I’ve had my head down for the last few weeks trying to progress my WIP, Grand Theft Hero. I’ve just passed the halfway mark* and so thought it was time to leave my little cave and talk about something that bugged me today.
I’ve already mentioned my inner feminist in a previous post but it had reason to resurface today.
Our garage door needs replacing. The people who lived here before us cut a cat flap into it, which allowed rot to eat the poor thing from the inside. Some time ago** it fell apart like an overripe zombie being hit by a shotgun at point blank range. Well ok, maybe not exactly like that but it fell off its hinges and then pretty much disintegrated on impact with the floor.
Sometime later** Em decided to spearhead Operation: New Door. This meant that today a man came by to try and make us buy his door rather than any other door.
I didn’t particularly warm to this man for various reasons.
He tried to make out he was giving us a good deal. Even though all of his doors are the same whether they’re used for a garage or a house, he made a show of using his calculator to work out the ‘best deal’. He said that he was giving us a special discount as it was a garage door and he knew we wouldn’t want to spend too much on it. If I’d wanted to buy the door as a back door for the house, he said he’d charge me a lot more.
This just made me think he was overcharging everybody else. To me the price of a door is determined by its quality not its position but I’m hardly an expert on such things.
Anyway the thing that really annoyed me was that he only made eye contact with me which would have been fine if Em hadn’t been there as well. Sometimes I would deliberately look at her to make him do the same but he’d naturally gravitate back to me.
You might say that he was irresistibly drawn to my charm and good looks***. You might say what’s the big deal?
Well the thing is that Em had arranged the visit. She’d already spoken to him on the phone and she led a lot of the conversation and questions when the man came. Yet he still gave me all the attention.
Perhaps the reason this irritates me so much is that I know what it’s like to be ignored. When the Bean was still just a bean and we were talking to the doctor about pregnancy options, all the staff talked to my wife and not to me. After he was born, if we took him to the doctor for some reason, they’d continue to act as if I was a spectator in the whole thing.
It made me very angry.
So I can only imagine how annoying it must be when women are ignored or treated as ignorant about other things. Simple things. Like doors.
Oh and while I’m ranting, here’s another thing. I don’t like casual sexism. Here’s an example. On a couple of occasions we’ve been out and about when Em had lost her voice. One of these was years ago when we were Christmas shopping. When the shopkeeper (who was male) realised this, he said to me with a wry smile:
“That must be a relief, eh?”
It must? Why is this? Should I enjoy the fact my partner can’t communicate with me or that her throat is sore?
I’m sure he was trying to be friendly but buried in the comment are a number of quite offensive assumptions.
1) My wife talks too much
2) What she says is unimportant
3) I find it irritating when she talks to me
4) I take pleasure in her discomfort
What really worries me is that I was in the process of buying things from this man. He was actively trying to befriend me at least long enough to get my money. So he thought this was a charming thing to say!
It conjures up ideas of the ‘nag’ stereotype which is a very quick way to undermine the value of anything a woman is saying and therefore avoid the need to engage with it.
There. I think I’m done. Unlike the man in the shop I’m happy that you can communicate, whatever your gender. Feel free to do so below.
**It was quite a long time. Let’s say too long and leave it at that.