Pumping Gas: Women’s Work?
by Ann Thrope
Do you pump your own gas? Does it make you feel manly, dirty, or even just awkward? Should you be doing it yourself? Women are divided over whether or not it is acceptable to pump gas, and we here at the Ladies’ Monthly have written this article to discuss the growing controversy.
Is pumping gas a sign of independence and freedom? Dana Roth thinks so. We met up with her at a local Exxon station while she was servicing herself. Dana works 40-50 hours a week. She told us she doesn’t have time for her husband to fill her tank every few days, and full serve is too expensive to be an option. Nonetheless, Dana wouldn’t have it any other way. She said, “I don’t mind pumping gas at all, its kind of empowering to do it all myself. I like getting surprised looks from men who have to do it for their wives.” When we asked Dana what her favorite part of getting gas was, she said “I like it all, parking just right, knowing which buttons to push, and then inserting the pump into the tank and pumping until it gets so full that it clicks and turns off. Normally I’ll try to top off the tank, I’ve gotten good at watching it so that it doesn’t overfill and spill out all over the place.”
But can pumping gas be too manly? Angela Wright showed up with her husband shortly after Ms. Roth left. We asked her why she doesn’t feel comfortable pumping her own gas, and she said, “The whole process is disgusting. The pumps are always dirty and they would make my hands smell bad. Pumping gas is no job for a woman like me.” We continued to talk with Mrs. Wright about what she thinks of women who do pump gas, and she said “Tom Boys, for certain, no daughter of mine would ever learn to do something so dirty.” When we asked her husband what he thought about having to pump his wife’s gas he declined to comment, but when we asked him what he thought of women that do, he said, “I think its good for everyone to learn how to do it, just in case they unexpectedly run out of gas and can’t make it to a full serve station. If I had a dollar for every time I had to drive an hour or more to help Angela out with her gas I would be a rich man.” Mrs. Wright looked visibly upset at the prospect, and realizing it, her husband continued, “But I love helping Angela out with her gas, its no trouble, and I like to know she’s not uncomfortable.”
But just as the Wright’s and our crew left the station, something interesting happened. Apparently Mr. Wright had unwittingly forgotten to fill Mrs. Wright up to a full tank. After turning on her car, Mrs. Wright became upset and asked her husband to fill it up with the remaining quarter of a tank. Mr. Wright, seemingly resistant towards having to go through all the motions again just to top off the tank, refused. Mrs. Wright became more upset, shouting “This is the one thing I ask you to do and you can’t even do it!” Mr. Wright began pleading with her, but Mrs. Wright would not relent.
A few seconds later, we saw Mr. Wright getting out of the car, red in the face. He didn’t stop for comment, and it appeared that he was beginning to walk home. But Mrs. Wright looked furious that she still didn’t have her full tank of gas, and so she began driving behind him, honking her horn for a few hundred feet before we saw Mr. Wright get back into the car. A few seconds later, they were back at the station to finish fueling. Mr. Wright declined further comment.