'Attractive'/'feminine' women treated differently in everyday social interactions?

(58 Posts)
TwoLittleChickens Mon 19-Sep-16 11:42:19

Just something that happened a few weeks ago which has stuck in my mind and I wanted to share it somewhere.

I was with a friend, we're both in our late 20s, and we went to buy ice cream and coffee from a kiosk. The young man who served me was friendly and helpful. He said things like "What can I get for you love?" and "would you like chocolate on that my love?". Then it was my friends turn to order. She is overweight and I suppose I would describe her as having a less typically 'feminine' face, and it was as if he completely changed personality. It was just something plain like "Can I take your order?" Maybe I am projecting and it was nothing to do with attractiveness but it's stuck in my mind, I am not sure if my friend even noticed it to be honest but if I was her I might have felt a little bit insulted.

After this I have been noticing a lot more often when I get served in shops or cafes that men talk to me in this way. Although I'm a feminist I do not mind being called "love" and "sweetie" in these contexts, but I obviously wouldn't want to be spoken to this way at work. I always saw it as just a gendered version of saying "Alright mate what can I get for you?".

(Not sure if this is relevant but I feel like adding that I'm not claiming to be an especially attractive woman - but being slim, young, with average looks and conventional clothing, I suppose I do fit in with western beauty ideals to some extent)

We all know that many opportunities do depend on looking a certain way or fitting in with beauty ideals - especially careers such as acting or modelling. And I've heard people saying "pretty" women get special treatment/freebies/favours more easily, but this is something I have not noticed in real life - only minor things like the one I described above. I guess what I'm really asking is if you have ever noticed differences like this in real life?

sonlypuppyfat Mon 19-Sep-16 11:53:12

Of course life is easier if you are better looking, the same goes for men to. I read somewhere people are more likely to be offered jobs if they are easy on the eye

I can't say I have but it's an interesting one..
sone people (and I mean you and your friend in this case) just seem more sociable and friendly though and so might get treated differently on those grounds? I suppose I'm talking about body language.

VestalVirgin Mon 19-Sep-16 11:55:59

This is difficult to see, since we are all used to the way we ourselves are treated. One only notices it in situations such as you describe, when you and a very different looking friend interact with the same person in comparable circumstances.

I do suspect that I get some advantages out of being conventionally pretty, as some men who are very helpful turn out to be trying to hit on me, NiceGuy(tm) way. Since those men are often guys who barely know me, they obviously aren't doing that because of my charming personality.

My sister used to get men pay for her drinks, then walk away with her drink as soon as she got it. While men are not that choosy, I do think that a severely overweight woman, or a man, would have problems doing the same, as those men don't pay for drinks out of kindness.

VestalVirgin Mon 19-Sep-16 12:00:03

sone people (and I mean you and your friend in this case) just seem more sociable and friendly though and so might get treated differently on those grounds? I suppose I'm talking about body language.

I don't think that explains it all. I am slim and pretty, but don't smile unless I have reason to, and look rather grumpy. I also am not sociable and friendly and probably do not look that way.

I think I would get way more random offers to buy me drinks or invitations to parties, if I was more approachable. But I do think my experience is different from that of women who don't fit the beauty ideals of our culture.

Granted, people who sell things don't tend to be overly friendly, but that's probably because they cannot reasonably expect to get something out of it. To grumpy women like me, men are only nice if they think they can get into my pants. wink (Or if they are genuinely kind, NAMALT; etc,)

Kr1stina Mon 19-Sep-16 12:13:21

Yes I've seen this happen all the time .

In the same way, I've seen female staff be courteous to male customers and rude to female. I sometimes fly on business and as I stand in line at the check in, I notice the person at the desk greets every man in front of me with a beaming smile and " Good morning sir, how are you ? " in a sing song voice .

When I reach the desk they glance up and say " yes " without smiling. Sometimes they make a point of typing on their keyboard first .

Usually I then do the same fake smile and say " good morning , how are you. ? "

It's very irritating. Last time I checked I paid the same as the other passengers in business.

it happens so often that I'm sure it must be part of their training and not just someone having a bad moment ( that they recover from immediately they serve me ) .

TwoLittleChickens Mon 19-Sep-16 12:18:44

I've just thought of another one that happened recently! I was at a corporate event at work at a stadium and we entered restricted area to take a photo for a presentation. The security guards came in and were VERY strictly telling us to leave, no choice, just get out. A tall, elegant, well dressed woman in our group pretty much begged them to let us take the picture, please, it wouldn't take long, we would really appreciate it, it would only be one picture, etc! They were very skeptical but eventually agreed to allow it. I am almost certain they would not have agreed if anyone else had asked. In fact, she even managed to convince them to take the picture for us!

I bet if one of the geeky women or blokes in our group had asked they wouldn't have had a chance.

TwoLittleChickens Mon 19-Sep-16 12:24:10

Kr1stina

I sometimes wonder if that's partly down to Sir being more of a natural term than Ma'am or Madam...! It feels very odd, stifled and old fashioned calling a woman Ma'am or Madam - yet Sir sounds formal and polite.

I guess at school you call teachers Sir and Miss. Not Sir and Madam. But I think 'Miss' would be a bit odd in a customer service context.

Holowiwi Mon 19-Sep-16 12:45:05

Pretty sure there has been some research done on this which showed people are generally more friendly towards people who are considered attractive it applies to men also.

AmberGreyson Mon 19-Sep-16 13:55:51

if you are pretty it opens a lot of doors for you

Kr1stina Mon 19-Sep-16 15:59:25

I sometimes wonder if that's partly down to Sir being more of a natural term than Ma'am or Madam...! It feels very odd, stifled and old fashioned calling a woman Ma'am or Madam - yet Sir sounds formal and polite

Isn't it funny how so many terms for men seem" natural " ( chairman , tradesman, policeman ) and those for women seem " odd". And apparently some other words such as doctor or lawyer are actually male, so that you have to say " lady doctor " to distinguish them from a real doctor .

I'm not sure why my being a woman stops them smiling or saying Good Morning. I guess that feels stifled and old fashioned. Much better just to say " yes? " .

0phelia Mon 19-Sep-16 21:40:57

You get more advantages in life if you are a big fit man. You don't get conned by mechanics, you don't get fobbed off by doctors and people listen to your opinion more agreeably. You would go through life never being called a bitch, slut, hormonal or bossy.

Being a pretty female may get some advantages but it's fairly limited.

Personally, being tremendously beautiful myself in the same way as Samantha Brick, I also find beauty can be intimidating to other women. (Half joke).

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 19-Sep-16 22:23:16

And apparently some other words such as doctor or lawyer are actually male, so that you have to say " lady doctor " to distinguish them from a real doctor

Really? In what circumstances does one ever have to say "lady doctor" ?

What do you mean by "lawyer is actually male"?

So far as airline check in, some are friendly, some are neutral, some are sour-faced, I can't honestly say I've ever spotted it being switched on and off for men and women.

I think Vestal is right about the approachability/ apparent friendliness of the person has more to do with the reception than anything else.

BombadierFritz Mon 19-Sep-16 22:31:35

its perhaps the 'heavy' even if not overweight prejudice as well
broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/women-can-suffer-workplace-fat-phobia-even-if-theyre-not-actually-overweight

thatstoast Mon 19-Sep-16 22:35:16

Has anyone seen 30 rock where Jon Hamm's character has everyone pretending he's great and bending over backwards for him because he's so handsome? There's definitely something in it.

I often wonder if this is why some women don't identify with feminism as attractive women have more of an illusion of equality. Being unattractive and unsociable, I have nothing to lose by admitting I'm a feminist.

Kr1stina Mon 19-Sep-16 22:47:03

Lass - have you never heard anyone say " lady doctor " or " female lawyer "? I'm suprised , I've often heard or read this .

Sosme people seem to think that the default sex is male . So a lawyer who happens to be a woman isn't a lawyer ( because that's a man obviously ) , she's a " lady lawyer " .

I can't work out if you genuinely have never heard of this ? Or if you have but don't see a problem with it ?

Kr1stina Mon 19-Sep-16 22:50:27

< hi fives toast >

Yeah, it's our own fault people are rude to use , it's because we are ugly and unapproachable . Same with BME people - there's no such thing as racism, they all just have a chip on their shoulder hmm hmm

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 19-Sep-16 23:13:19

Sosme people seem to think that the default sex is male . So a lawyer who happens to be a woman isn't a lawyer ( because that's a man obviously ) , she's a " lady lawyer "

I've been a "lady lawyer" for 35 years. Not once have I ever been referred to as a "lady lawyer" nor have I ever heard anyone use the expression " lady lawyer"

0phelia Tue 20-Sep-16 09:19:33

Can't say I've heard of the term "lady doctor" or lawyer, but you do often get the situation where female doctor attends, then the patient asks "OK thanks nurse but can I see the doctor?"

Not sure about the legal profession but maybe Lass, you might have had clients who presume you are of a lesser qualified level and some surely ask for a male lawyer on the assumption they'll be more ruthless or better in some way?

I know what you mean about the default male presumption Kr1s in a sense of "Oh, Professor K.Smith is a woman oh didn't realise" because the assumption is advanced professionals are men while assistants are women. When you look around you this does seem to consistently be the reality, so females will be treated differently as a result.

Attractive females may even be more likely stuck in customer-facing front of house type jobs with less chance of progression, while those who are not so easy on the eye can use their actual brains and make decisions without being expected to simply be the smiling face.

Fast food joins typically give the good looking ones the till job and the not so much ones the cooking job but actually there's more chance of making more money when you're working out back with the food and stock taking etc.
On the other hand you're more likely to get the job in the first place if you're a looker.

Kr1stina Tue 20-Sep-16 10:08:00

For Lass

www.thebalance.com/the-dos-and-don-ts-of-dressing-as-a-lady-lawyer-2164333

www.theladylawyerbrittany.com/p/about-me.html

hirealadylawyer.com/

www.google.co.uk/search?safe=active&client=safari&hl=en-gb&q=lady+lawyer+quotes&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD4t7Nxp3PAhWkHsAKHQF8C7cQ1QIIYSgD&biw=1024&bih=729&dpr=2

I'm not stupid - I do understand that you wish to imply that you personally have never ever encountered any sexism in your whole life ( which may indeed be true ) , and that therefore anyone who has is either making it up or has caused it by being too sensitive or " unapproachable " .

But I am calling you out on your victim blaming attititute . Bigotry - racism, sexism, anti semitism, homophobia - is not caused by the victims over sensitivity / lack of sense of humour and it won't be fixed by them 'getting over themselves '.

We need to challenge these things because they are tiny examples of larger belief systems that oppress other people .

People who are paid to serve coffee shoudl provide the same service to both pretty and plain or overweight female customers. We need to call it out because it's part of the belief system that says women's only value is what they look like and men get to choose what's acceptable in terms of appearance .

ophelia my husband is a professor . When we have parcels delivered to the house for him, the courier always says " package for your husband " , even though the label says " professor JB Smith " , so they have no idea if the addressee is male or female .

Only ONCE in 10 years has one of them ever said " are you professor smith ? I have a parcel for you ".

AdaLovelacesCat Tue 20-Sep-16 10:10:38

" And apparently some other words such as doctor or lawyer are actually male, so that you have to say " lady doctor " to distinguish them from a real doctor . "

what utter nonsense

Kr1stina Tue 20-Sep-16 10:16:58

I was being ironic Ada . I thought it was obvious in the context .

Kr1stina Tue 20-Sep-16 10:20:23

Some of you might enjoy" man who has it all "

manwhohasitall.tumblr.com/

mobile.twitter.com/manwhohasitall?lang=en-gb

AdaLovelacesCat Tue 20-Sep-16 10:21:49

" I thought it was obvious in the context ." lol probably just me being dozy...

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 20-Sep-16 13:15:42

Not sure about the legal profession but maybe Lass, you might have had clients who presume you are of a lesser qualified level and some surely ask for a male lawyer on the assumption they'll be more ruthless or better in some way?

No. Not ever and have never heard of it happening to any of the "lady lawyers" I know.

I'm finding it bizarre the only person I've ever come across using the expression "lady lawyer" is the poster here who is trying to tell me all about being a "lady lawyer".

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