About a month ago, my swim friend / gardening fanatic told me about a wonderful new invention: seed tape. The tape is actually a toilet paper-type material, and the seeds are pressed between two layers at ideal intervals for planting. No more painstakingly dropping tiny seeds at carefully measured distances; with seed tape you can dig a simple furrow and lay the paper down in even and well-spaced rows. In a flurry of excitement I went to the local Ace Hardware, which was out of seed tape, and then online, where I purchased lettuce, spinach, carrots and beets.
The bulky envelope of seed tape thrilled me when it arrived and I carefully opened the lettuce and spinach to see the coiled paper within. What a shock when I came to the carrot bag and it was flat as a pancake. No carrot seed tape lay within and the flap on the envelope wasn't even sealed. Someone apparently missed the memo that those envelopes are supposed to contain a product.
So I girded my loins and made a telephone call to the help desk at the seed company. The 'helper' -let's call her Myrtle - asked me for my address and order number twice in a rusty voice. I kept my patience and used my nice "I can make friends on the phone voice," until Myrtle told me that I couldn't make the order request because my husband's name was on the order.
"I need your husband's confirmation of this order," she creaked.
"But I'm the one that made the order! He doesn't know anything about the garden. His name is only on it because I used his PayPal account to pay. And he's on a conference call for work."
"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but I can't process this re-order without your husband's go-ahead." She was definitely not using her "make friends on the phone" voice.
"But this is just for carrots, it's a five-dollar order!" Myrtle didn't reply, so I sighed loudly in exasperation and made the long trek downstairs to the basement so Rob could say yes, please order the carrots. (I may have stomped loudly on the stairs both ways.)
I got off the phone with Myrtle before the customer service recording could capture me saying something bad. Rob came upstairs later with a chuckle, asking why the seed company didn't trust me to order carrots. As I fumed, he shook his head. "It's not the 1950's," he said.
His words put a pause on my anger as I thought about the de-humanizing aggravation, the disempowerment, that women faced in the 1950's, and both before and after that time. The idea that a woman's authority has to come from a man seems barbaric to me, and yet there are people alive (mainly men, but not all) who still believe that.
I'd like to tell Myrtle that women are powerful people, and we know how to buy our own damn carrots. We also own homes and businesses, take charge of families, companies, and countries. We don't need permission from anyone, and we're not going back to a time when a man needed to give it.