This is an incident that happened earlier in my career, pre-FDS. I’m certain I could have handled it better (and I know it won’t be the last time I’m faced with something like this), but I can’t think of how. How would you ladies have handled this?
A little background: I was in my 20s, this was my first job after college. I had been there for six years, but I still didn’t have much professional confidence. This coworker was about twenty years older than me, and worked as a secretary for one of the vice presidents. She didn’t work on my team, but her desk was next to mine, and she would always chat with me whenever she didn’t have anything to do. One day she started telling me about a twenty year old man who was arrested for having sex (read “raping”) his fourteen year old wife. Apparently he had first raped her when she was thirteen, and she got pregnant, so her parents agreed to let him marry her. Then they moved to a state where the age of consent was much higher than fourteen, with no exception for spouses, and he was arrested for statutory rape. I made a disgusted face, said “gross, a fourteen year old is still a kid”, and went back to my work. So she started trying to get my attention again. “Huldra. Huldra. Huldra. I don’t think anything at all should happen to him.” with a smug smile on her face. I gave her my “WTF” look, and tried to get back to work, but she kept getting my attention so she could keep talking about it: “if her parents felt like the best solution was for them to get married, then the state should leave them alone.” Finally, I just said “well, I guess you’re free to think that”, and continued working, refusing to make eye contact with her again.
After that, she still felt comfortable talking my ear off about her inane pickme/misogynistic opinions whenever she wanted to, or complaining about her (mostly self-inflicted) problems with her kids, husband, and ex. I didn't really want to be a dumping ground for her opinions, but I didn't know how to tell her to leave me alone in a professional manner (and probably wouldn't have been confident enough to, anyway). I should also mention that about 75% of our company were people I can best describe as “white trash”, so not many people there would have been particularly disturbed by her opinions, and most of my team didn’t like me because they thought I was “stuck up.”
So, I leave the floor open to you ladies: what could I have done differently, and how could I have either avoided this situation altogether, or shut it down?