Chatting with Sarah this afternoon, we were discussing the various types of girls that her daughter could grow into, and both were expressing our thankfulness that she shows absolutely no sign of becoming one of those hothouse flower types that lives only to be frail and served by Manly Men.

“Oh, I hate that type,” I said. “Grow a pair. I mean, I know you’re a woman, but grow a pair!”

But that reminded me that I almost never use my status as a woman to get guys to do things for me. Well, except when I really, really don’t want to do something. Like, put on a new pair of windshield wipers. I bought a pair of them on the way home from NJ last summer, and mentioned to the man behind the counter that I wasn’t sure I could remember how to put them on.

“Give me a minute, I’ll do it for you,” he said. Which he did, faster and more easily than I would have done, I’m sure.

Then there was the time I simply did not want to be thrown in a pool. I was in college, at a student government leadership weekend. I was lying by the pool fully clothed, and a few of the guys were throwing people in the pool. When they came to get me, I said, “Uh, guys, I have my period.” They all hemmed and hawed and moved on to the next person, evidently unaware of the invention called “the tampon.” Besides, I wasn’t having my period at the time. I just didn’t want to get thrown in the pool.

I think this one comes under the heading of “Messing with a control freak” rather than “abusing your gender role,” but shortly after I moved in with my father, he was watching me mop the kitchen floor one day and told me I was doing it wrong. After a few words were exchanged, I said, “Show me” and handed him the mop. Then I pretended I didn’t get the difference between his mopping and mine until he’d done about half the kitchen, which, of course, he figured out by then and wasn’t very pleased about.

So. Ever used your gender to get a result from the opposite sex, girls? How about you, guys?

Hey, it’s something for a lazy Friday afternoon. Although it may get me thrown out of the Feminist Bloggers Society. Oh, wait. There is no FBS. Never mind.

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  1. seawitch says:

    I know how to change a tire and yet for the 5 flats I’ve experienced, I’ve never had to change one. I’ve never had to ask any of the men who did change it. They would see me pulling out the donut, the jack, and the lug wrench, and just stop and offer to change it for me. If someone wants to change the tire for me, not a problem.

  2. ilyka says:

    Oh, wait. There is no FBS.

    What?! What are all these meetings I’ve been going to, then? And why do they keep introducing themselves with “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic?”

    If there were an FBS and, indulging in even more fantasy for a second, if I were in charge of it, I’d hardly kick you out of it on the basis of these examples, about which I’d say:

    First example: Hey, that’s just good customer service, and furthermore I am not going to make an arrest in the name of feminism just ’cause a woman wanted to get out of some drudgework. We do enough drudgework as it is.

    Second example: The people who really had any power to abuse here? Yeah, those would be the people who enjoyed the privilege of being able to attend pool parties without having to scheme to avoid being thrown into the pool against their wills. I think they’re called D-U-D-E-S.

    Third example: OH NO, a woman got out of mopping half a floor. This is an outrage! We must repeal the 19th Amendment immediately.

    My own examples: I’m sure I’ve got them, but it’s been a while since I’ve played poor, dumb female. The reason I don’t get too irritated by women who do play poor, dumb female on occasion is something that occurred at my first software job.

    We’d been doing some testing in a room not normally used for such, so I’d moved a couple of PCs in there and hooked them up, etc. When testing was done, I started unhooking them. Two (male) developers looked in and offered to help. “Nah!” I said, “I got it, thanks.” I then kneeled down to pull something or other out of a power strip on the floor. Kneeled down, and bent over.

    I heard muttering behind me, immediately followed by one guy saying to the other through gasps and giggles, “Dude, stop that! You’re gonna to get us sued for harassment!”

    Yeah, they’d been staring at and otherwise assessing the quality of my rear end.

    So it’s a no-win: Play helpless, get help, and feel demeaned; or, don’t play helpless, do it yourself, and feel objectified. As long as that’s the no-win women have to deal with, I can’t knock those who pick Option A over Option B.

  3. cond0010 says:

    (* “Dude, stop that! You’re gonna to get us sued for harassment!” *)

    Heh, time for an oldie but goodie…

  4. Jan says:

    Well I have a doozy…. long ago and far away in a distant sociopolitical econosphere, I was part of a team doing an inspection task. Occasionally when one member of our team — which unlike the other team was coeducational — needed to distract the other team momentarily, they would signal one of the women on our team to drop something — a pre-arranged ploy. Never failed that pretty much the entire other team came running over to assist.

  5. CGHill says:

    From my How Pathetic Am I? files, an actual quotation from me to an Office Babe:

    “I don’t want you to think that you can just come in here, cross your legs, smile real pretty, and get anything you want. You probably can, but I don’t want you to think that.”

  6. Tatterdemalian says:

    Hmm. I can’t think of any way a guy could use his gender to his advantage to make women do things, other than through implied or overt application of violence.

    Not that it doesn’t happen, but rather, it happens way too often in the real world. No anecdotes from me; I long ago devoted my efforts to being as unintimidating as possible.

  7. “Ever used your gender to get a result from the opposite sex, girls? How about you, guys?”

    When I was younger and Richard Clyderman ate my dust… Nah, come on, the question above is too broad, if you know what I mean.

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