Okay, previously it has been amusing, but now I am just frustrated. Since I became a woman, no one takes me seriously!
Last week I was in my Denver bike shop when a summer employee offered his assistance. I asked if an aging Gary Fisher Hi-Fi Deluxe frame could flex enough with age to cause a rear disk break to rub. The young man began to explain why rear disc brakes usually rub. I told him I know why rear disk brakes usually rub; that wasn’t my question. I was asking if an aging aluminum frame could flex too much. He proceeded to tell me that my brakes needed to be adjusted periodically. I told him I knew that, and in fact did my own adjustments. He said the rotor was probably bent. I told him the rotor was not bent; I had checked it. I said, “I was not asking if my rotor was bent. I was asking about frame flex.” With condescension he replied, “Well ma’am, what do you want me to do?” I said, “I want you to answer my question.”
Finally the owner of the shop stepped in. He said, “Yes, that is more than likely exactly what is happening. Are you only getting a chirp when you pull hard uphill?” I told him I was, and he kindly explained that the problem was likely to continue until I got a new bike. The problem is frame flex caused by metal fatigue. That is all I wanted to know! But no!! Mr. Summer Employee had to treat me as though I had never been on anything but a flowered banana bike with a basket on the front bumper.
Evidently, I have become stupid. Estrogen has stripped my brain of the number of cells necessary to function as a full human, and now I must be “mansplained” to until the good Lord calls me home. Well, here is what is going to happen. The next male that mansplains to me is going to be prematurely called home. I am going to grab him by his golf-shirted collar and lift him into the air like a side of beef. Then I am going to throw him against the wall and inform him in no uncertain terms that I know what the *$%# I am talking about, and that if he doesn’t know the answer to his question, he needs to admit it. Then I will tell him that admitting I might know more than he knows will not make his penis shrink; it will just make him human.
So there is a deeper problem developing. The more I am told I don’t know what I am talking about, the more I question whether or not I do, in fact, know what I am talking about! I understand a woman’s tendency to doubt herself. After millennia of being told they didn’t know better, it is hard for women to realize that they almost always KNOW BETTER.
I do not claim membership in the club of cisgendered women, those who have unfortunately been subjected to this mansplaining madness since their earliest days. In fact, according to a reliable source, my former wife, I was guilty of mansplaining. What I do know is that after several years as Paula, I am amazed, completely amazed, at the way I am routinely treated by men.
Most men have no idea I am transgender. Unless they know my story, they assume I am a tall post-menopausal woman. In other words, I am of no interest whatsoever to them. I may as well be a frog on a log, croaking into the night.
I wrote on Facebook about my experience at the bike shop and received over one hundred responses. I think three or four were from men. The rest were from women, most of whom have decided to ignore the incessant mansplaining and just move on.
To all of you who knew me as Paul, I AM SO SORRY if I ever mansplained to you. I owe you a great debt of gratitude for not baking me a pie with ingredients that included organic matter.
As for the owner of the bike shop who finally answered my question, God bless you, my son. God bless you and your children and your children’s children. May your family rise up and call you blessed.
And so it goes…
9 thoughts on “Just Frustrated”
There there, honey . . you’re just feeling emotional . .
! ! ! JUST KIDDING ! ! !
Seriously, thank you, Paula, for this important testimony to — and calling out of — my team’s (white-cis-US-male) standard behavior from the still-new standpoint (and CAN’T-STAND-IT-point) where you now find yourself. You’re freshly exploring and reporting on territory that’s both across a transition zone and also through a rabbit hole into a dimension of unprivilege, where the insanity of sexism (and every -ism) refracts in ways that could be momentarily comic if it all weren’t also life-destroying.
IMHO there’s a problem right there, at least for a LOT of us males, which shows up in our rape culture as a whole.
We males internalize fears and assumptions that expansion and therefore “power” in that genital department goes with relating male -to- female (at least to some degree) as Superhuman -to- subhuman. Conversely, we internalize fear of what Seinfeld forever labeled “shrinkage” with exactly that option of vulnerably participating in life with females (and with ALL persons & gender identities) simply in the mode of co-human -to- co-human.
I think we need both prophetic preaching and practices of mutual accountability which are aimed right at that crux, in all senses of the word.
Power to you, sister! Rock on!
P.S. Some of us guys might possibly be adding on an extra layer of obnoxiousness due to unhealed envy over having never dared to ride — or having never even dared to WISH to ride — a flowered banana bike with a basket.
I will wait now for an outpouring of emotional scar-softening sympathy from both cis and trans women everywhere on that score. 😉
What got left out between the quotes before “IMHO” was . .
“Then I will tell him that admitting I might know more than he knows will not make his penis shrink; it will just make him human.”
PPS. Apparently it was too big of a challenge for me to simply say “thanks for the on-point post” without adding whole paragraphs of mansplaining! 😀
Oh, you are too funny!
Paula, you have identified a big problem for both males and females. As you know, men are brought up to “lead”, to “know”. Not to is to fail as a man.
Women in the past were not encouraged to be exposed to technical things like metallurgy, strain hardening or tyre pressure.
And males grow up to be good little men and females grow up to be good little women. Yet, someone who has walked both sides of the gender street can see the problems such social straightjacketing causes.
In male mode I’m sure I play the expert. In female mode I see a little more widely and am embarrassed at this approach.
But there are a lot of characteristics encouraged in women but frowned on in men.
And from my joint perspective this limits all of us. We are all less than we could be because the world decides that if you’re born male, put on blue and act like this, while if you’re female, the pink ones are over there and act accordingly.
So if in male mode I meet a woman asking about material science and I don’t know, I’ll try not to bullshit. I’ll simply tell her to buy a new bike.
Thanks for your unique insights Paula.
You had a bit more patience than i would have had. I the New yorker would have told him if he kept it up i would be putting that old frame where the sun didnt shine.
I’m sure you would have Fran. No doubt about it!
Wow, this is one of my totally favorites of all time. When I have talked to transgender individuals on ANY subject I have always been humbled by those who have lived on both sides…I’ve only been a girl, female, woman so I really react when treated in a condescending manner. And I”m old. Being in my sixties, I too feel invisible often these days. But you ARE far more patient than I…good for you. I am still trying to learn to turn the other cheek…but dang, it’s just SO HARD! Thanks for a wonderful essay
Thank you so much Rebecca. And of course, you worked in one of the more misogynistic professions, where age treats males far more kindly than females. Males have no idea how bad it is.