Female small business owner explains why she uses a fake male assistant to deal with difficult customers

‘This is both brilliant and depressing because we shouldn’t need it’

Female business owner uses fake male assistant to handle difficult people

A small business owner has revealed that she relies on a “fake” male personal assistant to handle difficult customers, with the woman revealing that the alias makes it easier to deal with email conversations that she doesn’t “want to handle personally”.

Jandra Sutton, who goes by the username @jandralee on TikTok, recently encouraged small business owners or entrepreneurs to create the fake personal assistants in a TikTok video, where she said that the trick comes in handy when she doesn’t want to come across as a “doormat”.

The video, which was uploaded last month, begins with a prompt from another TikTok user, who says: “If you’re a millennial woman who has to write emails why don’t you have a white man alter ego yet?”

After stitching the clip, Sutton adds: “If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur and you want to take this tip one step further, I saw this trick on Twitter and I loved it.

“So basically you just create a Gmail alias for your ‘male assistant’. My assistant’s name is Matt, named such because he is not a doormat, unlike myself.”

According to Sutton, “Matt” handles “any negotiations or difficult conversations that I don’t want to handle personally”.

“And he is very good at his job,” Sutton added.

@jandralee

##stitch with @general.caronobi Tell me you have email anxiety without telling me you have email anxiety. ##smallbusinesstips_ ##femaleentrepreneur ##fyp

♬ original sound - Jandra Sutton

On Instagram, where Sutton, the CEO of Nashville-based creative agency The Wildest Co, shared the clip as well, she said that the trick is useful “if you struggle with confidence via email”.

On TikTok, where the video has been viewed more than 1.6m times, people have responded to the advice with a range of reactions, with some applauding the idea while others have said the fact that women feel the need to rely on fake male assistants is “depressing” and that Sutton is perpetuating a cycle of men holding more power.

“I don’t use an alter ego, I am a professional woman and I refuse to be treated less than such, but I do say, this is a brilliant idea,” one person wrote.

Another commented: “I used to do this but I stopped. I gained confidence from being ‘Matt’ and now can exert the same energy as me.”

However, someone else advised women against using the tactic, writing: “No! No don’t do this - this just continues the cycle. This is just catering to a man’s world.”

In a follow-up video, Sutton addressed some of the criticism she received, explaining that she has experience asking for raises only for her previous male bosses to react with anger or laughter.

@jandralee

Reply to @rebesu Therapy IS great, but you know what’s better? A society that doesn’t make people need it. ##smallbusinesstips_ ##femalebusinessowner

♬ original sound - Jandra Sutton

“Speaking of the gender pay-gap,new studies suggest that women ARE asking for raises at the same rate as men, they’re just not getting them,” Sutton continued, adding that women are 63 per cent less likely to get funding than male-owned start-ups, even when they have similar qualifications.

“So yes, it sucks that I’m not more confident … but instead of blaming women for not being more confident when the world has just sh*t on us over and over again, can we point out the fact that it is sad that the world has created this situation where women feel like they have to do this to keep themselves safe,” she said. “That is what is really sad.”

This article was originally published in April 2021.

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