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Moments of unintended sexism

(44 Posts)
guinnessgirl Thu 24-Mar-16 12:30:34

So I've been a card-carrying, loud and proud feminist for a good ten years now. I grew up not questioning a lot of the everyday hidden sexism in society, but I like to think that I'm now fully aware and 'reformed'.

Imagine, then, my shame at something that occurred this morning. I took my car to Halfords for a small replacement part and paid for it to be fitted too. I was told a colleague was on their way so was waiting patiently, when a young female member of staff appeared in front of me. One second later I realised to my utter horror that I had assumed she was coming to work on the till, and my subconscious mind was waiting for a man shock

Anyone else had a moment like this where you realise that the sexism ingrained into society is still lurking away in hidden corners of your thinking?

VertigoNun Thu 24-Mar-16 12:32:37

grin Did you tell her?

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Thu 24-Mar-16 13:36:08

I wouldn't worry! It was a natural assumption based on statistical probability.

It's the way you act on it that matters. I'm assuming that you didn't make her feel bad by making any comments on her being female or assuming incompetence. In fact I'm guessing you felt a bit happy to see a female mechanic.

guinnessgirl Thu 24-Mar-16 13:44:45

Vertigo, no chance! And theydontknow, I was indeed mightily chuffed that she was the mechanic. I don't think I can excuse it by probability though - convenient as that would be smile

0phelia Thu 24-Mar-16 14:37:51

Your response wasn't sexist necessarily, you didn't think "Oh no a crap girl mechanic is going to mess up my car".

The response would have been likened to an expectation of likelihood.

Long gone are the days where people addressing a female doctor call her "nurse" and ask "Where's the male doctor?".

We are (hopefully) moving away from the days where in a boardroom, the only female executive in the room is asked to go fetch the tea and coffees.

I would have expected a male mechanic, because most mechanics are male.

There are many societal influences at work that prevent women from becoming mechanics, plasterers, plumbers, electricians, many other professions. So it is not surprising to be surprised when you come across females in these professions. Sexism is in the prevention of women entering male dominated professions, and in preventing men entering female dominated professions.

0phelia Thu 24-Mar-16 14:40:45

I'd also be quite surprised to see a female security guard in a shop.
I wouldn't think "Oh no look a woman, this shop is going to be overrun with thieves!"

Don't think I've ever seen a female security guard. Only female receptionists.

Keepithidden Thu 24-Mar-16 15:43:29

I've been surprised recently at seeing a couple of female road workers and Highway Engineer Foremen (women?).

I think the fact that I register my surprise and subconscious prejudice is a positive. It's a step in the right direction anyway.

MrNoseybonk Thu 24-Mar-16 17:02:19

Don't think I've ever seen a female security guard.

I've seen quite a few.

Pointlessfan Thu 24-Mar-16 17:12:17

I was surprised to see a female coach driver recently, just because that's quite a male-dominated career.

HelpfulChap Thu 24-Mar-16 17:14:58

The head steward in the part of the ground where I watch my football team (it is by far and away the 'liveliest' area) is female.

It is not for the faint hearted but she is very well respected.

DaphneWhitethigh Thu 24-Mar-16 17:18:30

When DS was coming up for his third birthday I was wrapping up his present while he was napping and DD (then 5) was around. She said
"Mummy what are you doing?"
"I'm going up to get some wrapping paper for DS's present"
"Why don't you use this pretty wrapping paper?"
"Oh I can't use that one, it's covered in flowers"
"But DS likes flowers confused"

I had a sudden moment of clarity and realised, yes of course, DS did really adore flowers and I was a sexist idiot.

NotCitrus Thu 24-Mar-16 17:40:17

I've just been dealing with the gas company on the phone, and had to speak to at least a dozen people with a wide range of intelligence and competence. Got called by a cheerful woman asking why I hadn't answered the phone and assumed it was their useless helpdesk phoning me back. It was in fact the gas engineer. She hadn't been given my mobile number.

Took me a minute to figure out that when she was talking about where she was, this was because she was the "gas bloke" promised by the company.

London buses did a big recruitment campaign for women drivers a few years back, once they all had power steering and strength wasn't a factor in hiring any more. Now about 1 in 10 drivers is female but I did double-takes for ages.

grimbletart Thu 24-Mar-16 17:49:46

I'm still faintly (pleasantly) surprised when I am on plane and a female voice says "This is your captain speaking"

thatsn0tmyname Thu 24-Mar-16 17:56:07

MIL seems to have a dim view on women's abilities and kept on about the female captain on last year's cruise. Having watched the news in recent months I would prefer a female pilot or ship's captain.

AlleyCatandRastaMouse Thu 24-Mar-16 18:00:51

No but everyone who ever phoned me in the UK did. I have an unusual Irish name and work as an engineer, ever single time, 'oh I thought you were a man'.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Thu 24-Mar-16 19:11:25

Don't think I've ever seen a female security guard. Only female receptionists

I've seen female guards and bouncers. Most gig venues have a mix of sexes.

freshprincess Thu 24-Mar-16 19:34:50

Talking to DS about his maths homework I said 'so did he tell you how to do it' and he said 'why do you think my maths teacher is a man? #everyday sexism, mum'
I'm a bit blush my 12 year old pulled me up on it.

SockQueen Fri 25-Mar-16 23:10:36

Long gone are the days where people addressing a female doctor call her "nurse" and ask "Where's the male doctor?"

Sadly, they really aren't.

AyeAmarok Fri 25-Mar-16 23:23:31

I'm still faintly (pleasantly) surprised when I am on plane and a female voice says "This is your captain speaking"

Oh I love it when this happens! I always think to myself "I'm in good hands". I guess that's sexist too, just the other way.

My moment of shame, as a staunch feminist:

My friend (male) had just started dating a woman and was talking about how she had just moved back in with her parents, but their house was ENORMOUS.

My immediate question was "What did her dad do?

Oh, the shame! DP has never let me forget it.

booklooker Sat 26-Mar-16 01:44:32

Having watched the news in recent months I would prefer a female pilot or ship's captain.


TheRealBarenziah Sun 27-Mar-16 12:28:47

0phelia, as a female doctor, I can confirm that I used to get called "nurse" at least once a day when I worked in a hospital setting (A&E was the worst for it). Thankfully it's vanishingly rare in General Practice, perhaps because patients know they've booked an appointment with a doctor, so they accept that the person who calls them from the waiting room is a doctor even if she's a young-looking female.

nocoolnamesleft Sun 27-Mar-16 18:21:52

Yep, as a female doctor still get called nurse pretty frequently...though less often than used to be. A few years back I was on a cruise, and delighted to discover the captain was a woman. On the way into an event some male pillocks behind me were cracking "jokes" about whether she'd be able to "park" the ship. I may have made a few pointed comments about the level of authority a captain could wield on a ship in international waters, and speculation about whether a cruise liner would have a brig...

SeraOfeliaFalfurrias Mon 28-Mar-16 15:57:09

We went to view a house the other day, I'd booked the viewing under my name, Dr Falfurrias. Sure as eggs is eggs, as we arrived at the house, the agent strode up to DH with his hand out and a cheery " Hello Dr Falfurrias!".

Similarly, my friend is a science teacher and also a Dr. A new teacher as the school had to pass on a memo. He came into the staff room, asked who it should go to next and was told "Give it to Dr Smith". And again, sure as eggs is eggs the fellow didn't trouble himself to ask who Dr Smith was, he just walked right up to the only other male in the room, only to be informed "I think you'll find she's over there".


scarlets Mon 28-Mar-16 17:54:46

I took my parents' dog to a drop in session at the vet surgery many years ago. I arrived dead-on opening time and politely addressed the woman in the lobby as if she were a receptionist, asking when the vet would be ready. She was the vet.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 28-Mar-16 19:41:31

Wouldn't you have addressed anyone in the lobby as if they were the receptionist?

The vet I go to has male and female receptionists/veterinary nurses and male and female vets. I would assume the person at reception, if I didn't recognise him or her as a vet I already know, is the receptionist because they are in the reception area , as opposed to the consulting area.

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