Saturday, February 9, 2008

Grrr... II

Another thing that completely Pisses. Me. Off. is this attitude that I get from most male shopkeepers in and about town. It is this attitude of me being the helpless damsel-in-distress who simply cannot do without their over-helpfulness (read : unsolicited interference). I mean, when I ask for a new copy of Huxley’s Brave New World, I’m asking for a new copy of Huxley’s Brave New World. I’m NOT asking for a ‘guide-book’. I’m NOT asking for Ramji Lall’s weird interpretations. I’m NOT asking for ‘helpful’ notes. Finally, I’m NOT asking the man behind the counter what he thinks is the best and cheapest copy. I understand that he’s trying to be helpful. I understand that this is what most girls (in CU, at least) choose to buy.

But why don’t these same shopkeepers show off this same helpfulness when the boys buy their stuff? That is because they are “men”, and why would “men” need help at all? They obviously know what they need, don’t they? And one must get them what they want. But women... oh, they don’t know what they want. When they want to buy a book, they obviously need a guide book, or a Ramji Lall at least, else how else will they write their exam? And HOW will they pass? No, no, we must help them out. We are their knights in shining armour.

PS—The best thing is to play the damsel in distress, however annoying it may be to some of us. ‘Tis the easiest way to get maximum help out of random strangers. To ask them in the guise of an intelligent, educated woman is to get gruff, minimal replies which are usually of little use. Play damsel in extreme distress, and people may actually go all of the way if you simply ask them on which street your destination is. The more the “distress”, the better it is. Of course, your brain goes “Grrr...” all the way.


  1. While I completely agree that nearly every man on the street is chauvinistic and condescending towards women, and while I'm willing to concede that there might be an element of this attitude in the over-solicitousness displayed by shop-keepers attempting to 'help' you buy your book, your feminist blinkers seem to be blinding you to the larger picture here when you say that these shop-keepers do not "show off this same helpfulness when the boys buy their stuff ... because they are 'men'" (with regard to the particular instance of their knight-in-shining-armour complex that you have chosen to cite).

    Being a member of the vile sex myself, and also having bought books from these same book-sellers on many an occasion, I can confidently say that the primary motivation behind their unsolicited interference is not your (or my) gender but their own experience as salesmen.

    They know what the vast majority of students want. They know that Ramji Lall and his ilk is what sells. When someone doesn't ask for Ramji Lall then they think that that person simply doesn't know what's good for him/her. They try to push the same stuff on me. They push the same stuff on everybody, whether male or female. Your book-sellers show this "unsolicited interference" with men also, a fact that can easily be verified by any observant person.

    Why do they do it? Simple marketing tactic: since you are probably looking for a guide-book (like everyone else), they will help you choose a cheap easy-to-understand guide-book, instead of the expensive Norton edition or the no-notes Vintage edition that you have picked up, so that pleased with this wise and perfect purchase that they helped you to make, you will come back to them the next time you "have to" buy a book. The reason, in other words, is that the shop-keeper wants to establish a mutually profitable relationship with you (which has nothing to do with your gender).

    Like I mentioned before: this is in reference to the particular instance that you have chosen to illustrate your comment. Cf: my note on the attitude of the majority of students and on guide-books in my post 'Why I hate classes at CU' ( in Muted Colours.

  2. I have to agree,these bookstore guys are more assholes than sexists.

    But I wholeheartedly believe that as women, we are so very vulnerable in all the ways you talked about.

  3. i agree with greyvitriol. as per experience. girls do refuse to take help sometimes even when they need it. maybe thinking that it has got to do something with the gender. but its not always like that. this world is a better place to live than you think sometimes.agreed that your experiences invite you to think like that. but still.