Below the Beltway

The feminine mistake: This time, Gene has Gina's number

Below the Beltway
(Eric Shansby)
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By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Do you recognize this scenario? You are on the phone, giving your phone number to someone. You recite the first three digits, pause a second for transcription, then continue with the rest. But just as you do, the other person inanely repeats the first three digits out loud, and everything gets lost in the cross talk, and you have to start over. And the same thing happens again. Mutual indecision ensues, with fitful stops and starts and stammers.

Yeah, me, too. But here's what I also noticed: Almost always, this happens when the other person is a woman. When I made this observation to my friend Gina Barreca, the feminist scholar, Gina made the observation that I am an insufferable sexist who likes to stereotype women in unflattering ways.

That was a couple of months ago. Gina's on the phone now, with an apology.

Gina: It's not an apology. It's a clarification.

Gene: Okay.

Gina: Since we spoke, this has happened to me several times, each time with a woman. Never with men. I was not going to give you the satisfaction of clarifying ...

Gene: Apologizing.

Gina: ... until yesterday, when I was on the phone with my brother, and I did it to him, and he yelled at me and told me I do it all the time.

Gene: Can we explain this odd gender-specific phenomenon from a feminist perspective?

Gina: We can explain it from an antifeminist perspective. I think it is because many women don't trust themselves with numbers, and are seeking reassurance.

Gene: Bad at math!

Gina: Feel free to shoot me in the head.

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