Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You could never be a woman

So, my husband and I were having dinner at a friend of a friend's house with our friend (three couples: us, our friends and their friends). This particular friend happens to be a little bit older than us - our friends are about 5-10yrs older, their friends share probably the same age gap with them. But this is just my guess. In all three couples, both partners work. Shockingly, the wives do not have what I refer to as "passive" jobs. Our friend is a chemical engineer and her friend is a partner at a law firm - actually, the firm was just named the best firm in the US. Definitely, non-passive jobs.

In any case, my husband and our friend's husband have both interacted extensively with my thesis adviser, and they (particularly our friend) "enjoys" saying mean things about him. Maybe, it is a kind of self-help group. Maybe it is just to try to help me realize that he was the problem, not me - kind of like in any abusive relationship. Who knows. In any case, the topic comes up semi-frequently.

This time, it came up over dinner, when the law firm partner was around. My husband is still in a state of disbelief that my adviser got away with much of what he did, and feels that there must be recourse. IE he is in denial. He is a man, and has never been treated with anything but respect his entire career. When I first started having issues, he said I should go to the Dean and he would fix everything. I fought this suggestion, but he pushed. I went - the Dean's response: "I don't want to get involved." Not shocking.

Anyway, we started talking, and the lawyer essentially said, "you are surprised? You could never be a woman" (directed towards my husband). I started thinking about this. She is totally right. He couldn't. He isn't patient enough. He enters into any negotiation like a bull in a china shop. He really doesn't put up with anything (or anyone) who annoys him or treats him poorly.

But then, why do I put up with everything I do? Is it that I have been sculpted to after years of "training"? If he had had my life experiences, would he be able to deal with the daily onslaught? If I hadn't dealt with the profs in my undergrad who said things that surely were inappropriate, would I have a personality more like his? I'd like to think that I am who I am, but I'm sure that isn't true.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sheez. Sad but true. Men are born with selective blinders on - they selectively see boobs, football, and beer just fine!

I've had MANY well-intentioned males tell me to 'go talk to head honcho - he'll fix it' and EVERY SINGLE TIME, I look like the troublemaker or the crazy sensitive wackaloon. I've learned it's mentally easier to sneak in the backdoor to get my way than ask permission to go through the front door "men only" entrance.

It's never about the issue - it's about being a non-passive woman in a patriarchy.