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Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's not "all in my head" or archaic attitudes towards women in modern society

I am not at all a raging feminist. Far from it. I have no intention of burning my bra (in fact, I quite appreciate the way it lifts my ample bosom), I wear make-up,heels and frilly blouses, get my hair and nails done regularly and just love to indulge in spa pampering sessions. I give myself a break at "that time of the month" and let men do all the heavy lifting and other "manly" things.
However, I also have high education and I used it wisely, generating better than average income over the years. I've owned a number of businesses and worked for the companies which ranked among the top 10 in the world as part of their management team.
I held my own as a Real Estate Agent and property management company owner in Las Vegas, which is truly a "good 'ol boys club" and all women are considered stupid whores, good for nothing more than being an arm candy and a fuck. I was successful and didn't bend or break despite those "boys" treating me like a stupid foreign chick and hurling abuse at me on the phone and in person every chance they got...
So it amazes me to no end when I come across situations which I am about to describe in this day and age.

Incident # 1:

A friend offered me a really great deal on house sharing  recently. Not only that, he spent a great deal of his personal time (which as we all know is precious and valuable) helping me settle, driving me to shopping centers in my new city and assembling my newly bought furniture.
Naturally, I felt like showing him some gratitude. I've invited him to have dinner with me at one of Auckland's premiere restaurants, past winner of prestigious Cuisine Magazine award. I've heard a lot about the place, one of my ex's (very talented and gifted Chef in her own right) worked there, so I felt it would be a great evening. Of course, it was MY treat.
We've discussed the menu beforehand (available online) and have decided on six-course degustation feast (with deg menus, everyone at the table has to have it, due to the number of courses served).
Everything seemed quite nice as we arrived and were greeted by a lovely hostess who also offered us a wine list.
Then my friend got a phone call from a family member which was somewhat urgent and he excused himself from the table briefly.
That's when the trouble started.
This particular restaurant only employs male wait staff (a lot of 5-star establishments do). With my friend (male) gone from the table, I became suddenly invisible. Although place was barely a quarter full, waitstaff ignored me completely, gliding to and fro by my table. Clearly, the assumption was that I would absolutely HAVE to wait for the MAN to return to place even a drink order. Clearly, I am not capable of making even that small a decision on my own!
Finally, I caught one of the passing waiter's eye and indicated with a raised finger that I am ready to order (normally I hate doing the "raised finger"). When he came over, I placed a drink order AND a food order (six course degustation menu for two,please-how hard could that bloody be,really?). Looking slightly bewildered, the waiter stomped away.
My friend returned and we proceeded with our meal, which was quite good overall.
Couple of hours later,as we were waiting for the check, I was relaying to my friend the tale of my "invisibility" while he was gone. We had a chuckle and I was ready to write it off as a mishap when that same waiter appeared at the table and placed the check firmly to my friend's right (the furthest possible point from me,as I was sitting to my friend's left). This was not a mistake, as the check was not laid slightly off-center-it was clearly implied that the MAN would be taking care of the bill.
I was livid! First of all, I can very well afford any meal I want and I resent the implication that I need a man to eat out. Secondly, as the waiter had no clue as to the nature of our relationship (we are friends and definitely NOT a couple), he potentially could put us both in awkward position. What if my male companion was a business prospect I was entertaining? The bill was placed so far away from me, I couldn't possibly reach it without actually getting up and towering over my companion!
I used to work in hospitality for years and we were trained DECADES ago in US not to make assumptions and place the bill squarely in the middle of the table to avoid embarrassing our guests.
Clearly, that waiter still regards women as nothing more than arm candy, incapable of making simplest decisions on their own and not being in charge of finances (or not having any to be in charge of).
Well, my Platinum Visa had to bear $40 less in charges that night as he got zero tip from me!

Incident #2:

My new flatmate decided to get new SKY TV recorder. The thing has to be installed by a SKY technician. So appointment was made and on the day my friend rushed home from work in the middle of the day so technician could come and do his thing. First he was told 12, then 1pm, then at 2:15,after ringing SKY repeatedly, he was told "within the next hour"-as customer service goes..LOL..
So my friend made a quick drive back to work to pick up some papers and I went out to pick up some lunch.
It was a miserable day: pouring down with rain and windy. When I got back home, SKY truck was sitting in the driveway right in front of the garage door. As it was raining and the street is fairly noisy as well, I flicked garage door (which opens outward) with a remote just a little (opened it a hair and stopped) to get the guy's attention so he would back off from the driveway, let me in and come in himself. The guy looked at me and remained motionless. I tooted the horn slightly. Pretty much same reaction. As it was useless trying to talk from the car (like I said: noisy street and pouring rain-he wouldn't hear me), I had to step out of the car (getting wet in the process) and ask him to move.
That's when he gave me a nasty snarl "You saw me parked in there when you tried to open that door, didn't you!! You should've waited until I pulled out!!!".
I didn't want to get any wetter than I already was trying to explain to him that he couldn't possibly see me approaching (his attention was firmly on his lap: I want to believe that he was looking at the order sheet and not playing with himself) and even if he did, he wouldn't know that I was an occupant of that particular house (it's a narrow street with apartment complex across and houses snuggled very,very close to each other: I could been waiting for someone from the apartments,tooting the horn letting them know I've arrived).
I just asked him if he would please pull out now. He mumbled something like "I will now" (it could have been "You stupid cow") and finally I was able to open the garage door all the way and park my car.
But it wasn't the end of it! No sooner did I get out of my car the guy yelled "Well, is your PARTNER home?"
Clearly, the assumption was that I :
A) Cannot possibly live in a nice house in a posh neighbourhood by myself (I have to have a MAN for that)
B) Whatever MAN that is who lives here, has to be my PARTNER.
C) The PARTNER must be in charge of all the finances and happenings/goings on in the house
D) I cannot possibly supervise installation of a cable box without a MAN
E) I would not understand (very simple) instructions for use
F) My signature would not be sufficient to accept the installation of the said box
It was lucky that my friend/flatmate choose that very moment to pull up. I simply pointed my finger at him to the cable guy and went upstairs.
When the cable guy saw my friend (who is a middle-aged gentlemen, drives quite expensive upmarket brand/model car and has an air of "well-to-do" about him), his whole demeanour changed. Suddenly he was all courtesy and politeness. He introduced himself (I wasn't awarded that privilege) and asked my friend's name. He then politely asked where he should set up the box and proceeded to work efficiently.
When he was done, he explained whatever needed to be explained, asked my friend if there was anything else needed  and departed, politely thanking him and wishing him a nice day.

Sometimes my friends tell me that men's archaic attitudes towards women are "all in my head" and, surely, things are not that bad... Well, you be the judge :)

5 comments:

  1. I repeat - "I'm quite often ashamed to be of the male species !"

    The assumptions, presumptions & deeply ingrained sexist, denigrating & gender negative behaviour of the male humanoid frequently shames me almost as much as it seriously pisses me off !

    Then again (as I rapidly look around for a safe haven) there are members of the female humanoid species who encourage and fawn over such behaviours who piss me off almost as much.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I notice this sort of thing quite often, myself. It is definitely not in your head and it is informed by outdated views of women. One often just gets blanked out of conversations. Just recently, someone wanted to know information about me. Instead of asking me directly, they asked my male friend and in doing so, talked about me in the third person in my presence. So rude!

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    2. BBC Domestic radio used to run a magazine program covering the interests of the disabled. The title was "does he take sugar?" and this was inspired by the experience of disabled people who often faced the same treatment. If it happened to me, I think that I would go into Kreacher mode. (Read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix if that is a new concept.) Just say exactly what you are thinking as if the other person was not able to hear you. So, something like: "Talking about me in the third person as though I do not exist, do they really think that I am not aware of what is going on or are they just being unspeakably rude because they think that I do not count as a real person?" That really puts folk in their place.

      Osiris

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  2. 1) The supposedly reputable eating establishments in Auckland are actually the worst in my opinion! Many of the little unknown backstreet places offer way better food and immaculate service for a fraction of the price. Totally hear you, think it's BS you were treated like this and like Voyager am quite often ashamed to be one of the members of our species that has those silly looking dangly bits between our legs and very little in between the ears.

    2) There are very few exceptions to this rule, tradesmen are simply old school and stuck in the dark ages when it comes to their attitudes towards women. They are the ones with the problem not you! I am a glazier by trade so am speaking from experience here, often I have been in heated disputes with others on the job when I have voiced my new school opinion.

    3) Formally complaining is a step in the right direction, SKY would love to hear of your experience as would the owner (not the duty manager) of the eatery you were so poorly treated at.

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  3. It is not just wrong on basic principles it is commercially dim too. Not only did the table staff lose a tip but what about future business? I am reminded of one of my favourite restaurants in Europe. Trip one, the head waiter clearly noted how much my companion appreciateed the wine. After presenting us with the bill, he offered a glass of something rather special. A couple of months later, we were back as a party of 20. (At my organisation on behalf of an agent/contractor/client do.) The head waiter grabbed the wine list and made a beeline for my companion, the upshot was: "we had better have six bottles of the Chateauxneuf du Papes." Now that was a win all round.

    Osiris

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