While some females enjoy playing the role of damsels-in-distress, my mom knew that if somebody needed to rescue or help her, she would be her own hero. When things had to be fixed on the roof of the house, when the pipes had to be tended to, the cistern had to be cleaned or the water tank had to be anchored, my mother knew that she could do it better than anybody.
I grew up watching her taking control over tasks that were labeled as a “man’s job.” She knew what she wanted, how she wanted it, and most importantly, how it had to be done. Without her even knowing, the willingness, strength, and determination she always showed stayed in my psyche and shaped the woman I am today.
I live every day of my life knowing that I am a strong and independent woman thanks to her, but recently, I was able to put those adjectives into work when an Uber driver tried to use his patriarchy card on me. Driving a Toyota Highlander, Johnny — who I recognized was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic after listening to his accent while speaking in Spanish — picked me up at BJ’s Wholesale Club, a retail store known for selling wholesale groceries. Everybody who buys here typically uses two carts, and I wasn’t the exception.
As soon as Johnny arrived at the pick-up location I proceeded to put all my nicely packed and organized groceries in the back of his mid-size crossover SUV. After a couple of minutes, and when I was putting the last item, he got out of the car and said: “We don’t do this!” and I immediately asked: “Do what?”
The driver proceeded to tell me he wasn’t used to placing so many groceries in the back of his vehicle and that I should not be upset that he didn’t help me with the boxes and bags. I didn’t have time to be in shock or disbelief. I immediately started smashing his sexist and oppressive power structure behavior to such a point of leaving him stunned, surprised and saying: “Wow, you are very feisty! Surely your boyfriend can’t stand you.”
“The only thing that I’m sure of right now is that I’m not afraid to speak my truth,” I said. “And the only truth here is that if I didn’t need you to help me to carry all this heavy stuff I surely don’t need you to take me home.”
As soon as I warned him of my intentions to request another cab, he apologized multiple times and insisted on me continuing the ride. Minutes later, I realized he wasn’t being courteous whatsoever, he simply didn’t want me to have the last word. He continued the argument by telling me that I was mad. I proceed to clap back by saying: “Sir, there’s no way you can tell if I’m upset or not because I’m wearing a mask. The way you are treating me is the same way I’m treating you back.”
Like many other misogynistic and bigoted men with a patriarchal mentality, Johnny probably grew up with the idea that he is the problem-solver, the breadwinner, the one who always has to be in control, the privileged one. Most likely he belongs to the “Why don’t you try to smile more” club and prefers to hang out with submissive and compliant females to practice his socially constructed supreme authority. Whatever the case may be, I just hope that for every Johnny that is born, more women like me will also come into this world.
And by “like me” I mean unapologetic females that are fearless, capable, and empowered. Women ready to fight every war on them that the patriarchy declares. More females and femmes determined to never dim their light. Self-reliant, knowledgeable, confident, reliable, decisive, well-informed women who always seek financial and emotional independence. Women who rise up and speak up. Women with priorities.
A woman just like you!