Even Women’s Studies Majors Get Caught Up In Gender Misnomers…
So, at work I was chatting with a customer over the bar as I finished their drink. Once I finished and gestured to hand it over, I said “here you go, sir” assuming, at glace, that they were a man.
“I’m a girl,” she responded.
I immediately apologized and she said “It’s okay, I get it a lot.” She was really sweet about it…but I still felt extremely embarrassed because I’ve come to understand, through my studies, that performed gender is obsolete, and that it really doesn’t matter in the end; yet I probably say “Thank you, Ma’am” or “Thank you, Sir” at least twenty times a day, and to nearly every person I interact with.
I feel lucky that this person was so forgiving, but I can’t help but feel remorse; you never know what kind of situation someone is going through as far as forming their identity, and I can’t help but feel like I made this person’s day a little more complicated, made her feel less comfortable in a world that is so bent on naming and labeling at first sight, when identity is in fact such a personal thing and others do not really have the right to define who you are.
As alternative as my beliefs are, I still play a pretty “normative” role in this social reality, both for being white and for being (seemingly) heterosexual (at least enough to make people THINK I am). And, even as someone who sticks their nose in pretty socially adaptive discourse, it’s a whole new story when you find yourself in the pickle I was in.
Above all, this has reminded me of the praxis of my major, and that I must begin lacerating myself from the normative language I’ve been conditioned with. True implementation of this wonderful discourse starts with the eradication of limiting language in even the the smallest social interactions - even something as seemingly mundane as handing someone a blended drink.