Monday, January 25, 2016

This is Carrie. She Gets Seen Differently as a Woman.

I have a lot of friends who are posting their "This is [Bob].  [Bob] does/does not do [Y].  Be like/don't be like [Bob]" results on Facebook.

Like, a lot.

Maybe you have too.

I have to imagine that poor Dick, Jane, and Spot from that iconic series of 1930s-era readers that gave us such immortal lines of literary genius like "See Spot.  See Spot run.  Run, Spot, run!" feel rather hard done by, both because they did not receive the credit due them for popularizing this sort of writing prose, but also because they have yet to receive their own 21st-century facelift in which, maybe, I don't know, one of them is portrayed as something other than lily-porcelain white.

Personally, I have not indulged in this little Facebook phenomenon, simply because I am just credulous enough of Edward Snowden that I'm unwilling to hand over wholesale my profile's information to an un-vetted third party.

My wife, though, decided to have a little fun with the app, and put herself into it first as a woman, but then also without a gender preference.  Here are the results of both, see if you can "spot" (see what I did there, hur hur) the difference:

So woman-Carrie likes to cook so that she can serve her husband and nonexistent children food, because she cares for her family.  Meanwhile, simply Carrie loves music and listens to what she likes the most, and this makes her smart.

Both times, we are supposed to be like Carrie.  But the not-very-subtle message is that girls and women should want to be more like woman-Carrie who is the very Jane-like model of Leave It To Beaver-esque sexual repression.

Like, I don't even know where to begin with this.  My wife is a very good cook, yes, but I cook for her as often as she cooks for me.  She doesn't identify herself by her cooking, though--she's a board-certified anesthesiologist with degrees in both medicine and public health who has already published a book and is on track to make shareholder status at her practice later this year.  And on top of her expertise in medicine, she actually majored in religious studies as an undergrad, and she knows the academic study of religion as surely as I do.

You wonder how many other girls or women who are in--or interested in--STEM professions who got spit back inane results like these?  Hell, even in my own profession--women are still barred from the Roman Catholic priesthood as well as professional ministry in the Southern Baptist Convention, the Missouri and Wisconsin Lutheran Synods, and a host of other Christian traditions, how many of *them* do you think are secretly wondering whether God may have indeed called them to the ministry of word and sacrament but are instead being shunted into running teas and raffles by default?

Sure, it's a stupid app, but if it only serves to pile on what women have been hearing for decades--that they are more defined by their marriageability and their domesticity than they are by their contributions to the world entire--then, well, screw it.

It's easy for me to say that the results of an inane Facebook app may be innocuous enough; I'm the one who has been told he can do anything he wants with his life.  I've never been told that I really need to learn how to cook or sew, or to change my outward appearance in order to attract a mate (even during my college days with a ponytail).

My smarts are reflected, like my wife's, in my degrees, my education, my life experience, and my expertise.  But unlike my wife's, I've never been told that my smarts are reflected in serving her.

I've never been told that I should be like someone who cooks in order to serve their family because that, as opposed to, I don't know, higher education or an immersion in literature, or traveling the world, is what would make me smart.

Because this is Eric.  Eric is a man.  Eric doesn't have to deal with this sort of bullshit from a sexist and misogynistic world that celebrates a put-down woman and a front-and-center man.

And this Eric is sick of it.

Be like Eric.  Be sick of it too.

Vancouver, Washington
January 25, 2016

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