Mar 17, 2015

I'm Not My Gender!

St. Patrick's Day, one of my favorite holidays, even if it's not a holiday observed here. Well, my favorite holiday of all is Halloween, and that's not observed here either, but that has never stopped me, has it? I'd be delighted to write to you about St. Patrick's Day and how much I love it, and how I like to prepare for it (except that this year I realized only after I was in the car, on the way to the office, clad all in maroon, not in green. I did change later on to green, so not all was lost!), but what drives me to the keyboard of my netbook is something else entirely. Today I felt insulted by a sexist comment.

It all happened during lunch time. At the office we have a microwave for our area, in which all of us heat our food, and then proceed to go wherever we choose to go to eat. I normally don't eat with my coworkers because when I eat with someone is a friend of mine from days past, and when I'm not, I take the opportunity to have some moments with a book. I'm currently reading "Chesapeake 1880", which has great parts and others rather poorly done. Anyway, as sometimes happen, when I went to heat my meal someone's meal was already in the microwave. No biggie, I put my food in the queue and then went to the bathroom, expecting for the microwave to be free when I was done. Indeed the program had ended when I came back, but the owner of the food contained had not removed the food. I opened the oven to remove it and place it on top of the microwave, but the damned thing was too hot to hold. I did try but it was too hot and I knew I wouldn't be able to touch it. So I asked who the owner of the container was, so that person would remove the scalding container. The owner wasn't far from there - could have actually removed the container in time, since he was in distance to hear the beep.

"Here," he said handing me some paper napkins "take it out."
"No," I said moving out of the way "it's too hot for me to touch."

And here comes The Comment. My coworker actually said: "Too hot? You are a woman! You should be used to! I bet your mother-"

I didn't let him continue.

"I'm a person like anyone else, and I resist heat just like any other person."
"You are a woman," he insisted "what kind of woman are you? Sure your mother could handle that!" (He has never seen my mother, nor has ever heard of her, mind you.)

Honestly, I found the comment insulting, the sheer idea that just because I'm a woman I should be trained for the kitchen, unlike my male counterparts, who need not to deal with any kitchen task, nor need to be trained to endure heat on the hands. I did tell him that his comment was sexist and I found it insulting, with those words, the words "sexist" and "insulting" included in the message, and he simply insisted, as if he were right in his assertion and my being insulted were nothing but some stupid words from an ignorant woman who forgets where is her place in society. I deigned him not to any more of my attention.

Now, I'd like to make something clear: I'm not being picky or delicate, my not being fighty or radical-feminist, I'm being honest, and I am entitled to feel insulted when someone thinks that just because I happen to have been born female I'm less or different by default from my male counterparts regarding anything other than my particular function in the reproductive scheme. First and foremost, I'm a person. The 4% of my chromosomes do not define me entirely. The fact that - reproductively speaking, I'm a "life carrier" instead of a "life impregnator" do not define me. I'm a person, a mind, a soul a spirit, and my body, its shape, its form, its age, its gender are but the vessel my mind uses to move around the world. Yes, quite a great vessel, which I love, and comes with a lot of perks, like senses and sensations and all sorts of things to experiment with, but neither of those qualities are what makes me, me. I'm not automatically happier because I'm a brunet, I'm not automatically a sharp shooter because my eyes are dark. I'm not smarter because I'm not too tall, I'm not automatically temperamental because my skin is Creole or I'm half Latin. I don't automatically know how to handle babies because I'm a woman. I do not automatically know how to cook because I'm a woman. No, I'm who and what I am because I'm a person and I've grown into who I am through a sequence of choices based on what I've lived and what I've learned from my experiences. Not because I'm a woman, or Christian, or half-Hungarian or 5-foot-4.

I'm no different from any other person of the world. We are all different, but neither of us is this way or that way "because we have been born this or that". We are who we are because of our decisions, not because the fatalistic view some still ascribe to because for them it's much easier to imagine all the same, treat them the same, ignore them the same, instead of taking the time to know each person for whom they are, and understand that you can't box people up because of whatever a given chromosome has made them to be.

Let's stop generalizing, let's start knowing each other. Let's stop insulting, let's start understanding. We are not our chromosomes, we are not our ethnicity, we are not our religion, we are who we have chosen to be, and I've chosen to be a Person. Treat me so.


Sartassa said...

How on earth did he come to the assumption that women should be used to hot things? What's that got to do with it?
Oh my, your post made me really angry about Society. Even though People always say things got better, I hardly think they did.
You sure do know those Kinder Eggs filled with Little surprises covered in chocolate, right? About two or three years ago, whilst driving through Italy, I found them Close to a cashier in a gas Station and realised that you could now buy a "Girly" Version of the sweet wrapped in pink and with Little toys "suitable" for female children. WTF? I started to swear so loud that people in the shop started to stare and Phil asked me whether I would like a regular Kinder Egg with my drink as a Statement :)

Storm Bunny said...

I have seen those Girly Kinder Eggs and I find it also insulting. The eggs used to have generic little toys. Assuming that girls need "special", "girly" toys, just to make a larger profit margin, does nothing for society. It only embeds the idea that women are not people, they are something different and must be placed apart from regular people.