Friday, February 17, 2006

The Gap

We were watching ski jumpers on the Olympics.

My parents have always liked the Olympics. They liked anything where they could root for Korea without having any prior knowledge of what they were watching. The World Cup is another such event. My father woke up at 5AM to cheer for Korea in the 2002 World Cup.

But I digress. In this story, we were watching the ski jumpers. My mother said, “It’s like they’re flying.” I told her, “You know, there’s no women’s ski jumping in the Olympics.” I told her that some assholes sat around and decided that ski jumping is too dangerous for women despite the fact that there are several women ski jumpers and many of them are better at it than men.

She watched the ski jumpers flying, and she said, “Well, that makes sense. That looks too dangerous for women.”

The feminist in me couldn’t stay quiet.

That kind of thinking is the reason you’re a seamstress.

I regretted the words as soon as they came out of my mouth. I regretted them even more when she didn’t say anything back. We continued watching the ski jumpers in silence.

There’s a gap that we all know is there. Rarely do we acknowledge its presence, but it’s there, a silent pink elephant in the room, begging for recognition. Everyone has to deal with it. Some people’s parents grew up hippies, flower children who waved peace signs in the air, smoked pot, rode Volkswagon buses to D.C. and protested the war. Their mothers burned bras, hired nannies, and decided that being a secretary wasn’t enough to constitute a career.

Other parents grew up in a different world. A world where it was acceptable for a man to beat his wife when she “got out of line.” Where women were not allowed to smoke cigarettes in public, speak too loudly, wear provocative clothes. Where women were put on this planet to serve men—a dishwasher, a housecleaner, a cook, a vagina to fuck.

That world still exists. Just not in New York City, the world I exist in.

I regretted what I said not because my mother grew up in that latter world, but because she became a seamstress for me and my brothers. For my father, who took her away from a home where she was a teacher and an artist, a success story, to a world where a woman who can’t speak English without a “Gook” accent can’t do much else but become a seamstress. The only problem: I know she chose her path out of necessity, but she accepted it out of bullshit womanly duty.

So I said it, because I could. I didn't acknowledge the fragility of the gap, how easy it is to slip into it. New York women can be bitches and get away with it. And maybe she didn't say anything back because a part of her knew I was right. Just like she didn't protest when I explained to her that I didn't want to be a nurse or a teacher or any of the other "woman" jobs she kept suggesting I pursue in lieu of writing. Maybe she didn't say anything back because it's hard to speak when someone's just slapped you in the face.

But now a part of me wonders if she didn't say anything back because she was proud.

-L

3 Comments:

Blogger Sportsaholic said...

you read what?

12:24 AM  
Blogger Sportsaholic said...

btw i coulda have told you australia was where it's at

12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't think she was silent b/c she was proud...i think it was the slap in the face part you mentioned earlier that kept her quiet...that's a terrible thing you said to your mother.

4:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home