I’ve been mulling over my experiences of everyday sexism. I had thought that I was basically immune to sexism because I’m quite a strong, seemingly confident woman. With hindsight I find I’m experiencing it fairly regularly. It creeps into the most mundane tasks and situations. On the bus, online and worst – at the shops. From little things such as being told to “smile, love” or being harassed into eyebrow threading or makeovers to huge incidents like being groped in the supermarket by a guy ‘accidentally’ walking into me.
On my last three trips to morrisons I’ve had issues with my card. On one occasion the cashier took my card away whilst they went to ask for help which I didn’t like and explained I’d had my card cloned in the past so really like to have it in hand/view at all times. The cashier looked at me like a madwoman. All bad enough when you have a bored toddler desperately trying to eat all the Kinder eggs on display. But the other two occasions were far worse.
Having tried my card with no joy the ‘assistants’, two different staff members mind, took my card out of MY HAND and paid contactlessly. I appreciate contactless payment, it’s a marvel, and extremely helpful when you’ve no actual money on your card because – and here’s my issue with contactless – it doesn’t come out of your account immediately as it would with traditional card payments. It makes it a nightmare to keep track of available funds. That is why I CHOOSE not to use it. On both occasions I complained straight away to the offending staff member and to a manager and was told they were trying to speed up my shop because I had the boy with me, and I’ve received a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine for my troubles. Which is lovely but superfluous. What I would really like is for it not to happen again. On both occasions the assistants looked at me as if I were a silly woman who hadn’t realised I could pay contactlessly. Like I was unaware and they were doing me a supreme service but removing my card from my hand and choosing my method of payment.
What bothers me most though is this – if I were a man it wouldn’t happen. A shop assistant when facing a male shopper, even an harrassed looking dad with toddler in tow, would never take a card out of his hand and do it for them. They would ask, suggest, help. Assist. But because I’m a woman, I need to be shown and hurried up.
I’ve decided not to go back to Morrison’s on my own. If I do have to go there I’ll take the husband so that it doesn’t happen again. A sad indictment of modern culture and feeding into this image of helpless woman that needs a man to show her the way. I hate that it’s come to that when it’s just a bloody supermarket shopping trip but that’s the problem with the nefariousness of everyday sexism – It creeps into every mundane situation and undermines even the strongest, most seemingly confident woman.