When I was young and my mother complained about being cold, I’d tell her to put on a hat because most of your body heat exits from the top of your head. Putting on a hat goes a long way toward warming you up. She would look at me funny, shake her head, and go get a jacket or drink something warm. That used to frustrate me. Did she think I was making this stuff up?
10 years later, she mentioned to my brother-in-law, who is an engineer, that she was cold. He told her to put on a hat, because… blah, blah, blah. She immediately put on a hat.
I said to her, “Now, why is it you believe him when I’ve been telling you the same thing, to no avail, for years?”
No explanation, no acknowledgment, no apology. But then my mother always did have an unquestioning faith in men, often to her downfall and everlasting regret. I tried to console myself that she was a product of her generation, but to this day when I’m not taken seriously it makes me want to screech.
Fast forward about 30 years, and I’m riding down the road with my boyfriend at the time, when he suddenly comes to a dead stop on a divided highway because he sees a school bus that is going the opposite direction come to a stop to let off some children. I hear tires skidding behind us, and horns blaring, and I say, “What are you doing?” (Actually, I was quite likely much less diplomatic than that.)
He simply says, “School bus.”
And I say, “Yeah, but it’s a divided highway! You’re not supposed to stop! You’re going to get us killed.”
Could he even hear me over the squealing of tires? Apparently so. He explained that Big John, his boss, told him he was supposed to stop. I closed my eyes and braced for impact. Fortunately everyone managed to swerve around us. (No one stopped, of course.)
Later that day, once the adrenaline had stopped pumping, I sent him a link to the Florida License Bureau rules of the road that pertains to busses stopping on divided highways. I was right. Big John was wrong. But Big John had a body part that I did not, so apparently that gave him a certain level of legitimacy that I lacked.
When I hear people dismiss women as silly or hysterical or emotional, or tell them not to worry their pretty little heads, it causes me to wear down my back molars. I mean, yes, it’s important to consider the source of your information before deciding if it’s worth taking seriously, but while you are doing that, you may also want to contemplate what criteria you are employing to make your decisions. Rule things out due to the source’s lack of expertise and/or biased agenda, but if you are discounting something solely due to the source’s gender or race or age, you are doing that person (and by extension, yourself), a great disservice.