So I had a strange experience the other night. Well, strange for me at least. I was meeting a friend in the city for dinner and since I don't much get a chance to dress up, I was wearing a skirt and some cute (heeled) shoes. I can walk just fine in heels, that's not the problem. I can also park my car, for what it's worth.
I pulled into a parking lot on 2nd Street, figuring, to hell with it, it's 6 pm and I'd rather pay the five bucks to know where my car is rather than trawl for street parking. Because I was wearing heels. Ha! Anyway. The parking spaces were bizarrely marked and I did what I thought was best, backing into one at the far end. Well, that brought two guys over to do huge semaphore signals at me...which of course made no sense. Finally I rolled down the window and asked, "where exactly do you want me to park?". One said, "Do you want me to just park it for you?". I thought, oh, hell, why not. So I got out of the car and now they could see I was a *helpless female in skirt and heels...poor dear can't even park her big old SUV*. Sigh.
This starts the whole process of the OTHER guy coming towards me saying, "I'm closing in 5 minutes!". Uh...okay. Can I still park here? Yes. "Here, I take you over, you pay five dollars. I show you". Thanks.
I was then led (very slowly) through the intricacies of the ticket machine. Gee, thanks. Never have I seen or used one of these before. Because of course, the men in my life take care of things like that for me. I was also told about four times to leave the ticket on my dashboard. Damn. I really wanted to take it with me to dinner.
This whole process certainly took longer than I would have wanted or expected, but it did get me thinking. If I had been wearing jeans and Adidas, I'm not really sure they would have treated me like that. They probably wouldn't have completely ignored me, but I don't think I would have gotten the faintly...oh, hell, BLATANTLY condescending reactions. I could be totally paranoid, I have been known to go down that garden path, but it just felt curious to be put in a position of helplessness when I *know* that I'm fundamentally not.
It also made me start thinking, you know, I can kind of understand why you might allow yourself to be treated like that, if you could get people to just do stuff for you all the time. Never underestimate the power of laziness. That being said, it certainly didn't feel like me, so I needed a drink as soon as I made it to the restaurant. Question is though...what really defines femininity? Is it that helpless, dependent state? Is it being able to take care of yourself without spitting on the curb and scratching yourself (I know I'm being stereotypical, work with me here)? Is it a combination? Is it neither? Does it MATTER?
Truthfully, I just don't know. But it was a surreal experience all around.
by Heather Hoffman at 9:43 AM