Stranger:What do you do?
Me:I’m a professor.
Stranger:You’re way too young to be a professor. You look like a student.
I’m in my 30s and I dress more professionally than my colleagues. But I’m also petite and female. My male partner, who has the same age and occupation, is never told that he doesn’t look like a professor. It sends me the message that I’m an imposter, merely play-acting at being a serious scholar or authority figure. Made me feel like no one will take me seriously despite my accomplishments.
“You have access to birth control pills now. That doesn’t give you an excuse to sleep around.”
My male gynecologist. I was seventeen at the time and began taking the pill to regulate my period. I was not sexually active, and I had given no indication as to my sexual orientation. I felt awkward, sad, and resentful, because this is a man I otherwise admire and respect.
“Stop crying and acting like a little girl!”
My sister to her 4 year old son, who has a twin sister.
Watching a football game with my father and brother. During halftime, they present winners of a skills competition for kids 8 through 15. Upon seeing the girls and their trophies, my father, amused, says, “There’s GIRLS! Why on Earth would they compete in something they will never be able to do?” I say, “Oh, by the way, I’m going back to school. I’m gonna major in gender studies.” Later, he criticizes a bad pass by comparing it to one I would make. I’m a 24 year old woman, and this makes me feel, despite my accomplishments, I will be a failure to those who refuse to recognize my power.
“You’re so young and pretty. You don’t need all these medications.”
My pharmacist, every time I pick up the prescriptions that keep me out of the ER. I’m a young disabled woman.
A coworker comes up to me to say “How about a smile?” I give him the stinkeye and say “So it’s not enough that I put on make-up? I have to smile, too?” My shoulders tense up as I walk away. I was on graveyard shift and I put on make-up so as not to look too much like a zombie (haggard, stressed out.) I do not mean to demean people who put on make-up for fun.
My male dog is wearing a ribbon tied in a bow around his neck. When my grandfather sees him he exclaims loudly, “Jake! You’re a poofter! It’s not enough that you’ve had your balls cut off. Now you’re a poofter as well!” Then asks me incredulously why he’s wearing a bow.
I noticed that when I eat out and order a Coke, I’m often asked whether I want it to be a diet Coke. I asked some male friends about this and they told me it never happens to them.
“You shouldn’t come to the construction site. You’re a distraction and it’s hard for us to get work done. It’s not your fault so don’t take it personally, but that’s just the way men are. Why don’t you stay in the office and I’ll check on you later?”