my precious

The RingFirst, take yourself back to watching Lord of the Rings and imagine Gollum whispering “my precious” to THE RING. You there? Wonderful.

So there is an inner turmoil happening inside me about a ring. I have a little bit of trouble at work because I’m young and single and sometimes that fact that I’m not white gets in the way too.  So I have these three things that make my job a little bit harder, mostly because I deal with old white men that are old, did I mention that? Succinctly said I am a regular victim of racism, sexism, ageism, single-ism.

I decided to try a little experiment while I was traveling in Florida for work this past week. I went to Target and bought myself a simple silver band that could easily double as a wedding band… and I put it on. I wanted to see if my trip and my meetings would go any differently if the people I was meeting with thought I was married. I thought that they might because I’m dealing with some pretty traditional and old school folks.

Guess what, my meetings did go differently. A lot differently. My meetings were more direct and less frivolous. The people I met with, mostly men, wanted me to get to the point. Whereas in previous meetings, there was always a real, flirty element of small talk. They always looked at me with a little bit of, “look at this little girl in a suit” squint.

So a couple of things:

1. The experiment isn’t totally controlled. These were mostly new meetings with people I had never met before.
2. Could it be that I acted differently because I was “married” – perhaps, but I don’t think so.
3. Could I have misinterpreted past flirtations? Maybe, but some were very clear.

A few more thoughts:

1. Should I have even done this experiment?
2. Should I have instead reinforced my good work with just good work?
3. Does executing this experiment further reinforce sexism, ageism, single-ism?

I’d really like to think that I could have done this without a “wedding ring.” There was something about wearing the ring that seemed, to me at least, to:

1. Make the men I was meeting with more focused. Like they didn’t waste any time trying to figure out if I was married or flirt with me,
2. Think of me as more mature and therefore more qualified because I was “married,”
3. Take me more seriously.

It was a little sad and a little funny. I’m still not sure what to make of it and I’m still a little shocked.

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4 thoughts on “my precious

  1. I think there are so many ways we – either consciously or unconsciously – change our interactions with people based on every conceivable thing that it doesn’t really surprise me adding a ring made a noticeable difference.

    Maybe you acted a little different because of it, …. like I notice I will change how I move, handle things, gesture, when I’m wearing nail polish. Because you knew you were doing an experiment, and even if you didn’t realize it, the ring itself might have influenced how you spoke or moved, knowing you were presenting the appearance of a married woman.

    Certainly how they interacted with you changed.

    I think it’s always an eye-opener to see things out of a different ‘window’ so to speak. To understand how people are treated differently for things as major as perception of ethnicity, to something as simple as a little ring…

    I know I’ve considered wearing one when traveling in areas where, being single, I felt I was open to uncomfortable advances (like having a shop owner try to engage me to his 4 yr old son… yeah… wedding ring wins!)

    I think it’s just another example of the unfortunate way people form prejudices, preconceived notions, expectations, and draw conclusions. More often than not, we only really see what we want to see, and so visual clues become some sort of road map of expectation.

    … um…

    I guess all I did was just agree with you.

    :(

    • Thanks. I tried not to act too differently, but who knows.

      I mean, I normally act differently on these road trips – I’m more cheery or engaging, more positive, because I need the people I’m meeting with to do what I say. My disposition and my presentation skills should definitely play a role in that, but whether I’m married or not?

      C’mon, chauvinism.

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