I do not like being a damsel in distress.
Not least because it is indeed distressing, but mostly I don’t like the helpless image, whether it be real or imagined. I like to think I can do things by myself and don’t need anyone else’s help thank you very much.
So, Sunday afternoon, driving home, I get a puncture.
I get out of the car, curse (first not very ladylike thing to do), get back in the car and phone my boss. I am not phoning because I do not want to change the tyre (well, partly true) but also because I was already late and I knew he would be annoyed if I was even later because I was trying to change a tyre.
I was right, he was annoyed. Before long he had arrived with another (male) member of staff and with typical military efficiency and precision had the punctured tyre off and the new tyre back on again. This was all done even before my friend from the base I had just left a few minutes before had time to get into a vehicle and out of the gate to come and help! I tell you, military efficiency.
I am not annoyed by the rescue mission, nor by the fact that he changed a tyre more efficiently than I change my hairstyle. I am more annoyed that I was not even asked to help or contribute in any way. No, I was told to be ‘the lookout’ – basically to ensure that any of the huge trucks speeding past did not slam into either one of our vehicles. Or that was what I was led to believe. Of course, I would have been entirely helpless to prevent such an incident from occurring, so just stood there feeling like an idiot trying to avoid the leering looks from the local mototaxi drivers who by now were taking a great interest in these ‘blans’ changing a tyre (or not, in my case) by the side of the road.
Really I am grateful; I did not really want to have to change a tyre by myself on the side of a busy main road with several mototaxi drivers offering their ‘advice’ or help. My white t-shirt stayed white and I did not break a nail. I should be very grateful.
But I am still annoyed. Why is it that girls are seen as totally hopeless at this kind of thing? Actually, I know the answer to that – because most of us are. But we’d be a hell of a lot better at it if we were ever given half a chance to help, or heaven forbid, even do it by ourselves.
I know I am partly to blame. I did pick up the phone and make the cry for help. Part of me wishes I didn’t and had just got on with it. Part of me knows I would have been in a whole lot more trouble if I hadn’t.
So, sometimes maybe it doesn’t hurt to be the damsel in distress. For me, it just clashes with the fiercely independent side of my character and makes me feel like a helpless idiot for a short while. I still think women have a lot to learn before they can really claim to be truly independent – but I would also argue that men could help us out a little more too!