Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Social Observation

*Just a little heads-up, I rarely curse on this website, just as I rarely curse in real life. However, in this post I do use a naughty word. Trust me, I was going to edit it out, but it gets the point across much better than it does with an asterisk. *

Several months ago my husband and I ventured out into society to do some Christmas shopping and also to use up some gift cards that had been given to me for my birthday. As we wandered the mall and browsed various department stores, we jokingly bantered back and forth about what to buy.

I am a notoriously picky shopper, I like to check out pretty much everything before I spend money, especially a gift card because, hello, it's a gift to me and I want it to be good. I don't really LIKE shopping, but if I am going to do it, I'm going to DO it, you know?

So as we wandered around in one certain store for a while I picked up a watch and told Matt that I thought it was nice.

'You already have a watch, and you don't wear it' he said. This was a very valid point, I do have a watch and I rarely wear it, so I put the watch down. A voice from behind us chuckled and said something about me being a typical woman who wanted several of everything.

Annoyed I turned around to see a very sweet looking elderly man. I smiled and didn't say anything, Matt sort of laughed. I mean, what else were we to do?

I then wandered over to the shoe section and was browsing boots. Imagine my surprise when this man came over to the section as well. He continued to talk to my husband, and I heard him saying something about the fact that surely I already have too many pairs of shoes. I also heard my husband reply that that had never stopped me before.

Eventually the man left, as did we -- I really didn't have the desire to use the gift card that night. As we drove home, Matt could tell that I was not quite my usual self. He asked what was wrong, and I told him that honestly, I was upset that he would let a complete stranger talk about me the way he did, and by not disagreeing with him, I felt ganged up on. I know that Matt was just trying to be funny, and trying to be polite to this older man, but I still felt like I had been wronged in a way.

Matt replied that he hadn't seen in that way, and he apologized. Now...I know this was a little incident, really no big deal, but it did get me thinking...

I just didn't (and still don't) understand why it is okay for men to speak derisively about a women (who is standing right there) and assume it is all in good fun, and they are just being funny, but if women were talking about a man in this way, wouldn't we be written off as bitches?

Why is it that men as allowed to be a little on the sexist side in their humor, but if I were to make the same type jokes I would be written off as a femi-nazi?

It's not the fact that Matt thinks I have a lot of shoes, I DO have a lot of shoes. It was the fact that a complete stranger felt that it was okay to make me the butt of his slightly sexist jokes. Dude doesn't even know my name, how would be know anything about my collection of footwear?

*For the record, I had Matt read this before I posted it. I would never, and have never, posted anything about Matt that he has not told me he is comfortable with. However, he hopes you still love him.


  1. We still love him. He's just a guy!

    I understand where you're coming from. I had a male friend request I go in the house and get all the guys a beer. I suppose it was just because I was the only woman standing around. He looked pretty surprised when I told him to go get his own beer if he wanted one. My husband knew the friend had made a mistake in asking me to do that. Of course it wasn't that big of a deal, but it made me mad.

  2. I understand what you are saying!

    I have an exboyfriend who was like this except to a much worse degree. Obviously it didn't work out. Mr. Newlywed usually sticks up for me except when it is quite obvious I am in on the joke as well.

    It is a tough balance. Sometimes it is all in good fun, but sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

  3. It's hard - maybe the old man thought that you guys were like him and his wife, and was just joking with your husband in response to the similar comment you made about the watch?

    People are funny, and I think it's a time where you can breathe deeply and be glad that you're married to someone who is sensitive and progressive.

  4. I still like Matt. His response was completely understandable.

    I think part of the hard part was that it was an old man saying those things. He's from a different generation, and if Matt was raised anything like me, it's simply not OK to "talk back" to your elders.

    If it had been a younger man, I think it would have been different. Like Kyla Bea said, maybe you and Matt reminded him of him and his wife, and he just wanted an excuse to talk to Matt and remind himself of happier times.

  5. I think like other posters said, this elderly old man probably saw a little of himself (and his wife) in you and Matt. I really didn't think he (or Matt!) meant any harm. I know what you mean though about it not always going the other way...how we women would be construed as bitches. I guess I just laugh it off myself, when this happens (not that it happens a lot). As long as my Big D knows me, that is all that matters, and I would just laugh off that comment the strange dude in the store said.

  6. It could also be that your apparent youth made the older man feel that he could speak his mind freely.

    Many of the older generation have come up with some pretty questionable comments. And I have read that when we get older, our filters get clogged, so to speak. And we say what we think.

    At least you and Matt discussed what had happened, he is a wonderful person, and perfect for you. A lot of couples would never had gotten around to settling the problem.


  7. Hearts to Matt. Old guy however...

    Being in HR I fight this issue constantly. I have to hold back bc of my job and it's supposed unbiased nature, but bc of that I go crazy in public. It REALLY bothers me that all women are seen the same.. We are all crazy, we shop too much and if it's "that time of the month" we are monsters that should be chained up in a padlocked room. What? I only admit to 2 out of 3 of those things :-)

    Then again. He could have been an old man that just needed some attention.

  8. Well, a few thought are running through my mind.

    First, the elderly 'gentleman' was rude. No question about it

    Second, had Matt defended you, it probably would have made for a very uncomfortable situation...and he did apologize

    Third, my husband has been the butt of a few of my jokes...but that's all they were...jokes. I think he even laughed along with me and agreed. These jokes go both ways.

    But, I probably would have felt the same way you do. Even though Dan and I joke with each other, that's as far as it ever goes...never with strangers.

    Still love you Matt!

  9. I agree that it's aggravating. One of my coworkers went car shopping with his wife (who is a doctor) and he said that the car salesman ignored her and it made her mad.

  10. Ah sweet nothings..... how appropriate.

    Anyways, I wanted to tell you that at work today, I had a similar issue with a old fart. He kept making comments as I was ringing him up. After he only gave me the change from his total, and not the bills, I reminded him that he needed to give me another $20.00.

    He then turned to the woman in the lineup behind him, and said, "she can only count to 4, anything after that and she has to start all over again."

    Inappropriate, and RUDE. And this time instead of seething inside, I told him that he was RUDE! He told me not to get angry, I replied that I was not angry! He was RUDE! And I said it a few times to really make my point.

    It was so freeing to actually say "hey you are being too rude, and I will not allow you to talk to me like that!"


  11. No worries Matt! I would have felt a bit ganged up upon too. I don't like people I know and love tease me like that, let alone strangers.

    Interesting take. I usually find in my family its the guys that take most of the jokes at their expense. I didn't think much of it.... but they all are known as b!tches. Something to think about.


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