Here's what I get, in rural Eastern Washington, when Shoes and I run into some of his male friends:



Did you catch that?  That white space up there?  That's what I get.
That's what I get for being a girl, married to a local.
That's what I get for leaving Portland.
That's what I'm worth.  (More on this below.)

{Disclaimer:  Shoes has a core group of friends from this town who are progressively minded, enlightened men who respect their partners and share equally in parenting duties.  This is not about them.}

Please don't think I'm kidding.  I'm not.  Please don't think I'm exaggerating.  I'm not.  Please don't think it's funny.

It's not.

I cannot count the number of times I have been introduced and have the other person literally not say anything.  It goes like this,

"And this is my wife, Lisa."

And then the man maybe nods, but then goes back to talking to Shoes.  They talk about work.  They talk about golf.  They talk about sacred PAC12 football.

Heyyyyyy ... What a coincidence, *I* work  - I even have a Master's degree which enables me to work with increasing responsibility!  AND *I* play golf.  And I don't care to talk for hours on end about PAC12 football, honestly, so they can have that.  But not one person has asked me what I do.  Or how I like living here.  Or anything about me.

Where are their partners, you ask?  And I apologize for the gender normative, hetero normative  language here, but I apologize more deeply for the fact that this is a difficult town to find acceptance in, and to be openly homosexual.  Their partners are there, in the background.  Not saying much (anything).

This difference is, of course, heavily highlighted by the fact that I moved here from gushy Portland, where the majority of my female friends' partners were stay at home dads, where people always asked me about me, and I where I was nestled in a safe cocoon of social justice in graduate school.  Shoes and I talk about this often, and it's been eye opening for him to see this first hand.  It's one thing to hear, it's another to be able to witness the subtle manner in which women are dismissed in this rural state of affairs.

So what to do about it, then?
We're still figuring that out.
At times we try to purposefully make me part of the conversation (which, honestly, becomes exhausting).
At times I walk away, deeply in need of some space.
And all the time, I remind myself that this has nothing to do with me as an individual, or my own self worth.  I remind myself that this is generations of privileging males over females, and that it has seeped down into deep fissures of this area's makeup.

I remind myself that I am here for a reason.

I just wish I knew what that reason was, sometimes.

2 comments

  1. Anonymous on September 10, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    I am so craptastic socially. I don't even REMEMBER to introduce my mate. I just talk to whoever I'm talking to. I totally hate being asked "what do you do?" I want to be asked something INTERESTING....hmmm maybe "Hi, tell me one thing about you that not very many people know or have taken the time to find out about you." Something like that.

    It might not be as much gender specific, or rural, but...socially inept? Rude? Poor manners? When did we learn the proper etiquette? Cuz...I suck at it. I really don't know what to do with myself in conversation with more than one person at a time. I'm lost. ~ Willow ~

     
  2. Lisa on September 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I think if both Shoes and I hadn't noticed it, if we hadn't noticed a difference in behavior in the way his local friends treat men and women, and if it weren't surrounded by several other factors, I would be more willing to chalk it up to being generally social unaware.

    I do like to consider all factors.

     


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