sexy potatoes karen


This ‘Office Karen’ thought her co-worker ate potatoes too suggestively

A woman complained to HR over the way her co-worker ate potatoes. It did not go well.


Siobhan Ball

Internet Culture

Published Oct 22, 2020   Updated Oct 22, 2020, 9:13 am CDT

A baffled Japanese-American redditor came to the Am I The Asshole subreddit with a question she never thought she’d have to ask: is the traditional way she eats potatoes actually disturbingly sexual or is her new co-worker just an asshole?

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"AITA for eating sexy potatoes?" screenshot of post linked in paragraph
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OP is a big fan of potatoes, both sweet and regular, and regularly has them for lunch at work. Growing up, she was taught to first microwave them and then, when they’d cooled down enough to touch, to pick them up whole with her fingers and chow down on them “hotdog style.”

While OP stated that she wasn’t sure whether or not this was a standard way of eating them in Japan, where her parents grew up, several Japanese and Korean commenters stepped in to confirm that this is normal in both countries and in their American diaspora communities as well. Some even shared helpful video evidence to convince the sceptical.

You could also point out that she’s being insensitive to your cultural habits. It’s how you learned to eat potatoes from your Japanese family. (I’m Japanese American and I know exactly how you are describing eating the potatoes!) You could bring that up to HR if you have to. She’s making a big mess out of nothing. You are eating, not making a mess, not forcing people to watch or eat your food. She doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  Keep enjoying your potatoes OP!  Oh and NTA
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Roasted whole sweet potatoes are street food in Korea. People cooking potatoes in hot ashes and eating them whole is commonly described in the literature of potato-eating cultures. I wouldn't be surprised if it were actually a minority of the world that doesn't eat cooked tubers whole as a snack.  As for how people eat them, it's pretty much exactly how you'd expect someone to eat something starchy and piping hot. See this link at the 4:00 mark for how my family always eats them hot out of the oven or off the grill.    ETA: The sweet potatoes you see most commonly in Japan and Korea look like this, and the flesh is white. They're delicious. I have a whole box of them in my basement right now.
My wife is Asian and this is how she eats sweet potatoes. The fact that this new person has reported an Indian for eating curry says it all.  They prolly expect you to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
OMGosh. This is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard. That's like asking someone to stop eating a banana or stop licking ice cream because it's too 'sexual'. I live in Japan and not once have I ever thought that eating a potato whole was weird or sexual in any way. In fact I've never even thought about it at all. It's a potato for goodness sake! If she doesn't like how you eat it, she can look away.
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OP’s explanation wasn’t good enough for her new workmate, however, who told her that she needed to eat potatoes in “a more normal way,” as she eats them “too suggestively”.

Even if they were phallic... she’s BITING and EATING them??? Wtf kind of stuff is her coworker into lmao
Whatever you do, DO NOT EAT A BANANA! The horror!
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If someone came up to me with this, I would be deep throating a banana while maintaining eye contact the next day.

The first time this “Office Karen” said so, OP thought it was a joke—a weird, sort of inappropriate joke, but a joke all the same. But of course, it wasn’t a joke and the woman kept coming back, accusing OP “of going out of my way to choose sexy potatoes (????)”.

And why is OP's co-worker watching her eat all of the time. Some bizarre obsession?
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OP suggested that “Office Karen” just stop watching her eat, which is when the co-worker told her that actually everyone else also found it inappropriate as well but were just “too polite” to say so. Concerned that she might be the actual bad guy here, OP went and asked her co-workers about this. Unsurprisingly, they were not only baffled by the idea of sexy potato eating but at least one of them had also had the same co-worker complain about his own South Asian lunches.

NTA. Keeping your potatoes however you want.  This is typical overarching white culture shaming others in how they suppose someone should eat something. Happens all too often.
Huh...that's actually a fair point I hadn't considered. My coworker is white and she complained about another coworker who is Indian eating curry. That coworker stopped bringing curry to the office after that...
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Poor coworker needs to be able to eat curry. Fight the potato pervert for both of you

Despite this deeply uncomfortable situation, OP did not choose to go to HR—but, bizarrely, “Office Karen” did, accusing OP of sexually harassing her via potato. Luckily for everyone, OP Sexy Potatoes shared an update on the situation with us this week, after she and her co-worker had their final meeting with HR and, spoiler, things did not play out well for “Office Karen”.

When you meet with HR, be sure to express how uncomfortable your colleague made you feel by her sexualizing your eating habits. Because it’s really her behavior that needs to be checked!
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HR here. OP, bring this up and also say something like her sexualizing your eating is making you feel uncomfortable at work. Basically frame it as anything that sounds like a policy violation. That is what they are looking for, so use those key words (ex., harassing, bullying, intimidating, cultural insensitivity, racial bias, etc.). Just because she reported you and you have a meeting with HR, doesn’t mean you are immediately in the wrong. They just want to hear your side. It is not unheard of for the reporting person to end up being the one reprimanded.  So sorry you are having to deal with something so stupid. Do not change the way you are eating. I’m sure she will then find something else to complain about, like god forbid you drink out of a straw! So sexual and inappropriate!
Also, be sure to mention her inappropriate focus on you. This is pretty creepy, even without the sexual element. She's going out of her way to observe you and approach you, repeatedly, about a personal matter. She's scrutinizing your eating habits. And now she's escalating by making a complaint. I don't want to sound alarmist but this is the kind of thing that can turn weird and scary pretty quick--someone who just won't let something go.
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At first, HR assumed there had to be something more to it than cutler- free potato eating, after all, someone eating potatoes with their fingers is such a completely nonsexual thing that it just didn’t make sense. But no, the woman kept up her claim that the potato-eating method was innately sexual, and that OP was going out of her way to buy sexy potatoes just to spite her.

I would have paid good money to see the face of the HR person who had to take this complaint: "Say what? You think the way she is eating a potato is too sexual? Right."
I'm betting she mimed OP eating a potato with pained embarassment.
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And if she were a man who kept insisting OP was being suggestive with how she eats POTATOES(!) he’d probably be in trouble for being creepy and harassing OP.  Maybe OP should bring that up to HR and they can have a chat with the new coworker about behaving appropriately at work.

But when “Office Karen” claimed that no one else eats potatoes like this, and therefore it must be sexual, OP had the best clawback. She showed the HR rep and the co-worker herself a YouTube video of Japanese people eating potatoes in exactly the same way that she had.

Instead of admitting defeat and apologizing, “Office Karen” switched tracks and tried to claim that OP’s method of potato eating was a COVID-19 risk somehow, but HR wasn’t buying it and dismissed the case, telling the woman that she was free to work from home, away from OP, her sexy potatoes, and the alleged COVID-19 risk.

You are not an asshole and I'd advise bringing curry to put on your potato. This is probably some low-key racist who is bossing people around where she has no business.  Have a curry contest, bring everybody the sexiest potatoes you can find to share.  This lady needs to learn about a thing called solidarity. You're already in a job where you feel the need to work through your lunch. The last thing anybody who shares that situation with you should care about is what or how you are eating.  Edit: Obviously as everyone is saying flip this around on HR. This woman is needlessly sexualizing you in the workplace and when you asked that it stop she reported you.  But also revenge curry.
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Later on, OP was even called into a meeting by their boss who revealed that not only did he dislike “Office Karen” too, and hiring her had been a favor to his wife, but that there had been multiple complaints made about her already in the short two months she’d been working there. OP has decided to go ahead with her own harassment complaint against the woman, pointing out she’s been targeting two of the Asian staff members over their food. She promises all of us that she’s going to continue “eating sexy potatoes for the foreseeable future.”

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2020, 8:08 am CDT