Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homebuying Post: Sexism Edition

Yes, this picture does have to do with this post...I'm getting to it.

I know I shouldn't be all that surprised that the homebuying process is filled to the brim (nay, my cup overfloweth) with sexism.  The process *itself* isn't rife.  It's the people.  The first time it happened, I was annoyed.  I don't like it when somebody ignores me which is essentially what happened.  The Realtor asked my husband what he does for a living, and blatantly ignored me when I tried to enter the conversation to say what I do too, and by blatantly ignoring me, I mean turning his back to me when I started to speak.  He probably wouldn't have had to act so "Oh...huh," about my husband's job and its non-glamorous-sounding job description juxtaposed with the house we were looking at, since I'm actually the head breadwinner.  We didn't call this Realtor back, and are now using our current landlord as our agent, which is working splendidly.

However, that wasn't the last time I was going to run into sexism in the homebuying process.  This next incident probably isn't the last time either.  This all unfolded yesterday during our home inspection.  The inspector (a man) was showing us the plug outlet next to the sink, showing us how to switch it on and off.  He turned pointedly to me, and said (to me, and me alone, despite the fact that my husband and I were standing shoulder-to-shoulder):

"Hayley, see, if you have a mixer plugged in here, this will help make sure you don't get electrocuted."

Or something like that.  The point is, he directed a kitchen mixer statement to me personally by name, not including my husband in the statement at all.

To be clear, I work late nights for part of the week.  My husband enjoys cooking.  Hence, my husband does the lion's share of the cooking in our house.  If anyone's using a mixer, it's probably Patrick (husband).  Now, this is not to say I never use the mixer.  (Never use my KitchenAid mixer? Are you insane? OF COURSE I use it!)  But it's really neither here nor there.  The point is that the inspector automatically directed kitchen stuff to me.  And then promptly turned to my husband to talk about a wiring issue.  I tried to make eye contact with the inspector while he blatantly avoided eye contact with me while talking tech with my husband.

Finally, as a cherry on top of this sexism sundae, when it came time to sign paperwork, all paperwork was handed directly to my husband, despite the fact that I was frankly standing closer.

These may seem like little things, but they start to pile up.  Dear Good Ol' Boy Realtors, Inspectors, etc: I am not a housewife accessory.  I am the head breadwinner in my family.  I am perfectly capable of signing paperwork. I am not someone who stays at home in the kitchen all day, and even if I were, it's not fair of you to make that sort of assumption about me.  And there's nothing WRONG with staying home all day in the kitchen if that's what someone wants to do.  But the point IS wrong to assume that someone who is female stays in the kitchen all day and thus only should be talked to regarding kitchen stuff, and that they aren't the ones to sign any paperwork, and they aren't people who have careers so there's no reason to ask them a chatty career question.  If anyone's ever going to be the person staying home all day cooking and taking care of a kid (no kid yet, by the way, but I'm just assuming at this point that these Good Ol' Boys expect that'll be my destiny) won't be me.  I'm the one making significantly more money and I'm the one in grad school so I can make even more.  If anybody's going to stay home someday for wee ones, it'll be Patrick.  But that's a post for another time.

Have other people experienced this?  I know sexism is nothing new, but while I experience it on the job from time to time and just in life in general...these things seem to be stacking up a bit in this specific homebuying experience.

And finally, to address the header photo used for this post, just because I do "feminine" things like embroidery doesn't mean I fit boxy stereotypes any more or any less than someone who doesn't do such a "traditionally feminine" craft.  It's like I don't even want to say "Oh, I can hang embroidery here!" while looking at the house while a Good Ol' Boy is around because it just sounds so Southern and feminine and "Oh, well, she does embroidery, she MUST be staying at home barefoot all day sewing and using her mixer!"*  

Oh, and apparently today is Hug A Librarian Day.  As with the other 364 days of the year, if anybody I don't know tries to invade  my personal space in such a way, they aren't getting a return hug, they're getting a stiff, uncomfortable and not-huggable me to hug.  And yes, I've been hugged by strangers at work before.  I don't like it the other 364 days of the year, I'm not going to like it today either.  HUMPH.  Personal space bubble, please!  Hug me metaphorically instead, perhaps by giving me a gift card to Chop Suey or any other bookstore...THAT kind of hug I shall readily accept!  ;)

*I'll mix YOUR MOM

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