Sexism, Delivered by the USPS

In my 33 years living on this planet, I’ve mostly lived what I hope is close to the prototypical life of a modern female. That is, there have honestly been very few times in my life where I have directly experienced sexism.

  • I never had teachers or parents that discouraged me from STEM pursuits. Though oddly, I did have a math teacher at a summer camp who was trying to encourage all students (both male and female) to yell, “I hate math!” Equal opportunity discouragement, I suppose.
  • I was never pressured to be overly concerned with my appearance (my intellect was judged to be far more important by parents and other authority figures) and as a result have never been much for wearing makeup or keeping up with the latest fashions. It also helps that Mr PoP actively dislikes it when I wear makeup.
  • I’ve never been subject to a dress code that differed from the men I’ve worked with – so no requirements for panty hose or high heels. I’ve never felt talked down to, and certainly have never heard anyone in a professional environment call me “honey” or “missy” or “little lady”.

Granted, it hasn’t always been a perfectly gender-blind life I’ve lived. There was an emeritus professor where I went to grad school who particularly enjoyed hazing female grad students. And I had one supervisor early in my career who was hazing me, his only female new hire, but his actions were quickly addressed by those above him.

But in all the areas that really matter in life, personally and professionally, it has been a very rare occurrence that sexism has been directed my way. (Unlike some of the rather ridiculously blatantly sexist remarks coming out of the Olympics – holy cow!) In my day-to-day life, sexism is so rare, that when it does occur, even when it’s something that doesn’t matter, I feel inordinately bothered by it. Especially when it comes directly to my mailbox.

Or Rather, Mr PoP’s Mailbox, Apparently

Occasionally uninvited real estate purchase offers turn up in our mailbox. Investors offer to purchase our house, our empty lot, or our duplex. Or rather, nine times out of ten, they offer to buy Mr PoP’s house, Mr PoP’s empty lot, or Mr PoP’s duplex and go something like this:

Mr PoP,

Our records indicate that you own the property at [ADDRESS]. We at SREP (Scammy Real Estate Partnership) are prepare to buy your property today with a cash offer that will save you on real estate closing costs.

Call us today at 555-2424* to sell your property!

Joe Schmo from SREP

Despite being listed in our county’s property records as being jointly owned by both Mr PoP and I, it is a rarity for one of these letters to acknowledge my existence or rights to ownership and joint decision-making when it comes to our various real estate investments.

Honestly, it was kindof funny the first time I started to realize these investors assumed I either didn’t exist or wouldn’t have any meaningful input on whether or not it was the right time to sell any one of our three properties. But after a while, when it happens again and again and again… it gets kindof annoying, especially on our house where originally *I* was the sole owner legally, and we didn’t add Mr PoP to the deed (and pay additional doc stamps for doing so) until we refinanced the property in 2012.  And I’ve been by Mr PoP’s side sharing in much of the literally heavy lifting that we have done to improve the place over the years.

And Mr PoP’s Cabinets…

Speaking of that heavy lifting… a fair amount of it has involved woodworking the past year. So I guess it’s not a huge surprise that in buying all sorts of wood working and cabinet making tools, our address managed to end up on the mailing list of the International Woodworking Fair (being held in Atlanta in just a couple weeks!) and the Cabinet Makers Association (who will have a booth at the IWF in Atlanta).

Edited to remove Mr PoP's actual name...

Edited to remove Mr PoP’s actual name…

What does come as quite a surprise, though, is that Mr PoP (according to a another flyer we reccently received) is apparently a master of the craft of woodworking. Yup, Mr. PoP. To quote the personalized flyer from the CMA…

“You love the craft of woodworking… [Mr PoP], you’re a master of your craft. Precision is your middle name.”

All that cabinet building that I’ve been doing for the past 13 months, and I never even knew that I had a master cabinet maker sleeping in the same bed with me. Damn. What other secrets has he been hiding from me?

Well, none. Because Mr PoP hasn’t ever built any cabinetry! Take note, IWF and CMA. I’m not exactly sure how you got Mr PoP’s name and address. All of the woodworking tools and supplies have been ordered and delivered to Mrs. PoP, not Mr. PoP. Perhaps it might then behoove you to remove your gendered assumptions from your mailing list and send the freaking flyers to Mrs. PoP since it would seem (at least to this girl) that the person ordering and taking delivery of all the cabinet making tools and supplies is also fairly likely to be the one using them.


Big picture, I get that these instances of sexism are tiny and that I speak from a place of privilege to be able to say that these small offenses are basically the extent to which sexism impacts my day-to-day life. When Katinka Hosszu’s husband gets described as the “guy responsible” for her gold medal finishes in the pool, Mr PoP getting credit in the form of a mail flyer for my cabinet making or him being recognized as the only owner of our properties ranks pretty low. But the sexism displayed in these assumptions is still annoying. And (people behind solicitations like this listen up) it makes me (and Mr PoP) a lot less receptive to whatever you’re pitching.


Am I being too sensitive here? What sexism have you encountered?

* Bonus points to anyone who knows whose fictional phone number this is.

27 comments to Sexism, Delivered by the USPS

  • Re: the house selling flyers, it reminds me of this article I read once where a husband surprised his wife by buying a house without consulting her and she “loved it.” Mind blown on how other people live their lives.

    I encounter mild sexism at work (my boss once accused me of being “too emotional” when I disagreed on an issue and I had stern talk with him, clients will sometimes ignore I am in the room entirely, get assigned admin-like roles more than male colleagues). But overall I have never had it nearly as bad as my other female engineer friends who have been actively hit on by *married* bosses, clients, and coworkers and asked who they slept with to get assigned to X project.

    • We just bought a new (used) car. My husband initially did the test-driving because I hate visiting four million dealerships. I was also pretty sure which car I wanted, so I asked him to narrow it down. When he finally decided on what he liked, I went to test-drive that and make sure I agreed. Thankfully, everyone at the dealership treated me well and was great. But the guy we were working with mentioned that sometimes husbands come in to test drive and will buy a new car without consulting their wife. Or, even more galling, the wives will leave the financing to the husband (what we did because we had a squirrely toddler so I took her home), and the husband will switch and buy a different car.

      Again, mind blown on how people think that’s appropriate, and I’m glad our salesperson told us in a “I’m impressed with how you two make decisions together” way.

      I’ve also gotten the “too emotional” (ugh).
      Leah recently posted..Solidarity in SolitudeMy Profile

      • What exactly is “too emotional”? Showing any emotion whatsoever? So glad I’ve never heard that on directed toward me, despite having at least a few times when I felt like I got “too emotional”. =/

        • A man can totally have an outburst and be “upset,” but women are “too emotional.” I’m not the only one who has noticed this at work. I wrote a lot more explaining but decided not to put that much about my work out on the internet. Suffice to say that faculty meetings sometimes get heated. Or we are asked to speak freely then penalized for doing so.

          Other sexist things I’ve seen in work places include the grouchy old men who will totally support the young males but are rude and condescending to young females. One previous coworker once even had the gall to question the qualifications of a new (really qualified!) female we hired but then bent over backwards to help a young man we knowingly hired who was underqualified (he received extra mentoring and a reduced work load until he got up to speed).

          I could go on and on all day about things. I wish sexism were a thing of the past. Okay, one more. I worked as a vendor at a baseball stadium for many years. I was usually the only female vendor among many males. We were ranked each day on sales totals and picked our product to sell the next day based on those totals. When I beat a significant number of guys (not unusual — I often was in the middle of the pack), my boss would ask the guys below me if their pussy had been hurting the day before. WTF? I should have left, but I liked to prove him wrong and make really good money.
          Leah recently posted..Solidarity in SolitudeMy Profile

    • “coworkers and asked who they slept with to get assigned to X project.” Holy cow. That’s freaking terrible.

      As for the surprise house or car, that’s totally not how our marriage rolls… but if it really made her happy, eh? Who am I to judge?

  • I live in Central Pennsylvania and I do not know life without sexism. Gender roles are so prolifically accepted that it is a rare individual who notices. Of course, their are “progressive” thinkers that are “feminists” emerging and being vocal. I have experienced being paid less because I wasn’t “the main bread winner,” have been told by superiors to hire “a nice girl who listens to what she is told,” and I have had so much push back as a strong type A, motivated leader type. My desire to work when I have children has been challenged in too many ways to mention.
    I realized a few years ago how much I equated the gender struggle as normal, decided to change it, and now have my own business where I work with movers and shakers. I still encounter sexism weekly ( or more), but I know longer struggle under it. It is part of my world, I choose how I let it effect me.

    • “I realized a few years ago how much I equated the gender struggle as normal, decided to change it, and now have my own business where I work with movers and shakers. I still encounter sexism weekly ( or more), but I know longer struggle under it. It is part of my world, I choose how I let it effect me.”

      This, I love. Well done!

  • How are you sure that the sexism is anti-female?

    Isn’t it possible that marketers think men are more prone to make home repair purchases or sell their homes for a quick buck compared to their cooler-headed female counterparts, and thus this is actually indicative of anti-male stereotyping?

    • Anything is possible. But isn’t “anti-male stereotyping” still sexism at its core? Forming advance judgements (sterotypes?) about individuals based on gender alone?

  • No you are not being too sensitive.

    Not gonna go into a list of the sexism I’ve encountered, but there’s a lot of it. It can really grind a person down. Death by a 1,000 papercuts.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Things that negatively affect my moodMy Profile

    • Ironically, the worst of the sexism I’ve come across was in academia… far less in big, bad corporate america – at least from where I’ve stood. That doesn’t really fit with the stereotypes, though.

  • I’ve encountered more forms of sexism than I care to remember as not only was I a female in the military, but I was also a female in the male dominated IT career field. It used to bother me, but they were never anything that held me back from advancing. Like you, I’m fortunate that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Most people are just impressed I’ve done things like fix my car or build my computer by myself.

    Although one comment that does irk me is when I tell people I’m going to retire early and they laugh and say “who are you marrying?”. It gets old.
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  • You aren’t being too sensitive. It’s ridiculous how sexist the USPS can be sometimes. But I guess that’s to be expected in such a mail dominated industry. 😉
    Liquid recently posted..Where are Rich People Putting their Money?My Profile

  • I suppose, as a man, I don’t notice all the material ways that our society boxes women in. You never see your own biases, either, and I’m sure I do things along the same lines without even realizing it…
    Done by Forty recently posted..The PrivilegedMy Profile

    • I don’t know… you’re a guy who seems pretty comfortable in trying to understand how subconscious forces affect our decision making… I feel like even trying to be aware of that makes it easier to counteract those forces.

  • Don’t take it personally; those offers are computer generated and go to the first name listed or some such nonsense. I get things addressed to Mr. and I’m definitely a Mrs.! I’ve gotten some things addressed to all sorts of weird names and titles depending on what list the company bought.

    My advice is to relax, and for heaven’s sake, don’t blame the USPS, they just deliver the mail, they don’t address it.

    • I don’t really take it too personally. Honestly it was more of a “good grief!” than anything else and I definitely don’t blame the USPS. Rain or shine, those folks are just doing their jobs!

  • Marge and I both laughed during the Olympics at that comment about Katinka Hozzsu’s husband. He is responsible for her success, you know. He’s under the water moving her arms back and forth!

    With that junk mail, I’d assume Mr. Pop got his name on some mailing list. I realized all of the junk mail at our investment property is addressed to Marge. The utility bill is the one thing that only has her name on it, so they must’ve sold her info.

    I assume you’ve gotten the old cold shoulder at car dealerships and the like, where the salesman assumes the husband is making the decision and so only talks to him. That’s Marge’s absolute least favorite thing.
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    • I figured Hozzsu’s husband must have been using telekenesis. (Or maybe I’m too into the latest Stephen King book – End of Watch).

      Honestly, I hate car dealerships and car salesmen, so I try and make Mr PoP take the lead there. Realtor’s, though, have always figured out pretty quickly that I’m the one they should be talking to if they want to get stuff done!

  • Erin

    Good article, very appropriate for conversations going on today. And the phone # is from Full House :) bonus points!

  • Nate R

    In my experience, on a property with multiple owners, the first name listed gets on the mailing list. Is that maybe the case for you?

    As far as the IWF brochure, that seems bizarre that they’d do that!

    • I’d have to go back and look, but I know our names are listed differently on at least a couple of the properties. One has both names separately, another is more like PoP, Mr + Mrs (or something like that). I don’t recall noticing what order our names were in when we purchased them. Maybe I should go back to the deeds and check those out! I’m curious, now!

      Yeah, the IWF brochure is definitely strange. It was weird when we got the first. Weirder with the second, and then hit really freaking strange when we got two more (one from the CMA) a few days later on the same day.

  • I can’t believe sexism exists still. I’m a male and I’m a firm believer that women are intellectually superior than men (their ability to read people’s body language and process information faster is better than men). With that being said, I’m sure not going to throw in the towel on competing against them but I know that I’m at somewhat of a disadvantage. It’s going to be interesting how the world is going to look like from a gender perspective 10 years from now!
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