I’m a bookworm, and anyone who knows me knows this fact, but this Hanukkah I was very disappointed with my presents. I got clothes and money from my relatives. My male cousin who is nowhere near as much of a reader? Almost all his presents were books. Gee, thanks relatives, I really wanted CLOTHES that you all picked out, meaning stuff I never wear. Seriously, all you had to do is ask my mom what I like, you’re relatives. Or just give me the goddamn money, if you really don’t understand my tastes. I would have loved to get those books 🙁
I am a dance teacher and choreographer. My job is physical. A key part of my pedagogy is working to support and empower students to move freely and without judgement of their own or others’ bodies. The principal of one of the schools where I teach called me into her office and told me another staff member had made a complaint about me because I wear shorts. She told me to get a long, wrap-around skirt and to wear it over my shorts whenever I leave the dance studio. She said my shorts are “not fair on the boys”. The male P.E teachers wear shorts every day. No one has complained about them. No one asks them to wear wrap-around skirts.
Where to begin? As a child when I was molested? Or when my mother tried making me have a pink Sweet Sixteen birthday party? Or when my father expected me to help chop wood and wash windows but wouldn’t take me to play golf? Or my first job where one of the managers “tried it on” with me. No, maybe when the job expected me to wear a short skirt. And the next job. And the next. Nearly every job has paid me less than the guys I worked with. I nearly always worked at places geared for guys – in printing and in house painting. My ex-husband expected me help him on the job (carpentry) but also have dinner ready, the house cleaned and the child attended to. One of the worst places for sexism has been our public school system, where they just assumed that I wasn’t working and could show up at any point in a day for school events, as the mother of one. I attended all school functions. Her father none. And I was furious once when my daughter was told, in Sunday School, that she and all the girls would play the sheep in a play, while the boys played lions. I never dressed her in skirts and she could pick any color she wanted. But I guess the worst case of sexism for me personally came from my uncle, a physicist who worked for NASA once, when I asked him about being an astronaut and he ignored me. So I thought about becoming a stewardess (attendant) on a plane instead. But I was too short. Later on I thought about joining the Navy (in the 1970’s) but their dress code for women then included girdles, bras, nylons, heels and skirts. I didn’t wear any of that. No, I’m not gay or trans. I just find that dressing like that is silly. The kind of things I like to do doesn’t work with clothes like that. I think the sexism inherent in our clothing is something that keeps putting us women “in our place”. Thank goodness we can own property and vote now!
Just heard Laura on NPR with Leonard Lopate… Which everyday sexism do I want to share? There are so many. I went to the emergency room for mental health reasons and was put into a psych ward where I was told to put a hospital gown over my clothes because there were men in there. I went in and ONLY the women had gowns over their clothes. Men were wearing their normal everyday clothing. On top of that, a woman who was obviously very disturbed was menstruating on herself and no nurses helped her. Why did I have to put a gown on and feel that I was the one who was the problem (and shamed for dressing inappropriately- apparently that’s leggings and a long sweater) when it was the men in the ward who were the problem. Maybe if a man was deemed a danger to women he should not be with the “general population” in the first place. Nope, the easiest way is always to change women it seems.