I’ve actually had close family friends construct gender inequalities against me. After our neighbor had reached an age where he could no longer take care of his own yard work, many of the people closest to him took up the responsibility of mowing the lawn and weed-eating. My twin brother was the one who ultimately took on the task every week. But there were a couple times that I took care of the work when my brother couldn’t get to it. My neighbor would pay me a total of thirty dollars each time I took on the work. It was a large yard that took nearly 3 hours to cut, so the payment seemed fair to me. It wasn’t until after I had done the job a couple times that I conversed with my brother only to hear our neighbor had been paying him all this time ten dollars more than what he paid me. I saw that as completely unfair because we were doing the same exact work. It very quickly became clear to me that my neighbor was paying me differently than my brother due to our gender differences.
At the age of 13, it was my first personal experience with gender inequality that really stood out to me. The situation was resolved eventually, but the sexist attitude could not be erased from my mind. I realize that he was much older than me and probably had different experiences in his life that caused him to think it was okay to treat people differently based upon their gender, much like racism varies through different generations. Regardless, I am glad that I was able to realize and confront the situation at that age. It could have been easy for me to just internalize the situation to mean my work meant less than my brother’s work. I know that I probably didn’t completely change my neighbor’s outlook on gender but perhaps I made him realize that regardless of his personal viewpoint, it is not acceptable to treat women like that.