I don’t know how to express what a strange feeling it is to me to have professionals just ignore me. Ok, please don’t get me wrong, not always , but very frequently so far I have had the experience of being in an office and having the person direct all their conversation towards Scott while I am sitting right next to him and not even make eye contact with me. Now, I have never thought of myself as a hardcore feminist kinda gal, but come on! I think I’m a pretty independent woman . I have been a successful entrepreneur and business person for twenty years, Ive been a single mother I’ve purchased property and vehicles all by myself and supported myself without a man by my side and feel that I am a very competent human being, I have never had the experience of feeling like I don’t matter. I realize that this is simply a cultural thing and that they do not intend to offend. I’m certain it’s just the way things are done here and will likely always be done here and have always been done here. I am merely saying, that I have never had this experience and it bugs me . It gives me such a vivid perspective on what women in the states fought for in the past in order to be treated as equals in our lives. I’m too young to have felt the inequality that existed in the States and even though I have visited places where the culture treats women differently , being there for a short visit never gave me the opportunity to notice it first hand.
I will, of course adapt to this cultural difference in time, of this I am certain. When one chooses to adopt a new country as their home it means you enter into it knowing that much will be different. Some things will feel so much better and other things take some time to get used to. I am merely taking a moment to express my initial discomfort with this particular Latin way of doing things. It’s actually quite funny to try to think differently. What brought this all up for me was our visit to the Car insurance lady today. We are in the process of purchasing a car for me. Sitting at this very nice women’s desk she directs her conversation directly to Scott and fills out all the paperwork in Scotts name. When we inquire as to putting the insurance in my name she says its not necessary! The exact same thing happened at the Toyota dealership! We wanted to have the title in both our names, “No, it’s not necessary”. HUH? So I understand the laws here are very different. The insurance lady (who spoke perfect english) explained to us that in Panama if anything happens to one of the spouses the property automatically goes to the other spouse, “no problema”. Also the insurance will cover anyone who you give permission to drive your car. Sooooooo does that mean Scott is giving me “permission” to drive my car? Hmmm! The title to the Truck is in Scott’s name and when we met with Keith and filled out the title transfer documents for the used car he is picking up for us we told him we wanted that one in my name. I’m sure this is all just pretty trivial stuff and believe me, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s just something I have noticed and maybe it’s just me , but I’ll get over it. It just seems so strange to be in a position where all our big financial investments would be solely in Scotts name. I know, I am such a Gringo! Uggg! Sooooo Does my discomfort on this different , very traditionally LATIN way of doing things , make me a hard-core Feminist? I don’t know, all I know is , I’m just very accustomed to being treated equal to those around me and to having my own gosh darn car insurance! Is that too much to ask? Well, apparently here in Panama I will have to get used to having ‘permission’ to drive my car. (insert eye roll here!)