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Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Husband's Permission

Photo by Keith Ellwood

This morning I dropped my car off at the auto shop for an oil change. The guy at the desk asked which of the phone numbers in our profile he should call when they finished it.
“My cell,” I said. “My husband’s out of town, so if you contact him he’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.”
The mechanic joked, “He’ll say, ‘I didn’t give her permission to take the car in!’”
Right. That cracked me up. I told the guy, “No. He’ll say, ‘That’s awesome she took care of the oil change!’” Because the old man will be thrilled to not have car maintenance on his plate after he gets back from a four-day business trip to the other side of the lower forty-eight.
But as I walked the mile home from the garage my inner feminist popped up and roared.
“‘Permission’?” I seethed.
I think I may have even gotten a little head-snap action going.
“I don’t need no stinkin’ permission from my husband to take care of business.”
An impulse seized me to march right back into the auto shop and give that macho, patriarchal, condescending misogynist a piece of my independent, empowered, indignant female mind.
But then I realized that I probably couldn’t have spoken anything better into that moment than I already did. After all, here’s what my response told the mechanic:
You’re mistaken about how my husband would interpret this situation.
My husband not only trusts my decisions, but appreciates my efforts.
I’m so confident in myself and my marriage that the sexist implications of your statement don’t threaten me enough to light me up. In fact, I find them fairly hilarious.
When I responded to the mechanic I didn’t give much thought to my words. I wasn’t trying to make a point, or put a guy who made a dumb joke in his place, or wave a banner and blow a trumpet in the name of the holy sisterhood of bra-burners. I just corrected a guy’s faulty assumption. And I didn’t have to alienate or denigrate or provoke him in the process.
Wow. Truth is powerful.

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