So my parents are getting divorced. I’ve been out of the house for 10 years and am now married myself, and also we saw this coming from a mile away, and also also my dad has health issues that makes the midwest not the best place for him so he’s moving to Florida, but still. It’s a thing.

Yesterday we had lunch together, just the immediate family (parents, brother and his girlfriend, me and husband) and had a really cool awesome day. My mom says she feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. She took off her wedding ring (Dad hasn’t worn his for a while due to weight gain/loss). My dad is (pretending to be?) excited about planning the move. I kicked ass at poker, which is fun because my brother likes to pretend he’s good at shit like that.

My brother also is really annoyingly privileged. He’s used to being the smartest guy in the room and making sure everyone knows it. However, I’m more educated on topics like gender and feminism and intersectionality, and he’s still at the stage where he thinks his experience (as a white dude) is the experience of all people, and also he’s totally not privileged because he’s not rich. Also, I’m smarter than he is.*

My brother is a sous-chef and once worked at a restaurant with a chef he admired greatly. In honor of this chef, my brother branded himself. The brand is visible on his leg, so this came up in a conversation about tattoos and body modifications, with my brother assuring us that Chef was flattered. He went on to say that he admired this chef for many reasons, including the fact that he was “a homosexual,** but still very masculine.” If you’ve been reading this blog, you might have guessed my reaction to that statement.***

After a bit of back-and-forth about how sexuality and gender performance are not and should not be related, we started to zero in on the idea that admiring someone for masculinity means valuing stereotypically masculine traits over feminine ones. My brother couldn’t seem to get that (he said he values masculinity because it’s like him, which is an instinct, but he admires femininity because it’s contrary to him and thus alien), and started to venture into evo-psych territory before I cut him off.

Finally I said, “So when you say Chef had masculine traits, what do you mean?” And my brother said, “Good leadership.”

This was the point at which I ended the conversation. Because my brother, a man who has lived in this world as long as I have (plus three years) and shared many experiences (we went to the same university), still honestly believes that good leadership is a masculine quality.**** I said that I would say that a man who is a leader is a masculine leader, good or bad, and a woman who is a leader is a feminine leader, good or bad, and he looked at me like I’d grown another head.

Husband and I left the room and brother went outside, where we could hear him ranting to the rest of the family. (Not sure what he was yelling about but probably not that he was sorry he’d perpetuated a gender binary and would be better about it in the future.)

Unrelated but on the same theme, I had a conversation with a casual acquaintance on facebook. It was the day my parents told us (me and brother) that they’re getting divorced, so I needed a pick-me-up. Click to embiggen, if I did this right: (image description provided on request)

*I debated including that part because I’ve always been told it’s not polite to brag, but then I realized it’s because women aren’t supposed to be smart, and if they are smart they’re not supposed to talk about it, and fuck that noise. I’m smarter than my brother. That doesn’t make me a better person than him, but it’s true.

**We had a little go-round about this, with me saying, “The preferred term is ‘gay,'” and him saying, “Is the word ‘homosexual’ offensive now?” and me saying, “I assumed you used the word out of ignorance. Continuing to use it once you have been educated shows that you don’t respect people for what they wish to be called.”

***Hint: It pissed me right the fuck off.

****More accurately, he believes that there is a masculine style of leadership that is more effective than a feminine style of leadership.

*****Yes, arguing with ignorant d-bags is a guilty pleasure of mine. I take great pleasure in being right.

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