Yesterday, I experienced something that shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did. With everything going on right now I would have figured that the majority of people are being super careful about their speech, but I guess not. I guess some things are so ingrained that it’s as casual as ordering a pizza. Well, I’m not a pizza. Here’s what happened.
My son’s Jeep needed a new battery. We went to our local Advance Auto store where we’ve gone many times (they’ve been great, so this is no reflection on them, just this one person) to get his battery tested and hopefully get him a new one. No big deal. It was pretty obvious the man that helped us either didn’t have a clue or just flat out wasn’t interested in doing his job. Not only did he not understand anything about battery testing and replacing a battery but said he wouldn’t even put a new battery in if we bought one. But that isn’t even the real problem.
The real issue came when I called my husband to update him on the battery test and how we were going to proceed. My son and I asked the man a few questions about testing the battery and replacing the battery since the test came back with an unstable result. So instead of being the go-between in a conversation between my husband and son, I gave the phone to my son and told them to talk directly. That’s when the portly man that was supposed to be helping us looked at me with a smile and said, “Better to let the men who know about working on cars talk to each other. It’s easier that way”
I was flabbergasted and taken aback. I couldn’t believe he just said that to me! My response as a polite Southern lady was, with a smile, “Typically, I know more about vehicles than my husband. I just thought it would be easier for them to talk to each other instead of through me.” So, I did add the slightest of Southern sarcastic tones to my voice, but I was polite. In my head, I envisioned slamming the Jeep hood down on his hand while I look him straight in the eyes and tell him how dare he say such a comment to a woman! Ugh!
Please know that my husband knows a great deal about vehicles, but I know a good deal also, enough to not be treated like a ditzy little school girl. I think what upset me most was how he said it like he thought I would agree with him. It was so casual, so matter of fact. I’m sure some women would just laugh it off, maybe even agree with him. It threw me back to when I was a teenager and the boys just wanted to take advantage of you. Then to comments made to me by men my whole life.
It made me angry and even hurt. I thought of my daughters and the comments that men make so casually to them. “You’re too pretty not to smile.” “Smile” “I’ve got a thing for redheads so I’ll go through your checkout line.” “It must be that time of the month, is that why you’re not smiling?” And so many more. I’m sure you know them all too well, too. When will men get it that it’s just gross?
Men think these things are funny, harmless, but they are not. It’s degrading. I can take a joke and even jokes about being female, but not like this. I love a true Southern gentleman that uses honey and sweetheart when appropriate, but this? It made me mad and made my daughters mad, not to mention my husband and son. Unfortunately, my son was busy talking to his father so he didn’t hear the comment, but I didn’t need him to hear it. I heard it and that was enough. What if he’d said that to one of my daughters? I’m sick and tired of men thinking it’s ok to talk to women like this. For all he knows I’m the one that works on our vehicles. But even that shouldn’t matter.
The point is, SEXISM IS NOT OK. Not even casual sexism and that is what happened here. I’m sure this man probably meant no harm, but it was harmful. A woman should never be made to feel less than a man and that is how I felt. Less than. It’s time this stops, for me, for you and for our daughters. I’m so glad that this time I actually stood up for myself (politely) and didn’t just let it go, in doing so I hope I stood up for my daughters too. I hope that I stood up for you too. It’s time to stand up to sexism no matter how casual it is.
Side note: Just so you know the end of the battery story… we went to O’Reilly Auto Parts and they not only tested the battery, and installed the new one, they also gave my son a $50 discount since the only battery they had in stock for his Jeep was $200. What a blessing!