Tag Archives: mansplaining

On being patronized


studio tees Creative Commons via Flicker

I’m a 4’11” tall, aging female. EVERYONE talks down to me, necessarily. However, I am also multi-degreed, with wide and varied experience and a history of accomplishments I could brag about but probably won’t get a chance to because you will be busy telling me how to tie my shoes or wipe my nose or do anything.

Because I’m a short female with grey hair and I must, of course, know nothing.

Of course, I’ve been short all my life. I was saddened when I recently had my knees replaced. They did both at the same time and I asked the doc if he could just make me an inch taller – instead he shortened me. If I lose any more height I will qualify for a car seat. It isn’t easy being taken seriously at this height. I have trouble dressing for success, I can’t wear high heels with my MS, I’m overweight, and I try to be friendly, all things which somehow make my competence seem in doubt.

(Interestingly, wearing a push-up bra somehow adds dozens of points to my IQ when talking with men. Or at least they act that way. Honestly, were none of my age group breastfed adequately?)

After years of being patronized or ignored, I’ve gotta admit it’s a bit of a sore spot with me. People probably don’t realize this, but if you patronize me more than once, you are dead to me. Dead. Of course I won’t actually kill you, but I WILL put you in a story and make unpleasant things happen to your character. It’s only fair.

There must be something about my face. In the last little while people have offered to get Jesus to heal me (Jesus and I have talked and I told him he has bigger fish to fry), told me how to facilitate a group (something I’ve been doing for over 20 years), and offered to “help” me with all sorts of things I can perfectly do well enough myself (mainly by telling me how).

It’s frustrating. I don’t want to go around shouting about my brain being the size of the universe, like Marvin in the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy– mainly because I think everyone has a brain the size of the universe. But I am frequently tempted to have my qualifications tattooed on my body so when people helpfully explain things I’ve studied for years, I can just whip out that piece of flesh and wave it at them. (Given my overweight status, I have enough flesh for the full assortment.)

It’s bad enough that at my height I can’t use half the cupboards in my kitchen, have to drive with my chest pressed against the steering wheel, have to ask for help to reach things in the grocery store. Is it absolutely necessary to also treat me like a child, just because I’m the size of one?

Honestly. I think I’m going to have to go and pout.

Note: please don’t write and tell me how to deal with my anger. I KNOW how, ergo not in jail. I’d be perfectly calm if everyone would just stop explaining things I already know in the tones of an elementary school teacher.

Photo by Luku00e1u0161 Dlutko on Pexels.com

On aging, and gradually disappearing


432af0eea731d117bf5ac6181eea87abI missed my 40th high school reunion this past weekend. I was sorry not to see the gang, the people who had known me BEFORE – people who might have the memories I have lost over the years, the ones I dig for but can’t retrieve, unless I have them in photographs.

I’ve lost the old times, but now, since my MS has led me to retire early, I am seemingly losing form and shape of more recent years. I have people explain things to me as if I didn’t know about them – as if I hadn’t led a life of great activity in the work world, short though it was.

It’s hard when you see grey-haired, frazzled old me to imagine what I used to be – a nurse in a burn unit; a prenatal teacher; a home visiting nurse who saw people in dirt-floored houses; a campaigner for the NDP; an initiator of programs to benefit people’s health; a published writer and advocate; the woman who writes for Amnesty every year; the one who studied health policy amongst the socialists of the LSE and epidemiology amongst a team of students from around the world through the LSHTM. Someone who has travelled the world and read about places, read thousands of books, made hundreds of creative things, met with and engaged with thousands of people, one to one or in small groups, working to effect change for the positive.

Nope, people see me, the gal with the big words, the round tummy, the uncontrollable cartoon-happy-smiling-old-lady-senior-citizen-pink-dress-46821182hair.

I sometimes feel like screaming, “Look, look! It’s ME in here!” But, realistically, this happens to us all. I have a good friend whose life has led him all over Africa and to the depths of New Brunswick. I cherish the well-roundedness this life has given his thoughts and opinions. But to the outside, he is an older man, retired. He and I shuffle together. No one knows what fierce hearts beat or have beaten under our admittedly aging skins.

I have wonderful other friends whose lives would fill a book with adventures, but whose adventures I barely know, taken up as we are with the day to day lives of now. There’s a hesitancy in sharing as life experiences are so different, and what may just be talking may sound like bragging. I’ve had a privileged life; many others haven’t.

One of my sons worked on a project to go with people as they transitioned from home to care. It would tell the caregivers who that person was, how they liked their tea, what their background was, so they wouldn’t have to tell everyone over and over again what they did or were or valued. It would be like a much more informative nametag.

I like that idea, but the question is, who would read it? Would the busy care workers care that I once ran for the NDP nomination? Would they want to know about my poverty needs assessments that guided the development of services in Kingston, ON? Would they care that I change my preference for tea from time to time? Probably not.

And so we age and gradually diminish, becoming creatures of the present.

Unless. Unless we don’t go quietly into that good night. Unless we stick our necks out, risk things, do something new. Thats my plan.

the-powerpuff-girls

My heroes. AKA the Persistently Annoyed

I feel like Rhoda Morgenstern on the old old TV show, who shouted, “New York, this is your last chance!” Time for me to throw my hat in the air, and even if it falls to the ground, pick it up and keep on going.