I know sexist men. I’m sure many would deny their sexism. You know what they’d probably say? “I love women.” Have you heard that one before?
“Yeah, I know you love them. What do you love about them? Do you respect them? Do you think they are your equal? Do you think they have the right to do any job you do? Will you stand up for their rights? What do you think their rights are?”
I have always called myself a feminist, but I have not lived my life that way. I am ashamed. I worry about what I have taught my children by example.
Sometimes you know immediately when a man does not respect you. Sometimes you miss it; you miss it for a very long time. Sometimes you miss that the man who loves women is actually a misogynist.
While in high school, my best friend worked at the local ice cream stand. She was 16. One day she left the handle on the soft-serve machine open, and ice cream ran all over the floor. Her boss, the man among women employees, said to my friend, “You’re as worthless as tits on a boar hog.” Was he just a crude asshole or sexist?
There was the assistant to the young sales manager at a hotel where I worked. The woman’s kids kept calling her to settle their fights. Her boss called her into his office. She came out crying about 10 minutes later. I glanced over at her and asked, “What’s the matter?”
That 27-year-old unmarried childless dapper boss man told her she was raising her kids all wrong. I was mad for her. But what could I say?
A few years ago there was an investigator who kept calling my husband for his version of events he had witnessed on a job site. The boss on the job kept berating a female carpenter calling her names like cunt. None of her male co-workers stood up for her against that boss. The reason the incident was being investigated was because a state inspector overheard the harassment. A few months ago my husband told our daughter that women should not be carpenters.
I was paid about 2/3 of the salary my male predecessor had been paid, even as my job duties expanded far beyond his. There were differences in our backgrounds, a college degree. I was a bargain.
And there is what they call the second shift for women. That’s when you go to work outside the home, and then return from your paid work to do the unpaid work at home. There are the weekends spent with your kids while your partner goes out because he’s been hard at work all week. I caught myself asking my daughter one day, “Is your boyfriend going to babysit?”
She said, “It’s not babysitting.” Even I forgot.
Then there is the household of all men with the lone wife/mother. She is often the butt of jokes and teasing, taking it all good-naturedly from her loved ones. Does it ever get just a little old though?
There was the blonde co-worker who was the subject of all those dizzy blonde jokes. She wasn’t a dizzy blonde, but she laughed with them. Did it ever get just a little old though?
There was the girl who got around a bit with a series of men. She was called names. The guy who did the same was just having a good time. The women really liked him.
Is it sexism? Does it ever get a little old?