I said to my wife, “could you call this person he won’t listen to me. I think it is because I’m a man?” I thought Sexism is not dead.
One of the things that amuse my wife and me is, that in a society like Australia, which prides itself on its egalitarianism, just how many times we come across sexist attitudes.
My wife is a very competent woman. By far and away I would rather she phones people to get things done. She can be quite formidable. It is not unusual for a word to get back to me that some bureaucrat has gone scurrying, trying to get away from her when they know they have done something wrong.
With this in mind, it is funny that my wife should sometimes come to me and in fact I likewise to her, with a statement similar to that with which I started this post. With the obvious gender reversal. Funnier still is that it is more often than not reverse sexism at work.
By that I mean, the request to either of us is usually not because the person on the other end of the phone is the opposite sex. But rather the same sex. That is, sometimes to get better results from some request, it is often more effective for, a male to be talking to a woman on the phone and for a woman to be talking to a man.
Now once you get used to this it is quite a good trick administratively. Get your partner or someone of the opposite sex in your office, for example, to call the person you are having trouble with.
I remember a time when I was trying to book some airline tickets and I was talking to a man. I was repeatedly told again and again that I couldn’t book the ones that we needed. So I got my wife to call. Miraculously the person selling the tickets found a way for us to get the tickets we needed.
To be fair it took some manipulation on the part of the ticket representative but never-the-less, what was previously impossible became possible. Because, for all intents and purposes, there was a person of the opposite sex on each end of the phone.
This sort of sexism is nothing more than a game. Once you know how to deal with it, can be very amusing. However, in my life, I have come across much more sinister reverse sexism.
Because I’ve worked with children most of my life, I have often found myself in a female-dominated environment. Fair enough, I am just sexist enough to accept that women are dominant in caring roles. But it can be a little rough at times.
For example, in my work life, I have often had female managers. Don’t get me wrong, I like these ladies. They are usually very good at their job. But my frustration levels do reach a peek at times when I’m asked to do something, regardless of how busy I am, and the female staff are perceptually sitting around doing nothing.
Or when one of the female staff is asked to do a clean-up job that I have already done (often much to the disgust of the female staff member I might add), purely because females are perceived to be better cleaners based on no evidence whatsoever.
This is all just frustrating and a little unfair but in some instances, it can become downright unjust and exploitive. Just as is the sexism we are all familiar with.
When I was running before and after-school care programs it was not unusual for me to encounter contempt from a female in a similar or superior role. It could sometimes make getting things that were needed for the children very difficult.
I have applied for jobs where, when I walked into the interview room it became obvious, after a very few minutes, I was not going to get the work. Even when I was far more qualified and experienced than the other applicants.
Because I was a male and the interview staff were all female.
I wonder if we were to confront reverse sexism would we be more motivated to stamp out sexism?
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