The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Same problem, different language (or, why feminists are stereotyped as being so damn bitchy.)

Somehow I think I've commented on this before...

So this little issue has been popping up in my life more and more lately, and it came to a head this week at work. I mentioned at our weekly Tuesday morning meeting that I was trying to calibrate the colors of my printer, because I was sick of our lovely company shade of blue coming out of the printer as this icky dark teal.

I had mentioned this previously to various co-workers, with different levels of response.

The Operations Manager (Goddess bless him) stayed pretty mum, letting me try to figure things out on my own. My boss told me that it had been done before by the previous Marketing Girl, but he didn't know how to do it, so again I got to try to figure it out for myself. One of the guys in sales suggested that I call the tech support of the company that makes the printer, but I kept insisting that I wanted to fix the problem on my own.

Then the Tech Support guy hears that I'm having a problem, and sure enough on Wednesday morning both the Operations Manager and the Tech Support guy are sitting in front of my computer, trying to fix my problem for me.

And between this, and the aforementioned sales guy trying to do various things for me to "fix" my problems (he's been helping me with my Zippo, another little saga, but he went too far when he threatened to clean out my car), suddenly I feel like I'm seen as this totally helpless person who doesn't have her shit together and needs other people (men) to take care of me because I can't take care of myself. It makes me feel like...

It makes me feel like a girl.

Now, I've been raised in one of those blessing/curse kind of ways, where I never for one second had the inkling that there was something I couldn't do because of my gender. I saw the world as gender neutral, that anyone could do anything. It was a great way of growing up (although it led me to put a lot of pressure on myself to excel, but that would have happened anyway). But the older I get, and the more "girly" I come off as, the more I am smacked in the face with this whole "girls need help and protection" bullshit.

Have you ever wondered why so many women got so pissed off when the feminist movement really got underway? Imagine living a lifetime of familial, cultural, and social reinforcement that you can't do anything on your own. And then, when you get over your issues, get some self confidence, and actually try to do something, you're met with constant criticism and condescension. You are not respected for who you are and what you want to do. You are not taken seriously. Yeah, that's reason enough to get pissed off, huh?

Okay okay. Now for the flipside of the coin. Anyone who knows me knows that I swear by "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" and here's why. It identifies communication problems, and gives you advice on how to fix them and understand the other gender. And one thing I have learned that is deathly important is that sometimes guys just gotta "fix" stuff.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this last night, and he referred to it as the Galahad Syndrome. And it really has a place. Whether it's by nature or nurture, guys just have to be able to do things to help girls out sometimes. It's a core part of their personality, to be able to protect, defend, be a hero. And women don't usually get this, so what ends up happening is that they get bitchy when a guy solves their problems for them without them asking for help, or they offer advice thinking that it will help facilitate whatever the guy is doing. This is a deathblow to the guy's ego, because here he is, thinking "Hey, I'm solving a problem for her. This will make her happy, and that makes me feel good." And instead she gets upset, or makes him feel like he's not doing a good job by offering advice not asked for.

This is how a lot of fights start between men and women.

I know because I've experienced it. My poor ex. One night he was doing the dishes for me, and I couldn't help it. I could see that he was doing it in a way I considered inefficient, and I started saying things like "You know, if you load everything in the dishwasher this way, you can fit more stuff in." It did not make him feel good.

But then, he did things to me like solving my computer problems by just having me step aside and fixing everything without teaching me how. This was slightly frustrating while we were together, and proved a problem when we broke up. He had our computers networked together so we could share the cable modem. When he left, he forgot to change the settings on my computer so that I could connect to the internet directly. I couldn't get online. I had to ask him how to change it back. I'm really lucky that he wasn't letting any hurt feelings get in the way of solving my problem.

So here we all go, 'round and 'round the same prickly pear, trying to help each other out and failing miserably. Yeesh. How's a girl supposed to stand up for herself when the way she wants to go about it ends up honestly offending and hurting someone else's feelings?

How the hell can I get some respect around here?

Guys, I tell you what. If you're gonna help me out for whatever reason, will you help me help myself instead of just jumping right in? In return, I'll hold my tongue on the "helpful comments" and make sure that you feel honestly appreciated. Sound fair?


  • At 12:59 AM, Blogger OneTenderBranson said…

    Fair enough.

    Yeah, can't stereotype everyone, but remember, without the use of stereotypes, the human brain would be much more inefficient and at times, utterly useless.

    In other words, the bitchy feminist is there, but we need to change the perception (or maybe the bitch)

  • At 11:22 AM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    Well yeah, we wouldn't stereotype if it wasn't useful to us as humans processing information. But when we do it too much, or too often, we lose sight of people and just see one-dimensional characters.

    Part of me feels dirty and unclean when I fall into the "*sigh* Men." routine. Even though sometimes it's warranted.

    And yes, the bitchy feminist is there, but usually behind any "bitchy" person is some kind of personal issue driving them to be a tad more venemous to the rest of society.

    And I think you get this, bit I have to reiterate that not every feminist is bitchy. :-)


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