Thursday, December 13, 2007


Today my son's Siggy made an observation about me that I have heard from many quarters since high school. It was prefaced with how society tends to have a different response to certain masculine traits when found in a woman. 

More bluntly, how a woman will be called a bitch or other such descriptive terms when responding decisively, clearly and with assertion, just as a man is expected to. When we are supposed to cowtow, put hand to head and assume the passive/aggressive vapors in the face of challenge or adversity. 

This was not meant as an offense and I certainly did not take it so. Because it is what it is, as far as my life experience. 

I am just wondering what you ladies out there might have experienced in your lives in terms of this.  I would imagine a number of you have met brick walls of stubborn slammed doors when trying to reasonably, responsively deal with various situations in life. Even from other women I have found this prejudice. 

Have you ever:
Had to slow down your words and insert verbal lace doilies to get a point across?
Called on a man to be a mouthpiece to say exactly what you said, in order to be heard?
Experienced increasingly angry responses the calmer and more reasonable you become?

And do you have any wise advice or happy outcomes to offer from your experiences?


Diane said...

I am going to have to think about this. because right now, I can't think of any good advice I have.

I know I do the "lace doilies" thing.

Rev SS said...

Yikes! Yes, yes, yes, and not really. So frustrating and maddening. Only advice is my mantra: "it's not what happens ... it's what you do about what happens." Happy outcomes, depends ... in accepting what is and letting go of need to "fix" I can focus more positive energy on more enjoyable endeavors. (Do I still get mad and frustrated? You bet! Will I still speak up and out about this kind of inequity? Better believe it.)

SpookyRach said...

I can be a total bitch in my job and sometimes that is the only way to make people hear what I'm saying. Doing that makes me really, really tired.

Out in society in gerneral, I tend to do the lace dollies thing. (Great image, by the way.) I am much more quiet and unwilling to fight about things. Rather, I sit in the back and make snarky remarks. Very passive-agressive, I know.

I'm hoping to someday find balance between the two.

Wyldth1ng said...

I must live in fantasy land or something because where I am every one is equal.

(By the way, I haven't been by since your post saying you were done posting this year.)

Mary Beth said...

I am actually working on doing the lace doilies LESS.

Maybe we could do a vulcan mind meld?

Presbyterian Gal said...

Rach: I am your sister in dissonance. And it makes me really tired too.

Wyld: How're you? Hope you're having a good holiday season.

Mary Beth: We COULD do a mind meld. But then we would have to run the world and I just don't have that kind of time.

Barbara B. said...

I don't think I technically do the "verbal lace doilies" thing... but I do tend to use humor a lot. Perhaps that is a variation.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Barbara B. Lace doilies are what you use when humor doesn't work.

Sue said...

Verbal lace doilies - yup.

In my first pastoral charge, there was a very clear gender issue on the part of the congregation. My male colleague was The Minister, and despite having MORE post-secondary education than he had (he was ordained without an MDiv - long story) I was stuck with the Nice Little Helper role.

It sucked. A lot.

I fed him great ideas. He took them to the Board. He was brilliant. Me? Nice. Little. Helper.

Same idea coming from me was eternally viewed in that annoying and patronizing "Isn't she sweet?" kind of attitude.

I left that ministry after my first medical leave for depression and exhaustion. It was a miserable place and I'm SO happy to be out of there and into a church where my gender was not an issue (thanks to two previous women in ministry who laid the groundwork for a radical acceptance and celebration of women's gifts for ministry.

Long comment, sorry.

Crimson Rambler said...

Re the "lace doilies" -- in Julia Spencer Fleming's nice mysteries, her heroine, the Rev. Clare, talks about perceiving that "it's time to get Southern" in difficult conversations, so she cranks up the drawl and other flirtatious rhetorical tricks...