ageism

Civil Servant

Got some anonymous feedback for an Executive Management course I’m on. One person’s comments said they have ‘significant confidence in her skills and decision making’, and then ‘I think that some people underestimate her and [I] suspect that sometimes this is because she is young and female‘. This makes me angry. I’m grateful to this person for saying it out load, and it really encourages me they don’t think it’s okay and mentally try to dissolve these preconceptions, so at least some others must think the same way. But the fact this is what still women face makes me angry, and demoralised about being in my own workplace.

Jess

Creepy guy at work. He’s a loudmouth. Was having a laugh with some female friends at work, nothing too major. He comes in and starts giving out to me, told me to use my “indoor voice” in a condescending way that he never uses for male colleagues. He’s always saying things like that. He hates women. He boasts about having “got rid of” one of his managers, a woman. He always speaks about older woman with such disdain, makes “jokes” about an older woman colleague being incontinent after giving her a lift. All in all, he’s a bully. And no-one supports me when I call him out on it.

Tria

Another intersection of sexism and ableism… and ageism, too, really. I was out doing some grocery shopping in Lidl a couple of weeks ago, in the electric wheelchair I use, and I lifted up a mid-weight medicine cabinet I wanted to buy and propped it over my lap, on the side of my chair, without any real difficulty. I took it to the till queue, and when I moved to lift it and set it down on the conveyor belt, a man I’d never seen before in my life came up behind me and decided to “help” me with it — never asked, never even spoke to me before he did it — and he grabbed the box out of my arms, and by yanking the weight out of my grasp, he dislocated my shoulder in the process. On top of that, if you can believe it, he then got angry at me for calling him out on his behaviour (even though I did it politely) and pointing out that if he hadn’t “helped”, I would not have been injured – *and* he refused to help me relocate my shoulder (a woman of about my age a bit further back in the queue helped me put it back). I am fucking fed up of being treated like I couldn’t possibly ever handle anything by myself just because I happen to be (a) young, (b) a woman, and (c) a wheelchair user! This kind of crap happens far too often, and it’s nearly always men who do it. That said, however, I have neither forgotten nor overlooked a *delightful* incident from a couple of months ago: In that particular instance, a woman about a generation older than I am decided that she was going to “help” me get off a bus, all along talking at the top of her voice and half the time in third person, to show everybody else on the bus how she’s soooo charitable and a better person than they are, helping this poor disabled girl (that was the way she was acting, and it was frankly humiliating)… So I said to her, “Look, thank you for the offer, but really, I’m fine, I can manage without help.” She ignored me at first and went down to speak to the driver, again at the top of her voice so the whole bus could hear, even though I’d already pressed the buzzer to let him know I needed the ramp to be put down at the next stop, so she didn’t need to talk to him at all. I said it again, and a little more forcefully because by then she was actually getting in my way when I was trying to turn my chair around, and next thing I know, she’s effing and blinding all over the place, calling me all the disgusting names under the sun, with ableist insults, ageist crap and some equally nasty misogynistic epithets no woman ought ever to use to another… and all I’m doing is just trying to get off the damn bus and go home, and she’s shouting swear-words at me at the top of her voice… eventually I just yelled back “Oh, fuck off and grow up!” when I was finally off the bus, quietly apologising to the bus driver for the scene – and she had thoroughly triggered my PTSD by then. The closest comparison to that incident with a man? Well, that was also on a bus, but it actually began with him physically assaulting me, after which he went off on a similar verbally abusive rant – but he wasn’t even pretending to try to help me. Just loud, misogynistic, ableist, ageist verbal abuse all over again. I posted that incident on ES shortly after it happened, in 2012. I am so very tired of people who think they have a right to “help” me against my will, almost always without asking, and are not being helpful at ALL. Every single time someone has done that I have ended up with either a physical injury or a damaged wheelchair. And eight times out of ten it has been a man who has tried it. I am just so tired of it all.