I took my wife’s car in for a way overdue oil change yesterday. She had taken it in the last time sometime in early Spring of this year and had gotten ripped off. She drives a Subaru, nothing fancy, but they had talked her into a gouge around the oil type and “extra” services needed for a 4×4. She was so rattled by being bullied into paying extra and my frustration about the situation she never went back. When I went, I was asked if I just wanted an oil change and firmly declined all additional services. I was not charged or upsold a 4×4 package.
While my external appearance is shifting, I still present fairly male when out and about; long hair, earrings and women’s clothing notwithstanding. The stubble and voice still override any other gender cues. I also find that I’m more alpha male when interacting with men in public that I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it’s a protective mechanism.
I’m walking down a hallway at work a few weeks ago, round a corner, and nearly knock down a female coworker. She apologies to me.
At some point, I’m sure this isn’t going to work any more for me. I’ll either be unbelievable and get laughed at or, more likely, get hostility in return for being “bitchy”. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with either of those situations yet.
I’m in a business meeting over a decade ago with the woman I’ve recruited to be the CEO of the company I founded and introduce her as the CEO. I get asked the first question, and continually have to deflect things over to her.
It’s hard. Letting go of years of accumulated social cues and behaviors is rocky and makes people uncomfortable because I’m not behaving they way they expect me to. People who don’t behave as socially expected immediately generate anxiety in others. You can even see the mental gears turning sometimes.
I’m at my high-scool prom in a hotel room consoling a friend because his angry and upset date just left. I try to explain to him that just because he bought her dinner, took her to the dance and rented a room doesn’t mean he should expect sex in return. I’m not sure he understands.
Some of the male facade I’m finding easy to drop. Using more emotional language in general conversation. Letting my body move the way it wants to. Adding more color to my wardrobe.
The male/female ratio at work meetings ranges from 5/1 to 20/1. I notice the women often get talked over and usually aren’t included in follow-up hallway conversations.
Other parts are harder because I’m not even cognizant they’re there and don’t know where to begin to look to remove them.
I inherit a small team at work a few years ago after reviews and bonuses were set, and while the women aren’t grossly underpaid compared to the men on base pay, I discover they do get lower bonuses and raises.
On the other side of the coin, I have to simultaneously juggle the shifting set of privileges that are accruing.
I think I’m seeing more genuine smiles from female co-workers when I smile at them. Maybe I’m being more genuine?
But it does make me feel like I’m a quadruple agent, which has its own privileges.
I’m wearing one of my new favorite women’s sweaters and having a good hair day a couple of weeks ago. A co-worker says I look like a rock star.