I should begin by stating that I may be overtly sensitive to these types of situations, but what I'm about to describe was what any eyewitness would see, not my personal account of the event.  Joel can verify - he was there.

I'm always interested in seeing what pops up on Craigslist - mainly the furniture section, the pets section, and the "Best Of" section.  Yesterday I noticed an ad for a baker's rack that I thought was just gorgeous.  Wrought-iron, with glass shelves, wine rack, and a stone countertop.   I e-mailed the owner and asked about a price, as they did not have the asking price listed.  I received a very brief e-mail back stating that the owners were in the middle of a move, but I was welcome to call to come look at it.

I called the woman, and she was about to go to work but said her husband might be willing to be around to let me come see the rack.  I agreed and we set a time to meet.  The time came, and Joel and I hopped in the car to go inspect the rack, with every intention of buying.  We came to the house, and after knocking on the door several times, no one answered.

We were about to leave when a small car drove up and parked alongside the house.  A male, mid-thirties, climbed out of the car.  I immediately smiled and said, "Hi, how are you?" and he returned with, "How are you folks doing?" as he was walking up the driveway.  I was standing by my car, and Joel was standing near the edge of the driveway near the grass -- so the man needed to go through the space between us to get to his house. 

The man walked directly up to Joel - not even a LOOK in my direction - and shook his hand and said, "How are you sir, what's your name?"  Joel answered back, and the guy continued walking to the house and brushed past me.  Once he passed me, I held up my arms like, "Uh, HELLO?" and Joel looked over and shrugged.  He fully realized I had just been ignored. 

Then, we went inside to inspect the baker's rack, and I was the one who felt it, leaned down to look at it, and handed the guy the cash.  We started to take off the glass panels to put in the boxes for transport, and the guy took the glass from me (I was helping take it off) and said, "Hey, Joel, if you don't mind, if you want to hold the box here, I'll put the glass in."  Once again I thought, am I even standing here?  I brought the box of glass panels to the car, and I turned around to carry the rack out, but Joel and the man were already moving to the car with it. 

We climbed in the car and Joel turns to me and says, "Well, where do you want to eat, chopped liver?"  I smirked and said, "Yeah, no kidding.  Was I invisible?"

Unfortunately, this type of similar behavior has happened to me before (even at a business meeting, most unfortunately).  I don't know if it is the area of the country where I am living, the type of people who live here, just weird coincidences, or something else, but hot damn, I have never felt less empowered, more invisible, and less valued as a woman since I started living here. 

What is most sickening is that Joel and I study these sorts of things -- very subtle behaviors - such as non-acknowledgment in a meeting - and the further employment ramifications through things like performance appraisal and resulting compensation decisions from a psychological framework.  I know how these things add up; this is what I have dedicated much of my academic career to.  It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach when I am no longer reading it on paper, but instead, experiencing it in real time, in March of 2009, in a country that has taken great strides in many areas, but still has people that refuse to acknowledge a woman simply because she is in the presence of another man.

 


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