Say WHAT now?!

In the car, The Man had NPR on to entertain the Boychick whilst waiting for me to bring the pizza (drool) out. We drive off, too busy munching and avoiding downtown traffic to turn off the radio. There’s some interview going on about a “lunch lady” (yes, the reporter actually called her a “lunch lady”, which should have been my first clue) who took the job just to have something to do while her kids were at work, ended up staying to pay the bills, still here 15 years later, etc, yadda yadda. And then, says the announcer, it’s time for the part of her job where she calls up the moms that haven’t paid their children’s lunch bills*.

The moms.

The moms.

The fucking MOMS.

Excuse me? Excuse fucking me? Is this “lunch lady” living in the district of exclusively single mother (or two mother) households? Do not a one of their students have a father or two hanging around? (Being raised by grandparents or other relatives, perhaps?) No? So what the fuck is with calling the MOMS?

Oh I’m sorry, I seem to have temporarily forgotten that dads’ responsibility ends at ejaculation. Wait, no, we need them to pay the bills. Oh this was a bill? Oh right, we just need them to earn the money, but it’s up to the mothers to actually make sure the chil’ens are actually fed, because we can’t can’t expect dads to keep track of little things like the survival of their kids.

Did you perchance notice my ire on this topic? Why, you ask? It’s one word. Just one word. What’s the big deal?

It’s one word that carries with it the world of burden that sexist assumptions about parenting brings. It’s one word that says sure there may or may not be men in the picture, but it’s certainly not their job to keep track of lunch bills and permission slips and PTA meetings. It’s one word that tells women fine, you can get a job if you need to, but heaven forbid you ever share the responsibility of childrearing; no, unto you falls all the hassles of work AND keeping track of everything about your children; only men are allowed off work after 5, you just shift jobs. It’s one word that perfectly sums up the double standard of parenting, and it’s one word that makes radfem instructions to avoid procreation to avoid perpetuating patriarchy seem to make sense. It’s one word that if changed could change the world; it’s one word that will probably only be changed when the whole world changes first.

I didn’t hear the rest of the piece; my blood was boiling too loudly, and I snapped off the radio in self protection. The story actually had nothing to do with the calls to moms; that was just an aside, a fun little half-second bit to prop up the patriarchy and keep the wimmins in their place. Nothing, really. Just the dimminuization and essentialization of my entire self as woman with child. Just the erasure of my coparent’s existence and responsibility. The story moved on, even if I could not, stuck and struck as I was by how much misogyny just one little word could convey.

But hey, the pizza was good.

* For an excellent piece this reminded the tiny part of my brain that hadn’t just imploded at the word “moms” of, see Womanist Musings on If you’re poor in New Mexico.

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6 Responses to Say WHAT now?!

  1. You couldn’t sit in the same room as my father-in-law. You’d have a stroke. Actually, I just chalk it up to him not knowing better and having a wife who enjoyed being responsible for the home while he worked outside of it.

    However, it’d be easier to live with his son if things had been different… And judging from my peers, I’m one of the lucky ones.

  2. You couldn’t sit in the same room as my father-in-law. You’d have a stroke.

    Likely, yeah. ;) Although I often am better at deep breathing and letting things go in person than I am about things I see/hear in more public venues (TV, radio, etc, especially “news”). I can better forgive individuals, who usually are just spouting their nonsense to a few others, than I can entities who have a large audience, and as such are doing that much MORE to promote misogyny than are ignorant FILs.

    I hate that “less misogynistic” = luckier in mate selection, although I will concede its truth. Perhaps not practical, but I wish we’d all hold standards of “actively feminist” = bare minimum; perhaps then we’d see real change.

    On my less optimistic days I add “…or the human race would die out”.

  3. I don’t even know how to respond to shit like that. I don’t know why I continue to be shocked…

  4. Hmmm, would you consider referring to her as the lunch lady slightly stereotypical? Do you use the term lady cop or lady doctor? What does her gender have to do with her job title? Maybe she was just falling back on the generic “moms” like you fell back to using the generic “lunch lady.”

  5. Drat, I see the link was dynamic — but what it HAD pointed to was that the story itself referred to her as “lunch lady” (was actually titled something involving the phrase “lunch ladies”), which I found highly offensive and was attempting to point out with the link and my use of it in quotes.

  6. I’ve updated the post. Thanks for pointing out the confusion. :)

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