The Gender Wars Just Got Real: or Sociology is Not Social Work

So my youngest had the choice this week (well I had the choice this week) of having my son participate in a musical, for which FINALLY boys had actual speaking roles OR he could continue playing in a football tournament that he was asked to play in for a week.  I basically realized that either choice brought with it some “ism” that I was not happy with and made me look like someone who took issue with EVERYTHING.  It was either the musical with matriarchy and cronyism or football with patriarchy and cronyism.  Since I could no longer complain about the lack of opportunities for boys to have roles in the arts (last year it was Choir and solos I was angry about), I could and did complain, well I pointed out with video evidence that my 10 year old with a flair for the dramatic deserved the lead role.  He was given some token role with 5 lines… I have warned people that I am just as competitive in scholarly and artistic pursuits as athletics and I probably lean more toward athletics, because it seems more normal there.  Yelling at a spelling bee is frowned upon, I found out and challenging a ruling to see if UK English was actually more acceptable, since it was the “King’s English” was almost as embarrassing in hindsight as blaming Dan Quayle for spelling errors.  Although I would much rather dress up and stay inside a warm gymnasium Thursday evening, I am not going to participate in the matriarchy, whiny, cronyism that led to someone, who is a SOMEONE in this town to get the lead even though he can’t string together a coherent sentence.  Of course that is “mean” and someone might literally cry about it, that isn’t fair.  Telling me I hurt your feelings, when you support all that is wrong with America is a total cop-out and a testament to why we have such an “entitlement” problem…let the best man win (or woman or random person who isn’t related to a “somebody”).  I told my son he should he should be allowed to give his spot to a kid that never gets picked to do things, but of course the part went to the head of the PTA’s kid, who is also a doctor’s son….

Then there is football, which as a sport and a culture, has come under fire because of this Richie Incognito fiasco.  Ironically my son is also an offensive lineman and I have been formulating theories on how to coach the O-line lately on my spare time, because it is hard to do all the hard work and get none of the credit.  Enter in the “Incognito” joke, literally.  I think that O-lineman either fall into one of two camps; the protector types that will block to save their QB and running backs and then there are the Richie Incognitos, who are mean enough to play defense, but too slow, and well just mean.  My son isn’t mean and he doesn’t need to be, so enter in patriarchy and the idea that you have be a mean person to play football.  Yeah, ok only if you want to reinforce tired old stereotypes about “jocks” being unintelligent and all the other negative connotations.  On the other hand, if my son, who is a good actor, wanted to continue to be in musicals and such, he would be called something equally stereotypical…  This does actually make me cry and then I see the possibility that my son is likely going to be called a “mama’s boy” and I get angry, because what I am looking for is a meritocracy not a matriarchal society…because I haven’t even thought through what the latter might look like.  Although if there is excessive crying, I don’t want any part of it.  However I am not saying that emotion is bad, I am just saying that using emotion as a weapon can be bad- anger/yelling or sadness/crying… and I am more comfortable with constructive yelling than I am with crying about how I am being “unfair”- when you are being unreasonable, because I said YOU were being unfair… UGHHH this is exhausting.

I have always been for gender equity (equality is not the same as equity people)! I didn’t always know what it was called, but I have seen the effects of trying to force a tomboy to be girly (I have experienced that) or trying to force a boy of any type to be a “machine” without feelings or a working brain, because you know being smart and stuff is stoooopid!- There is an ism for that, but I don’t have the energy to get into it…. Caring about art, music, or (gasp) dance and you may get bullied by an Incognito type person.  Sadly you don’t even have to be a kid, so these campaigns of “it gets better” and so on, well- sorry kids, but the truth just came out.  Sometimes it is worse and it is worse BECAUSE you are an adult and you think to yourself “I am a grownup, what is really going on here?”  I for one am glad that this is coming out, because life should get better when you grow up and the prom queens from the 80’s can stop being so bitchy to everyone and I can (although I don’t want to) discontinue being the person that alternates from yelling at someone when I see an “ism”- to an Emo person that just sees that life is pointless and why not just listen to Nirvana and to heck with those prom queens and WHY is marijuana not legal- like DUDE!?! (to be clear here this is SARCASM and a flashback to my high school self).  Of course there is a race and class element to all of this first…but class is so much easier to understand and even dismiss…oh really?>> you may ask- yes…. I am going to buy my middle son, in the midst of teenage angst the new “Ghost” game that came out today…all his friends have it.  I am not going to be THAT parent that says oh, you don’t have to have everything your friends have, because you DO or they wouldn’t be your friends…they wouldn’t be your friends because you would have nothing in common NOT because they think they are better than you BUT because it is a “bummer” when little Johnny can’t play games with you because they are poor… Do we expect to deal with “bummer” situations all the time? I am not wealthy by any means, but my neighbor or some other person who has to have back surgery every month or so is a bummer to me, because we aren’t in a Back Surgery Support Group and I can probably one-up you with the back problems- because I am competitive and I DO NOT care if I am in my 30’s I can one-up your Dementia too… and this children is why Sociology is not Social Work…. well this is why those of us that are consumed with the Sociology of Sport, who love competition and can spot class/race/gender conflict a mile away because conflict is not a whole lot unlike competition act as we do… Well this is why I act as I do, but after all I am only one representation of my non-Waspy, female, working class, educated, type-A, MBTI ENTJ, and so on and so on- so I can only speak for myself.  Maybe we are all unique snowflakes… Palahniuk.

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How Many Sub-Disciplines Again?

Ok so I decided to “brand” myself as a Sociologist and in doing so map out my remaining years of research and work (I am in my 30’s, so this feels like major commitment)- for those of you “pop culture” people and parents I am feeling like Squidward hearing SpongeBob’s shriek of “FOREVER!..” But that is alright, otherwise who knows where I might end up.

So this “branding” happened in a very public sphere and, yes, this is a public sphere, as well, but we are talking Twitter- which people may actually read…this blog? probably not so much.  So new Twitter “bio” =Sociology Instructor- Sociology of Sport, Social Construction of Competition, Disaster, Violence, and Terrorism, Art in Social Movements, and Gender Studies… So no, no, and no, this is not an excuse to watch sports.  Sports helps me understand competition in the Social Psychology “in-group and out-group dynamics” in collective narcissism, cronyism, and “good ole boys stuff”…thank you very much.  We can look at ethnocentrism and how it may lead to violence, of extreme nationalism and its role in terrorism.  Disaster…may be due to Terrorism or something else.  Sports is my building block, so wrap your mind around that.

Art in Social Movements…let’s see 60’s music, anti-globalization pop art, Communist theater, AIM’s music and dance, and on and on and on… so I can make art (or try) and also partake it.  I could do this for FOREVER…no problem.  Finally, gender studies and I am stuck with my sex and gender pretty much locked in, although (ironically) become more feminine and less “competitive”….still conceptualizing at this point.  I am also stuck with the 3 boys and a plethora of information on gender roles and masculinity.  I am somewhat fascinated by my youngest, who can play football like a pro and then in the next breath tell me about his audition for a musical.  He loves costumes and uniforms, I will give him that…what a case study, that one.  My oldest is absolutely obsessed with a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t play a sport, but he lifts weights every single day (even on Sundays when I am trying to watch football).  He criticizes what is in the refrigerator…regular yogurt and not low-fat?  He talks about carbs and buys nutritional supplements.  I am too busy trying to keep up with the B vitamins he is on to study him, but wow-

I may write some poetry, although I am currently reeling from the loss at the local poetry contest.  I feel the need to redeem myself…I may write in the style of the Dark Romantics…since they are my favorite this time of year.  Scarlet Letter? yes, yes…that is perfect.  Random, which isn’t a sub-discipline, but if it was, I would be the Chairperson of randomness although out of chaos comes something…. which is what I am trying to prove here.

Gender Bias- Enough!

Research confirms what many of us already knew, mothers have a much harder time getting promoted than single women and men with children.  There seems to be a strange correlation with single men having issues moving up, as well, although I could not find a reason for this specifically in the research.  From The Chronicle of Higher Education comes this:

“Take two equivalently qualified job candidates. One is known to be a parent. The other is not a parent.

With experimental scenarios like these, researchers have found substantial evidence of bias against mothers. In the studies of Shelley Correll, a professor of sociology at Stanford, childless women were roughly twice as likely to be called back or recommended for hire by an employer. And when childless women were recommended for a job, they were offered salaries approximately $11,000 higher”.

It is a scenario that plays out all too often and is perpetrated by people who are supposed to know that stereotyping and discriminating is just flat-out wrong, academia is mentioned and this is troubling.  This is a double-edged sword with women who happen to be mothers, yet it doesn’t define them and they may be (hypothesis) not exactly accepted by the more (how do I put this?)- maternal? mothers who have made a career out of parenting or portraying themselves as good parents or forgetting that it is their kids that are in high school or middle school not them…yes those women.  I have come to despise those women and it because, yes, they fit a stereotype and they help perpetuate it.  I know I am supposed to feel some solidarity here, but I hate them for it sometimes.  Just like a person who has fallen on “hard times” and is receiving assistance all the while hearing about what scum they are or whatever other people that FEAR the same fate call them, just like that feeling they get when they see a stereotype…or any ethnic group that has had to overcome hatred only to find themselves hating one another, because they HATE themselves and they are just destroying a mirror.  Yes Fear and Hate, capitalized, all-caps even, because these are the most powerful “forces” out there.  I say forces, because these aren’t feelings when they are permanent….they are states of mind.  What sort of progress can ever be made if I fear going outside this maternal box or toward a better future and I end up hating the women that appear content with themselves as a mom and a wife.  Sure everyone deserves to be happy…but my guess is that you are raising the self-entitled jerks that will be oblivious to anyone else, even you, yes you.  This is why some of us (this is for the non-parents)some of us decide to have children, because we are terrified, this is our fear, the fear of “cool women” anyway-this is hard to define but I’ll go on-OUR fear is that THOSE stereotypical and oblivious people will multiply…ever wonder why there is all this obsession with zombies in the popular culture?  Think about that for a second…

It’s a tightrope of being reminded when you go outside the norms of a social group with overt comments like “do you think you’re better than me?” “who do you think you are?” translation: know your place and most importantly do NOT EVER remind us that we may be oppressed in some way.  More covert forms of social control exist as well, being excluded for instance and no one wants that…if your family or peers won’t even talk to you because you are a reminder that MAYBE aspiring to be something different is not the worst goal, how confident can one possibly be with a group of more “superior” aka not oppressed and oblivious people with whom you have nothing in common with?  No wonder people scramble back to a dysfunctional life just to be accepted…being dysfunctional is better than being invisible.  Then you are pigeonholed back into a stereotype that ensures that your kids are stuck…if you have them and I understand why people don’t.  Moms can be as exclusive as any group I have ever met, I would probably have a better chance breaking down barriers with a motorcycle gang…I also have less of a chance of getting promoted and being taken seriously.  I talk about my kids (because they say the darndest things just like ADULT people sometimes) and I get the cold shoulder from the snobs who are above this, those who probably read Tolstoy’s later work and were influenced by the not having children thing and by that I mean the stuff he wrote when he was totally insane and also decided having kids was a bad idea after having 14.  I talk about Tolstoy with a group of mom’s and how the Kreutzer Sonata was also an actual Sonata and how Teddy Roosevelt considered Tolstoy a sexual moral pervert and…. if it doesn’t involve a story their kids wrote about their stuffed freaking dinosaur it is of no importance.  Really? Of course I said this is a tightrope, not every mother is self-absorbed and not every academic will freak out when you mention how your kid’s new hobby has something to do with campaigning for our street name to be changed because they didn’t like it for some forgettable reason, because they have moved on to campaigning for the driving age to be lowered to 10.

We are expected to act like two distinct people, both of these in the public sphere, three people if you act differently in private and gossip about people or whatever some people do… WEB DuBois talked about this idea of a “double consciousness” and as it pertains to race, it makes sense.  This is why Sociologists put gender with race and class….it makes us who we are, divides us, stereotypes us, and brings out fear and hate and strict social control in whatever group you are forced to be pigeonholed into…the illusion of choice is not an illusion if you realize this.  It doesn’t make me feel a deep seated (almost but not quite) hate for these mothers any less knowing this… I don’t think it makes me less of a Feminist for feeling this way either.  I understand the strategy of divide and conquer, but when there is nothing left to divide (if you are a mother with career aspirations and your budget literally leaves nothing TO divide)…all there is left is to conquer and if you aren’t with me, you are against me.  If you aren’t outraged by discrimination or outraged about anything at all, because it isn’t “ladylike” or if you are a snob who feels that outrage is SO low rent, you are an idiot,  Things don’t get conquered by peace, the etiology of the word does suggest a level of high emotion….peace is when the fight is done.  Read the comments on these ‘micro mechanisms” by the ASA. They seem to put this is a more “even” way…I’m still pissed about it.

A Team Player? How Does THAT Happen?

Having a “team player” attitude is what most work organizations want and obviously what sports coaches want.  After doing this sports parenting thing for over a decade and deciding to grow up personally and actually have a career and not just a job has led me to the conclusion that I probably am not the best role model for a team player.  As a person who has always been drawn to Sociology and who teaches it, dealing with groups is difficult, because the idea is that we study them; obviously.  When we are part of them (whatever group) terms like “group-think” and “norms”, and “social control” are always there.  More disturbing is the reminder of Zimbardo’s study or the Milgram experiment; i.e. our human capability to just “go along” and become Nazis.  Absolute obedience is something to be feared, maybe not all Sociologists feel this way, but I do….
I remember my first Sociology course and the only college course, where there was a “bell curve”…actually there was no bell curve, because I kept getting 100% on tests  therefore taking away the curve and also giving the Professor an experiment to work with.  He told the entire class what grade they MIGHT have gotten had I not gotten that 100%, yes he used my name so everyone knew who was to blame.  He referenced the “prisoner’s dilemma” in this case and I understood I could either continue doing well or do less well for the good of the rest of the class.  I chose to continue acing tests, because I am competitive and what I found pointless to do in sports (after the time I broke a 3rd baseman’s leg sliding into the base and realizing that even though I did exactly what I was supposed to do to get on base, leg-breaking was not the best skill to hone unless I joined a mafia), I did however find the competitive spirit in getting better grades than others.  Actually, knowing how to run fast and slide did turn into a good skill set when I had to run from a certain classmate, who decided that I was the reason she would fail the Sociology “bell curve” class since I continued to get 100%.
The valuable lesson I learned too is that the class became split, between those who were passing and admired me and those who were failing and hated me.  I could deal with both those things.  Is it better to be loved or feared?- that question has never really been answered, but if you want to be a team-player, you better be loved instead.  You sometimes have to downplay your abilities and you can’t go around breaking your teammates legs (did I mention this was in a scrimmage game Varsity V. Reserves and not against a rival team?)- even if I used perfect form when I slid into base and did just what my dad told me and my brother to do in baseball/softball and obviously he knew what he was talking about since my brother’s picture hangs on the wall at the High School for being a superstar player.  My dad and his dad were also Letterman in sports and evidently so was my uncle until he ran away to New York and finally Florida where he currently lives under an overpass.  My cousin though from the same side of the family is also on the wall of fame for wrestling.  I have obviously surmised that genetics play a big part in this too.  It is split between wondering who will become homeless and live under a bridge in Tampa or who will be a superstar in life.
So having three boys is not some misguided Feminist attempt to allow myself to live vicariously through them in all the things I could not to (or at least play with teammates with sturdier legs) or to prove that a single mom can guide kids just as well as a father could do – well I am competitive, so I do want to prove I can at least teach them some things.  Teaching them to be team players has proven the hardest.  I made that mistake with my oldest, but granted I was still in Graduate School when he started sports and being a younger parent and being confused as my oldest son’s sister led me to begin randomly yelling things out, because no one’s sister actually cares enough to do so.  More education in Sociology and my fear that if my son just went along” with everything, he could become a Nazi, led me to even more sideline yelling and coach confrontations.  That fact that he is an “all about me” teen at this point, should be no surprise, but he should do alright, considering his father owns a business and business-owners don’t have to be team players anyway.
Enter in the middle kid and my sudden understanding that people with grown children, no children, or men did better in their careers, because they had the time to put into them…basically work was their life.  The “women can have it all” myth was shattered and I dealt with it by appointing myself the boss of absolutely everything I was doing, including “coaching” kid 2.  Unlike kid 1, who I put upon a pedestal (and he was a good athlete), kid 2 was not put upon the same pedestal, instead I became obsessed with things like his technique or even worse his coaches choices for plays.  There were times I flat-out told coaches that he would not do “x” play, because “x” play was not working and even hand out a PDF of what plays would work better.  Inadvertently he has become a team player, since his teammates and coaches were obviously more normal than I was at the time and they were an escape from my insanity.  It is also important to mention that this son is from a second and also short marriage and his father also ended up in Florida.  I once thought after not hearing from him in years that he was in the Witness Protection Program, but then he popped up on Facebook and I had to tell kids 2 and 3 that he was not in fact working to build homes for orphans in Africa, but he was in Florida and….changed the subject.  So kid 2 cares about his coaches even more because they are father figures and at least is no longer jealous of those imaginary orphans with new imaginary homes, which is ridiculous anyway.
Kid 3 came as a surprise from the second he was born, firstly I was advised that I was now the parent of a redhead (how is this genetically possible?), secondly the moment I held him, he had a deathgrip on my finger from which I had to literally peel his tiny fingers away to give him to the nurse thinking this one will be the football player and not ever changing my mind because thirdly, he was not a natural athlete at every sport he played (how is this genetically possible?), but the first time he ever got to tackle a kid, it looked like he had been doing it for years.  Therefore, kid 3 became about intensity.  I was at a point in my life where Recession and the knowledge that my CV just-sucked- made it easy to want to give up. I also realized that I was such a competitive student that I actually married “case studies” to have something to do outside of school, because just being married for the sake of being married never actually made any sense to me.  Of course, I can say that my kids are all legitimate and that was important, I suppose.  So, I watched motivational videos and began being a huge Ray Lewis fan (wondering what sorts of things I might have learned from him if I would have picked better case studies).  I didn’t try to overanalyze every thing with kid 3 or put him up on a pedestal, but instead saw that his lack of fear and genetically unexplainable toughness and the rest made him into a natural leader.  Every team needs one, but a leader is still a good team player…because they care enough about their teammates to bring out the best in them by example and from a parenting aspect; quite by accident.  I also realized that as long as they didn’t end up in Florida (which I always say with the same unsubtle distaste as I do when I say “Nazi” or “soccer”) then it can’t be THAT bad.

Failure or Animal Lover?

So working at the farm this week is not an option…I feel like a failure, yet the farm has enough workers that it will not go to a standstill because I am not there, nor will it be that affected at all.  Why could I not work this week?  In the message I sent at 5am this morning, I claimed “babysitting issues” which is true- my two youngest would have been home alone, although they are generally asleep when I am out working so early in the morning,  Who needed babysitting?- my son’s hamster Mr. Chubbs.

Now people may think I am crazy or excessive or not even believe this story, which is why I omitted it under the umbrella of “babysitting”.  Mr. Chubbs in his anger over my youngest not being here, became agitated and tried to escape to find him last Friday.  He has done this before when his owner (my 9 year old) has been gone for more than a night or so.  He has even escaped while my 9 year old has been here only to be found under the couch where the kid was sitting.  He loves him.  This time in Mr. Chubbs’ effort to find him, he got his leg stuck in the bars of his cage.  Apparently hamsters will chew their legs off if they feel it necessary.  It was a horrible scene one of which was precluded by my 15 year old screaming and crying soap opera style.

Long story short (and yes that was short for me) $200 later and an amputation for Chubbs, has left me unable to leave him for very long.  I was right to stay with him, as apparently he does not like the dispensing method of his antibiotics in his water bottle and found a way to empty out the contents (how he did that remains a mystery).  So I am keeping an eye on him for signs of infection and will not hesitate to take him back to the Vet.  This all makes perfect sense to me, but can you imagine telling your employer you can’t come in because your kid’s hamster’s leg was amputated? Luckily this was only a side thing off the career track and I am doing most of my work from home and have 2 weeks before the Fall semester begins.  Mr. Chubbs should be on the mend by then and thus I will avoid making it to a website for the “craziest reasons to call in to work”- aka I have to babysit Chubbs the hamster.