July 6, 2013

My First (and Second) Gendering

I was out in Ali mode, doing my usual Saturday scouring of the local Salvation Army Thrifts, when I had my first “gendering” incident, which was pleasant. And my second, which was less so.

Ali_Gendered1The first happened as I was navigating my way through the furniture section. An older man was sitting down in an office chair, testing it out (or maybe just taking a load off), and his legs were sticking out of the aisle and right in my way. He saw me coming and moved his legs, saying as he did so, “Whoops, sorry about that, hon’.”

Hey, I said it was a first; I didn’t say it was exciting!

In fact, it was the exact opposite — it was mundane and, on his part, completely reflexive. Which means either he didn’t get a good look at me before speaking or I pass a little better on casual glance than I think I do. And since I hadn’t made a huge effort with the makeup today (see pic), I’ll assume he just didn’t take a second glance.

Later on in the very same store, I was rummaging the clothing racks when I heard someone behind me exclaim. “Wow! It’s amazing how many tall women I run into here! How tall are you?”

It honestly took me a second to realize that she was speaking to me. So I looked over my shoulder and, trying to summon some scrap of a feminine voice (I’ve been working on it a bit), said “six-foot-four” and smiled.

The voice I had managed wasn’t even remotely feminine, just sort of croaky.  And … cue the realization on her part that all was not as it seemed from behind. Her smile just kind of froze on her face, and she said, “Wow, I’ll bet!” Then she turned and went into another aisle.


When I’m out I usually try to actually interact with people as little as possible. Clerks, when I’ve had to interact with them, have never openly gendered me at all — no “Sir” or “Ma’am”, just functional communication like “Here’s your change, have a good day.” So to have two moments in one day was kind of jarring for me.

Guess I’d better get used to it!



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  • Well, I guess we both know there are rude people everywhere. It might be good to have some stock answers to those kind of jerks, no matter what the question may be. One that comes to mind without being too rude in return is, “I’m sorry but you’ve asked a personal question which I think is inconsiderate. Even my husband doesn’t know how tall I am. I see no reason to tell you!” Then give her/him a withering one-second “look”…turn around and walk away. Or, use the reply they would hear from me, “Do I know you?” Then walk away. Or, again, answer in pidgin English and give them your height in centimeters. Guaranteed they’ll give you a blank stare and get out of Dodge immediately! Just some thoughts!


    • LOL! That would have worked great … if I’d been able to pull off a convincing voice. Let’s hear it for Croaky McDeepvoice! Sigh …

  • Incident 1: no, you present as female and he responded accordingly.
    Incident 2: she embarrassed herself. She stated a fact and was shown to be wrong in front of a stranger and she had to recover. And she couldn’t.

    Incident 1 was positive and should be affirming. You’ll get a lot of that. Incident 2 was her problem ~ if YOU had approached HER and said “what do you think of this?” while holding something up or commented on how pretty what she just got was, it probably would have had a different outcome.

    You’re doing fine.

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence. And I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, but I do.

      On the bright side, I got a “Miss” the next day, so the goods have doubled over the bads!

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