Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

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Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by reboot on Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:25 am

This is inspired by eselle's post about buying a car while female, something that ought to be a gender neutral transaction (male and female experience should be same) but often is not. It got me to thinking about other things that I/family/friends have bumped into that are treated as realms of one or the other gender and wondered if others have bumped into some too. For example:

Taking the kids to the doctor - the fathers I know have actually had people ask to speak to the mother when giving medical information (awkward if no mom or 2 dads) or had all conversation directed to the mom if they are there

Mechanics - If you are a woman this can be the seventh circle of hell where you are condescended to or snowed and always assumed to be clueless

Interior decorating - my ex was once not allowed to purchase curtains until the salesperson talked to the "lady of the house" despite him telling said salesperson that I did not care

Retirement/financial planning - there is a tendency to act as if women need finance 101 and remedial math but their partners obviously understand compound interest instinctively and at least in my experience if you go as a couple the person talked to the man about the hard stuff and then tries to sell the woman on added services using emotion/sentiment
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Wondering on Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:47 am

I've already experienced that doctor one with the pediatrician. My husband and I have gone in together for the baby's appointments, but the doctor almost exclusively talks to me, even when I'm not as knowledgeable about the details of a particular childcare issue because my husband does that part.

The doctor asks me, and I say, "He's the one who does that." Next question on the same topic, she asks me again. I mean, I get that my husband's and my level of shared childcaring is probably not the norm, but still.

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by The Wisp on Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:53 am

I really hate that smart male kids are assumed to be good at and interested in math and science while smart female kids are assumed to be good at and interested in English, the arts, and social sciences. I didn't even realize I was a talented and creative writer until a male English teacher in middle school really pointed it out to me.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by eselle28 on Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:57 am

Arranging for daycare/children's activities - My brother-in-law was in charge of finding childcare for their baby. He was treated oddly and some providers assumed he was unmarried/divorced and would need my sister's permission.

Eating alone - I do so sometimes when I travel, especially on business, and sometimes restaurants either ignore me to death or are overly attentive and condescending while they don't seem to react that way to men who come in alone wearing suits.

Hiring contractors for home renovations - They always asked to speak to Monsieur 28, even though he was the former monsieur by the time I bought that particular place. Also, some of them made me feel creepy being in the house alone with them. I don't think it would be quite the same for a divorced dude who owned a home.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:57 am

eselle28 wrote:Eating alone - I do so sometimes when I travel, especially on business, and sometimes restaurants either ignore me to death or are overly attentive and condescending while they don't seem to react that way to men who come in alone wearing suits.

I get that too, but maybe it's because I don't have suits? Some wait staff hover; others assume I'm waiting for somebody and keep bringing me water without waiting around long enough for me to put in an order for food. Either way it's annoying.

For better or worse, I'm expected to carry everything that ever needed to be carried. It's flattering, in a way, that people know I can do it. It's also kind of a pain in the butt to always be the first person asked, especially since I'm awful at saying no to helping.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:28 am

So I was at a hearse show with one of my cast this weekend because she had a car in the show. She was in her vintage military uniform with a 3' tall wrench. In other words she's dressed more or less like a mechanic. She's also our in house diesel mechanic who I ask questions about what kind of vintage tour bus I should be looking for this year. I had my undertaker gear on. Got to look the part after all. So anyway, these tourists passing by ask us about the car. She answers, of course. After all its her car. They ask me specifically three more questions even though I'm farther away and every time I say "beats me, its her car" then turn to her to get the answer.

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by eselle28 on Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:35 am

nearly_takuan wrote:
eselle28 wrote:Eating alone - I do so sometimes when I travel, especially on business, and sometimes restaurants either ignore me to death or are overly attentive and condescending while they don't seem to react that way to men who come in alone wearing suits.

I get that too, but maybe it's because I don't have suits? Some wait staff hover; others assume I'm waiting for somebody and keep bringing me water without waiting around long enough for me to put in an order for food. Either way it's annoying.

It's generally only a certain sort of man who can escape the restaurant weirdness about eating solo. You basically have to do a very hardcore performance of The Business Traveler - office clothes, tired gaze, a handful of reports or at least a book or an ipad in hand. It doesn't hurt if it's done at the kind of hotel restaurant that has lots of similar guests. That being said, I think it's still somewhat gendered, because I can Business Traveler as hard as I can, and I still get the chatty waiter who feels obligated to be a dinner companion or the pushy one who asks a couple times if I'd like to sit with one of the dudes eating alone (um, that'd be a no).

Though you raise a good point - restaurants in general are pretty hostile to people who don't have companions.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:19 am

Do they expect to get more tips from groups or something? 'Cause when I go with friends they always want to split the check and pay with credit cards (which is annoying), but I always pay cash and when I go alone I tip generously—assuming I wasn't harassed too much and the food is good.

I think you are right about it being gendered, though, because I don't always get that kind of treatment. There's a Shari's near here, though, where the only night so far when they've understood that yes, I will be sitting alone, was when I walked in at 1 AM rolling a duffel bag behind me—having walked several miles from the monorail after a late-night flight... (This does, of course, put paid to your theory that being a Businessman doing Business Things is the only way out of it.)
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by eselle28 on Thu Oct 09, 2014 5:06 am

nearly_takuan wrote:Do they expect to get more tips from groups or something? 'Cause when I go with friends they always want to split the check and pay with credit cards (which is annoying), but I always pay cash and when I go alone I tip generously—assuming I wasn't harassed too much and the food is good.

The general restaurant theories as I understand them are that groups of more than four are terrible tippers, which is why there's often an automatic tip for bigger parties, but that one person at a table that seats two and is close to the same amount of work for half the bill and half the tip. Women are considered to be worse tippers than men, and then there are a bunch of racial and nationality-based stereotypes that don't really touch on this specific conversation.

nearly_takuan wrote:
I think you are right about it being gendered, though, because I don't always get that kind of treatment. There's a Shari's near here, though, where the only night so far when they've understood that yes, I will be sitting alone, was when I walked in at 1 AM rolling a duffel bag behind me—having walked several miles from the monorail after a late-night flight... (This does, of course, put paid to your theory that being a Businessman doing Business Things is the only way out of it.)

I probably phrased the bit about the business performance a bit too strongly! I don't think it's the only way out of the weirdness about eating alone. It's just one I happen to see very frequently that seems to be available sometimes to the guys but generally not to me. Most of the other strategies I can think of are generally more available to men than women as well (I think people at any restaurant might be alarmed at a woman who'd walked several miles at night).
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Guest on Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:17 am

Heh, as someone who studied engineering as part of my diploma, I have got very frustrated at people (men) who think I don't understand how my car works.  My garage is a main dealer, so a little more expensive, but I keep going back because they don't talk to me like I'm an idiot and actually take me into the workshop to show me the bits they're talking about.

My recommended technique is to mutter "Induction, Compression, Power, Exhaust, Induction, Compression, Power, Exhaust" under your breath when they start patronising you. Smile

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by BasedBuzzed on Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:33 am

People buying drinks for you(though this is largely offset by people eventually giving their own drinks to you because men supposedly have better alcohol resistance).

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by SadisticToaster on Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:21 pm

"Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered"

Life :p

eselle28 wrote:
Eating alone - I do so sometimes when I travel, especially on business, and sometimes restaurants either ignore me to death or are overly attentive and condescending while they don't seem to react that way to men who come in alone wearing suits.
.

I think women are seen to be more social then men. So if a man's on his own, people figure he's on his own by choice and so leave him to it. But if a woman's on her own, they figure she wants company and so won't leave her alone.

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by waxingjaney on Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:41 pm

eselle28 wrote:Though you raise a good point - restaurants in general are pretty hostile to people who don't have companions.

This strikes me as extremely odd. I almost always eat out alone in street clothes, and I've never had anything other than attentive, periodic, and unintrusive service. Might be a peculiarity of the rural South?
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:22 pm

I must now hand in my English proficiency cred. I meant to convey support for the idea that Businessing is the best way out of awkwardness, but reached for the wrong idiom.

Either way, I can certainly agree that there's a significant gendered element to it and I think SadisticToaster's idea about where it comes from is probably correct.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by The Wisp on Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:12 pm

I went alone to to restaurant last month for the first and only time in my life. I did receive some pitying looks from the waiter. But, I agree that were I 5 years older and in business casual attire, I probably wouldn't have received such looks.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:58 am

I know we're bordering on a threadjack here but what's the deal with doing activities solo being so stigmatized, anyway? Movies, eating out. . .I don't know, other stuff. Not that it bugs me much but sometimes its noticable. Every now and then you just want to treat yourself and get away from it all.

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:41 am

Serious question? It's extrovert culture: if you don't have friends with you all the time it must mean you're a loser and nobody likes you. Can't even get a girl/boyfriend to come with you? Loser.

I've gotten used to ignoring "pitying looks"; didn't remember that that was actually a thing until Wisp brought it up. What annoys me is the stuff I can't ignore: when the show of pity and/or critical comprehension failure affects the kind of service I get.

Hm, without knowing what it's like for solo women I'm kind of shooting in the dark, but I can generally buy anything I want from grocery stores—healthy, not healthy, frozen dinner, fresh vegetables, spices, flour, whatever—and the cashier will just tell me the total and let me be on my way. (The exception is a very sweet older woman whose line I try to end up in if I know it's her shift.) Since there are gendered stereotypes around cooking, I could see this not being the case if a woman checked out with a box of corn dogs and a frozen pizza.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by eselle28 on Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:22 am

nearly_takuan wrote:Serious question? It's extrovert culture: if you don't have friends with you all the time it must mean you're a loser and nobody likes you. Can't even get a girl/boyfriend to come with you? Loser.

I agree it's extrovert culture. It's strong enough that it extends to some activities that should be as or sometimes more enjoyable solo, like going to the movies.

Hm, without knowing what it's like for solo women I'm kind of shooting in the dark, but I can generally buy anything I want from grocery stores—healthy, not healthy, frozen dinner, fresh vegetables, spices, flour, whatever—and the cashier will just tell me the total and let me be on my way. (The exception is a very sweet older woman whose line I try to end up in if I know it's her shift.) Since there are gendered stereotypes around cooking, I could see this not being the case if a woman checked out with a box of corn dogs and a frozen pizza.

I eat better these days, but there was a period in my 20s when that was about what I bought. It may vary for others, but I never actually had an issue with it. Grocery checkers tend to have more customers and deal with them for only brief periods of time, so there's seldom much in the way of interaction at all unless the person is the kindly, friendly sort. Also, it's not like buying lots of frozen food is a universal sign of singleness. There are plenty of married and partnered women who don't cook and lots of others who only cook now and then. But this may vary depending on where people live. I've spent my largest chunks of time in New York, where lots of people of both genders mostly survived on takeout, and in a small town with a large working class population where corn dogs isn't as objectionable of a meal for a married couple with a couple kids as it is in some circles.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Guest on Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:07 am

I go to the movies by myself all the time, particularly if it's kids movies. If I was a man people would probably think I was a paedophile, whereas being a woman they assume I'm not; correctly, in my particular case, but I think both assumptions are dangerous for different reasons.

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Lemminkainen on Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:22 am

On the original topic-- I suspect that the denial of my sexual orientation (bisexual) is somewhat, albeit not completely, gendered.

Also unfortunately gendered: gender-oriented magazines that don't assume that their readers are idiots. It would be great if Cosmo could operate at the same sort of journalistic standards as GQ.

[Aside: I really like GQ, since it's full of good articles, clothing porn, and pictures of hot people of both sexes. Mmmmmmm.]

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by helbling on Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:30 pm

Getting married! OMG, the wedding process was incredibly arduous because it was so gendered. The main driving force behind our wedding was actually my (male) partner, and he was the one that was interested in everything and wanted to be the one to organise stuff, whereas I wanted to mostly be left alone and just told when and where to turn up on the day itself...nope! The vendors would direct questions at me, would refuse to do business unless it was confirmed I had signed off on things - apparently the bride has to be involved in everything.

Even our friends, who frankly should have known better, directed a vastly disproportional amount of their enquiries and 'suggestions' at me, having been told not to! After the first 6 months, I actually instituted the policy of 'The first rule of getting to come to the wedding is you do not ask about the f*cking wedding' with them, just to get them to shut up about it.

It stressed me out so much we ended up having an engagement that lasted nearly 3 years, because every time I went near the bloody planning process it was like being hit in the face with expectations and stress, and I'd run away again shrieking 'NOPETOPUS!' all the way.

Having now actually gotten through it, I have announced at one point or another to just about everyone I know that even if this marriage falls apart, or the worst happens and I end up a widow, I will never get married, ever again. Not because of any kind of moral objection, but because I ain't going through that shit again if I have any choice in the matter.

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by Wondering on Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:33 pm

Shopping for electronics at certain stores, namely Best Buy. I went in this weekend to buy a tablet. We'd done the research; I knew which one I wanted. I basically only had a question about peripherals and the return policy. I was standing in front of the display for the one I wanted for 10 minutes and no one bothered to come help me, even though the sales guy was available. My husband was off looking in some other part of the store.

My husband came back over to talk to me, and the sales guy shows up. And talks to my husband exclusively. silent

I have, however, never had this happen to me at the Apple store. Probably because Apple actually puts you in a queue when you walk in the door, and they don't pay their staff on commission, so no one's motivated to make stereotypical judgments about you.

Also, I went back today alone to buy one of the peripherals. No one helped me this time, either. So, I got what I wanted, bought it, and left, and didn't get the second peripheral I was curious about.

Still quite cranky about this. Side-eye

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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by reboot on Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:18 am

Here is one that should not be gendered but is: TV host wears the same suit for a year and no one noticed. If a female TV host did that, or even wore the same thing two times in a row, comments would be made. Link to story
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by kath on Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:57 am

Oh yeah I heard about that on The Current! http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/11/25/anchor-tracey-spicer-ditches-makeup-to-protest-dolled-up-pressure/

This one pairs talking about that anchor with Tracey Spicer, an anchor who's ditched her beauty routine.
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Re: Gendered experiences that really should not be gendered

Post by PintsizeBro on Fri Feb 13, 2015 2:51 pm

Lemminkainen wrote:On the original topic-- I suspect that the denial of my sexual orientation (bisexual) is somewhat, albeit not completely, gendered.

I'd say that it is, but it isn't. It is, in that bi men and bi women do get responses that are different on the surface. But it isn't, in that those differing responses boil down to the same thing.

To elaborate: bi women are generally assumed to be straight, but either "looking for attention" or "into threesomes." Bi men are assumed to be gay but still halfway in the closet. Even if we're dating women.

So whether you're a man or a woman, if you're bisexual, people will assume that you're (a) only really into men, and (b) totally okay with using women to get what you want.

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