Dear Domina Jen,
I have a rather random question. At many restaurants and upscale venues, the waiter will generally defer to the man when serving a couple. He will hand the man the wine list, pour it for the man to taste it, he will automatically hand the bill to the man, etc. Does this bother you, and if so, how do you deal with it? How do you deal with sexism in wait staff’s attitudes.
Um, sexism? That’s a strong word.
No, it doesn’t bother me. I honestly just don’t care. If I want to place the wine order, all I have to do is tell the waiter I’ll do it. If I’m going to pay the bill, all I have to do is tell the waiter to give it to me when he attempts to hand it to the man I’m with.
But honestly, stuff like that just doesn’t bother me. I mean, traditionally, yes, waitstaff tends to defer to the man. But the dude is just doing his job. He doesn’t know by looking at us that I’m the one in charge. And I don’t intend to tell him.
And for the record, people are always going to make their own assumptions about what they see. A couple weeks ago, Kazander, Star, and I went out to dinner at a nice place. After the hostess sat us, a busboy type man came and asked us if we were expecting anyone else, or if he could remove the extra place setting. We said no, it was just the three of us.
The man looked to Kazander, grinned, and said, “Oh, lucky guy.”
I thought it was amusing as hell. And I mean, maybe that’s what most people think when they see a man with two attractive women. I don’t know. Never paid attention.
And I didn’t bother to correct the man. Because why? What’s the point?
Should a comment like that have been made at a place like the one we were in? Probably not, that strikes me as more of Denny’s type comment. But again, who cares?
He’s hardly sexist for saying that. Unprofessional, maybe. But not sexist.
And a waiter deferring to the man is not sexist, either. There are plenty of things in this country that are sexist. A waiter doing what he’s trained to do is not one of those things.
Now, if I were to tell the waiter I’ll order the wine, and he were to ignore me and refuse to speak to me, and speak only to the man, that’s sexist.
I mean, I’ve literally never had that happen.
And I’m no stranger to sexism. I even have types of sexism I prefer. And interestingly enough, this came up just the other night when Kazander, Sounder and I had drinks together at a bar.
At one point, Kazander leaned over and showed me his phone, where he had written this paragraph about a guy standing behind Sounder, who kept staring at my rack. Apparently he was being obnoxious about it, and when Kazander gave him an “evil eye” or whatever, he just scoffed and kept right on staring.
On the way home he told me he was about to have Sounder stand up and the two of them create a “wall” to “protect me” from the “offensive staring.”
And then tonight, we were talking about breast feeding in public, which turned to men staring at women’s boobs. Which started what is now one of my favorite conversations ever.
Me: I can’t find fault with a man checking out a woman. Mostly because I do the same damn thing to men. And women.
K: Yeah, looking is absolutely fine.
Me: Weeeeellllll…… It wasn’t fine the other day at the bar. You had a serious problem with the guy at the bar.
K: That’s different.
Me: How is that different?
K: Because those are my boobs.
Me: I’m sorry, what did you just say?
K: I was kidding! I was kidding!
(I actually love his sense of humor, but that didn’t stop me from giving him a few good spanks)
Me: But seriously, why is it different?
K: Because he saw you with two men.
Me: He didn’t know I’m with either of you.
K: But that’s just being an asshole if you’re staring at a woman who’s out with guys. It’s safe to assume she’s with at least one of them.
Me: So checking out a single woman is okay?
K: Wait, I didn’t mean it like that.
He did go on to explain the difference between an appreciative glance or two, and the kind of obnoxious staring the bar guy was doing.
I mean, I didn’t notice. I noticed that Kazander was tense, but didn’t know why until he showed me his phone, telling me what the guy was doing.
When I read what he’d written, I just laughed and said, “You say that a) like it doesn’t happen all the time, and b) like I care.”
Let me explain something, ladies and gentlemen:
Exhibit A through 38F
People staring is nothing new. I literally don’t even register it anymore. If some asshole wants to reduce me to nothing but my impressive rack, then fine, whatever. I don’t care.
As long as he keeps his mouth shut and keeps his hands to himself, he’s completely invisible to me.
And with both Kazander and Sounder with me, if he had decided to not keep his mouth shut or keep his hands to himself, I have a sneaking suspicion he would’ve quickly come to regret that decision, and would’ve found himself seriously pondering the series of life choices that brought him to that particular moment.
Is that guy a sexist asshole? Eh… maybe.
I mean, it wouldn’t be sexist for Kazander or Sounder or Star or Steel or Southern to admire my tits (and as an aside, I just noticed that all the nicknames for my subs, excluding Kazander, start with S. Weird).
Apparently he was a jerk about it, so maybe he was a sexist asshole.
But between that guy and Kazander, wanna know who I was more annoyed with?
Well, not annoyed. That’s too strong a word. The one I rolled my eyes at was Kazander.
Because I’m not a child. I mean, there may be times when I legitimately need a knight in shining armor to come save me. Literally everyone does at some point in their lives.
Protecting me from some lonely drunk douchebag, that I literally didn’t even notice, is not something I need. I can hold my own. I can deal with it myself. I don’t need to be shielded from the bad man.
And we actually spoke about this a bit that night at the bar. I brought up that one of the areas I was interested in when I wanted to join the military as a teenager was the infantry. And I was immediately informed that women are not allowed to join the infantry.
I was given two reasons. And one, I don’t agree with necessarily, but I can understand. And that’s the fact that, if an average-sized man was injured, an average-sized woman may struggle to carry him to safety.
I was throwing around 100-lb bales of hay when I was 14 years old, so I called bullshit on that, but I’m also taller and broader and stronger than the average woman. I get it. It is a legitimate thing. I mean, it could easily be solved by height/weight minimums and rigorous physical testing, but whatever. I get it.
The second reason pissed me the fuck off, and I was so disgusted with the recruiter’s attitude, it turned me off to that entire branch of the military.
So here’s what he said, in a nutshell:
Imagine that you and a man were captured by the enemy. Your captors threaten to hurt you, or maybe they do more than just threaten. The man will feel compelled to protect you, because you’re a woman, and will more readily give up information.
Yeah sorry, that sounds like a you problem, not a me problem. If you’re incapable of seeing me as your equal, and must therefore protect me at all costs, that’s your problem.
If you can’t handle seeing a woman being hurt, and would choose me over an entire country, just to make yourself feel better, that’s your issue.
And that’s all it is. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of chivalry. I love being treated like a lady. I love when the man I’m with is a gentleman.
But (and this is just speculation) a war zone or POW camp really isn’t the place for that shit. And even if it was, being chivalrous is one thing. Being unable to see me as an adult is something else entirely.
One of the first big arguments I had with the ex just before Kazander was because he freaked out when I got into a fight with our 6’5″-ish roommate, and he slammed me against the wall.
I was holding my own. I could handle it. I knew he wasn’t going to full-on punch me (and even if he had, that would not have been the first time I’d been punched in the face by a man. Or the second. Or the third. When I was a martial arts instructor, I was expected to take all the same hits that my male coworkers were).
But my ex lost his shit, stuck his nose in where it wasn’t wanted (which I made very clear to him), and further complicated a situation that, while volatile, I had control of.
Later, I berated my ex for it. And the conversation went something like this (paraphrased, because this was a few years ago):
Him: You’re my Dominant. You’re the woman I love. It’s my job to protect you.
Me: Even when I tell you to stay out of it?
Him: I couldn’t let him hurt you.
Me: He wasn’t going to hurt me.
Him: I couldn’t take that chance.
Me: (Now pissed the fuck off) No, you don’t get to make that choice. It’s not yours to make. And you’re not going to take it from me. I didn’t give up my free will when I collared you. I told you I could handle it. I told you to stay out of it. You refused to respect my wishes. You refused to respect my decision.
Him: Because I didn’t want to see you hurt!
Me: Because you don’t see me as your equal. You don’t respect me as your equal. You see me as something fragile that must be protected. Had your brother or your best friend told you to stay out of it, you would’ve listened. I tell you to stay out of it, and you don’t. Because you don’t think I’m capable of handling it on my own.
It’s the same with the infantry POW scenario. It’s not my problem if a man can’t see me as his equal, and feels compelled to protect me from all the evil in the world. It’s not my problem if he can’t handle seeing a delicate, fragile thing get hurt. It’s not my problem if he decides to put me over the safety of everyone else in the unit or whatever.
That’s his weakness. Not mine. And if that’s the case, the recruiter was right. In that scenario, one of us should not be allowed to join the infantry. One of us should not be trusted with information that could affect the lives of many. One of us is too weak to do what needs to be done.
Quick, guess which one that is.
That’s the kind of sexism I hate. The sexism disguised as caring. I can handle the obnoxious assholes who stare at my tits. I can handle the loud and proud misogynists.
If I had to choose between being locked in a room with a vocal misogynist or a caring sexist, I’ll take the misogynist ten times out of ten.
And yeah, Kazander creating a wall to protect me from the bad man would’ve annoyed me. Because he doesn’t get to decide when and how I am protected. He doesn’t get to decide what situations I need to be shielded from. His comfort is not more important than mine. And his desires are not more important than mine.
Men have done that all throughout my life, and it never gets less annoying, and it never feels any less demeaning. It feels as if my decisions, my choices, my ability to handle any given situation doesn’t matter. He’s the big strong manly man, and he’s going to swoop in and make it better whether I want him to or not, because I’m just a girl, and I can’t handle it myself, and even if I say I can handle it, I must be wrong, because I’m just a girl, and I don’t understand the situation the way a man does.
Literally, guys. That’s literally what that feels like. Every single time.
You may think it’s harmless to want to protect the people you love, and yeah, it comes from a good place. It’s sweet. A guy feeling protective of me makes me feel loved. And when it’s wanted, it’s greatly appreciated.
But when the people you feel protective of don’t want it, and you’re forcing it on them anyway, you’re very literally telling them that they are not as important as you are, their choices and desires do not carry as much weight as yours do, and you don’t respect them enough to respect their decision, or their request that you not protect them.
Also, my body is mine. Not Kazander’s. Not Sounder’s. Not Star’s. You think I don’t know the reactions I get when I wear that top? You think I’m not aware?
I’m fucking aware, m’kay. Quite. There’s a reason why I own that top, plus two of the exact same, but in solid black.
I know how I look when I go out dressed like that. I know this and choose to dress like that because I’m okay with the reactions. I’m okay with the staring. I made the decision when I put that top on. It was my decision. Because it’s my body. Not his.
If I were to ask the man to stop staring, and if he were to refuse, then I would be okay with the wall, and whatever else Kazander and/or Sounder felt appropriate. But I didn’t.
For him to try and shield me, without stopping to get any input from me, shows that he feels entitlement of my body. Only the people he approves of are allowed to gaze upon my greatness. And only if he approves of the way they’re looking at me. My thoughts and opinions on the matter are irrelevant.
Yeah, no. I don’t work that way. Which I explained tonight. And Kazander understands now. He didn’t realize what he was doing and quickly apologized, promising to be more mindful in the future.
So I mean, sexism exists in a lot of places. There’s no shortage of it. I just don’t see the need to create it in situations where it doesn’t exist.