Monday, February 20, 2006


I had a run-in with an old man with a condescending attitude a few weeks back, who calls grown women "girls" in the most annoying manner possible. I had the temerity to disagree, out loud, with his arrogant & asinine pronouncements and he pulled out the "you come back in ten years' time" business, which is a rhetorical dodge designed to avoid answering my criticism. I have really had fucking well ENOUGH with old men being condescending and sexist, and letting it slide, so I called him on it. After he said, "Oh, obviously I'll never win with you," I said, "well, maybe I'd listen to you with an open mind if you hadn't called me a "girl" at the beginning of the conversation". So he tried the "well, you seem young to me, since I'm older than you." Pah. We were at a reception at a professional conference, and he knows good and damned well what my title is, and that I'm not twelve years old.

So I just called a spade a spade, told him that calling me a girl was condescending, sexist, and downright offensive, and he didn't quite back down, but he changed tactics to this: "You know what your problem is? You're too shy." Har dee har har. Hilarious. I agreed, "yes, that's it, I'm too shy," and walked away, only to hear the 50ish woman who had been standing there say, get this: "I don't mind being called a girl, it makes me feel young." HOLY CRAP. Brainwashed by the patriarchy, AND she totally undermined me. Sometimes women are our own worst enemies, but when it comes down to it, I blame the patriarchy. The patriarchy brainwashed her into thinking that she'd rather people think she is young and cute (even though she's 50) than be treated like the professional ADULT that she is.

On the whole, however, it was totally satisfying to just say it to the guy and not get steamed up because I let it slide. The guy probably doesn't like me now and frankly I can't bring myself to give a shit, even if he is a bigwig in the profession. The dude is a blowhard and the whole thing that got me into it was him saying a bunch of provocative, pointless bullshit just to sound shocking.

So: I am pretty much done with letting sexist BS slide. I learned a long time ago how to get people to shut up when they started saying racist things, just objecting matter-of-factly and without emotion, and it usually works. It doesn't make them Not Racist, but it does let them know that I am not down with racist jokes, commentary, language, and I am spared having to listen to it (and thereby be complicit with it). So now (and why does it take women so long to decide to defend ourselves?!) I'm just going to say it out loud when people say sexist things around me. If I can say "No racist jokes, please," how come I can't say, "No sexist jokes, please"? I can, why yes, I can. What do you know?

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