Friday, December 19, 2014

Feminist toast

I make feminist toast nearly every morning. Well, technically, it's feminist English muffin.

Let me explain.

Years ago, when I was a young feminist, I saw an episode of a 1950s sitcom--something like Father Knows Best or Leave It to Beaver. You know, those idealized versions of life in the 1950s that were on endless syndicated repeat in the 1970s.

There's a lot in those shows that would feed my young feminist ire back in the day, sure, but this one time I witnessed something I've never forgotten. The husband/dad is fixing the toaster (apparently, men in the 1950s knew how to do such a thing). He's noting that the wire is broken because the wife/mom has been pulling the cord rather than the plug. She should not do this, however, because it's dangerous and, as evidenced by the state of the toaster, can break the thing.

It wasn't so much the message as the way he talked to her. The tone in his voice was scolding, annoyed, and imperious. He spoke to her as if she had no brains in her head, as if she were stupid.

I realized, even then, that this sitcom moment revealed a lot about the times--about the absolute assumption that men were smarter, more able, more adult, and that women were some kind of secondary human. It was a throwaway moment in the show, something meant to communicate how normal the couple's relationship was, and yet I knew there was something wrong even if I didn't yet know the word "dysfunctional." I vowed to myself: I will never be with a man who would speak to me like that.

Some mornings, when I'm making my breakfast (which includes a whole-grain English muffin), I remember that scene. And I grasp the toaster wire instead of the plug and pull the damn thing out of the outlet.

Take that, patriarchy.

I hope you enjoy a moment of rebellion today.

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