ADVENTURES OF A
One thing I have been trying to take notice of is how my experiences at sea are different passing (ish) as a man than previously passing as a woman. It’s been kind of hard to suss out because this cruise is so different than any I’ve been on before. I’ve mostly been overwhelmed by how many more resources there are on this ship than on any of the South African vessels (this ship alone has more of many types of instruments than the entire country of South Africa....). But I have started to think about how I am taken more seriously than my female colleagues.
One of our responsibilities as students is to “sample cop”. This means we verify what bottle people sample from the CTD, and that they are going in the right order. It’s a fairly easy but very important job. Sampling in the wrong order or from the wrong bottle will make the measurements useless.
I’m on shift with 2 female students, one of whom really wanted to sample cop. She had to ask the chief scientist if she could, he asked if she wanted any training, and then her first two times, many of the male scientists purposely fucked with her, saying the wrong numbers to see if she would catch it, telling her she put the date in the wrong format, just generally being assholes. To some extent, this is normal at sea. Things get boring so we give each other a lot of shit. However, it really felt to me like they were trying to catch her fucking up to prove she was incompetent. It’s worth noting: she did not mess up, and she responded to them with things like “fuck you” (probably the only good response).
But my first time as sample cop, I was just told I should do it since no one else was. There was no asking permission or people thinking I needed training. No one tried to mess with me. They largely just assumed I knew what I was doing. And since it’s a super easy job if no one is trying to fuck with you, it was very obvious I did know what I was doing. Maybe people were just in a calmer mood when I was sample cop; I have no way of proving their reactions were about gender. But I can’t stop thinking maybe they were.
And the outcome of that is a perpetuating cycle. Because if you’re trying to get someone to fuck up, and you succeed, then you think female scientists are less competent, and you’re going to watch them even more closely for mistakes. Meanwhile I (and other male passing people) just quietly fly under the radar