A Thousand Tiny Sexist Papercuts

Is it “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” or “Keep Calm and Carry On”?

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

I am #blessed to be a healthy, happy, employed adult woman who lives on planet earth. But lately, I keep catching glimpses of myself in the mirror only to see my face furrowed into a deep frown. I’ve been irritable and tired and have been wearing yoga pants far too often.

Has something terrible or tragic happened? Have I been perseverating on past traumas? Do I have an undiagnosed gluten allergy?

I don’t think so. But now that you mention it, I have had a couple of things on my mind lately…

My school recently decided to purchase new jackets with our logo on them for the entire staff.

“Are there women’s sizes?” I asked, when filling out the form.

Nobody knew if the jackets came in women’s sizes which means they definitely don’t come in women’s sizes.

“They are probably unisex sizes,” someone guessed.

Let’s be real: unisex sizes are men’s sizes that women fit into in order to be one of the team.

Thanks for the jacket that I will have wear with the sleeves rolled up like a junior high kid borrowing his dad’s suit jacket.

During a camping trip last summer, my two-year-old son woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I helped him climb over my husband and our dog so we could unzip the tent and head out into the woods for a ‘nature pee.’

“Mom, look at the moon! It’s so pretty!”

I was squatting several feet away with my chin firmly against my chest as I tried to keep my balance and also not get pee on my socks. I was not admiring the moon.

I twisted my neck to glance at my son as he took a leak. He had one hand on his hip and was holding his penis with the other hand, swirling it around to make his stream of pee arc and dance in the moonlit night. He looked as cool as a Kennedy or or a cowboy in a wild west movie.

And there I was, squatting and struggling just to keep my feet dry.

“So are you married, or what?” the father of one of my new students asked me. “Your email said Ms., but now I see a ring on your finger. What’s the deal?”

“Go fuck yourself,” I told him in my imagination.

In real life, I smiled and said, “I’m not sure what that has to do with teaching, but yes, I am married.”

My husband is a true gem and I am not at all ashamed to be married. But I choose to go by Ms., not Mrs. because I don’t think that the very first thing people learn about me should be whether I have a husband.

Earlier this month I sent out an email about a meeting I was going to be running at the non-profit organization where I volunteer. It was a quick email that included the meeting agenda, location and a few updates about items from the previous month’s meeting.

I got a reply from a fellow board member (who also happened to be a fellow himself):

“I always enjoy getting your emails. Your tone is so positive and chipper — I can picture your smiling face as I read them”

“How would you like your bags packed, ma’am?”

This is the question I always get from the bagger at the grocery store.

“You can pack them heavy. I’m stronger than I look,” I always joke. For real though, if I don’t say that, they put one or two items per bag and putting away groceries is like unwrapping stocking stuffers.

I went grocery shopping with my husband. Here’s what they said to him when we were cashing out:


As I pushed the cart to the car, I noticed that they bags were fully loaded — nice and heavy, just the way I like them.

I had to renew my driver’s license last month. My state has a new enhanced drivers license option that allows you to get on planes more easily. In anticipation of this, I brought my social security card and my birth certificate with me. My passport recently expired, but I thought the former were somewhat of a gold standard when it comes to identification.

“Ohhhh, sorrrrrrryyyyyy…” I was told.

I changed my name when I got married, so I would have to find my state-issued marriage certificate and present that as well to get the new type of license.

Funny though, my credit card still has my maiden name, and the DMV didn’t think twice about swiping it to take my money so that I could pay for my regular, old, non-enhanced license.

My friends and family have often accused me of being an awkward hugger. And that’s with people I want to hug.

Several times throughout the year, I go to events where I see people who I’m friendly with, but not really friends with.

I’d love a nice strong handshake, but more often than not, I’m wrapped up in a big tight hug.

Men love shaking each others’ hands, but for the love of god, they do not want to shake a woman’s hand. Nice men that I really like, who believe in equality and birth control and all that will reach for my outstretched hand, and pull me in for a quick hug so that I’m left with the smell of their deodorant in my nostrils for the rest of the night.

I know this one guy who knows I don’t like hugs, and when I see him, he shakes the hands of the men we are with, hugs the other women and then gives me this super awkward high five where he grasps my hand in the air and makes really intense eye contact with me. Thanks?

I got a real papercut today. There’s nothing sexist about it, it’s just something that happened. I was passing out papers and I just whipped the top one off the stack a little too fast.

A thin line of blood formed in that flap of skin between my thumb and my index finger and one of my students volunteered to go to the nurse and get me a bandaid.

Just ten hours later, the cut has almost disappeared. By tomorrow, I will have almost forgotten about it. And next week, I’ll probably get another one.

There are people who suffered far more than I did today — severed limbs, car accidents, medical procedures.

And while I empathize with them sincerely, it doesn’t mean I like getting papercuts.

Big fan of good books, funny looking animals, and great stories. Always ready for the next big thing.

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