Wednesday, 15 December 2010

I Feel Emasculated

I just realised that I've begun this post twice, in draft form. I only got as far as the subject line, but an interaction with my neighbour just now reminded me that I wanted to write about the topic. In my 3 years of living in Australia, I have realised that, much moreso than in the US, it is difficult to get men to acknowledge, listen to and communicate with you if you are a woman. One example - our neighbour has been using our driveway to get access to his own backyard, in order to install an inground pool. As a result of doing so, we need to organise a new fence. Here in Australia, both neighbours on the side of the fence being put up have to agree to the type, size and colour of the fence, and split the cost. (This means you have 3 different sets of neighbours you have to work with to get the fence done around your house, by the way.) In the beginning, M_ next door would come over to chat to us about the fence, but only communicate with hubs. He barely looked at me, and he certainly didn't ask my opinion. Granted, hubs lived here a few years without me and M_ doesn't really know me, but it is obvious I'm the wife, which means the fence is my fence as well. It's taken over a week to get any acknowledgement. When hubs went next door to talk to M_ about the fence, he simply advised me he was going, but didn't suggest I come with. Had I not insisted in being involved in the discussions taking place, I'm not entirely sure my opinion would have been requested. This seems to happen a lot with Aussie men; you have to work harder to be heard. Never before living here have I realised that there is not a feminine equivilant to the word emasculation. There should be.

P.S. In this instance, the title should perhaps have been, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (and that's with a u, as Robert Frost was American).


Muddiah said...

I agree...there should be such a word! How about 'efeminated'. How's that coming along, by the way?

Danielle said...

I know exactly what you mean.

When Russ and I talk about our childhoods he ALWAYS comments that he grew up completely differently. Boys didn't have girl friends. He says they never talked to girls at school, and they didn't invite girls to their parties or hang out with them even in high school. Whereas my friends and I grew up with an even split of male friends. I think that is part of it.

At the bbqs the sex divide always freaks me out. Men charring the meat, ladies talking babies in the corner. It makes me kinda sick.

Laureen said...

How frustrating! Is M. married and if so, how much input did his wife have with the fence?

And speaking of babies - it seems everyone has them! It might be my imagination but I'm sure there were more childless couples in Canada.

Suzer said...

No babies for us, thank god:) And next door has no wife.

Pav said...

Mmm, and I can add to the BBQ scenario where men and women "divide" that I often fail to comply, and so have been treated with "suspicion" in the past because I dare to openly converse with the men folk. It makes the wives get catty with me (usually at a later date and I get confused as to "what" exactly I did) and it makes the men get this jumpy look in their eyes like "why is she talking to me? Has anyone else noticed? Am I committing adultery?"
I have an even split of male/female friends in the USA and in the UK, but it seems like guy friends are somehow off limits here in many ways.
People should really get over it and mix it up!

Arizaphale said...

It gets easier as you get older.
In my house I call and vet the tradesmen and don't let anything past without my input. My husband is relieved he doesn't have to deal with it and old enough to be less concerned about what this says about his masculinity.
I had a classic experience as a young, single woman once at the car yard. I went in to buy a speedo 'head' and go into an argument with the salesman about whether that was what I 'really' wanted. "No,no," he assured me,"You actually want a speedo cable." I assured him that I did NOT and went on to explain why. At the end of this he picked his jaw up, apologised and said (right out mind you.....not even in a politically correct manner) "It's just that women don't usually know anything about cars!" I don't encounter this sort of thing as much nowadays but I assume it is because I am older and therefore 'asexual'.