HOW TO HANDLE SEXISM AND WIN OUT IN THE END
I still can’t believe that it’s 2019 and as strong, articulate and successful women we still experience and have to deal with the frustrating feelings of inadequacy. The feeling that someone is saying that based on your gender you are not going to get the job done, or done for you in the same way as a man would. How antiquated is that? How insulting.
Recently my 18-year daughter had an accident in my beloved roadster…over two months later I went to collect it at the body shop along with my 16-year-old daughter. When I saw the car, I noticed certain things hadn’t been done, like trim was missing, etc. I jumped on the phone to my insurance company and sorted it out from that side. The body shop owner was disrespectful, cutting me off when I politely yet firmly voiced my displeasure at their attitude that it was good enough after me waiting an inordinate amount of time. They wouldn’t budge, so off I went ready to fight the battle another day.
That night I had a male friend of mine look over the job. Yes, it was a crummy job, and of course, he saw all sorts of things wrong with the car, so he offered to go and pretend to be my boyfriend. Really? In this day and age, I need a man to go with me to get the job done. Luckily he is a good friend, else I would have felt even more humiliated than I did. Yep, he was right. When we returned the next day, it was a completely different story. The owner shook my hand, was respectful and said they would certainly fix the car and be in touch.
I had another incident this year where I was told by a contractor that I had issues with his workmanship that were causing liability issues at my business that “I should get my husband to call him.” You have got to be kidding me? I didn’t have a husband, but if I did, why if I own my own business do I need a husband or any man for that matter to call a contractor to discuss shoddy workmanship?
The point isn’t the car or the peeling floor at my business, the point is the demeaning way this makes me or any woman feel. It’s having someone, a man put a worth on you. It’s the feeling that so many women feel, the violation and terror when they say no to a man, and he ignores them anyway,
Personally, it’s not just about me and how I feel. It’s about raising two strong and empowered young women. It’s about letting women know, they have every right to feel frustrated at blatant sexism. So here are my suggestions to counter this plague that still ensues.
Stop internalizing it. You don’t need to swallow the insult. I have become a dab hand at making the person who is delivering the sexist comment feel uncomfortable. I want it to be known that I am not going to be silenced by it, and if you make me feel less than, I am going to call you out on it.
Use it as motivation. I am a strong, smart and independent woman. I am going to use whatever means I have to empower other women to use their voice. You should have the choice as to what is acceptable. If something makes you feel uncomfortable from catcalling to blatant sexist passes, keep your dignity, and brush it off. It is the person who makes you feel uncomfortable that is the jerk. Your demeanor, and yes, at this point an air of superiority and “holier than thou” attitude, is exactly what you need to show the offender that you are out of his league. Don’t stoop to his level. Ignoring his advances, his words with perhaps a look of disdain that says, “Which hole did you just crawl out of” is exactly what this situation requires.
Remember, success is your best revenge. Evolving into a stronger woman, one that can brush off the comments, and grow from the knowledge that you can handle even trying situations is what’s important. You are going somewhere, he is not.
Choice is the operative word here. You get to choose what you like and how to handle it when you feel disrespected by the mere fact you are a woman. Yes, I can open my own doors, but do I like chivalry? Yes. It will get you far with me. Do I like relationships with strong, dominant men? Yes, but that’s a choice, and that role doesn’t make me a doormat. It makes me step up to be his equal. It’s mutual respect.
What isn’t respectful and what is so condescending is when the choice isn’t yours. However, you always get to choose how to deal with blatant misogyny and its ubiquity doesn’t mean we should brush it off.