Every day sexism

I have frequently waved away my husband’s insistence that the above term is real.  Of course, when I hear stories and accounts of treatment of women, I acknowledge it is a pressing concern, but my hidden away life keeps me innocent of it.

Innocent, that is, until yesterday.  We were all going to a five church event in the park beside our house.  As we passed the man tasked with greeting people at the door I noticed that he stuck his hand out and shook my husband’s, who was behind me.  Something came over me then and I found myself putting my hand out towards him, and when he stared at it, I thrust it even closer to him and effectively made him shake it.  He looked uncomfortable.  A woman shaking his hand?  How could this be?!

There was so much going on after that unsettling event it was only later that I understood the snub, and took huge offence.  Other women on the frontline, trying to exist in a man’s world, would say that is a common occurence, but I don’t think that I’ve personally encountered it before.  I feel as though I’ve just woken up to what was previously a thought-provoking theory, and I’m thinking back over all the many, many times I have been treated as an inferior in the past.  As with all types of discrimination, they often begin with subtle changes in behaviour, but turn into something much more terrible.

So, for everybody’s sake, don’t be self-selecting when you are the front-face of an organisation, or even just one person meeting another.  You’ve heard it said you can tell a lot about a person from their handshake, so take care, and don’t think twice about treating somebody different to you as an untouchable.

I wonder how many women yesterday were overlooked.  How many ‘others’ exist on the edges of existence, never realising that they deserve so much more.

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