Monday, December 12, 2011

An Education in Discrimination

The girl-child, at the tender age of 9, recently had a powerful lesson.

No, people are not all equal. Some are a little less equal. They might be - shudder with horror - men.

See, she had her dress rehearsal for her dance recital. And since the boy-child was sick, it meant we had to split up. Brian took her to the rehearsal...

And was shown the door.

Not allowed to stay and watch. Only female companions were allowed to stay and watch.

You see, allegedly, there were going to be costume changes. Out on the stage. So no boys allowed.

Except... the men operating the sound equipment and lights and the stage hands and the men old enough to be my parent who were in the productions and the boy dancers...

So, wait? The girls were just going to strip down and change in front of all of them, some of whom worked for the auditorium and weren't known to the dance school? Complete strangers?

The thing is, girl-child emerged from rehearsal with the news that no costume changes occurred.

They just didn't want fathers or grandfathers to watch the rehearsals, and they made up an excuse that sounds good on the surface but is pure crap.

And girl-child came home offended on behalf of her dad.

Brian? He's experienced it so many times, he's just gotten used to it. As a single father for many years, he'd go to the store and someone would say, "Oh, it's Dad's day out."

When you're juggling two toddlers it makes it hard to say, "Every single day is Dad's day out."

People are prejudiced. They presume. They don't always do it with malicious intent. More often, it's probably a case of not thinking.

But all that willingness to not think contributes to generations of sexist behavior. Maryland State legally does not discriminate based on gender and is supposed to consider both parents equal parents, yet in the majority of cases, mothers get custody.

If there was real equality, the default position of the courts would be shared legal and physical custody, with a 50-50 split that's only adjusted based on individual needs in the situation.

But it isn't.

The other day, Steve Mosby posted a link on Facebook, about sexual harassment. The author talks about just wanting to be able to go out and not have to worry about being hit on.

Somewhere in our lives, we've all experienced it. Judgment, conclusions without facts, based on nothing more than our gender, appearance, skin color, ethnicity or religion. I personally think Brian caught the edge of something far worse recently, when someone said to him that there are so many dads who just aren't involved in their kids lives.

Of course, that was right after we were told even though Brian has shared legal and physical custody of his kids, that he doesn't have any say in educational decisions.

I walked away wondering if the reason so many kids are growing up without dads involved in their education is because of administrators shoving them out the doors.

That may frustrate me to no end. But I have to say that there's nothing sadder than seeing it - really seeing it - for the first time through your child's eyes, and seeing that they are beginning to understand that the world will prejudge them, too.


Jay Stringer said...

There are great posts and there are great posts. That was one of the latter.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Jay. And knowing how many active, hands-on Dads we have at DSD, and amongst the wider crime-fic community, I think often about how you could be one marital breakup away from ever seeing your kids again.