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THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Ladies first, thank you!


Antoinette Connell

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Ladies first, thank you!

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“Caaave iiin!” a man screamed and immediately there was a mad rush for the door of the bank.
The building was shaking and with memories of the Brittons Hill, St Michael cave-in still fresh in people’s minds the tremor of November 2007 drove fear in the hearts of many.
I was in the line at the bank counting those who were ahead of me and calculating how much time I would have to wait. It is something I do almost every time I go into the bank or stand in a line waiting to use the ATM.
I have no strategy for getting to the top of the line any faster; I just want to know how long my wait is going to be so that I can set my mind to it and not get upset when I don’t swiftly move up.
So to while away the time, using my limited powers of deductions, I usually decide who is there to make a simple transaction. It is most certainly not the man or woman with a large stack of paperwork that includes that huge receipt book. Neither is it the elderly man carrying a large money bag.
Often I’ll also try to factor in other things that would affect my time such as if the customer rep goes off to lunch how it reduces the ratio of reps to customers.
Sometimes I’ll get a bit of a setback when, as I approach the counter, a few people that I hadn’t noticed sitting to the side rejoin the line.
On this particular day I was in the midst of counting heads and calculating when I looked down and felt the earth move. Before I had time to react I heard the blood-curdling scream from a man and felt bodies pushing past me. I don’t always panic and this was one occasion, so I walked quickly towards the exit where two men of reasonable firmness were practically fighting each other to get through the suddenly way-too-small doorway. A third man was shouting “ga out”. The hilarity of the moment came to me when I was safely on the outside and the danger had initially passed.
I laugh every time I remember the men in the doorway with the attitude of every man for himself. Where was the chivalry?
I do not care how many feminists there are out there, I am not one. I’ll join my female counterparts in the fight for certain rights and recognition.
However, I like the idea of women and children first in times of disaster and I can’t claim this if I want to be treated equally in every sphere. If the ship is sinking I want to hear “women and children”. I like the idea of hearing “let me help you with that” for no other reason than simply because I am female.
I like belonging to a special group that God ordained to give birth to children. I like being viewed as a life giver and the continuation of the world.
That is why I find the ongoing Hollywood discussion on whether there should be a description of actress rather than actor unnecessary. The job title does not matter, so lump them all together. All this will do is either prompt the organisers into increasing the size of the Best Actor category or the category would be even more competitive with both men and women vying for the same statue, or can I say statuette.
This is just another way that the language is evolving. Sometimes the media aid in this regard. For example we here no longer refer to judicial officers as Mr or Madame Justice. They are simply justices. The job is the same whether man or woman.
• Antoinette Connell is DAILY NATION Editor.

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