Some of the stories here really make me cringe. Being a man I’ve escaped the brunt of sexism, although as a bisexual I’ve also had the misfortune of witnessing just how differently my male and female exes have been treated in similar situations (the “real man” meme being a whole other discussion).
What I really want to relate, though, is my mother’s experience with her co-workers. Comparatively late in life, she began rising through the ranks in a regional hospital system, which means that she has had to negotiate with surgeons and other high-ego staff (but not too aggressively, because if she was as assertive as her male counterparts she would have a reputation as a “bitch”). She is in the unusual position of working several hundred miles from where her husband/my dad lives, and she splits time between the two locations, travelling back and forth about once a month, as time and money allow. They both seem fairly satisfied with this arrangement.
In any case, she does a fair bit of socializing with co-workers. And through many of them, she has learned that she is supposed to ask her husband for advice and permission regarding such matters as:
* Haircuts and hair dying.
* Going to a movie with a male friend.
* Going on a hunting trip.
* Actually, going anywhere without a close relative or another woman to guard her.
These people (mostly male) constantly try to remind her by asking “What does your husband think of that?” or “How are you going to get out of dodge (you know, when your husband finds out that you were doing something fun without him)?”. Apparently, despite the fact that she does not live in a conservative Muslim theocracy, despite being about four decades too old to need a chaperon, despite her husband living hundreds of miles away, and despite the fact that she is deemed responsible enough to shepherd volatile physicians and manage eight-figure budgets for medical programs, she still can’t make decisions about her appearance or social behavior by herself.
But that’s just what she should expect. After all, it’s Her Fault She’s Female.