Walking down the street this morning, coffee in one hand, dragging my renewed vacuum cleaner in the other, I was repeatedly stopped by passerby, all men, with cheeky comments like "Ah, my fantasy come true! Coffee and cleanliness" or "Hey, pretty lady, wanna come clean my carpets for me?" or, the best/worst, "Now, that is sexy. A woman who brings me breakfast when she comes to clean my house." Wow. I was too stunned to really react as I wish I had. I said nothing. At least I didn't smile, giving them at least a little bit of what they wanted.
That the image of a woman with coffee and a vacuum cleaner would illicit such responses from absolute strangers is remarkable to me, literally, like I NEED to remark upon it. When and where do such stereotypes become embodied I wonder. When are boys taught that a good girl cleans for them? That they deserve to be "brought" coffee? That they can speak to women they don't know this way? I don't know. I just hope all the women and men I know who are raising boys right now actively teach them the opposite of the stereotype. That they teach them to respect themselves enough to respect all the women in their lives, even the ones they don't know who are simply walking down their neighborhood street.