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Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Minor Sexist Irks

While talking with someone today, I was reminded of something sexist that happened to me a little over thirty years ago.  It’s not all that important, but I remember how it irked me at the time, so I decided to share it here, just for the hell of it.

Early in 1981, I gave birth to my one and only child.  During my stay at the hospital, I was asked to give the information for my son’s birth certificate.   They didn’t give me much flak for having a surname different from my then-husband, because the format was to fill out the mother’s name with her “maiden” name, anyway.

Rather unexpectedly, the problem came with filling out the category for “occupation”.  At the time of my son’s birth, I was unemployed, because I’d given up my most recent job when I got to a certain point in my pregnancy.  It wasn’t a big deal, as the job wasn’t one I cared about staying with, in any instance.  I intended to get another once my son was around two or three months old.

When I told them I was unemployed, they put me down as a “housewife”.  Considering that I was not the one solely responsible for cooking and cleaning and other such duties, and that my unemployment was only temporary, I corrected them.  They told me they couldn’t put me down as unemployed.  I countered by asking what they would have listed my husband as if he didn’t have a job.  Would they list him as a “househusband”?  They said, no, he’d be listed as unemployed.  That’s when it hit the fan for me.

But no matter how much I objected, they refused to list me as unemployed.  The only concession I got from them was to change the word “housewife” to “homemaker”, as I wasn’t married to a house.  Never mind that my husband, who came from a large family, could both cook and clean better than I could at the time.

I know it’s not very important in the grand scheme of things, but it must have been important to them if they insisted so adamantly not to do as I’d requested.

I’d be curious to know if any women who have given birth more recently have ever encountered anything like this before.

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