I went to watch the new movie “Wonderwoman” the other day. I can SO relate to her. One of the struggles many, if not most, women veterans have to deal with is that we are NOT helpless “girls.” If I offend any non-veteran women with this post – well GET OVER IT! I know there are many (non-veteran) women out there that pull double duty because of deadbeat fathers, but there are also lots of women out there who like to play the weaker species and have men do everything for them. Society seems to think that women “need” men to do things for us – things typically that fall under the “man chore” category – mowing the lawn, fixing the sink, changing a flat tire, lifting heavy stuff, etc. Most of the women I served with can do all those things for themselves. In the military, there really are no “men” duties and “women” duties. If it needs to get done, whomever is available just gets it done. After I left the military and finally ventured out into the world, this topic actually really affected me for 2 reasons. My first 6 years in the Navy I was a diesel mechanic on the ship. I know my way around an engine room, know the difference between fuel and oil, know what a manifold is and know the difference between different types of valves. Secondly, I spent much of my active duty time as a single parent so all those “man” chores were accomplished by yours truly. So here I was, new to the civilian world and when something needed to be done, I just did it. Of course I could have asked one of the many guys that I worked with but that wasn’t really an option. A woman in the military must NEVER appear to be weak in any area!! No, I don’t need your help, I can do anything you can do! So pretty much anything that normally a husband or boyfriend would take care of, I ended up doing it. Hell, I had a couple of husbands during my service and STILL had to do it!!
I own my own home now. I installed my own landscaping, made upgrades to the inside, replaced my garbage disposer unit, I can change my own flat tire, etc. I see posts on FB where women post for help mowing their yards, single women who got a flat tire and literally just sit in their cars waiting for someone to come save them! Oh I can’t even put into words how irritating that is for me! What’s even more frustrating and irritating is when I call for a service call on something (like my A/C unit) and the guy that comes feels he needs to dumb down his description of the problem because I couldn’t possibly understand something so complicated like fans, air compressors, and refrigerant!! Recently my son was rear-ended by an intoxicated driver. When I would call the place where it was being repair (and it was taking forever), they guy would try to overload me with technical terms to make it sound like some major overhaul. Problem is all the damage was to the REAR of my vehicle. His explanation for why it was taking so long included how the “camshaft” was damaged and they had to order this special piece and …. Seriously, I know the camshaft is NOT anywhere near the bumper and door on the rear of my vehicle!! I just let him talk. I almost wished I had recorded it to play back to his boss to say this guy knew NOTHING about vehicles if he was certain my camshaft is what needed fixing!! Another time, I was taking a load of brush to the city dump in my Dodge Ram. It was a nice truck with a pretty good lift. When you enter the drop area, you must pull up, flip around, then back into the stall. Well I did just that – and pretty quickly without a thought. When I came to a stop, the guy there directing cars into the spots just sort of looked at me with surprise when I hopped out of the truck. He said “I never seen a girl back a big truck up like that without any problems.” So I smiled and politely said “well I’m not a girl, I’m a woman so maybe there’s your problem!” He just looked at me with this puzzled look on his face.
Now days, I try not to get irritated so much. I try to figure out how to throw them off by making some outrageous response. Then I politely educated them that they shouldn’t assume all women are helpless and incompetent in the way of auto mechanics. Some of us actually know how to fix things, but simply don’t have the time so we call in a professional to do it for us for a fee. Oh, and that we CAN back up large trucks! I get more entertainment out of it these days instead of getting mad.
(The pic above is just me and my family – yes, I have a Dobie addiction lol!)
Now comes the next difficulty in this whole equation. After a lifetime of dealing with this type of stuff, I had become that woman always trying to prove herself and boasting publicly that I CAN do this or that. Is it really necessary? No. I’ve learned people will be people and you can’t fix stupid. I pick my battles these days. Can I do most things? Heck yes I can!! I have a wonderful man in my life now. In the beginning it was hard for me to “allow” him to do certain things for me that most view as “man chores.” We still bump heads sometimes but I honestly like that I don’t HAVE to do all those things anymore. I don’t NEED a man to do them for me but it sure is nice having time to do something else more enjoyable and letting him do it. But there are days when I need to move something heavy and I just go and start doing it when I could have asked him to do it or at least help. I do it myself mostly because, well, I’m impatient and I want it done NOW lol! I know it will take him a “MAN-minute” to get to it because he has to get to a stopping point on his video game and well I have other stuff to do so may as well just do it.
(My hunny – he puts up with a LOT from me haha!)
I also know that men need to feel “needed” and allowing them to do these man-things really makes them feel like a man so I typically concede on some things. But this hasn’t been an easy transition for me. For so long I felt the need to prove I didn’t need someone to help me and that I could do it all by myself. A lot of that pressure, I suppose, was from the military environment. I do still, on occasion, fight the urge to argue on topics of whether I can or can’t do something but for the most part I’ve learned to just let it go.