Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Only a Woman--On Dealing with Put-Downs.


RHYS BOWEN: On a plane to Seattle the other day the man in the next seat struck up conversation with me. He said, “Are you going to visit your grandchildren?”
“No,” I replied. “I’m going to be visiting Amazon headquarters.”
He smiled. A patronizing smile. “Oh, you have a son working for Amazon?”
“No,” I replied. “I’m one of their best-selling authors.”
Silence for a moment, then he asked the question we writers get so often.  “Should I have heard of you?”
“Only if you read books,” is now my standard reply.

He was a nice enough man. He was trying to be pleasant, I know. But the assumption that any woman over a certain age is traveling to see her grandchildren really irks me. As does the perception that it had to be a male who allowed me access to Amazon headquarters. Also the perception that any woman has to be attached to a man. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in line behind a man in a restaurant or at a car rental counter and been asked, “are you two together?”
Would you ask that question of two men standing one behind the other in line? I don’t think so.

Since the me-too movement I think we all have become aware that women are treated differently. Of course most women have known that for years.  In any job we have to be smarter, quicker and do twice as much work to be accepted. We have become used to put-downs. “You girls”. “The girls in my office”. “Honey, get me a cup of coffee, there’s an angel.” Would any man accept being spoken to that way?

            I read an interesting piece recently in which a boss complained that one of his employees took too long with clients, therefore wasn’t working hard enough or was too slow. Then one day he was handling clients and got a particularly rude one. The client queried everything he suggested, told him he didn’t know what he was talking about and was generally obnoxious. It was only later that this boss realized he was using the joint email account and the client thought he was dealing with someone who signed the message Nicole. This shocked him. So for a week he tried an experiment. He signed all his messages Nicole and his employee Nicole signed all hers Martin. She zipped through her business with no problems. He was queried and confronted at every turn. Are you sure you know what you are talking about? Are you clear with the law on this? These were common comments. One even asked if he was single.

My friend’s daughter is a building site inspector for a bank. Every time she shows up she gets comments like “Ooh look, we got us a princess.”  It is only when she starts talking in their jargon that she is accepted. Actually she flings out hard questions at them, cites building codes and finds things wrong. Then she gets their attention!

I’ve been lucky, I suppose. When I worked at the BBC women were treated as equals. And in my writing life I haven’t had any problems either—except from people outside the profession who think that writing is a little hobby. “Are you still writing those little books?” I was asked once. Or better still. “When are you going to write a real novel?”
Some of these questions come from other women, who are equally good at put-downs. At a college reunion I was asked by someone I hadn’t seen since college, “So, have you ever actually had a proper job?”
I replied “Not since the BBC days. But my improper job has allowed me to put four children through college, to buy two homes and several pieces of rental property and to live rather well.”

Some put-downs are more subtle. On a radio interview I was asked how I would compare myself to a literary novelist. Bloody cheek!  I replied “I want you to picture me walking beside a literary novelist. We are going up the steps together. We are entering a bank. And one of us is smiling.”
Nuff said.
So have you encountered condescension, rudeness, prejudice in your professional life? How do you deal with it?

86 comments:

  1. Dealing with all the put-downs is always difficult . . . and difficult to ignore. But mostly that’s exactly what I try to do . . . .

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  2. Back in the days when laptops had to be plugged into a power outlet, I was up against a tight deadline for a complex database but had to fly to Florida because my mother was hospitalized. I had several hours to fill while she was in surgery, so I hunted around and finally pulled out a chair to get at an outlet, then opened the laptop. A man in the waiting room looked down at me and said, "oh, you women just can't stop arranging furniture, can you?" He narrowly missed a laptop on his head.

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  3. One of my colleagues address the majority of the female staff as "girlfriend." And they seem to put up with it. The men are not called "boyfriend." Ironically, I seemed have missed the title "girlfriend." SHE must have realized that "cuteness" wasn't going to work on me. There has been an occasion or two that I've felt the need to correct the direction of a conversation, redirect it. But I'm usually careful when I when and how I make these redirections and more importantly, where I am at the time.

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  4. Oh, please don’t get me started! I am a gray haired girl woman who has worked as a technical writer for 30 odd years. I experienced unwanted shoulder rubs and similar experiences to yours on airplanes and at parties. I’m so fed up and this last election was the last straw.

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    1. Teri, my daughter is a columnist for the Portland Press Herald, and last Sunday, she write about unwanted touching- he sort that's never meant to be sexual or to make a woman uncomfortable - but the sort that men NEVER EVER have to put up with.

      A lot becomes clear when you realize in our culture (as in many others) men's bodies belong to them, and women's bodies belong to everyone.

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    2. Julia, especially if you are small!! I'll have to ask my tall friend is she gets the sort of unwanted patting and touching--and I mean in a non-sexual way--that I've experienced my entire life.

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    3. The touching shoulders is an issue. Deaf people, who rely on vision, often touch the arm to get someone's attention.

      Otherwise, touching is off limits!

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    4. And when you're pregnant, Debs! Everyone wants to touch the belly, don't they?

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    5. Karen, yes! I remember one of my interpreters was pregnant and she mentioned that people wanted to touch her belly, even strangers. I really felt bad for her. This did not happen to my other interpreter who was also pregnant. Not sure why.

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  5. I love that last line of yours, Rhys! When I worked as a car mechanic in my early twenties, the guys at the auto parts store wouldn't even make eye contact - until I made it clear I knew the language, could be treated on their level. How sad this persists. Now jumping in the car to drive to Maryland!

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    1. Edith,

      Did you know that the current Queen of England, was a car mechanic during the Second World War? She learned how to fix army trucks!

      And my godmother, who survived the Holocaust (she was seconds away from the gas chamber when the American army arrived at the concentration camp) knew how to fix cars. She went to high school in California and she loved to party. She did not care what other people thought. She knew how to fix cars and could take care of herself.

      Good for you, knowing how to fix cars! Bravo! I wish I knew how to fix cars myself.

      Diana

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    2. Edith, think of the courtroom scene in My Cousin Vinny. (A movie, in case you don't know it)

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  6. Oh, Rhys, find me a woman who has been in the workplace for more than a year and hasn't experienced condescension or rudeness! I hope such a unicorn exists, but I have my doubts. I even get it in my private life, when I'll have a lovely conversation with a man, who interrupts me to say, "You're really cool! How come some guy hasn't snapped you up by now?" He probably thinks that's a compliment, but I think it makes me sound like a piece of fruit in a bin somewhere, with no agency over what happens to me. I tell him I'm picky. Sometimes that causes the man to consider that maybe he would be the one who doesn't measure up. Nah. That never happens.

    I love your line about the bank. It's priceless.

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    1. Gigi,

      Thank you for reminding me. Not in professional life, but in personal interactions with people. I often get interrupted. It is not only women. Deaf people would be talking and a hearing person, who is not looking, would interrupt because they did not see that deaf people were talking!

      Diana

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  7. Oh Rhys, you're a better role model even than Miss Gloria!

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  8. Rhys, you are fabulous! I will be thinking about that bank line all day.

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  9. I agree with Gigi, that any of us who have walked this earth a few years have definitely had those experiences. And I agree with Lucy, that you are a great role model, Rhys!

    I am vaguely appalled at the things I see young women accept. I work with many women in their 20's and some in their 30's, and they seem to accept a certain level of flirting and condescension as just the way things are. They seem so world-weary at such a young age!

    There was one incident that particularly horrified me. After a large fundraising event the staff usually goes out for drinks to unwind. On this occasion, a volunteer (and large donor) managed to get himself an invitation to join us The next morning, at least three of my closest young colleagues -- these in their 30's -- were wagging their heads and clucking about how "handsy" he had been. Yet no one was willing to consider formalizing a complaint, or even directly addressing him about the behavior. I was left with the sense that they were used to such incidents and just made sure to have each other's back. I was also left with the sense that all our militancy of the 1970's was for naught.

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    1. You'd think in the #MeToo era, even if the young women were too intimidated to speak up, one of the donor's peers might pull him aside ans point out he's on a fast track to trouble. It can't just be women - thoughtful men need to call other men out on their behavior.

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    2. Julia,
      Agreed that men need to call out other men on their behavior. I think there already are some men calling out other men on their behavior.

      Susan,
      that's awful. I am surprised the women did not punch him!

      Diana

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  10. Rhys, your comebacks are perfect! You are our superhero.

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  11. I was just thinking, oddly enough, this morning about when I lived in the city and had to use the bus. Of all the times a man--age didn't matter--who would take the seat next to me and spread his legs wide open. In order to avoid the unwanted contact and not make a scene, I would scooch over farther and farther into my seat until there would practically be no seat left. Then, like Susan's young colleagues, I just put up with it and accepted it as a trivial thing. Nowadays, I wouldn't put up with it for one minute--not on a bus, a plane, anywhere. You are a superstar, Rhys!

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    1. That happened to me and I put my backpack on the next seat and said NO! When a pregnant lady got on the train, I took off the backpack so she could sit next to me.

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  12. Your retort to the person who made the "literary novelist" comment is spot on, Rhys. Perfect!

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    1. I loved that! "One of us is smiling."

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    2. Wanna bet the reference was to an old white man who is a literary novelist? Who probably struggles with alcoholism and gout too.

      Is an author required to have gout in order to be considered a literary novelist?

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  13. OOh, what a great putdown, Rhys. Classy as hell, too.

    Over the last year and a half I've had too many incidents to count of being dismissed because of being a woman. Building a house means dealing with men, men, and more men, and the testosterone poisoning level around me has risen to record highs. Out of some 200 people who have been involved in this project, only four or five have been women, and only one of them--the kitchen designer who sold me the cabinets--has been on the jobsite with me.

    Early on, the architect said it was rare to see a woman on a jobsite, and I opined that it was too bad, because women could do a great job in some of the trades, especially electrical. Our builder, who has been a friend for almost 40 years (and who built Peter Frampton's house here in Cincinnati), looked at me as if I had two heads. One of my daughters is an engineer, and she put together wind energy generators for a summer in Utah; another daughter has wired ceiling fans and light fixtures in her own house and in mine. He's know these women their whole lives, but had no idea they were capable of such things. Headsmack.

    I'm so sick of being second-guessed. I had specific goals for this house, primarily that it be barrier-free and as maintenance-free and energy efficient as possible. Every single day has been a battle, some of which I've actually won, but it's exhausting. know that if I were male most of my requests would have been accepted without question. It's made me tougher, though, that's for sure.

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    1. Your story reminds me of another story. An African American friend was in school when his architect father came to sign papers at school. The principal automatically assumed that the father was a draftsman because of his race!

      I am so sorry that happened to you and your daughters. That's why there are professional women organizations and we need them! I hope that you and your daughters are mentoring other women who are interested in careers like yours!

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    2. Thank you, Diana. And yes, all three of my daughters mentor other women in their various professions.

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  14. Thank you for being a voice of awareness, Rhys. I suspect most of the men didn't get it. Their loss. Working in a 'pink collar profession', watching the men, incompetent or not, become the professors, directors et al. Becoming disillusioned when women were as capable as 'blood letting' as men ah.. and they say those were the good years. Twenty three years in purgatory, would have preferred 100 years in solitude. I did not deal with it. I was fired, had to find a new beginning and soldier on. another 23 years has passed and I am still standing. So there.

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    1. One of my favorite college professors took a maternity leave to have her baby and the university decided not to hire her back! We were upset about that! And this university is supposed to be liberal. LOL

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  15. I taught a writing workshop over the weekend and received many nice emails afterwards. Only a man, though, felt the need to tell me how to improve my material. NancyM

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    1. He may do this to men too and no one would admit this?

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  16. This is reminding me of the lyric in the mikado about the lady novelist she surely will be missed ( he’s got her on the list... ) it’s a good thing we e all still got a sense of humor. And Rhys your success is extraordinary ... even for a man ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  17. Oops - should be “she surely won’t be missed...”

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    1. Hallie, I will have to look for The Mikado.

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  18. Years ago, I worked for a state governmental agency overseeing construction codes that affected public health/environmental issues. I was working full-time, going to graduate school at night, and flying cross country every other weekend to see my fiancee, so I was a pro at time efficiency. I arrived early to a meeting, set up for my presentation, then used the remaining time to study for an exam later that day. The room filled up, and at 9:00 our host announced "Well, it's pretty ballsy of the guy from DCA to show up late, but he's got the money, so we'll wait for him." He then turned to me, the only woman in the room and said, "Can you check the coffee, hon?" I stood up and said, "I'm the 'guy' from DCA, I don't have balls, and I don't make coffee." (In defense of the rest of the men in the room, the rep from the EPA and a private engineering firm both asked for my resume!)

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    1. Brilliant! I was once at a BBC script meeting and a young guy asked whose secretary are you ( I was the studio manager of the show). I replied " whose mail boy are you? "

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    2. Rhys, that was brilliant! LOL

      Library Lady, brilliant reply!

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  19. I can't tell you how much I loved your reply when he asked if he should have heard of you : only if you read books. Wonderful! Actually, even though, as a librarian, I was in a field dominated by women, it happened to me all the time. When I was a new director, I was evaluating all of the maintenance contracts. When I was pointing out problems with the landscaping, the owner of the company told me that "if you had a brain in your head you would realize that that is not the case." I told him that I had enough of a brain to tell him that his contract would not be renewed.

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  20. I am horrified by everyone's experiences--but I'm also thinking what a terrific and multi-talented group we have here!

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  21. Awesome! I’m so stealing some of your lines! It just gets worse when you hit middle-age. I gave the keynote at a big conference and everyone said it was great except for one guy who went on and on and on about how I could improve it and then when I asked him what the book project he was there to pitch was about, he told me that it was—and I kid you not—a rhyming poem for adults about his successful career in business. Before you ask: No, he was NOT the Dr. Seuss of entrepreneurship LOL

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    1. Sounds like this fellow was very competitive and jealous! Methinks he wanted to give the keynote speech and they picked you instead!

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  22. Rhys, wow! I cannot believe that man's gall on the plane! Loved your reply "only if you read books" when he asked if he should know your books. LOL.

    Question: Have you ever been to Book Expo? I am asking because an author had a bad experience with sexual harassment there in 2017? 2018? To my best recollection, she was a debut author. She happens to be married to an actor who was a child actor. He is still acting. A friend forwarded her post about how she was treated at Book Expo. It seems that a man harassed her, saying that the only reason she was published was because she is married to an actor. And no one came to her defense! Her last name on the book is the same name as the actor. The man also said something about her being a woman with blond hair. I cannot recall the details, though it sounded like sexual harassment. And yes, the man leered at her. He really behaved inappropriately! He was supposed to be a publisher! Or a representative from a publishing company. I was shocked that this would happen at the Book Expo.

    What did they mean by "literary" author? I love your books. Many of us love your books. Different people have different ideas of what "literary fiction" is. A friend loves horror novels like Stephen King. Another friend loves science fiction. I always say there is a book for everyone.

    Your experiences with the BBC about women being treated like equals reminds me of my Deaf friend from Norway. She got a summer internship with the BBC in London and she told us about her wonderful experiences. Meanwhile, our Deaf friend, a white man, got an internship with an American tv station in Washington, DC and he was treated badly. The head honcho never gave him a chance because he really believed that deaf people did not know how to communicate! Not true. Back to the Deaf woman intern at the BBC, her internship went well and now she has a career as a producer in Norway.

    In my professional life, I had many jobs. I had an internship where my boss learned Sign Language before I started my internship. Women were treated as equals in the office. It was a big office! My boss had a boss who had a boss. I had one job where I felt talked down to and ironically my boss was a woman. The staff, as someone once told me a long time ago, "needed to be educated about deaf people". Now I can laugh about it. I could write a satire about how Deaf people are treated. LOL.

    Another example about prejudice. When I was at Left Coast Crime, I had an interpreter sitting in the front facing the audience. She was seated below Catriona McPherson who was standing on the stage. Someone in the audience to my left kicked up a fuss about the interpreter. Thankfully, Catriona came to my defense. This is slightly off the topic since it was not at work. This was at a conference. Some people can be selfish and thoughtless.

    Now I have a career and my current boss is wonderful. He is the only man in the office and the staff, including me, are women.

    On another topic, I just finished reading a historical novel about Hedy Lamarr. The title is "The Only Woman in the Room" by Marie Benedict. She and a friend submitted a patent, which was accepted. It was during the Second World War and she wanted to shorten the war so she came up with an idea. After the idea was rejected, despite all of the hard work, the drawings and the clear explanations, she went to Washington, DC and met with men from the War Department. Unfortunately, the men told her that her idea would NOT be accepted because she was a woman! I thought that was stupid! Yes, Hedy Lamarr was beautiful and she also was very SMART! How many women have been underestimated because of their looks? Or because they are women?

    Great post!

    Diana

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    1. Diana, I read that book. She actually invented wifi and the internet but has never been credited with it.

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  23. Forty years ago next month, I was one of the first two women to be ordained in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Tennessee. I was 25, so not only did I get a lot of crap from people who didn't think women should be ordained - like members of the church where I was assigned telling me they would not be coming to church there until I was gone, or giving money to the Rector to give to me so I could "buy a black suit so I'd look like the rest of the clergy" - they called me a girl, or 'little lady'. I would like to say that things are better now, but the truth is that the discrimination is just less blatant. Instead, women are not hired as often to be anything other than assistants, or if they are called as the Rector they are paid less than the men. Not a surprise.

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    1. Mary, that is a significant achievement! But I'm not surprised to know you had an uphill struggle in your calling.

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    2. I'm ordained in the United Church of Christ (37 years ago).
      I no longer work in a church setting because it was just too much BS and too little spirit.
      My graduating class from seminary was over 50% women, but most went into "invisible" positions like chaplains and counselors, rather than be in a church position.

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    3. Libby, I totally get it! One would think the Church would be better...after 45 years of women being ordained in the Episcopal Church, we are still called "women priests" instead of just "priests." :(

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    4. Mary, congratulations! I remember when I was in college, I was starting to learn that there are women priests and women clergy. I thought it was a given. This reminds me of the BBC series The Vicar of Dibley (sp?) with Dawn French as the Vicar, though it was in England, not the USA.

      Diana

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  24. The Boss/Nicole email story blew my mind. Thank you for raising this issue today. So much unfairness. Still.

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  25. Oh, Rhys, I love that last zinger of who is smiling as they walk into the bank. And, the man on the plane is so typical, so sadly typical. I once went off at a pizza restaurant because I had been standing in the pick-up line longer than the man that had come in, but the guy working the counter started to wait on the man first. I interrupted him and told him that I was there first and even asked him if he waited on the man first because he was, well, a man. I didn't get a response, but I did get my pizza first. I think I must have had my fill of men that day, but I'm not sorry I spoke up.

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    1. Kathy, this happened to a friend of mine who is a Man. He is Deaf and did not hear the guy at the counter who was mumbling. It was a very busy and noisy place! This happens to many people, not only women. Did you notice if they do this to people from different races too and/or people in wheelchairs too?

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  26. I ran into so much of that crap in my adult life. I do not want to revisit it! Not just employers but people one does business with. Bankers who think you are an empty head accompanying your husband. Bleah.

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    1. And the car salesmen who have told me to take a brochure home, then bring my husband back so we could make a decision . . . (I have always bought my own cars, whether I was married or not.)

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    2. When I was in my 30's, I once had a car dealer remark, as he led me past one car, "You couldn't handle that one, it has too much power." In that moment I decided I was not buying from him -- but I was going to take my sweet time browsing and waste as much of his time as possible.

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    3. Susan, brilliant! Love that you wanted to waste his time as much as possible. This reminds me of when I was in my twenties and between boyfriends. I was helping my parents shop for a car and they wanted me to check out different places. There was a car salesperson who said I am pretty and I said I already know and thank you :-)))

      Gigi, were all of the car salespople men? When my mom bought a car about four years ago, all of the car salespeople were women! We lucked out with that place.

      Diana

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  27. Brava! We need to stand up for ourselves and for each other. <3

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  28. Another story: friend's daughter just completed her PhD, having taken out huge loan etc. Plumber came to her house and was writing the invoice. "IS it Mrs. or Miss," he asked. "Or are you one of them young women who likes to call herself MS?" She replied, "It's Doctor." And all the loans were worth it!

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    1. Rhys, I went to a meeting with a colleague once--the man we were meeting approached us and held out his hand to my colleague, saying, 'Dr. So-and So', whereupon my colleague turned to me and said, 'and this is Flora Church.' He had the grace to look chagrined at himself.

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    2. Glad your colleague introduced you!

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  29. Yes, Doctor!

    Gigi, my husband and I were shopping for a car once, and we were wheeling and dealing, trying to pay as little as possible. (And why not?) The male salesmen kept deferring to Steve, and ignoring me. At one dealership I got completely fed up and dragged Steve out while the sales guys were fake "conferring" once again. And after they saw us sitting in a Corvette and made a remark that "If you can't afford the station wagon, you sure can't afford that." As we were leaving I said, loud enough for them to hear, "Little do they know, I have the checkbook, and we could afford (that one day) to pay cash for that car, if I wanted to."

    And when we had a specialty paint put on our house a few years ago, the salesman wanted to come out to the house only when we were both here. I put him to rights about that. He is still blown away that I could "make my own decisions". Ye gods. Nice guy, but dense.

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    1. Here's a positive story to balance things out. I used to work with a man who was a consultant. He traveled for work Sunday evening through Friday evening. His wife managed all the family finances. He said whenever they went to buy cars, the dealers would try to talk to him and he would set them straight: "She's the CFO. She knows what we can afford. Talking to me will do you no good whatsoever." I always admired that. (The same guy told me that most of the time, he had no idea what he even earned. His wife handled the money and put some cash in his hand as he left for the airport each Sunday, and he was happy with that.)

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    2. Susan, that story is so true. I know of many wives who manage the family finances.

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  30. Oh, Rhys! You are marvelous!!!
    “Only if you read books,” is now my standard reply.
    Totally and utterly brilliant.
    As are all your other retorts.

    I read the first paragraph to my husband and he almost shot seltzer out of his mouth when I got to that line.

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  31. Brava to all of you Mighty Women!!

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  32. Whenever I see a husband and wife business, I assume the wife does most of the work and the husband is just coasting along. This was true of several couples my family knew when I was growing up. I'm occasionally proven wrong, but not too often...

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  33. Sigh. Thing is, we heard all these things in the 1970s (and earlier, no doubt) and we couldn't help looking forward to the great glorious time (oh, say, 1995?) when we wouldn't have to deal with such %&$# any more.

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  34. Big round of applause to Rhys for your terrific responses! And bravo who to everyone else who has stood up to idiots. In my work life, I've actually had very little of this. My fist career was a woman-dominated field and we treated each other respectfully. In my second career, I was an information gatekeeper, mostly helping very junior, very ambitious young consultants. Guess who had the power there? :-) And knew it by that time? If they were obnoxious ( a very privileged bunch) it was to everybody.OTOH I was the recipient of a series of obscene drawings at one time.A customer who stopped showing up when he realized we knew. Creepy but also kind of pathetic.

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  35. Years ago I was eating with several co-worker when one of the men got up and stood behind me still talking. He put his hand on my shoulder which shocked me until I saw that he did that with whomever he stood behind. He was a nice guy.

    We did have a sleazy guy who insisted on sitting next to the women on the bus even when other seats were available and getting very close. Until I happened to have my umbrella with me! LOL

    Laughing all the way to the bank was Liberace's line, too. I think all popular culture gets taken for granted. Drama over comedy, no action movies, etc. Cozies and romances. May all those writers laugh all the way to the bank.

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    1. Sally, I always have an umbrella with me just in case!

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    2. My grandmother, a feisty woman,always told me in her youth, they always had a hat pin handy on the streetcar.

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  36. Chiming in very late because my phone won't let me log in/comment any more. :(

    I have actually had some very rude and condescending things said to me – by women. In fact, in the last couple of months, I had a woman at work treat me like I had no clue what I was talking about. After a 15 minute conversation, when she finally stopped interrupting me long enough to hear what I was trying to tell her, she realize I wasn’t the idiot she was treating me as. And she never apologized, she just quickly ended the conversation.

    At my last job, I had a woman, my supervisor, dismiss what I was trying to ask. It was only a month later when another woman (and one of my supervisor’s clear favorites) asked the exact same question I had asked that my point was listened to, understood, and we started doing things the way I thought they should be done. (And, incidentally, the way things had been done before I started, so I was correct the entire time.)

    Heck, that supervisor I was talking about above told me point blank that women pay more attention to details than men do and therefore were better than men.

    My point? This really does go both ways. It is more about the people involved than the sex of the person involved. I’ve also had wonderful women co-workers who treated me like an equal. I hope I did the same to them; I sure tried to. I have one female boss who has become a good friend, we get together a few times a year to go see plays, in fact. And my current supervisor, a woman, is wonderful.

    So this isn’t to discount the stories people have been sharing all day. But I’m trying to show the other side, which brings me to one inescapable conclusion – there are rude people. It doesn’t matter whether they are men or women, they are just rude.

    Heck, I’ve had people assume that the woman behind me in the restaurant was with me when I was there by myself. And, maybe because I live in So Cal, I’ve had people assume that the male friend I am with is my partner when we are both straight.

    People make assumptions all the time. Should we? No. But we do because it makes our lives easier, or at least we think is does.

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    1. Agreed that it does not matter whether they are men or women - both can be rude. I am surprised that people would think the woman behind you was with you. My logical mind asks "If the woman was with you, why wouldn't she be standing next to you instead of behind you?"

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