No-one should need to classify my gender in the process lf my purchasing an energy certificate for my home. How annoying. I won’t be using this service
scribbles tagged ‘female condition’
Wendy: I’d like to book my car in for a service
Service Engineer: What’s the registration number?
Wendy: (cited registration)
Service Engineer: Mr. House…
Wendy: I’ve not had a sex reassignment, to my knowledge
Service Engineer: It says here the owner is Mr. House
Wendy: When I bought the car from your dealership 5 years ago I was a Female and I still am
Service Engineer: Can I check the registration again?
Wendy: (recites the registration which like my sex, hasn’t changed)
Service Engineer: I’m sorry, I’ll get that changed
I wonder whether he’ll do the mundanely common thing of deciding to marry me off to someone when he changes the gender without having first asked what title to use. Applying another common stereotype in a prejudicial way.
French Speaking Montréal Native (FSMN): Do you know Montréal?
Wendy: I’ve never visited, but a friend from there spoke of it fondly and frequently, I suspect it’s beautiful
FSMN: was she a French speaker
Wendy: He was born and lived in France for the first 12 years of his life, and spoke French as his first language
Wendy: (proudly) “50 this year!”
I like these engineers who are curious and ask direct questions. The careful preface was also wise, as I’d only met the engineer 30 minutes ago, my reaction could have been very different given the socio-cultural norms in the UK suggest asking a woman her age is inappropriate…
While looking for a partner using internet dating in 2005, I tried out a couple of American guys who weren’t my normal type. Try something a little different from my normal tastes. It might work.
So he’s not well read, he drives a BMW convertible and lacks any form or recognisable dress style. My reasoning went something like – he could still be a good person and I just can’t see it because of my prejudices. It’s possible. This kind of reasoning lead to a relationship that lasted a couple of weeks with a guy I found a bit weird. Weird is interesting. Weird is also very definitively not normal.
It was a difficult relationship to get out of. I had to ask him to stop calling, emailing and contacting me. I told him in very clear, short sentences, that I didn’t want to see him or hear from him again. For a few months he respected the technical content of my request. He did get his 12 year old son to send me emails asking to meet-up with me. How’s that for creatively bending the rules on my request?! He’d heard the words and aligned with them but not complied with the ethos of the actual message. I politely replied to his son, redirect him to his school friends and other appropriate adults. The emails stopped coming.
As the years rolled by he would occasionally forget that I’d asked him not to contact me. He sent emails which I ignored.
Now, 7 years later he’s asked to be my contact on LinkedIn, again. He leaves about 2 years between LinkedIn contact requests. He’s profoundly creepy and holds a senior position in a reputable company. I wonder how many other women endure his unwanted attention.
Some people can’t let go.
I’m glad I live on a different continent from this creep. I hope he reads this blog post.
colleague: where are you from?
wendy: Reading town at the moment, originally from Bristol
colleague : yes, they’re very similar
wendy: NO! Bristol is beautiful!
colleague (and 2): my wife (girlfriend) is from Bristol, she sounds like you
In my new job I’m being compared to wives or girlfriends at least once a week, I suspect its intended to be flattering, it feels slightly creepy.
I’ve learned that I am not spontaneously told the wife/girlfriend’s name. The ‘wife/girlfriend’ stays defined by their relationship. She is theirs (‘my’) as opposed to belonging to someone-else (‘his’), or even being a free-agent that chooses them (I am ‘her’ lover). Lack of a name makes this person into a role rather than a person, it’s subtly dehumanising. Knowing that I’m rarely spontaneously told the name, I now always ask, to raise the wife/girlfriends status in our conversations to that of the unique and special person that she is:
wendy: what’s her name?
Being compared to sexual partner is creepy, but not quite as creepy as being told they wish their partner was more like me. I’m still new, that kind of comparison may yet come when they know me better.
The end of a warm spring in the mid 1970′s and my skinny little body emerges from an oversized cricket jumper that I’d knitted for myself. As a tall (5″2′) new teen I was rapidly outgrowing my clothes, I looked for clothes that I had some risk of growing into their fit. Mumsie would plan summer clothes shopping trips
mumsie: Darling, do you want a bra?
wendy: NO! I haven’t got anything to put in it
mumsie: I know dear, just asking
Every spring, when I stopped wearing woolly jumpers mum would ask me the same question and I’d give the same answer.
Virtually all of m girl friends at school were wearing Bra’s. In 1978 I tried-on some bras. I couldn’t even fill a 32′A underwired push-up bra. Mum bought me a training Bra. Bra’s are expensive and a rather uncomfortable thing for small gals, even when properly fitted. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself that I didn’t need a bra, and in 1978 Patti Smith helped reinforce that belief.
- Fat. Boyfriend told me that I shouldn’t order that peace of cheesecake because I was fat (5″6, 7 stone 6lbs). I was used to him calling me fat, I’d always assumed it was his wry sense of humour because I so clearly wasn’t fat. His best friend’s wife overheard his comment and treated it as if it was genuine. She passionately told him off for being irresponsible, called me borderline anorexic and that I should be encouraged to eat rather than starve myself. He squirmed, he didn’t claim to be joking. I realised that he actually meant it. From that moment onwards I questioned my interpretation of his humour and began to see that he was a rather mean spirited person. It was the beginning of the end of our relationship.
- Stupid. I asked my ‘A’ level maths teacher for help interpreting an applied maths question. I showed him the diagram of forces acting on a ladder that I’d drawn to try and help. He pulled my workbook from me, held it up to the rest of the class (all male) and said “this is the type of diagram I’d expect from a female“. I was humiliated and really upset by this aggressive demeaning act from a teacher I’d asked for help. With unusual focus I said “If you make one more sexist remark I’m leaving because they’re not helping“. He replied with “Typical emotional outbust from a female“. I walked out of the class in tears. Later that evening my parents took me aside and told me that the headmaster had phoned them to tell them that I’d been upsetting my maths teacher and creating scenes. It was the moment that I realised that adult men in influential positions will construct situations to demean and disable women merely because they are women. Before then I’d been discriminated against but never in an overtly malicious manner. That no one stood-up to ask me what happened or defend me was also a big eye-opener. This one event lead to a series of follow-on significant events including my getting a grade A mathematics A level, and a science based PhD. Ironically it was my need to prove, to myself, that I wasn’t the stupid person that some influential people declared me to be.
Being called fat, and, or stupid doesn’t seem like a big deal. but it’s unhelpful and mean spirited.
Be helpful, not mean.
After the interview I was invited to stay behind to talk to the interview panel. They asked me:
interviewer: we were curious about your references. One reference was 4 pages of detailed praise for your work. The other reference was one page which, while highlighting your strengths, seemed a bit odd. It made us suspicious about your referees motives. For example, were you sleeping with your first referee and then moved on to be sleeping with your second referee, that would explain the differences. We thought you should know about the differences
Gobsmacked silence as I take on board that I’ve been judged by presumptions, based on popular gender stereotypes, rather than the actual content in the references. A pair of good references couldn’t possibly be because I do good work, must be because of sexual relationships. Reference length differences couldn’t be attributed to differences in author’s writing styles .
wendy: you should take the content of the references at face value, they are both genuine comments on my work and not my sex-life.
I was given 2nd refusal on the job, if the first (male) candidate rejected it. I decided not to accept it if offered. Why would I want to work for an organisation where key people are more interested in speculating about my sex-life than actually seeing what’s in-front of their noses – my good work.
interviewer: what will you do if a 40yr old male Engineer says to you, that’s a load of rubbish, I don’t need that
wendy: I’d get some good evidence to demonstrate the value to him
interviewer: what would you do if he says he doesn’t listen to women
wendy: (pauses, a bit gobsmacked) I’d stay focussed on the work and what it could do to help him do a better job
interviewer: imagine he just ignores you
wendy: I’d calmly walk to the rest-rooms, SCREAM, then calm down and find my manager to strategize how we can deal with this idiot
I was offered the job
I didn’t take it
(It’s not greased lightening, and mind you don’t get it in your eyes)
I need some plaster to deep fill my wrinkles but 10 ml won’t go far! It probably takes at least 24 hours to set too. The trouble is that I can only apply this by ‘Dabbing’ in the morning, no trowels allowed and no after lunch dabbing either. Only touch-ups during the day. Got that?
I’ve signed-up to receive offers from Living Social.
At first the offers were on a broad range of topics. The advertising photographs showed a people of different genders and ages demonstrating the product or service use. Great diversity. I enjoyed looking at the possibilities and even purchased a few mixed gender, mixed ages, activity breaks.
More recently the offers that they send me show bigger discounts, but are on a more restricted range of topics. A lot of offers that are tailored to a stereotypical young female paranoid about how she, and her home, looks – make-up, hair, diets, cooking, manicures, vacuum cleaners etc. The pictures of people using the services are females that are almost exclusively young, curvaceous, with long hair, fully made-up, smooth skinned.
I feel hassled and oppressed by the algorithm they are using to select the offers that they email to me.
I’m progressively uninspired by the offers that they send me.
I’ve stopped using the offers – they’ve lost my custom.
I’ve written to Living Social to ask them to change the algorithm they are using to send me offers – to regain my custom. I don’t think Living Social will be able to update their algorithm just for me. Maybe I should re-register with a boys name and see if I can regain the diversity and activity oriented offers that I saw before Living Social decided to push the popular female stereotype at me.
I’m one of the minority that voted in the Police commissioner elections. The Guardian reports the elections as having the worst turnout ever. It’s hardly surprising. Prior to normal local elections candidates will canvas voters, promote their positions and encourage people to engage with the system.
In advance of this election I received an election card through the post. It didn’t contain any information about how to find out more about the candidates. What? I have to actually do my own research?!
Just providing the right type of information isn’t enough. A capitalistic society sells ideas, products, to its consumers. The candidates were not sold to the voters. This is totally counter to the expectations of the electorate. How could anyone expect this system to work within a developed capitalist system? It’s hardly surprising there was such a low turn-out. It shouldn’t be news.
I’m very grateful for my ability, right, to vote. I will show my appreciation for this right by using it wisely. I did my research and found a succinct central information source that pointed to candidates own web pages, twitter feeds and provided a summary personal statement for each candidate. Really easy to find local candidates by entering my post-code. Excellent service. Research was easy and left me feeling adequately equipped to make an informed decision.
The low election turnout suggests that my belief in my social responsibility (to put thought and effort into exercising my vote) is not a common belief.
The UK advertising campaign is my main source of thinking it’s not meant for me. For example, in an advertising email Microsoft appears to be suggesting that Windows 8 has been designed for either:
- young women who can afford to have kiddies who wear smart clothes indoors on the bed, or for
- people who want to have a young woman with a kiddie who wears smart clothes on a bed.
I am neither of these things – but I can afford a decent personal computer, unlike many of the young people who can’t afford to leave home let-alone have a kiddy.
The promotional picture of the UK Windows 8 upgrade website is equally excluding me from its focus. Below we see what looks like a young family, a beardyman wearing pink corduroy flares, a woman with a strappy dress and a child with a big smile. They are all bravely ignoring the wind storm that is about to take down the palm trees in the background. Is this the Windows 8 user-group or representing their aspirations. I am very far from being either of these. I wonder if it’s Microsoft’s imagination of what they aspire to have their users be like. Tush. I can see I’m a disappointment to them – too old with insufficient babies.
Looks like my next computer will be the Nexus 7. Ironically, a friend who’s a recent mother is raving about how she can feed the baby with one arm while using the Nexus with the other….
- telling facebook that I don’t need to diet, I’m not fat.
- asking the adverts to stop harrassing me.
For years I’ve been asking, but Facebook ignores me. Facebook is targeting advertising and I have set my gender to female so I must be in need of getting thinner because no type of thin is going to be thin-enough for an industry that feeds on the image of women as childlike (small and hairless) sexual objects.
It’s a good job I’m stubborn and opinionated otherwise I’d just cry and diet myself into an early grave because happiness cannot be found in a diet and the pressure to diet wont stop because I get thinner.
Spottydog: (laughs) are you serious? I’ve known that for ages!
wendy: well obviously I suspected, what with all the trousers and buying mens jumpers. But I bought the jumpers because they’re virtually the same as the womens jumpers except they’re cheaper. I thought I was just buying cheaper versions of girls clothes. But I’m not sure anymore. I think I might be a transvestite. Is a transvestite the same thing as a cross dresser?
Spottydog: does it matter?
wendy: well, I’d like to know what to say to people when I come out of the closet
Spottydog: you’re not in the closet
wendy: oh yeah… ….do you like my new cricket jumper? It’s to go with my kilt…
It takes a few seconds to realise what’s actually happening. First thinking the touch is accidental, before I smell the beer and see the sneer. Then wanting to thrust my fist into his nose. So easy to break his nose. To inflict pain and a public scar
Swallowing this thought – I step back, look him up and down, shake my head and sigh deeply – before turning and walking away
Nothing I could have said or done would improve this old man’s behaviour. My gut reaction would’ve increased his mysogeny. I suspect I was supposed to scream and run away
Knarled and dapper
Mumsie and her elder sister try to remember the names and professions of their long-past elderly relatives who were mainly females:
- Hetty, Emma, Amy Parkinson….
Even the married female relatives lived as-if they were unmarried – without their husbands, running thier own businesses:
- a Milliner – HATS!!!
- a sweetshop owner
The Consultant’s interpretation of my message during our meeting doesn’t match my understanding. This is what I recall telling him:
“I’ve broken my arm on 4 different occassions, the pain of breaking my arm was always less than the pain I experience during the first hour or so of my periods”
This is what the consultant wrote in the letter refering me back to my GP:
“She admits to having pain during period for an hour or even a day or two this is probably ok”
After reading this I’m no longer suprised that I had to ask him about ways of allieviating the pain – he thought this level of pain was ok. I’ve never thought that extreme pain was ok. I tolerate it, often by being unconscious (fainting). Occassionally I’ve visited the GP to ask if there is any way of allieviating it because the fainting is a bit disconcerting for people around me and not very nice for myself either. I’d rather my body didn’t feel the need to switch my brain off. Luckily the shutdown is slow enough, like Windows 7, that I can make sure I’m safe before loosing total consciousness
It’s normally at least 4 times more expensive to get a haircut in a unisex salon compared to a barbers. Barbers tend to turn women away. Not because women’s hair is different, because they are women. This has happened to me on several occassions – I went in with a short ‘boyish’ cut and asked for them for a trim to my short back and sides with number 2 clipper. A cut they can easily do
After some negotiation one UK barber on the south coast took on regularly cutting my hair as long as I kept quiet so that the other customers wouldn’t be ‘disturbed’ by the presence of a woman. Seriously! This was in 1999
This clear discrimination for haircutting pricing and access rights has always struck me as being blatantly against the ethos of equality. It feels rather sad that the practice continues today and everyone tolerates it, complicitly accepts it. I use a Unisex Salon because I am welcomed and treated well – aswell as getting a good haircut – the extra price makes it worthwhile. But I resent being explicitly excluded, treated badly because I am a woman and having to pay more because I am a woman. Hurumpppfff
Mia Farrow’s Vidal Sassoon haircut in Roman Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s baby‘ influenced my teenage hairstyle choice – a short crop. Smart and easy to manage. Since then I’ve rarely bothered to grow my crop to reach my shoulders despite some misunderstandings this raised when I lived in the USA
Young UK based girls predominantly sport long hair. The trend seems more widespread now than any other time I can recall. An informal survey of ladies with lengthy locks uncovered factors that influence this choice:
- Versatility – I can wear it down, in plaids, in pony tails and twists. What-ever suits my mood, the event, my outfit
- Aesthetics – several women had tried short hair but didn’t like the way it affected their looks. Some thought that it made them look fatter – long hair emphasises vertical lines making them look taller and slimmer
- Pleasing others - my ‘significant other’ really likes it long, and I don’t have any strong feelings about the length so it might aswell be long
- Cost – it’s cheaper than having a short haircut that has to be trimmed regularly to maintain its shortness and shape. Some people trimmed their fringes (USA: bangs) themselves, others didn’t have a fringe. Most people with long hair would pay for a professional a trim two or 3 times in a year
- Auto erotica – I like the way it feels on my neck, running my fingers through it, when the wind blows it around…
- cohort effect – these ladies also preferred shorter hair when they were younger, or
- an age effect – as women get older their preferences shift to shorter haircuts
Attempting to conform to current femininity fashions such as displaying large breasts is both
- expensive – financially and emotionally
- dangerous for your health – mentally and physically
The UK for-profit organisation that supplied most of the PIP breast enlargement implants (made from industrial grade silicon) does not have the resources to rectify it’s mistake by removing the 14,000 implants and ‘reconstructing’ the deformed breasts. The NHS will not remove implants until after they have malfunctioned. That means that they will wait until the woman is injured before they will take safety surgery – they will not repair, they will just remove the leaking implant.
The mainstream media covers this from a ‘faulty goods’ supplied perspective, acknowledging that the recipients of PIP implants are experiencing distress and pain and that PIP was naughty for breaking the law and not using medical grade silicon. None of the mainstream media I’ve found has dared to comment on the socio-cultural environment that first drove these women to choose the physical pain and risk of major surgery to change thier bodies. This is a critical causal precursor for the existence of an industry that makes money out of mutilating women, a critical part of the story. Removing this industry would remove the possibility of faulty goods in the first place – remove the pain and the risk.
Meanwhile, the internet provides alternative news style stories, for example, The London Feminist refers to the illegal practices of the Harley Medical group and how they explicitly leverage (illegal) advertising to promote their for-profit services. It’s good to find intelligent, well researched, alternative news stories but sad that feminist perspectives rarely seep into mainstream media storylines
Today this tragedy, one of many perpetuated against women, leaves me feeling:
- Sadness for, and anger on behalf of, the many women around the world who were given PIP implants in their attempt to conform with current fashion.
- Relief that I chose to accept the lesser risk of ongoing abuse for not aspiring to conform to femininity fashions
- Guilt that I am surviving without the fashion trappings of femininity when others are suffering more than I….
The flashing fairy lights above her head revealed a deep pink highlight to her long, gently curling, raven hair. Watching her unnatural colours in the flashing light had a fascinating quality like watching the flames in an open fire. Her dress was the uniform of the masses of young girls I see in the shopping centres – a hint of a skirt from which emerge thick black tights tucked into biege Ugg boots
She held the kitchen party’s conversational court. Either side stood a woman at least twice her age oriented towards her as-if basking in the glow from the jewels of pink light reflected from her hair. I resisted the temptation to curtsey as I moved forward to introduce myself to the group. Once introductions were finished she continued to chatter vivaciously
girl: In our new house we’ll need a small room that’s just for my clothes – a walk in wardrobe really. I’ve got 70 pairs of shoes
I AM a girl!
wendy (dumbstruck, then): in a whole year you only need wear the same pair of shoes 7 times, at that rate, they will last for years!
girl (proudly): oh yes! I started work at a fashion house in London 2 months ago and I haven’t worn the same pair of shoes twice yet
wendy (trying not to sound sarcastic): a fashion house? that does sounds stylish, what exactly do you do there?
girl: I’m an events coordinator, basically its about making a fuss, I make sure that the fuss happens at the right time and place
wendy: are you looking for a place to store your shoe collection in London?
girl: yes, I went to cheltenham college. I just love cheltenham, but it’s too far away from London to commute
wendy: Is London an expensive place to live?
girl: Mummy’s buying the house, aren’t you mummy? so it’s quite cheap really
If she was any less sincere she’d be auditioning for a lead part in Absolutely Fabulous
The relative lack of gender definition advertised by the childrens clothes is a pleasant suprise. All 3 are wearing tunics that look like ‘dresses’ with dropped waistelines and high necklines, dark stockings, sturdy lace-up boots, large collars
These boots were probably purchased from the shoe store at 20 Torkkelinkatu, Viipuri, owned by the children’s father Alpo Kolehmainen or his later ‘factory’ at Mikkeli
The gender differences are also clear with the boys in larger white collars, and shorts below their tunics. The girl in paler coloured dress with elbow length sleeves and no obvious shorts
I suspect that this dress style is mainly specific to children, though drop waistlines became popular for adult female dresses in the 1920s
I wonder whether these dress style choices were specific to this family or part of a broader fashion?
“are you the princess?” the 67 year old lady asks the 7 year old girl, adding “I’m a dinosaur”
“no you’re not” even though the girl is already displaying advanced gender conformity, she hasn’t yet refined her agism prejudices… …she can still spot the difference between dinosaurs and old ladies
“No, not really, but it’s what old people call themselves” The child makes an accurate observation about aging “when I grow up my hair wont be blonde anymore” The old bint espouses the popular psuedo-feminist position of ‘choice freedom’ within the boundaries of legitimate girly behaviours “you can dye your hair any colour that you want”. The mother sighs and adds “she’s a very girlie girl, she’ll only wear dresses and loves pink and purple”
I press my face against the train window watching the beautiful English, Dorset, countryside fly-by – but I can’t escape the conversations of popularist female conformity…
The text of British ‘lads mags’ is more derogatory to women than descriptions of women produced by convicted rapists
The research study has been reported in many British tabloid newspapers. I’ve picked three sources as good overviews of the actual research:
- Jezebel - “Can You Tell The Difference Between A Men’s Magazine And A Rapist?” - feminist reporting that actually includes some of the descriptive statements that were used in the research, which do you think are from rapists or popular British magazines?
- University of Surrey press – “Are sex offenders and lads’ mags using the same language?” – Press release by the University employing the researchers who conducted the research
- British Psychological Society – “lads mags may echo hostile sexist attitudes” – Research summary for the qualified psychologist audience
Distressing. Not suprising. The magazine text both reflects existing and help to form the attitudes of both men and women towards women. The results resonate with my eperience of discourses in pubs, shops, on trains and at work
What can we do to break this cycle of attitudes and behaviours that legitimise the treatment of women as sexual objects, slaves? Dr. Hegary’s proposed solution of ‘Education’ is a vague. I don’t know the solution, I hope that those people who see the problem can speak out in public forums with convincing arguments and humour that empower all of us to have healthy relationships and treat each other with respect as equals. In my view of the world everyone has a moral responsibility to speak out against the mal-treatment of others.
The objectification of women is nothing less than an international humanitarian disaster
A Psuedo Liberal Dude (PLD) notices that the patriarchy has eroded his wife’s self-worth:
PLD: I wish my wife was more like you
wendy: MwaHaHaHaHa….(pause) No you don’t
PLD: Yes I do, I wish she was more confident
wendy: I’m more confident because I see myself doing a relatively good job of something compared to others. So, I can see when others need to put some effort into improving what they do. I could give them helpful advice, if they wanted it. Do you wish your wife was more confident like me?
PLD: Um…. …. no
wendy: didn’t think so
He’s tired of fighting the patriarchy by repeatedly re-inforcing her self-worth. But he doesn’t really want her to have strong self worth. If she did, she might see his shortcomings and suggest improvements. From his perspective it’s better that she has an irritating lack of confidence while paying adequate homage to him…
I’ve always found this question difficult to answer
What is ‘heavy’?
Pressumably the doctor means the volume and rate of blood-flow from my womb. But what is ‘heavy’ as opposed to ‘normal’ or ‘light’? How can I judge the fit between my experience and the medical classification?
I’ve never actually tried to systematically compare the rate of blood-flow from my body with that of one other woman let-alone with a sufficiently large number of women to get a sense of what ‘normal’ blood flow is and how my experience compares to that. When asked this question before, I’d answered with an honestly unhelpful - ‘I don’t know‘
This time I whipped out an unused sanitary towel:
I fill one of these every 2 hours during the first day, then one of these every 4 hours on the following day and every 6 hours on the 3rd day. If that’s a heavy period, then I have heavy periods
Is that a heavy period?
The doctor looked expressionless, he igored my question. I didn’t find out if I have heavy periods, but at least I’ve found an easier way to convey the actual flow rate
Nurse: Is that Mrs or Miss?
Wendy: that’s Dr.
Nurse: Oh! We don’t get many Doctor’s making appointments
Wendy: I’m not a medical Doctor, not eligible to bypass the normal NHS booking system
The Maternity Records Manager at Berkshire Royal Hospital followed my phone call with a written invitation to visit the Maternity ward. I have no history, aspiration, suspicion or risk of pregnancy
I can bring something, or someone, to entertain me. Lovely