I go out to dinner frequently with a friend of mine who has long curly hair and a more feminine appearance then me. We have been amazed that probably about 80% of the time that we go to dinner together, when the check comes it is placed in front of me. We can only assume that the wait staff are making certain gender assumptions about me. I am the more masculine one, therefore I must be the one paying the bill. Even though frequently she is the one picking up the tab. Since I have long been the recipient of incorrect gender assumptions based on appearance, this situation generally just makes me laugh. My friend on the other hand doesn’t like it. She recently told me how diminished she feels being treated that way. Which makes me think that I laughed because I am getting male privilege and she doesn’t because she is being treated like a little lady. I don’t think I am going to laugh anymore.
After the last time this happened I was thinking about whether this would happen to a male/female couple. I wondered if the sexism is still that blatant. Days later I was on a therapists message board and there was a dialogue that the women were having about how they were treated differently when they were with their husbands. Some of them complained that when buying things or having bids for work on their houses the contractor talked to their husbands as if they were not even there. Talk about diminished.
For the first time in American history more women are in the workplace then men. A woman ran and came very close to becoming president, yet still women are often treated as less than. Sexism may be a little more subtle in some areas, but it still rears it’s ugly head more often than most of us want to think about.