Every morning, I slide on two rings. When I wear them, I am on the receiving end of “ma’am,” sly remarks about my husband, and intrusive questions (and yes, I include questions about the medication I am or am not on as intrusive). The number of children I must have or must be about to have is asked. The ethnicity of my husband is questioned. The assumptions are made when he is not standing by my side at every moment.
Every morning, my husband slides on one ring. When he wears it…that’s it. There are not even whispers or rumors about him taking time off. There are no doubts. THERE ARE NO QUESTIONS.
In college, I took a class with a lovely professor who taught us interviewing tricks and techniques. (As an extrovert who hates any kind of formalities, I really needed a boost in how to get rid of the freezing and more of the talking!)
In her class, she shared one thing that, despite being years ago, has always rung true.
Women who wear wedding rings in interviews are the subject of questions about her partner. Men who do, are asked about their abilities and are often seen as stable.
There are days that putting on a dress is the laaaaaast thing I want to do, where sucking my words back leaves a bitter taste, and smiling actually causes pain.
But there are times that, just by a simple glance, people have made up their minds about me. Just because of anatomy. Just because of two little rings.
How can we even discuss things like salary, willingness to relocate, or our abilities, when people make up their minds without asking?
How can we decide we know a person without even asking them questions of relevance?
And how can we expect to move ahead?
[Note: I realize that as a hetero, cis-woman living in the United States, this is a good problem to have. This is not to minimize the struggles of others who are not so fortunate. Rather, it is to start a discussion on how labels can be painful in many different ways.]
What are your labels? Do you wear them like a glove or do you wish you could shed them?