Up until a handful of years ago, I’d spent a couple of decades working in the male-dominated industry of construction, so one might expect my attitude towards female workers to be somewhat misogynistic. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. I firmly believe in equality, I simply hadn’t been exposed to it professionally. I had, however, assumed the office space would have, over the same time period, developed into an egalitarian environment, where the physical advantages of the male physique are surplus to the job description. I imagined paper-pushing required little more than robustly hefting a mouse or daringly pirouetting a swivel chair.
My naiveté knew no bounds.
One only has to spend significant time in the company of female office workers to discover the swaggering illusion their male counterparts often labor under: their physical utility affords some inexplicable advantage. However, every time I’ve ducked my head into a desk-strewn facility I’ve been intrigued to find a paucity of heavy lifting, large animal hunting or physical combat.
So why does this bias still exist?
An interesting consequence of egalitarianism, however, seems to be occasional discrimination in the other direction. Some women have taken equality way past the tipping point. I’ve actually been threatened by members of the fairer sex I’ve outweighed by a good hundred pounds, for example, confident they could take me in a physical fight. (Usually, I’ve found, because I’ve treated them as equals. (I consider it a responsibility of living like a virtuous, productive human being to deflate the inflated and undercut the aloof; to drag everyone down to my level, as it were. Gender notwithstanding. So when I encounter a woman who demands equality but expects me to get the tab, as an illustration, we have a thoroughly enjoyable potboiler of an impasse.))
Equality is about consistently behaving and accepting equally. It is not about cherry-picking the convenient or agreeable, fiscal or otherwise. The rough comes with the smooth, and the smooth comes with concurrence. One may have been raised by blindly doting parents to roar to the gods that one is entitled to it all, but the gods ain’t listening, and like any other man with a modicum of decency and belief in fair play, neither am I.
A psychologist, historian, and keen amateur anthropologist, Stefan Abrutat’s humble beginnings working construction in frigid Canadian winters and sweltering Texas summers rewarded him with an insight often lacking in academia: hands-on experience.