Okay, I’m going to throw myself in the ring to illustrate a point about social conditioned attitudes towards women that I’ve often tried to explain to others.
This morning, I’m working from a coffee shop, getting my work stuff done while Ascher plays. In the coffee shop, there is a separate room with a door where people can have meetings or just go work on their own projects.
Ascher wandered into that room where a group of women were sitting together at a table. I ran in to grab him and one of the women explained kindly, “We’re having a meeting” and shut the door behind us.
My knee-jerk instinct was annoyance – after all, they weren’t doing anything business-related or important. What kind of “meeting” could they possibly be having?? I try not to let my son bug other people, but what were they doing being so adamant that they not be interrupted?
Two things I’ve recognized from this:
1) I assumed they weren’t doing anything business-related because it was a group of women – no men. They had laptops, they were dressed nicely, there’s no reason I should have assumed it wasn’t work-related. I literally jumped to the conclusion that they were sitting there gossiping or talking about kids. I know I wouldn’t have done the same if there had even been just one man in that room with them.
2) Even if it wasn’t business-related and they WERE just sitting and chatting about day-to-day life, I assumed that that isn’t important. I promise you that if it were a group of men, I wouldn’t have been bothered by their insistence that I keep my son out of their way whether they were working or not. But because it was women, I assumed that they should be quite happy to be interrupted by an adorable child and that their activities were not important enough to deserve peace and quiet.
This is not an isolated case – this happens to me often and I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who experiences this. It’s important to be self-aware and recognize this when it happens. It doesn’t make me or anyone else a sexist jerk, it makes us a product of our social conditioning. And the only way we change it is by recognizing it.