This Sexism Shit Is Really Getting Old

I went with my mom today to pick up our car; one of the seats needed some material repair, so naturally we brought it to a place that specializes in car upholstery. As we’re paying the upholsterer, my mom and I get to talking with him about music. As there were no other customers at the moment (it was a small shop, and he was the sole proprietor), we shot the breeze for a minute and it was cool. Then he said something that pissed me off.

He made mention of the fact that we was a Rolling Stones fan, to which my mom noted that she’d never been much of a Stones fan (as it happens, I’m not a huge fan of them either). Not in an accusatory way; just a matter-of-fact way noting that she didn’t know too much about them because of that. This was what followed:

Upholsterer: Yeah, lemme guess, you probably like all those women musicians.

Mom: Excuse me?

Upholsterer: Yeah, like Carole King and all that shit.

Mom: Umm, fuck no. I used to be a drummer in high school. I saw KISS and Def Leppard last summer.

Upholsterer: [silence]

Now to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with liking Carole King, nor was my mom combative in her tone. She’s good that way; she knows how to play things off without upsetting anyone, but also without getting walked all over. But that interchange really ticked me off.

The sheer presumptuous nature of the guy’s comments, combined with the clear sexism (it really wasn’t hard to see where he was going), pretty much dampened the mood for me. I was ready to leave after that. Though I’ve unfortunately encountered sexism in my professional space, seeing it unfold in front of my eyes still always shocks me.

I give my mom a lot of credit for not burning any bridges; she was way calmer than I would have been. It peeves me immensely though to see someone like her—Ivy League-educated, in this day and age, successful and personable—exposed to backwards thinking like that. I’m sure anyone who’s ever experienced some degree of sexism will agree.

In the end, all I can say is that I’m super impressed with how she carried herself through what appeared to me to be a potentially embarrassing and combative situation. That’s really the thought process I came away with. That, and that we really need to do better with educating backwards-thinking people, because this sexism shit is really getting old.


I Miss the Amorphous Power of Poetry

I haven’t written poetry in months. Probably somewhere near half a year at this point. For me that’s like an eternity.

Poetry used to be one of my most expressive forms of communication. I used to write so much that it became necessary to start dividing the pieces into separate collections. As of yet, most of those collections haven’t been finished to the point which I would like.

Yet what I miss most isn’t writing a poem per se, but what writing a poem allowed me to do. It allowed me to write something that could be left set in stone. It did not need to be researched, backed up, sourced, or set up as the solution to or for an argument. A poem could exist in and of itself; its value existed simply because it did.

In many ways writing poetry is easier because it allows me to just write, and look for patterns and meaning in what I write after I write it. I don’t need to start with a central thought and build out an argument around it. In many ways, it’s the same dynamic as I enjoy with blogging.

Poetry is so powerful precisely because of its ambiguous nature. The amorphous power that resides in a poem, terse or epic, is innate to its nature as a piece of writing that is purposely enigmatic. Every syllable could mean something—or it might not. Regardless of what your high school English teacher might have forced on your thought process, poetry isn’t about finding the “right meaning” that’s hidden between the words. It’s about finding the right meaning for you, something which could be very different from the meaning for the person sitting next to you.

This is what I miss most about writing poetry. Its sprightly chirping of words that could mean something, or nothing—words that could have been carefully chosen, or words that were just thrown onto a page and never wiped off. In the end, it’s irrelevant. Poetry is about the search, not the find; that’s why it intrigues me so much. I will have to write more in the coming months.