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Casual Misogyny

As sgamadison (and several others, she's been quick to point out) has said, I miss some of the long, winding conversations I used to have on lj, so I'm going to try to post-a-day (or as often as I can) about any old thing that comes to mind. And today's topic is casual misogyny.


It's 2013. There's not as much of that around as there was, say, 50 years ago, but it's still curious. In my computer science class, there are only two other females, and of them one's a graphic designer taking the class for graphic-design purposes and the other is a physics major taking it to round out her major. I'm the only actual female Computer Science major at my level of classes at the moment. Which, I suppose, isn't as bad as it could be, because there are only about 50 students at my level in the whole school, but still, 1 female Comp Sci major out of all of those is kind of strange.

My mom has an associates in Comp Sci from the same community college I got my Digital Media degree from. She was the only female in most of those classes as well.

Which got me thinking. About how customers at work look at me weird when I say I can take out their groceries for them, and how some of them say they'd rather a stropping young man do it. About how I was bagging on Sunday at one register, and at the next one over a man in his 50s was hitting quite heavily on the High School age girl working the register and no one - even me - thought anything strange about it until the 50 year old man at my register pointed out how ridiculous it was and how it's like a dog chasing after a car: what would he do with it if he managed to catch it?yGranted, I'd not been paying that much attention to the other register until that point, but still.

And then I was reading a fanfic and it was like, all the female characters, while still somewhat strong, had a tendency to cling to their boyfriends/husbands/etc in a way that was not reciprocated, and it was a very popular fic. One of the "top 25" of that ship posted on that site.

And it's a lot of other little things. Like how I've got a tattoo on my lower back that's colloquially known as a "tramp stamp". I'm just about as much of a tramp as your average nun, but I have it, so sometimes people presume. Men can have tattoos without people saying much, but women who have them - well, God forbid. (But that could just be my class-background shining through).

Like how all the cool "novelty" shirts in Old Navy are for men, and the closest the women's get are things like "Long Beach" written on them.

Like how I was having lunch with my dad's parents and grandmother the day before my High School graduation and my great-grandmother noticed I was wearing my class ring on my left ring finger. And rather than comment on the (very snazzy, if I do say so myself) style of the ring (which has been exactly the same since 1911), she asked me but what will you do when you get married? with genuine concern in her tone.

I dunno guys. I dunno what I can do about it, or what can be done, but, really, is it too much to ask that people treat everyone equally? Really, is it so hard? Hate takes a whole lot more effort than like, or even ambivalence. Why are girls raised to play with barbies and like boy bands, but derided for doing so? What is it that steers so many females away from computer science and, say, into nursing or whatnot? Why is it we care more how the Black Widow fits into her suit in The Avengers and not, say, applauding her fighting skills when her suit has admittedly less armor than almost everyone else's but she managed to come out of it far from seriously injured when she was right in the thick of the fighting?

Why hasn't there been a Black Widow movie? Or some other female superhero?

Why is it that these things have to be pointed out?



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I hear you on that front. I was just saying to [Bad username: shaddyr"] that I am reading a book that takes place in WW2 and the heroine, despite her credentials in math, is relegated to the typing pool. Even after she correct the math on some calculations concerning the use of radar predicting the flight patterns of incoming bombers--she points out that the starting equation assumes they are calculating from a vacuum, discounting variables such as the bend of the earth's surface and the density of refraction of the atmosphere at different altitudes, the airspeed of the plane, etc, etc.

The man she corrects the maths for wants to see that she get credit--and that she gets assigned the work she is obviously capable of doing, but the higher ups point to her uterus and tell her to stick to the typing pool.

When I read this, I thought how little had changed. When I was being interviewed for vet school, a professor asked what would little ol' me do when confronted with a 2000 pound bull?

I looked him in the eye and said, "It doesn't matter if I'm a 120 pound woman or a 220 pound man--the bull still weighs 2000 pounds. I'm going to do what any sensible person would do: use drugs and a head chute."

I also recently read an article in which men and women were asked what they would do if they woke up genderswitched one morning. Most of the women paused a moment, then spoke about how it would affect their lives and what they would do to cope with it. Almost every single man interviewed said he'd kill himself. How's that for society-wide misogyny?

What do you do when something is so ingrained however? First, you watch for it in yourself. I've caught myself recently thinking that I needed to wait to do x-y-z and get D to help me when five years ago I would have pulled out the power drill and done it myself.

Second, you have to live your life so that no one can point to you and say, 'See what I mean?' ;-)
indeed.

it always surprises me on some level when people tell me/assume I can't do things because I'm a female. I mean, I know there are some things I, personally, can't do that are attributed to females in general - I know I don't have the best upper arm strength, etc etc etc - but there are other things that just SURPRISE me. It's like the groceries. There is no reason I can't carry them out for someone. The 24 packs of water are heavy and awkward, but I can still lift and carry them.

Le sigh. I really don't know what to say. I know what I want and I know what is but I don't know how to fix it.
"It doesn't matter if I'm a 120 pound woman or a 220 pound man--the bull still weighs 2000 pounds. I'm going to do what any sensible person would do: use drugs and a head chute."

Can I just applaud you for that answer? Do you remember what he said to that?

>>First, you watch for it in yourself. I've caught myself recently thinking that I needed to wait to do x-y-z and get D to help me when five years ago I would have pulled out the power drill and done it myself.<<

*ggg* I know that effect but fortunately I'm not allowed to develop a problem with that. ;-)

My dad raised me to try everything by myself before looking for help, he really didn't treat me different from a boy. But also to actually go and look for help in case the "I can do it" approach wouldn't work. And by help he didn't mean necessarily a man, just the person who would be best for helping, who could do something better or had the necessary knowledge. So, yes, I'm actually with Aardashinah when she says she's always surprised when people doubt she can do something just because of her gender. And I find that enormously irritating.

And then I met my lovely and lazy significant other whose comment to every remark of "X,Y,Z needs to be done" is: "Oh, does that mean you're unable to do it alone?" with the most innocent blink of his eyelids. He discovered the benefits of female emancipation for him pretty quick. ;-)

Yeah, you see - even if I seriously try to fall into the role of "helpless woman" out of sheer convenience, the lovely guy at my side just won't let it happen. *g*

And to top it off, there's mom who calls me for help with everything - from changing a lightbulb over reparing a loose wire connection on her satellite dish to manage the water level in the central heating or reparing her garden door.

Funny thing on the side? I haven't quite started yet and she already asks if I don't think I should leave that to a guy.

Eh... which guy exactly?

She's living alone and the neighbor is in his eighties and uses a cane just to get around - he sure as hell won't climb on the ladder to replace a broken roof tile.

So, no. It's either me or - if I can't do the job, it's calling a professional or a company - not just a random "guy".

But we have always the same fruitless exchange of questions/answers:

"Don't you think you should leave that to a guy?"
"Mom, which guy exactly?"
"Oh, I don't know, perhaps ..." (nobody comes to mind)
"So the answer's no."
"Well, okay then."

>>when five years ago I would have pulled out the power drill and done it myself.<<

Skull surgery in a damp cave? ;-)


Edited at 2013-08-29 07:21 pm (UTC)
Can I just applaud you for that answer? Do you remember what he said to that?

As I recall, it shut him up and someone else took over the interview. :-)

Your dad did a good job--that's how it should be done. Do it yourself if possible, if not, find the right person to ask for assistance. I'm almost the reverse at times--I can be pigheaded about accepting help when it is offered. It's only recently that I've learned to accept offered help--but then it is only recently that I've learned the value of a good hug too--that BF, he's worth keeping around. :-)

Yeah, you see - even if I seriously try to fall into the role of "helpless woman" out of sheer convenience, the lovely guy at my side just won't let it happen. *g*

That made me smile! He's obviously doing it for your own good!

Your conversation with your mom cracked me up. My mother seems to think I can do anything. She'll call me up and ask me how to do something on the computer, and then after I show her, she asks me to write it out for her step by step. I point out that's what the user's guide is for, and she admits that she's already lost it. Again.

I essentially have to write out a user's manual for each new item she purchases~ *facepalm*

>>that BF, he's worth keeping around. :-)<<

Good thing he followed you home. ;-)

>>He's obviously doing it for your own good!<<

*g* Of course, I'm *so* convinced that this is his one and only reason. ;-) But yes, it works for me and keeps me from becoming what I don't want to become.

>>She'll call me up and ask me how to do something on the computer, and then after I show her, she asks me to write it out for her step by step. ...
I essentially have to write out a user's manual for each new item she purchases<<

Hehe, funny thing - our moms seem to be sisters in mind. Or apparently moms develop in a similar fashion no matter on which continent they exist. ;-)

Edited at 2013-08-30 10:16 am (UTC)
It's sad that all of this is such a fact of life that we don't even notice how wrong it is until it's pointed out. I suppose the only thing that can be done about it is keeping pointing it out and hope people pass the message along; ideally the next generation will be even more conscious of it than we are, and the generation after them even more so, until awareness spreads and there's a huge effort to change the way things are. A lot of it has been internalized, which makes it difficult to fight against.
It still surprises me that in this day and age there are so many people who still stereotype male and female roles, we are supposedly in a world where the sexes are equal but from high level sports stars down to secretarial work there is still this opinion that only men can do certain jobs and women can't or that men earn more for doing basically the same thing.

In a lot if ways some women are to blame for the assumptions, I know so many women who would never change their own car tyre, for example, they would call out the breakdown service! I would be totally embarrassed if I had to do that, my father didn't let me start driving until I could change a tyre, check and top up everything in the engine, etc, (and I was driving at 11). But this is the sort of thing that leads people to have the assumption that women are not capable!
agreed. we're all to blame. Though I, for one, know my capabilities and know that while tire-changing may be beyond them, there are still plenty of things I'm good at and enjoy that are typically male-oriented. '

Each according to his abilities and needs, to steal a phrase.
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