Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

The Jump to Conclusions Game

So, part two. When I started writing these sexism posts, I didn't really have an agenda, or a point I wanted to make. I usually don't, I think, and these posts are a prime example of me thinking things through. But this time there's a twist. I'll let Tim (thanks for the comment) think things through for me:

"On the whole we are a much less sexist and racist society than we were 100 years ago. But you cannot deny that it still exists. To do so would slow that cultural evolution. I think it's equally important to recognize your own inclinations to sexual and racial sterotyping (which you will apparently do in your next post)."

My last sexism post refered to myself as a non-sexist male. Now what really does that mean? I think it's safe to say that no one can be truly without prejudices, but how is it that when freinds describe me, or I describe myself, sexist isn't a word that comes up even though I'm a thoroughly prejudiced person. Well, let's drop reason, nit-picking and even theology for a moment while I submit this explanation: I'm not that bad. I am not applied with the sexist label because I'm not as bad as 'them', whoever 'they' are. 'They' could be a jerk I work with. 'They' could be my grandfather. 'They' could be an abstraction of how bad we assume society was 100 years ago. Ultimately no one knows I'm sexist in comparison. I don't even know myself, unless something brings it to my attention.

I think the thing that brought my own sexism to my attention was getting married. For the last year I have been in closer contact with a woman than I have been in years. (For those of you who don't know, my mother got cancer when I was young and died just before my 12th birthday. Because of these events I have spent most of my life without a strong female presence, and my views of gender roles are quite skewed from traditional. In fact, my knowledge of my non-traditional views of gender roles is one of the things that has convinced me from time to time that there's no way I could be sexist.) I can't really pinpoint what about being married has raised my level of awareness, but simply having a strong female influence again was definitely part of it.

Well, that's a lot of set up for not much bang, but here's the meat of the post. Two stories:

Story number 1:
I recently ordered some guitar parts from a mail order company that caters to luthiers (guitar builders) and along with my order came a catalogue. On the front of the catalogue was a testimonial quote about a tool set from a customer. The quote was somehting along the lines of: "Thanks for making these great tools, they are a real life saver in the shop." As I read I imagined a real person, a Gepeto like older man with a leather apron in a dusty workshop, saying these words. I was then somewhat shocked when I saw the quote was attributed to someone by the name of Shannon. My assumption, which I made completely unconsciously, was completely wrong. In my defense, I would like to point out that I have met three luthiers in my life, all of which where male, and one who did indeed look exactly like Gepeto. On top of that, the guitar world is primarily male dominted. There's my defense. Don't worry, it'll fail soon.

Story number 2:
Recently I was reading again, this time in a horse magazine Jeni had borrowed from a friend. In the corner of one page there was a photograph of a trailer parked behind a garage. The quip next to the picture was all about the hassle this person had had with backing their trailer aroung an L bend into the parking spot. It went on with multiple friends who tried to help and the many different methods tried until sucess was achieved. Once again, my mind did the same free association it did before, picturing a large, red-neck man with a ball cap on leaning up against his pickup. The story ended with the person saying how good it felt when their daughter cried out, "Mommy, Mommy, you did it!" Once again my assumption, which I didn't even make consiously, was completely wrong. So what's my defense here? Well, it should be the same as above, only here the facts don't add up. The vast majority of horse people I have met have been female. Equine sports is predominantly a woman's field. I've only ever met two or three men really into horses, and even counting Dr. Mike who counts for at least 3 regular horse people (as his draft horses count for at least three regular horses a piece), the table is still stacked against the Y chromosome. For some reason with all this information I jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Well, long post, two stories, no point. I hope you don't feel upset for reading this far without any big payoff, but that's the way it works sometimes. As it stands, I think I'm not going to feel too bad about jumping to sexist conclusions in my imagination. I think what's more important that what sort of thoughts you have is what sort of actions those thoughts become. I think what I have to do now is get a bead on these sexist thoughts and keep them from coming to realization in my words and actions.

Who knows if I'll post any more on sexism or not. I've got a lot of thoughs running around on the subject, especially dealing with one on one male and female interaction, but I don't know if they're anywhere near the point where they can be committed to the page. Well see how the comments go. By the way, thanks for the comment, Tim. Any clue on who you are if I know you? Your Blogger profile was a dead end.

4 Responses to “The Jump to Conclusions Game”

  1. # Blogger Andrew James

    I gonna assume that Tim would be the one of the Bone Braking variety.  

  2. # Blogger tim

    I am indeed of the bone braking variety.  

  3. # Blogger Matt

    Cool, that's what I thought. Thanks for the input.  

  4. # Blogger Jenevieve

    nice thoughts on sexism, matt. i am going to post on what it means to be a sexist female, i think. we'll see when that happens. i do have a lot more csi to watch.  

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