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preschool potluck

July 9, 2012

There were at least three parent preschool potlucks that neither my wife nor I attended this year for a variety of reasons.  I was determined to make it to the last one and arrived slightly late – I ate dinner with the kids first – bringing only a bottle of wine that the clerk at the liquor store around the corner picked out for me.

Feeling victorious, (only twenty minutes late!  I remembered to bring something!), I entered directly from the street into the kitchen, where a small group of parents was standing around the island, drinking.  Perfect!  I said hello, made my potluck offering and poured myself a drink.  When it became apparent that I was settling in at the bar, one of the parents informed me that the men were in the kitchen drinking and the women were in the dining room eating, and explained that it had been the opposite a little earlier in the evening.

“Oh!  Thanks, I already ate too!”  I say.  “Cheers!”  And I ask if they’d already drank all the scotch, or if someone was shirking their duty because I swore I saw it on the sign-up sheet.

I’m not uncomfortable around men and, while I won’t go so far as to say I don’t notice being the only female in a crowd of dudes, I don’t typically find a single gender group of people to be intimidating.  In this case, I know a couple of the dads and enjoy talking with them.  There’s a scientist that does work distant but related enough that it’s fun to talk shop with him and another with a sardonic sense of humor I enjoy.  I wasn’t hanging with the men to make a some sort of statement about gender or buck the social order.  I was at the bar to have a drink and, as I had previously enjoyed talking with some of the parents that were there, to repeat that experience.  I didn’t even think too much about it, weird comment notwithstanding.  That is, until it became obvious that one lady in the midst of the men was so disruptive (to some of them), it ruined standing around drinking at the bar.  Perhaps the problem was that only some of the dads were able to hear me when I said something, so it made the situation disconcerting for the dads who have trouble hearing the higher frequency of a woman’s voice.  Misogyny: powerful enough to chase (some) grown men away from the bar at a preschool potluck.

I should have walked home encouraged.  Quite a few of the fathers were actually able to hear me when I said something!  Indeed, a lot of the parents responsible for raising the next generation at this preschool are awesome.  But instead I walked home surprised and discouraged by the ranks of the tone-deaf.  Their kids must already have a lot of un-learning to do if they’re going to experience much of what the world has to offer; the boys because they won’t be able to hear and the girls because they won’t be entitled enough to speak.

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