Example: I am the skipper of our boat, but almost invariably when conversation initiates with strangers on dock or at yacht club, males will speak to my husband about boat as though I'm not even standing there. I know I'm not pretty, but I don't think it's just that. Husband has noticed it too and will generally steer the stranger towards me for boat discussion which elicits surprised responses.
not sure that is due to sexism or your appearance. the truth is, most women are not sailors ( on their own, without the hubby being the driving force in the group interest in sailing ). that is changing but it is true. so, most men just assume it's the man, in the couple, who had the real interest, and they assume the wife is just partaking in his interest.
good example from experience:
i am a gearhead. i never considered myself one, but i have been forced to realize that i am. i build my own bikes, fabricating my own parts, so i can't deny it. i treat everyone i meet with the same respect and consideration. i was raised to give everyone the chance to prove themselves so i do. i don't judge a person by my interactions with any other person. so, if you talk to me, and mechanical stuff ( especially bikes ) comes up, i am not going to treat you like a child. i will discuss it with you. same with sailing, weapons, metal smithing....anything i know about, really. if it comes up, i will discuss it with you.
now, there are some really cool chicks who dig motyorcycles and can work on their own bikes. like sailor women ( also cool and very desirable ), they are hard to find and, when you find them, they are usually already taken.
so, 99% of the time, if the conversation goes to motorcycles, or anything mechanical, it's not long before the woman, i am speaking to, is looking at me with a blank face....as if i was talking in an alien tongue from a far off planet. ( now, to be fair, men, these days, aren't what they used to be. so, if i talk about mechanical things with a guy, now, i have about a 50% chance of meeting with a blank stare, to some degree. still, it's a safer bet that any guy you meet will be more likely to have mechanical knowledge than any woman you meet. it is changing but i'm not so sure if it's because more women are taking these things up or because more men are not taking them up. where most guys worked on cars or sailed or something like that, in the past, many younger guys are just video game fixated and know nothing else, today. of course, people make a big deal out of women doing these things, now, but there were always certain women doing these things. you just didn't treat them like puppy dogs that did a trick for you.)
now, if i get that response 99% of the time, so do other mechanical guys. so, if they assume a woman they meet is not mechanically minded, are they really being sexist or are they simply reacting to a lifetime of previous encounters?
like i say, i view every person and every situation as a unique, individual. most people don't. quickly judging a being, or situation, that you encounter by what you already know IS a natural survival mechanism. quick action, based on previous experience, can save an animal from sudden death....that includes humans.
so, applying that to sailing: i am willing to bet that 99% of the time, most of these guys you have run into have found that women, sailing with their male partner, are not the boat owner and are not the primary one who is interested. if you look back in this thread you will see the same thing mentioned...by women as well as men.
those guys who assume the boat is your husband's are only acting on previous experience. it has nothing to do with sexism.
if you want to look at it evenly, men do not have men only sailing nights or men only clubs ( that's not even allowed by law ). women do have women only sailing events and they also have tons of women only organizations, of all sorts. that's sexist.
as with motorcycles, i find that most men are not just supportive of a woman that sails, they think it is sexy. so, they certainly aren't trying to keep women from sailing, which would be sexist.
i find that the trouble with people who are always looking for an 'ism' and always trying to classify someone as an 'ist' is that, if you look hard enough, you can convince yourself that anything, however minor, fits that 'ism'.
why is it that there are never very many blacks playing hocky? is it racist? are the evil canadians purposely keeping them out because they secretly wished they had slaves? or maybe, it's just because black guys tend to prefer basketball. you could ask if basketball was racist because it is predominantly black. but both questions would just be seeking an 'ist' or finding an 'ism' where there isn't one.
not everyone likes all things equally. sexist women aren't keeping men out of knitting classes. men just aren't very interested in knitting.
and, if you assume the husband is the boat owner and the primary sailing enthusiast, it's not because you are an evil sexist jerk. it's because 99% of the couples you meet fit that description.
but then, som e people are always looking for the 'ists' of the world. the trouble is, if you are looking for it, you just focus public attention on our differences....which fosters 'isms'.
just let life alone. let people live as they will. don't assume everyone is an evil 'ist' out there trying to hold some other group down. most people are decent folk not trying to hold anyone down. there are buttholes in every group of people but the butthole minority doesn't define the group. it's an exception to the group.
i can't speak for any other guy here, but i think it is awesome when i meet women who are sailors, because they love sailing, or bikers, because they love to ride. i have spent a lifetime hoping to meet one of those elusive types of women. they would be the perfect partner to share a life with. on the other hand, a woman that will dedicate herself to a lifestyle because her husband/boyfriend is a part of that lifestyle is a very specisal woman, too. to dedicate yourself to something out of love for another....well, not everyone can love that selflessly.