Sexism at Home Depot

So, five years ago, if you asked me whether I consider myself a feminist, I might have said something like, “Do I look like I’m about to burn my bra and slip on a pair of Birkenstocks?”

Sure, I had grown up in a world where people said things like, “Man up!” or “You throw like a girl!” But if you asked me about the glass ceiling, I would have told you that a) it doesn’t exist or b) I planned to bust right through it.

That’s a roundabout way of saying that I was definitely NOT a card-carrying member of the Feminist movement. I didn’t understand where their angst was coming from. After all, I hadn’t really experienced sexism (or so I thought).

And then, my husband and I embarked on two home-renovating journeys. Now, when I visit Home Depot, I do so with a lot more knowledge and a lot more confidence. My husband can say, “We need tiling supplies,” and I can go pick them up without asking the store associate (or my husband) for much help. When I walk Home Depot’s familiar aisles, I don’t see myself as a woman, I see myself as a capable, DIY-loving homeowner.

So, if sexism isn’t a thing, why do people rush to my aid when I have a carriage full of supplies? Why do men accost me offering copious amounts of advice when I am looking through the aisles? Why do strangers in the parking lot look upon me with pity when I try to fit things into the back of my SUV? Do I look that incompetent?

I’m an independent 25 year old who asks for help when I need it. I’m not a damsel, and I’m definitely not in distress. I appreciate the kindness of strangers, and I often accept a helping hand, but not when it’s accompanied by a condescending “Ooo! Looks like you’ve got quite a project there, miss!”sexism-ad50sBW

On Sunday, for example, when my husband and I were tiling, painting, and tackling a bunch of projects, I made a few runs to Home Depot. I had to pick up some hardee board to lay beneath our tile and, while I was in the aisle finding the right size, not one but TWO male sales associates practically RAN to my aid. “Let me get that for you, ma’am. It’s heavier than it looks!”

Not two minutes later, while I was in the same aisle adding two bags of thin-set to my carriage, I saw a medium-sized, middle-aged man carrying his own hardee board…all by himself. The two men who insisted on helping me were a mere foot or two away, and they didn’t bat an eyelash when he grabbed his “heavier-than-it-looks” hardee board.

Moral of the story? I am, in fact, a woman. I also am, in fact, capable of lifting things, moving things, and installing things. Sometimes I need help. Sometimes I don’t. But either way, don’t assume I need help because my shirt is pink. My gender doesn’t make me any less capable, any less tough or any less smart than a similarly-sized man.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The hardee board was very heavy, and I did successfully lift it into my car on my own. While being stared at by at least 1 Home Depot employee and 1 man in a pickup truck.