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16 women reveal how having a fake 'male assistant' helps them navigate gender biases

The 'fake male assistant' hack is a tried and tested trick that working women across the world have been using for years.

16 women reveal how having a fake 'male assistant' helps them navigate gender biases
Cover Image Source: Twitter/bessbell

Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 20, 2021. It has since been updated.

In 2021, entrepreneur, writer and speaker Jandra Sutton made a splash online after revealing that she uses a fake white male assistant to deal with difficult customers. She explained that her fictional assistant, Matt—"named such because he is not a doormat"—"handles any negotiations or difficult conversations that I don't want to handle personally and he's very good at his job." As Sutton's TikTok video was appreciated across social media platforms, it inspired other women to try out this gender bias navigation hack themselves. Those who do are sure to notice a significant change in how people behave towards them, as the fake male assistant trick is a method tried and tested by several working women across the world.


In 2020, writer Bess Kalb was blown away when she learned that her friend uses this hack when she has to deal with sexist folks as part of work. "A friend's male assistant is a fake email account she runs because people called her 'difficult' and 'impossible' for having small windows of availability until 'he' started running interference and then people just accepted she was fu**ing busy. I AM VERY INTO THIS," Kalb tweeted. "OK coming up with names for my fake male assistant. Bryan or Brian? I am leaning toward "Bryan" but could go either way. This is very smart!!"



Soon, several others began sharing how having a fake male assistant has made it evident to them that men are treated very differently in professional settings. Among them was photographer Lynae Cook, who told Bored Panda that people are usually more respectful" when they think they're dealing with a manager. "I loop in my 'manager' every now and then, certainly a lot more frequently when there were live events going on, and especially when I've been reached out for influencer or brand partnership work," Cook said. "People are generally more respectful and less likely to ask for unpaid labor when a manager is involved."



"They will also send complete communications, rather than the piecemeal information often shared when they think are talking to 'just' an artist," she continued. "For example, they might say, 'We're really interested in collaborating with you!' if it's just me, but when my 'manager' is looped in, they'll lay out the details surrounding the collaboration, what their ask is, deadlines, payment information, etc."

Here are 16 examples of when the "fake male assistant" hack has seen results: