We hurried down the sidewalk, fixated on the front door of the coffee shop. Our pace was quickened on what would have normally been a leisurely Saturday; it’s difficult to linger outside when it feels as though the cold air is causing icicles to form in your lungs.
The wonderful smell of coffee greeted us, and patrons were sitting down, most of whom had shed their many layers of defence from this bitter winter.
I ordered a coffee – my usual brewed “whatever is available”, and I asked my partner if he wanted anything.
“No, I’m alright,” he said as he browsed the desserts on display. “Ooo but hey, you should make brownies later.”
The woman behind the counter, without skipping a beat, raised an eyebrow while intently staring at Brent and stated “YOU should make brownies later.”
Discomfort quickly set in, Brent replied about me saying how I had been talking about baking muffins tonight and that he was simply asking if I could make those instead, and we were back out on the icy sidewalk, coffee in hand, in a matter of minutes.
I awkwardly laughed it off in the coffee shop, but as with most interactions throughout my day, I played the conversation over in my head, and the uncomfortable feeling quickly turned into annoyance.
I thought about the environment, her expression, and the tone she used. Had she said that because Brent (a man) made a comment about me (a woman) in regards to me baking him something? If I was with a female and that comment was said, would the same words have left her mouth? Or rather, if I had said that to him? Would she have still injected herself into the private conversation that took place after I had paid?
I thought about the state of the present world and the fight for gender equality. As a sociology student and feminist, I have given a lot of thought over the years as to how society shapes us into gender roles, and the ensuing battles that women face and are very much still fighting today. I thought about every time I’ve experienced sexism, whether it was in the workplace (too many to count over the years) or in my personal life. I thought about how some people don’t believe sexism exists at all, and the number of times I’ve faced-palmed when I’ve heard feminism spoken of like it’s a dirty word. I thought about how entirely exasperated I felt at the thought of once again having to explain that yes, we are much closer at equality than we once were, but my god, do we have aways to go, and no, just because you don’t experience it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Then I thought about Brent. I thought about how I feel as though I have found a partner; an equal. I thought about first meeting him, learning his viewpoints and realizing that I had found someone both caring and respectful. I thought about the talks we’ve had on sexism and racism (which have been plentiful, thanks to the horrendous leader of the country just below us.) I thought about the dinner he had made me the night before – or the night before that – or before that. I thought about how if I were to think of someone sexist, someone who believed gender roles should be upheld, that he would be the farthest person from that.
In this world, where we are still fighting to be heard, where we one day envision a society where kindness is valued over looks; where we could not only give our children the same opportunities, but the same tools to get there; where we could see a woman in charge as a beacon of strength, without the impression of her “being a bitch”; where we dream of everyone being viewed as complete and utter equals, regardless of the genitals or skin colour they happen to be born with; in this world, I understand the quick judgement we experienced today.
But also, in this world, I have learned to not always take things at face value. A comment, a glance, an act between two people – it may be something, it may mean something, but it also may certainly mean nothing. Sometimes, the only way to know, is to see the whole picture.
So, please remember, that as we fight this good fight, yes, we are all in this together, and yes, I do appreciate the help, but sometimes, as in today……
He really did just want a brownie.