Before our hiatus last month I mentioned that my parents had an internet connection so slow it made me want to rip my hair out by the handfuls. It would have been one thing if they were simply cheap and paying for dial up. But they have DSL. They’re paying for DSL. And it takes five minutes to get a freaking email (one without images I note) to open. That’s if it doesn’t time out before opening.
But the most frustrating thing about this problem? My father refused to admit it existed. Why would he do such a thing? Because I was the one who pointed it out to him. Actually, my mother had mentioned it before I even got home. And then my aunt also pointed it out. Why would he disregard all of our voices? Because there is no way we could possibly know anything about computers. Not a single one of us has a penis.
Yes, for my father the women’s equality movement was largely something that happened to other people.
I don’t mean to imply that my father is a bad person. He isn’t. He’s simply the product of a small Texas town in the fifties. Then he spent twenty years as a pilot in the US Air Force. I think the combination of these two environments simply conspired to indoctrinate him with attitudes about gender roles and aptitudes which are a couple hundred (thousand?) years old.
He’s the same way with cars. In high school I once told him there was a problem with my car’s transmission. He drove it one day and pronounced that it was absolutely fine—I was imagining things. I was a seventeen year old girl and there is no way I could have possibly known anything about cars. To heck with the fact that I drove it every day and drove it quite a bit since I had to drive twenty-five miles to work. No, no. In the fifteen minutes that he drove it he determined that I was just a silly woman who was overreacting to nothing. The problem is that, of course, I was right. There was a crack in my transmission and by the time I finally convinced my father it needed to be looked at the transmission problem had caused a radiator problem and I had to pay $1000 to get it all repaired.
But cars are one thing. By my own admission I really don’t know anything about cars. (He doesn’t either, for the record). But in all honesty, I probably know more about computers than he does. And my aunt works with computer networks for a living. It is just possible that we know something about the speed at which a website should load. Possibly.
Now as far as my father is concerned, I’m doubly stupid, because I’m a woman and I’m in a field of study that borders the humanities. Which is why I was so annoyed when my brother told me that I needed to nudge my father towards getting a hearing aid. My brother is (or at least should be) completely aware that my father thinks I’m an idiot. My brother, on the other hand, being a male who studied computers (and nearly flunked out of college. Twice) is clearly a genius. But he’s not going to bring it up, because my brother is a champion avoider and if he pretends like my father isn’t deaf, his hearing will magically come back.
In all fairness to my father, I have to confess that my mother bears part of the blame for this. My mother, an incredibly strong willed woman, decided that marital peace was best achieved by ignoring my father when he goes into chauvinist mode. Which is not to say she lets him push her around—she simply rolls her eyes and does whatever she wants and he usually doesn’t notice. I understand why she does this. It’s probably much easier than fighting him on every little thing. But what she doesn’t think about is all the other women that have to put up with him from time to time whose lives would be easier if she had beaten the archaic attitudes out of him years ago.