Today is one of those rare, good days when standing up in the face of misogyny wasn’t met with derision, defensiveness or denial. I’ve accumulated quite a few of these days lately, and I want to really notice them and remember them the next time my attempts to be treated like an actual, capable human being (as opposed to a trivial thing, or a child) aren’t received so well.
I just got home from meeting the male manager of my local government liquor store to discuss the offensive way one of his male staff members treated me last weekend. The clerk in question pulled out an impressive array of misogynistic behaviours in a relatively short interaction: leering at me, attempting to dominate me when I wasn’t sufficiently deferential, and, when I questioned his behaviour, infantilizing me by calling me dear. It was a truly remarkable display of dinosaurism, and although I’m being glib today, I spent the rest of that day managing feelings of anger and sadness, ruminating about how frustrating it is to understand the misogyny that underlies so many interactions, the misogyny most people cannot or will not see.
Today I spoke with his manager, describing behaviours and impacts and being clear about what I wanted to happen – and this manager listened. And apologized. And GOT IT. Not a hint of “you’re overreacting” or “what’s the big deal”. He understood and committed to act and report back to me.
I’m hesitant to dole out too many cookies – I mean, I doubt the clerk is going to face serious consequences for his behaviour, or have a epiphany that makes him aware of his misogyny and determined to change. And, after all, this is how women should be treated when we discuss our experiences. This is how we would be treated every time if we were seen as reliable witnesses to our own lives, as observant, analytical human beings who are capable of actually noticing things and drawing our own conclusions. This is how we would be treated every day if we weren’t seen as overly sensitive, manipulative and vengeful children who need to be taught, corrected and controlled. But, in this small situation I was believed and taken seriously, and because of that, this man will face some consequences. It’s not a lot, but it’s something.
Patriarchy is a perfectly designed system that’s invisible to most, and fighting it can be exhausting, isolating and infuriating. It’s easy to see why so many women opt out or give up. If your struggle continues make sure to pay attention to the good days, to notice victories – even tiny ones like this. Hold them close and remind yourself of them when you need comfort.
Hold on, and keep going.