Post #87: You See!

??????????????????????????????????????????So, you know how last entry I was talking about that new magazine Kindling Quarterly and about perceptions of men and fatherhood and how they’re represented and perpetuated in the culture and how it all kind of pisses me off?

This morning, I took my kids to the dentist. We had  a near flawless experience, thank you for asking. My kids were so good they took a picture of them before we left and hung it on the wall below a plaque that read: BE MORE LIKE THESE BOYS. However, one moment stood out negatively and is the reason I’m sitting here ranting. My 4 1/2 year old got his first x-rays today. He sat there like a champ, chomped down on that razor sharp negative thing they make you bite on that cuts up for gums and everything. You know the one? He didn’t flinch. Just took it and was motionless with that heavy lead jacket on. I was beaming. No joke. As a reward, the hygienist, who was super nice I might add, maybe even the nicest hygienist I’ve ever seen, gave him a sticker for his good effort. She offered to put the sticker in his “goodie” bag, already stuffed with new tooth brush, floss, and toothpaste. He said, no, that he wanted to keep it in his pocket. “Okay,” the hygienist said, “just make sure to tell your mom later so it doesn’t go through the wash.”

Mom. The wash. Get it?

I was so incensed that I temporarily lost control of my body. I tripped her, then laughed as she went sprawling to the carpet, then stood over her Ali over Liston style, shouting “I do laundry too, goddammnit.”

Actually I did what everyone does, ignored it and smiled.

I know what you’re thinking. Shut up entitled white man of privilege. The world is built entirely to honor and protect your dominance so deal with the tiny silly assumption on her part that the kid’s mom is the one who does the laundry. Maybe the men she knows don’t do laundry or something. But still!

Why do these things bother me so much? Am I the only guy out there who notices things like this and gets annoyed?

What’s even more troubling to think about is this: Do I do that to other people? In fact, it’s not even really do I do that to other people? It’s when and how often do I do that to other people? And who do I do it to? Women? Gays? People of color? How often do I let slip a small little pice of bias that irks someone and sends them running back to their computer to blog about it?

While I ponder that, I’m going to go fold laundry. Seriously, I am.

2 responses to “Post #87: You See!

  1. Okay Benjamin, I have to say this. You are upset that the hygienist was making the assumption that your wife was the one who did the laundry. But you didn’t ask her if that was her assumption. That was the assumption you made of her…you assumed what she was thinking. Of course she is going to say, “Make sure you tell your mom that it in there so it doesn’t go through the laundry.” Because mom isn’t there to see that the sticker was going in his pocket. Dad was there, dad saw that the sticker went into the pocket, so of course dad is going doesn’t need to be told that the sticker was in the pocket. Mom, however, does need to be told…regardless of who does the laundry, because you know what, maybe the hygienist made the assumption that you both do the laundry. Kinda like you both do the cleaning of the house or the cooking of the food.

    Just a though…

    • Melissa…first off, thanks for reading my blog. Seriously. Sometimes in blogging it’s hard to know who’s out there and I love that you responded. I truly hope you keep checking in.

      I’ve been thinking about your comment a lot (certainly not ignoring it!). Full confession that I don’t 100% agree with you, but no doubt you’re making a fair point. I did make that assumption, and perhaps (perhaps…perhaps), it was an unfair one. In fact, the end of the post itself totally admits that I, as well as anyone, am probably guilty of similar unconscious biases all the time.

      Now, this is the part where my mother would tell me to close my mouth, but…

      For what you’re saying to be true, then when the hygienist said “tell your mom about the sticker so it doesn’t go through the wash” she would have to have actually MEANT, tell your mom and your dad (since, like you say, I was already standing there), which, though admittedly possible, is pretty darn unlikely from a context/syntax/diction point of view. It just doesn’t seem like how most people would say something like that. If that’s what she’d meant, she more likely would have said “tell your parents” as a way to acknowledge both of us, rather than isolating just mom and meaning (unspoken) dad as well. I don’t know. Maybe I’m nuts.

      It’s funny how everything that’s said and heard has two realities, isn’t it? I think this kind of thing happens all the time. Someone says something, another hears it, but they hear their version of the reality, which is likely only parallel to but not the same as the intended meaning. After that point, two truths come alive.

      My (totally biased) two cents!

      Thanks for reading!

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