Today I have, for you, a thing.
We’ve talked about the history of women’s fight for equality, intersectional feminism, identifying your white privilege in your feminism, and how to fight back under the current regime. All of these are pretty big concepts – pretty hard to contextualize.
This year, allow me to add some context in the form of an anecdote.
Since last posting, I’ve begun working at my local UPS store. I’m actually there right now! Everyone wave to my UPS store which is currently empty because students are on Spring Break. Excellent.
In this job, there are a lot of microaggressions directed at women. There are men who bring in a heavy box and ask me if I want them to move it for me because it’s kind of heavy (thirty pounds is not heavy, sir.) There are times a man comes in to ship something for his girlfriend showing little to no regard for the things he’s shipping (‘How much is this makeup worth? Nothing to me! Haha, I’m a man.’) And then there are men who, when I tell them something they don’t want to hear in regards to their shipment, insist on talking to my manager Allen. Note: I have two managers. Allen and Mary. No one wants to talk to Mary.
More than that, there are the names.
Nicknames, pet names, diminutives, whatever. This is always a problem in the service industry: customers feel entitled to call you ‘sweetheart’ or ‘honey’ or ‘girl’. When you’re a woman in an industry not known to be ‘for women’ it gets… exacerbated. I’ve had a customer give me a ‘good girl’ once. It was not fun.
Those, while unsolicited and not appreciated, are not at least intentionally cruel. Today, however, on International Women’s Day, someone called my manager Mary a not very nice name. Rhymes with ‘punt’.
She started telling me this story. Mary is not the most agreeable woman in the world – she’s older, conservative. Backwoods. She’s got the thickest Pensatucky accent I have ever heard.
My point is that when she says someone was rude to her on the phone, I believe it. Our customers are not understanding on the best of days and Mary certainly doesn’t make it better.
But she didn’t deserve to be called that.
I was already angry . But then she used the pronoun ‘he’ and I was immediately five times as mad.
Any time sexist language is used is bad. I don’t enjoy women calling each other sexist slurs either.
But a man doing it is completely unacceptable.
That man didn’t care it was International Women’s Day. He didn’t care about women at all.
You think that’s a stretch? You think, sure, he called this woman a terrible name when she was just doing her job, but that doesn’t mean he hates women. He has a mother, probably. Might have a girlfriend or sisters. How can I say he doesn’t care about women?
Easily. If you can’t show a certain level of consideration – a baseline of respect – for a woman you don’t know, how can you say you care about women as a whole?
I’m not talking about doing The Most. Holding open doors, carrying groceries, helping old ladies across the street. That’s more than anything I’m asking. All I’m saying is DON’T act like a horrible person. DON’T call women names. It’s that simple!
This should be a practice put into place every day. But ESPECIALLY on a day that is supposed to be celebrating women.
If you’re thinking ‘But it was one time! Just a name! It’s not like he hit her.’
Okay, but how many times do you think she’s been called that name? Different names? Different microaggressions? (Have we done a post on microagressions yet? I don’t think so. I might get on that.) She shouldn’t have to deal with it ONCE but after all the years she has, you want her to just get over it?
No. Eff that. Be better.
Happy International Women’s Day.