance:
“Gaslight, but in an asking for help way. let your boss know he needs training on this important part of doing his job and unfortunately though you’d,” one viewer suggested.
Others shared some of their personal “professional slander” phrases to use in situations like these.
“Favorite line to boss, ‘I don’t want to embarrass him by coming to him directly. I think XYZ might need a refresher course added to his calendar,’” one user wrote.
User @itsjessilynn loved the idea, stating, “This is the smartest thing I’ve ever heard – 10/10 will be doing.”
The Daily Dot reached out to @itsjessilyn via TikTok comment.
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