Facing casual sexism & prejudice

When it comes to DIY projects, apparently it’s ok for women to do scrapbooking, but it isn’t ok to handle ‘manly’ projects.

Well, that applies to many other things, not just DIY projects. Unfortunately.

Let me tell you about my latests experiences…

I’ve mentioned this before because it’s so exciting to me. Actually, I talk about it as often as I can, to the point where I might annoy a few:

I’m renovating, with my dad, his vintage motorcycle! It’s a 741B Indian Scout motorcycle. He bought it when he was 19 and dismantled it when he got married to my mom. Now we are giving it much needed TLC and completely renovating it.

A gal and her Indian Scout 741B
A few months back, that’s what it looked like! Now it’s in kit form!

It’s a motorcycle! There isn’t anything more ‘manly’ than that. Maybe not even cars!? It requires mechanical expertise I do not possess. It’s dirty, messy, greasy, heavy… It’s all done in a garage, which is pretty much a man cave!

It isn’t a typical DIY project. It sure isn’t like anything I’ve done before. I consider it as a great adventure actually!

The issue is that if I was a man who had embarked into such an adventure, I would not receive the comments I get, no matter how inexperienced I was.

Casual sexism is everywhere…

Well, humm… that’s a bit difficult, you should let a professional handle...

Are you sure you can do this? It’s… humm… complicated, you know. I’m saying this for you. I don’t want you to be disappointed by the result...

It’s not in my best interest to say this. I should let you buy this, but I really just want to help and not let you buy something you won’t be able to use…

Casual sexism barely hides behind well intentioned advises given by most hardware stores or other specialized stores’ employees. It’s often no so much about what they say, but how they say it.

If a man ask for advise, they tend to consider him as most likely knowledgable in tools and products and therefore provide additional specific advises.

If a woman ask for advise, they tend to consider her as most likely absolutely incompetent in all technical fields and therefore provide very basic advices, if they don’t try to deter her from trying it at all.

No wonder I try to buy online, as many things as I can. No one is judging me there. No one is telling me those gun sprays are too difficult to use. No one is telling me Are you sure you want this, it’s heavy… or it’s a complicated torch wrench to use, you know…

Ready to paint
Spray gun I got online. No comments there!

But it’s not just in hardware stores or other specialized stores. That would be too good to be true.

Well-meaning friends or family members can make casual sexism remarks too. Most of the time, they don’t even realize it.

How many times have I heard: your dad is doing all the work and you are just watching! Ha ha ha!!

Yeah, I’m not laughing… and you are an assh*le

Exemples are countless but you get the point. Men and women can be so prejudiced against women and what they can do, sometimes whiteout even realizing it. Most of time, they really should think, before they speak! That would be helpful.

There are a few exceptions

Luckily, there are exceptions! There are always exceptions!

For a start, I should mention my dad! He never doubted I could do it! Maybe he did, but he never said anything showing it.

There are other people, especially in my family, who never doubted me. They know me and my determination. Or know better than to say sexist things to me. Not sure what applies.

Finally, I should also mention the person who is now selling me most of the parts I get for the bike (they haven’t been all like him). He is so helpful and so not judgmental. He enjoys the project, no matter who is handling it. It’s refreshing and reassuring to meet people like him. It gives hope.

Indian Scout 741 Carburetor before rebuilt - part 2 - www.RoadTripsaroundtheWorld.com
the carburetor before I took care of it entirely

Like many women, I’ve faced this all my life

Casual sexism is a plague. Like so many others, I’ve faced this all my life and can smell it a mile away.

My work is in a male dominated field and although I call myself lucky to have mostly met respectful and smart men & women, I also know that not all is what it seems. Not all is told in your face. Sometimes you find out later and are majorly disappointed.

Sexism can and will often drag you down. It makes you doubt yourself, it makes you shy away and can make you wish to disappear. Not to confront it, some of us prefer to retrieve to our shelves.

When you have other battles to deal with, you let it slip over you. It doesn’t completely slip though, because your skin & your soul is not perfectly sexism-proof. It leaves marks and bruises that affect you.

Sometimes you fight. You call out the person for what they are. You risk being treated as an hysterical b*tch to try to make them understand. It’s usually a lost cause.

Sometimes you gather with others to feel stronger together. You march, you discuss, you try to find solutions, ways to educate people, ways to make them change their attitudes. It’s a long road.

At this point in my life, I chose a slightly different path: I’ll just prove them wrong! I will finish restoring my dad’s bike. I will take it on road trips.

Will it actually work? The bike, yes it will! The strategy? Most likely not because the people who want to doubt me, will continue to doubt me. Some will continue to say that my dad did all the work. Some will probably criticize the result or anything they can. It’s actually their problem, not mine.

At that point, I’ll still probably fight a bit, sound like an hysterical b*tch for a minute or 2 and then I’ll leave them behind, their voice covered by the roars of my Indian, as I ride off to new adventures! 😉

*I know it won’t happen like that, but let me dream a bit, please!