You Seem to have Mistaken Me for a “Girl”

This is an open letter to all industries run by men.

I’ll begin by saying that I am in NO WAY a man-hating-bra-burning feminist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I love men. I’m married to one. I love when a man opens the door for me, I love when a man pulls out my chair for me or offers his jacket or remembers to let me order first at dinner.

But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when in business, a man treats me like “a girl.” (I don’t mean to use “girl” in a derogatory way, but it seems like what these men are picturing.)

I was the only girl in a household of men (other than my mother). I was raised to see men as my equal in most aspects. My dad especially made sure that I could take care of myself: change a tire, use a screwdriver, compete with guys but still embrace my womanhood.

So, when I’m dealing with a man in a male-dominated occupation, I am taken back when they feel the need to “dumb-down” their language or “pull one over on me” just because I’m a woman.

I once had an auto mechanic try to tell me that the reason my ’66 Mustang pulled to the right was in fact, not because of a steering problem (after he tried to fix it and didn’t, or couldn’t) but because (and I quote) “all of the roads slope to the right towards the gutters and that’s probably what you’re noticing.” Seriously?!

Years ago, I worked in the carpet industry with a friend of mine. It was a third-generation female-owned carpet store that sold and installed carpet and rugs. That meant we had to measure carpet jobs (using a tape measure no less – note my sarcasm), do the math and figure out how much carpet was needed (yes, girls can do math), order the carpet, unload the carpet from the delivery truck with a fork lift (my female friend and her mother did that – I can’t drive), and sometimes we even got down on our knees and cut the carpet using a utility knife. I know, it’s astounding! (Again, sarcasm). I can’t tell you how many times we would have to argue with men (usually engineers) and educate them regarding how much carpet they needed to buy. I can’t imagine what my friend’s grandmother, who opened the store some 40 years ago must have had to deal with.

So when contractors, mechanics, installers, and repairmen talk to me like I’m a 3 year old girl, they better realize that they just lost my business. Because you can bet that even if it’s an industry that I’m not familiar with, I’m going to educate myself before I talk to them. And chances are, the reason I called them is simply because I don’t have the right tools to do the job.

That being said, I’d also like to say “thank you” to all the men who DON’T treat women like they’re idiots. Since women are usually the ones hiring you to do whatever job needs to be done in the home, chances are treating them like your equal with respect will most likely guarantee that you will get the job. Because I can tell you that the other two quotes she got before you probably mistook her for a silly girl.

To my sisters out there, has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?