Posted by: unhcragd | March 15, 2009

It Begins With Me

The tagline for our recent International Women’s Day event was about men and women united for gender equality;  it begins with Me…  it begins with You…  it begins with Us. 

I had an opportunity to see how this really works… how it really begins with Me the other day when I ran smack into my own gender prejudice – or at least my own gender socialization.  
I went to UNHCR’s clinic for an aspirin and at the reception window stood a youngish man in a tie with folders in his hand and two older women sat at desks behind him.  I was aware that I shouldn’t naturally look behind the man to the women for reception information although he certainly was sending signals that he was NOT the person of whom I should ask small questions- avoiding my eye contact completely.  
Well, I had a headache and I caved  – I didn’t ask the man with the folders, I was relieved to be “received” by the women who were more than happy to tell me the nurse was down the hall.  
This tells me we are all in on this gender thing.  Even if the man is an “important” person in the hierarchy of the clinic – why should he not answer questions??  I am sure he knows the procedure – or at least where the nurse is.  These little interactions where we all reinforce our prejudices are the most important, I think, in shifting that prejudice satellite just a bit until equality comes in with a clear signal.  
Q. What experiences have you had where you realized you were being gender prejudiced?

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