Shoehorning, pigeon holing, labelling…call it what you will but everyone is guilty as charged. We can’t help ourselves; its genetic. Passed from generation to generation, from deep within our DNA, we are programmed to categorise and filter information into neat piles and boxes.
The OCD part of my brain gets this. However, the rebellious and emotionally intelligent side knows it’s wrong. The latter is especially true when teaching the phrase ‘not to judge a book by its cover’. I neither like to judge, and as someone who always makes the wrong impression, totally gets why we should look past the dust jacket and the first page. The former – my heathen side, wants to stick two fingers up to such rubbish. However, in my quest for acceptance and equality, I have had a label the judges…
Now, I could begin a massive diatribe about skin colour, disability and immigration. However, as important as that is, I’m sure we don’t want that heavy debate on such a spring-like afternoon (coughs) Therefore, I shall start by explaining about being a woman in a mans world…
I’m no bra burning feminist and would be a hypocrite if I said I was. Yes, I like a door being held open for me (but being well brought up I incline to do the same for otters), I thank the mothers of the men who have been raised well enough to offer me their chair in a busy bar (it’s just manners), and I have no qualms about being bought a drink (again I’d buy anyone a drink, so no argument there either). But, It wasn’t until recently that I realised chauvinism is living and breathing all around me.
Yes, I know men and women of my dad’s generation who allowed it to pass and I get it. Men got away with it as they didn’t know any better and women were taught by their elders that it was acceptable. Such guff as ‘a woman’s place is next to her husband’ and the ‘Truby King’ (ironically a male – who knew!!) school of parenting which suppressed any emotional input from the mother so she could concentrate on having ‘a hot dinner on the table’ and ‘a quiet and calm house’ so ‘the man of the house’ could relax after his ‘busy and taxing day’, we all know sends the modern woman into much eye rolling and hysterical laughter. Sleeping safe in the knowledge that this world of Stepford Wives was abolished to the history books.
So, how in hells name have I got to this unmentionable age, without realising that there is evidently a younger generation taking the misogynistic baton, is beyond me! I can only thank the strong females, who I have been lucky enough to work and socialise with, for my ignorant bliss. Also, because he will evidently read this (and he likes a mention), being married to Him – a man who treats me as an equal (he does the ironing in our house), has had me fooled that I was living in a equal world. Oh what a clueless ‘blonde’ i was. So, when I recently discovered such archaic attitudes in my micro -world, I couldn’t help but label them as ‘chauvinists’.
Male Chauvinists: (noun)
Men who feel threatened by the intellect and power of woman.
Often applied to the male species in various scenarios, such as: social encounters where a woman puts forward her opinion and the man raises his voice above hers, talks over her, then explains to her why she’s wrong.
Other examples include: when a woman makes a pertinent point in a meeting, the male tells her she’s wrong. Responding by dressing up the woman’s point as his own and basks in his reflective arrogant glory.
Origin: Late 19th century: named after Nicolas Chauvin, a Napoleonic veteran noted for his extreme patriotism. (There you have it – extremists!)
When I told my friend of this revelation she simply laughed and said ‘they make me make all the drinks in meetings because I’m the only woman’…?? Bright anc intelligent women being pushed into pigeon holes through antiquated ideas !!
So what is the solution? Like I said, my rebellious side likes to mix it up. It’s like the (some say non existent) class system. I passionately hate this system, to the point of encouraging inappropriate behaviour of my family, when finding myself in a place that is ‘too middle class’. I’d rather show myself up than be part of some snobby clique. The same could be said when people ask me what I do, I tell them I work in a school and let them think I’m a dinner lady. The thing is, I let people think what they like. I let the labellers have their day and retreat to the ones who love me and just accept me for being me. I’ve made the best friends this way and advise my children to do the same. Therefore, to I’m using the same tactic with the ‘male chauvinists’. I’m not really bothered what they think because as a mum of three, slightly crazy, strong independent young ladies, I will just continue to show them they can be anything they want to be in this mad, mixed up, most brilliant world. I tell them: Be kind as not everyone has been taught to look beyond the packaging.