Over the summer and into the fall, my husband and I moved our little family into a home I own with my sisters. During a few “we’re in way over our heads” remodeling jobs, I came across some ideas that bothered me.
Some may call out “sexism” when they hear my simple stories. Others may wonder why I’m bothered at all.
I’ll let you decide for yourself what you think is at play.
The carpet was old and dirty. So, my sisters and I took a vote. We decided it needed to go. I took a blade to it and ripped it out of the living room and hallways. Next, we got a tile/linoleum chisel and pulled up the rest of the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room floors.
Later, we started calling around to get some quotes on flooring. We decided to put tile in about 800 square feet of space. That’s a pretty large area. The concrete wasn’t level and had some cracks, so we wanted to make sure whoever laid our tile was able to handle those obstacles in a suitable way. After meeting with several contractors, I realized there was a pattern in what they would say when we spoke. On at least three different occasions when I began to question them about the methods they would use to care for our concrete, I was told something similar to, “Is your husband here? I could explain it to him.” Hmm…
I assured them that I would be able to relay any information they shared with the proper individuals.
Later, this same contractor tried to say the job was finished before it actually was. When asked about it, he told me that different contractors do different work and it was up to me to know when one contractor’s job ended and another began. I assured him that I knew what HE had made a contract with me to do, and that it better get done. I then offered to contact my lawyer.
I stepped into a large construction retail store for some supplies. I decided to get a price baseline for countertops while I was there. While I was looking at the various types of countertops and taking a few notes about price ranges, a salesman came to speak with me. He asked me what I was looking for. I told him I wasn’t sure, and that I was just looking at basic prices for the different types of stone available. (We actually were planning to buy somewhere else, but I didn’t want to tell him that and have him spend his time trying to convince me otherwise.) He asked me what color scheme I was looking for. I wasn’t sure how that mattered at this point because I was pretty sure we would need to pick our stone type before a color scheme would matter. When I replied, I let him know that I wasn’t looking at color schemes and that my husband would be choosing the color scheme and pattern. He has a much better eye for decor than I do. The salesman paused for a moment, then said, “usually the women pick the colors,” in a voice that let me know I was clearly going about things completely backwards.
Was I dealing with cases of sexism? Do some contractors really believe that women are incapable of understanding the language and vocabulary needed to discuss and determine proper flooring installation? Is it really that unheard of for a woman to ask a man to choose colors or styles?
Either way, it’s 2018, ya’ll! They should probably figure out how their words could be taken and choose some different conversation tactics instead.