Friday, August 23, 2019

Let’s Talk: She’ll have a sleeve

April 3, 2019 by Katy Weicker, staff writer

Allow me to set the scene: my boyfriend and I are out for dinner with my family at a low-key sit-down place that has us seated in the kid-friendly corner thanks to my teeny-tiny nephew. As we’re finishing up our meals, a man and a woman walk in with four young kids (three boys and a girl) and are seated in the booth next to us. 

The man and the three boys (all wearing clothing with hockey logos of some kind on them) pile into one side of the booth, and the woman and the girl sit on the other side.  

A few minutes later, the waiter walks over to them and asks for their drink orders. The man orders for himself and the kids and then says, “And she’ll have a beer,” motioning to the woman. (This catches my attention mostly because it’s a pet peeve of mine when a man orders for a woman; I know this was once considered chivalrous, but now it, honestly, feels condescending.) 

The waiter turns to the woman and starts listing off the types of beer they have. The man then interjects and tells him what kind she would like. (Okay, see this right here is why I find this condescending.)

Let’s Talk? is a column exploring women’s rights issues; it’s in every issue of Nexus.

The waiter then asks the woman what size she would like, to which the man replies, “She’ll have a sleeve.”

Now, at this point, my boyfriend’s hand squeezes my own, because he knows I’m freaking cringing on the inside. I shake my head and mutter, “I just cannot.”

For the next week, every time I’m asked to make a decision in my boyfriend’s presence, he interjects with, “She’ll have a sleeve.” And every time I have to explain my threat of death to the poor unsuspecting person who has asked me a question. And, as much as it’s now become a bit of an inside joke between us, it still irritates the shit out of me, because somewhere there is a group of little boys who are learning that it’s not only acceptable but encouraged to answer on behalf of a woman, and there’s a little girl who’s being shown that men’s voices hold more authority than her own. 

I know a man ordering for a woman seems like such a little thing, but children learn from our examples, and we need to set good ones—no matter how small—if we want them to grow up in an equal world, where all voices matter.

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