A few years ago, my husband and I ran into a mutual acquaintance at a restaurant. This young man – a person who would surely identify as progressive – spent the entirety our interaction completely ignoring me. He spoke only to my husband; he wouldn’t even look at me when I asked a direct question.
While it would be tempting to write off the exchange as simple rudeness, this brand of slight is familiar to most women. Perhaps it happens when you go to buy a car and the salesperson only speaks to your male partner. Or when you meet someone at a work event and they only introduce themselves to the male colleague beside you.
I remember playing co-ed softball and the pitcher would run in front of me, I was catcher, for every single play at home until one day i just popped him in the back and told him to get the fuck back to his position!
The slight Ms Valenti references has happened to me more times than I can count but as I got older I decided to not ignore being ignored. So if it was a car sales guy – I’d step in front of his face and say, “Hey, it’s me who’s doing the purchasing here today – address those questions to me. THANKS.”
Or if it was the colleague who’d only talk to the male beside me I’d say, “You know I’m here too, right?”
Or if it was the dude who only wanted to talk to my partner and even ignore direct questions I made I’d say, “Okay, I’m off to somewhere else where I’m not invisible.” And OBTW later that day I’d call my partner out on it and ask why he participated in that behavior!
And if at a business meeting or some formal get together the man doesn’t shake my hand I just keep it stuck out there for all to see because it isn’t me who has been shame it’s the person refusing to be mannerly and gracious who looks the ass.
So in summary, basically, I call them out on it. Not all guys are like this and it certainly doesn’t happen all the time and in all fairness, I’ve come across women who are like this too. The cutie pies who will only speak to the man/men present. Sometimes it is misogynistic sometimes it’s just plain rudeness and maybe other times it’s just an awkwardness driven by some unknown reason…. bottom line:
Call the person out on it if it bothers you!