‘Are you the boss’s wife?’
Small-town misogyny is constant and exhausting.
It hit the hardest in the first week, when everyone was trying to get to know us. I remember from my childhood how “friendly” people are in small towns — often code for nosy or gossipy, though those don’t have to be negative. But I’d forgotten how extractive that friendliness can be when you don’t live up to strangers’ expectations.
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In our first week in business at the print shop, sales doubled a typical week. Judging by the conversations we had, it seems a lot of people found reasons to make copies that week just so they could scout the new shop owners in town.
My autism and introversion would have rendered these conversations with strangers draining under any circumstances, but the layers of small-town misogyny woven throughout their questions put me in downright burn-it-all-down mode by around day 10.
I wasn’t prepared for this part of being a rural business owner.
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