Advanced search

Things you are not supposed to do as a woman ...

(150 Posts)
YetAnotherSpartacus Fri 21-Oct-16 07:42:59

... but (still) do anyway (?)

A few random thoughts inspired this thread. Elsewhere on MN there is a thread about going into a pub / bar alone (as a woman) and I was surprised at the number of women who said that they didn't do this, either because of fear of harassment or because it's just not done for women to do this.

Nearly two decades ago I was meeting colleagues before a work dinner at Pub X. I assumed that meant IN Pub X. The first to turn up waited outside for the second to turn up and when both came in they were surprised to see me sitting there with a beer. Conversation ensued about;

1) Women going into pubs alone
2) Drinking alone (anywhere)

I learned that these were not acceptable for a woman. Oddly, these women were both academic feminists. They were my superiors, so I didn't say anything other than 'it was cold out and I wanted a seat'.

For a while, I felt a bit odd about going into pubs alone (and ordering a pint or two). But I gradually started doing it again and didn't think oddly of it again until I read that post.

Then I read the Grayson Perry post and the article in the Telegraph. I thought it good, but was also intrigued about how he monitored other men so that he knew what masculinity was. It struck me that I have simply never done this with women / femininity.

Thus, I've been told from time-to-time that I do things that are not expected of women, such as liking whisky, travelling alone, etc.

I was wondering what other women here have always done, but have been told that they should not, as a woman? Are there any interesting stories about how women found out they were breaking gender rules? Did anyone stop doing things because they were told it was unacceptable? Is there anything women want to do but are too inhibited to do for fear of breaking gender rules?

IzzyIsBusy Fri 21-Oct-16 07:54:28

Most recently the pub alone thing.

Minor argument with DP and seen as it was a sunny Sunday and i didnt want to look at his sour puss i took myself off to the local pub.
It has an outside seating area over looking a busy canal. Perfect.
I got my pint settled on the seat and started to read my book (kindle app on phone) in peace.
The looks i got from others were thst of confusion and pity. I was asked 3 times by an elderly couple if i was ok, i was not crying or distressed at all, and a couple of 20 something women loudly decided i had been stood up by a man.

I stayed for another pint and enjoyed the confusion and questions being raised that i was in a pub on my own.
I must add the bench 2 seats away from me was occupied by a man on his own who came after me but funnily was not questioned or any assumptions made about him being there alone.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 21-Oct-16 08:19:31

I like whisky, frequently travel alone and if I'm meeting people in a pub it would never occur to me to wait outside if I were there first.

Clickclickclick Fri 21-Oct-16 08:27:07

I've travelled alone and gone into a pub alone a lot. It's never occurred to me that it's not the "done" thing. I find it so strange. Yes, I have received unwanted attention on occasion, but it's never been anything that I found difficult to handle.

Hate whisky though.

I remember once being at a family function with my parents and I ordered myself a pint from the bar. My parents made me decant my pint into two smaller glasses as a pint was very "unladylike". Fgs. I was 18 so didn't think to just refuse them, though I did think they were bananas.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 21-Oct-16 08:27:45

I am frequently in restaurants or licensed cafes on my own and if I'm staying in a hotel and want a drink I will have it in the hotel bar or lobby. I haven't experienced funny looks or questions.

I'm unlikely to be in a pub on my own , unless waiting for someone as I don't particularly like pubs.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 21-Oct-16 08:28:36

It has never occurred to me to think I'm not supposed to do any of these.

Imsickofnamechanging Fri 21-Oct-16 08:34:47

DM told me as a girl, I was forbidden from whistling. See, I liked whistling a lot whilst playing or doing my chores. I was told only witches whistle.

Well, I carried on whistling, I'm not a witch .

PoisonWitch Fri 21-Oct-16 08:37:11

If I go into a pub alone I invariably get approached and talked at by men. I still do it but it does make me wary.

I do a lot of stuff people say is unladylike to which I always hmm and carry on as before

GerundTheBehemoth Fri 21-Oct-16 08:41:17

I've also been chastised for whistling. Was told by (female) colleague that 'a whistling woman is a cackling hen.' Once greatly alarmed a woman by whistling while getting changed for my aikido class - she didn't realise it was me whistling and thought a man had sneaked into the changing rooms. And have been told off by men for drinking pints because they 'didn't like seeing a lady drinking a pint'. They seemed to think I would give a toss about this!

HarleyQuinzel Fri 21-Oct-16 08:48:52

In an old job once one of my colleagues burped a lot. She always excused herself, wasn't rude about it or anything. Our manager once walked passed and looked disgusted and said 'not very ladylike'.

Xenophile Fri 21-Oct-16 08:52:06

When I drank I was often told off for drinking pints. Apparently, it's unladylike, like I give a fuck. Same for going into pubs/bars alone, travelling alone, having an opinion and playing rugby.

Women taking up space in traditionally male dominated areas appears to still be transgressive.

ChocChocPorridge Fri 21-Oct-16 08:53:17

When I was young and more awkward I would have waited outside. Now, like you I stride into wherever I'm going and get myself settled (young kids, so make the most of any time away!)

Thinking about it, the first thing that gave me the confidence to just head in and do stuff on my own was when I rode a motorbike, and found that I felt quite powerful walking in somewhere in my leather jacket holding a bike helmet.

I've also had the pint comment - but always ignored that one :D

YoScienceBitch Fri 21-Oct-16 08:54:02

My physics lecturer told me off the other day for swearing as it wasn't "ladylike"...
my friend (who is male) called him out on the blatant sexism in that and my lecturer agreed, apologised to me and then apologised for being a doddery old man. I told him it was ok grin

ChocChocPorridge Fri 21-Oct-16 08:54:38

Oh, and an ex-boyfriend's mum always described me as 'fearless' for doing what I thought were fairly normal things (if, looking back, not ideal) like riding to visit her son half way across the country on a little 125.

user1476140278 Fri 21-Oct-16 08:55:49

What Grayson Perry post please?

BIWI Fri 21-Oct-16 08:59:59

God how depressing this is!

Pubs these days are so much more welcoming generally it would never occur to me not to go in on my own.

However, at least you're allowed in. I did a project on beer in the early 80s, which involved visiting pubs in Glasgow (with the rest of the team who were all male). And in some pubs there were bar areas where women weren't allowed at all.

Thank goodness things have moved on since then, although it sounds like there's still room for improvement.

roarfeckingroar Fri 21-Oct-16 09:02:18

It would never cross my mind that any of these things are strange..

bottleofredplease Fri 21-Oct-16 09:08:14

Travelled in India for 6 months alone and also Africa and South America. People often gave me a look of pity or asked why I was on my own. I loved it, travelled with different people for a week or so then on my own again, go where I wanted, eat when I wanted. Amazing times.

WittyCakeMeister Fri 21-Oct-16 09:08:44

I'm going to add - Performing in a live band when you are an old woman. There are lots of old men performing in bands. Have you ever seen an old woman at the guitar? On the piano doing a solo in a cool bar? You hardly ever see it. Yet, there are lots of very talented female musicians who would love to do it. The only ones who perform into old age are those who had careers and built up a following when they were young (basically famous semi/famous).

I have always been a singer/songwriter and play piano, but as I get older I'm starting to feel like I should think about giving it up because I would look ridiculous 'on stage' in a bar/pub.

When I look at adverts for musicians for bands they ask for female singers and put an age bracket - 'Looking for a female aged 20-35'.
I've also seen adverts which say 'Old men only'.

This should change. Perhaps I should start an 'Old women only' band in my later years. Would people come to watch us?

boldlygoingsomewhere Fri 21-Oct-16 09:10:26

I loved computers and gaming when I was a teen and enjoyed fantasy/sci-if things. I got the impression that those were not typical hobbies for girls. This was in the 90s so not that long ago. I also received the implicit message that maths/IT was for boys and as I was good at essay subjects too I went that route at A level. I do wonder how different life would be if I'd pursued my interest in tech. In fact, I'm thinking of doing a distance learning coding course and see how it goes.
Also had the ladies don't drink pints thing, having to sit with your legs together/crossed. Having a strong opinion on women's rights/equality and voicing it meant that boys/men would not find you attractive.

Beebeeeight Fri 21-Oct-16 09:13:33

Driving when dp is in the car.
It seems most women are the passengers when travelling with their dps.

Driving a van.

Giving my dcs my surname.

Not waxing/ shaving.

Challenging lecturers at uni.

Applying for jobs when meeting about half the requirements.

Reading non fiction rather than fiction.


Travelling alone.

Working abroad alone.

Doing weights in the gym.

Choosing clothes for comfort/practicality.

Refusing to carry a handbag.

Got into physical fights.

Walking home alone in dark late at night.

Having control of the remote.

Having one night stands with the intention of them being one night stands.

deydododatdodontdeydo Fri 21-Oct-16 09:16:57

I know plenty of men who don't like to go into pubs alone for various reasons, usually slight shyness or feeling like a bit of a loser lone drinker.
The pints things is one of the few things I have heard male strangers outright say shouldn't be done i.e. "ladies don't drink pints".
Most of the time it's women policing what women should and shouldn't do.

ftw Fri 21-Oct-16 09:21:06

Ah yes, the old 'I couldn't drink a pint, I'll have two halves' thing.

I nearly fell off my barstool when I found out that was a thing (whilst a student of course. Ladylike person in question was non-student gf of a friend.)

WittyCakeMeister Fri 21-Oct-16 09:27:39

Really out of all of the things mentioned here, the only one I definitely wouldn't do alone is walk outside in the dark. Or even walk in a secluded area in the daytime alone. Being brutally honest - It's because I'm worried about getting raped or attacked. I'm not going to be able to fend off a man who is stronger than me am I? Unless you do some kind of karate or body building, your chances are a bit slim.

Terrible that we have to be worried about it though.

Everything else I'd give a go if I wanted to.

HellsBellsnBucketsofBlood Fri 21-Oct-16 09:29:19

Swearing, doing weights at the gym, sitting alone in pubs, travelling alone and wandering round in the dark alone.

Probably more too, but I haven't noticed odd looks that would indicate I have made some strange faux pas.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now