Having It Too Easy as a Girl

I tend to think the best of people. Overall, I think strangers are more friendly more often than they’re not, and if you give them a smile, you’ll get one back. I tend to think that with most store employees and the lot, if you’re friendly, they’ll be friendly and helpful in return. It was only recently that I learned I might just be horribly naive.
A male friend of mine was talking about how the mailroom guy on campus was so grouchy. “He gives you this glare and doesn’t say a word even when you say hi,” he said.
I was surprised. “I’ve seen him smile and say hi.”
My friend rolled his eyes. “Well of course. You’re a girl.”
I protested, but as I interacted with him again and again I realized that the mailroom guy was just nice to girls. And it was the same with the post office workers, the cafeteria workers, and a handful of other strangers I interact with on a regular basis. Before you think I’m padding my own ego and saying I’m smoking hot, let me assure you, it wasn’t just me. People are just more likely to treat a girl politely, to smile and be more helpful.
At first I thought, What luck! Girls can finally enjoy something about being a girl! But as the overactive-feminist part of my brain worked on this new idea, I liked it less and less.
I don’t want special treatment because I’m looking feminine, and in particular, I don’t want this kind of special treatment. It seems too much like men feel like they have to coddle me, to help me out with things because I’m too weak or stupid to figure it out myself. Hence, the post office worker’s painstakingly slow explanation of how the automatic stamp machine works. I noticed he let a man just work the machine himself, but he felt it necessary to do every step for me. This is killing me with kindness if ever I’ve seen it.
Still, I can’t decide if it’s just one of those things I should enjoy about being a girl, or if I should be getting all hot and bothered about it. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly interaction. Why not smile at someone and get a smile in return? But the friendly feeling that comes with an interaction sours a little if I think that I’m getting this treatment just because I’m a girl. It’s just one of those pesky, small things that makes me feel like a little less than an individual.
So while there’s nothing wrong with friendliness, I feel like I should assert myself a little more in interactions with strangers. If somebody tries to do something for me again, the next time I should step up and say, “Thanks, but no thanks — I can handle it myself.” After all, I am a woman.

The Love List: Boots, Beer and Books
The Love List: Boots, Beer and Books
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