Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Clearly, I'm incapable.

Perhaps this post should have been named "My gender embarrasses me some days", but isn't a 'I hate the world' rant. I've found myself doing some things recently that have earned me compliments and insults which I would have never connected with gender, until it was pointed out through the statement.
Example: My father called me yesterday and thanked me for going out in the hot weather to tear down a metal shed, which needed to come down so they (parents) could sell the house. I was happy to do it, and although it was annoying and took quiet some effort, I did nearly the whole thing alone with occasional help from my father. Here was the compliment:

"You did great out there! I told the realtor how much you helped and he couldn't believe it either."
"What couldn't he believe? That I took it down?"
[Here's the part that tweaked my feminist nerve.]
"Well yeah. Not many girls help with outside work, and he was surprised you could take care of that thing by yourself!"

I understand the shed was metal, and a decent size. I understand that I'm a woman. What I don't understand is that if my brother did it, why would there would be less wonder and amazement. She can swing a hammer? Use a wrench? But can she cook! *har har har*

I get this type of response more often than I could tell you, but it gets hidden in different ways. Second example:
I entered Best Buy with my computer-limited father looking for a router to help repair their wireless unit that broke when a power surge happened. Walking in, I'm wary of the sales people because in the past one tried to push me to buy a pink I-pod, and when I declined, offered me other pink incentives. Side note; I don't like the color pink very much. What I like even less is that instead of offering other colors or trying to explain the advantages of mentioned product, he tried to sell me other products of the same pink color. Back to the story. As I walked over to the correct section with parent in tow (I'm not blind; I knew walking in what I was looking for) and began to browse the options, a sales man came up to assist us. "Sure," I thought, smiling, "nothing pink to sell me here, what can I loose?" I should also note here that the whole time the salesman tried to talk to my father first, while my dad each time looked over to me for a translation. I explained it to my father, he would talk back to me, and then I would respond with the same expertise to the salesman.
The guy was honest, but was caught completely off guard by this juggling act. Eventually he began asking questions while looking back and forth between the pair of us, and my dad had to assert that the person who would actually be doing the repairs was me. Unsure, the salesman asked me if I knew how to install the CDs, set up the network, if I was confused, or if I understood some of the terminology. I knew damn well what he was saying. This would be the second time I was setting up and repairing a wireless adapter, and this stuff was child's play. I didn't get annoyed, explained my experience with the system, and by the end of the conversation he seemed both unsure about me and relieved. Why? The man had no issues speaking to my father, who has no idea what's going on. The gender stereotype wouldn't hurt so bad if I didn't see the honesty in the assumptions. My sister would sooner accidentally break the newly purchased equipment than understand what she was supposed to do. But instead of seeing the relationship my father and I had, the salesman insisted on trying to communicate with dad.

Another direction is the type of comments everyone gets in one time or another in their life: sure you can (A), but that must mean you can't (B), when A is a break from a stereotype, and B is just another stereotype.

Last example before my grin cracks:
I broke up with my boyfriend about nine months ago. Outside of my close friends who watched this battle-royal happen, most first reactions were "I'm sorry to hear that! You must be sad." I wasn't really upset at that point anymore; by the time I'm shouting at you, you can assume my mind is made up. It annoyed me more that people assumed I was going to be unhappy single. Nope! I proceeded to work through a full semester of classes and achieve a 3.9 GPA for the term and master all of my exams. Some people thought I was burying myself in the work to avoid the pain, but I'm honestly just a really driven person who sees college as a huge stepping stone to getting ahead and getting the job I want. I was relieved to not have to take care of another person. This was no loss to me no matter what other people assumed a woman would/should feel without a man.

Back to the present; I've chosen to occasionally look into the dating pool (and realize how picky I have become) with no real drive for a lasting relationship. People get confused when I joke about sex (a woman with a sex drive? She must be a Nympho!) and how it would be nice under circumstances, but I still don't feel the need to have a boyfriend. This is met with mixed responses, but that's my point.

Hello world. I'm a single, funny, ambitious, geeky, honest, tough girl who can cook well and mow the lawn. I'm not seeking a male, but I imagine one day I might settle down with a partner in crime. I'm both alike and very different from the other girls who run this site. We are all individuals with intent and ability. Welcome to the future, where men can stay at home to care for the kids, and women write blogs to say "Stop talking down to me!" Here, in this place and time, we are capable of anything with or without the consent of the masses. If this post says nothing else, understand what I mean when I say we're going to change the world, one awkward interaction at a time. You should too.

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