Anyhow, the main reason the links post didn't happen is time. I spent all day Friday hanging out with my kids. They'd gone to Sea World camp earlier in the summer, and that left them with "fun passes"- passes to return anytime for the rest of this year. So I bought one, too, and we spent the day at Sea World. It is not my favorite of our local attractions, and I have mixed feelings about it. But we went, and we had a lot of fun. Petunia loves the bat rays, and both kids love the water ride (Shipwreck Rapids). We started the day at the rays, and then rode the ride three times in a row, because it wasn't actually sunny yet so there was no line. We got soaked, of course, but the kids were happy to have shown me their favorite ride, and the sun was out by the time we'd finished our rides, so being soaked felt good. I let them mostly make the choices about what we did for the rest of the day, and it was a very good day.
But, when we got home a little after six, I was exhausted. I'd started some pizza dough (the Smitten Kitchen lazy option- thanks for the recommendation, Today Wendy!) so I had to make pizza. The crust was really good, but Pumpkin says she prefers Bobolis. She doesn't like change. I'll probably try the homemade dough one more time at least to see if she comes around. Or maybe I'll try one of the other recommendations I got for making dough.
By the time dinner was made and eaten it was time to get the kids' bedtime routines started, and by the time they were in bed I was done with the day.
Yesterday was almost as busy. We had gymnastics, back to school shopping, and then a birthday party at a roller skating rink. That lasted all afternoon, and in the end both of my kids really liked skating. Petunia, in particular, wants to go back ASAP. However, we got to Petunia loving skating by having me spend three solid hours skating slowly next to her and as you might guess, that is pretty tiring. Then we had dinner at some friends' house, and stopped to see the Sea World fireworks over the bay on the way home. We got home late and put the kids directly to bed and then I went to bed, too.
So, there wasn't a lot of time for blog post writing. Still, on other busy weekends, I have made some space to put up a quick links post. If I'm honest with myself, I was avoiding the internet Friday. Thursday night, someone I like to follow retweeted someone else who I usually like making a joke that implied blonde women are too stupid to do science.
And that took me back to being 14 and listening to blonde jokes and other put downs from the boys in my classes. It was amazing how deflated I felt. I logged off and didn't really want to get back online the next day.
I know that blonde jokes do a tiny fraction of the damage that is done by the racist crap people of color get online. I don't consider blonde jokes to be on par with racism at all, and please do not interpret anything in this post as me equating blonde jokes with the structural racism that people of color must navigate in order to succeed in their careers. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it when I saw the tweet (I didn't reply) and I don't really want to now (this is why I'm not giving details). But I find it interesting how one offhand joke can essentially strip away all of my hard-earned confidence and turn me back into that awkward girl, unsure of her place in the world, wanting to be taken seriously but getting message after message that embracing the "dumb blonde" personna would be an easier and quicker way to feeling like I belonged. And I want to explore that a little bit.
I've been hearing dumb blonde jokes since I was in elementary school. I heard them all through my school years, from classmates and adults. Our local newspaper once printed a list and invited readers to send in their favorites. I heard them at college, and also was told by multiple people that I was only accepted because my picture was atttached to my application (an accusation that I've never felt attractive enough to warrant, and a "joke" that erased my high test scores, good grades, and other application materials). I heard them when I was visiting graduate schools. I heard them in grad school, both about me and and about one of the other blonde students in our program. She looked even more like the stereotypical SoCal blonde than I did, and our fellow students made a lot of jokes about how she didn't really belong in science. I don't know how many of those she heard, and how many were just things people would say behind her back. From what I could tell, she was a good scientist. She is no longer working in science. I didn't know her well enough to know why.
I heard blonde jokes through my early career days. Often, people would tell me a blonde joke within minutes of meeting me, even in professional situations. I don't hear them so often now, perhaps because my hair has darkened with age and while still blonde isn't strikingly so. Or perhaps people don't tell them as often now. I don't know, but I think I'll find out soon, because Pumpkin is almost the age when I started hearing those jokes, and she has blonde hair.
At some point, I decided the best option was to laugh along, and for awhile would reply to any blonde joke with a barrage of additional jokes. I never felt comfortable in the role those jokes ascribed to women like me, so I kept working to be taken seriously for my accomplishments. I kept working to learn to take myself seriously, too, something that I really struggled to do in college and in graduate school. I learned not to try to talk to other students about my feelings of inadequacy. If I did, I'd often get something like a blonde joke in return. I shouldn't worry about whether I would fit in when I went to grad school, a college acquaintance told me. I'd be popular because I had blonde hair. The guys I befriended when I first got to grad school didn't really like me, a classmate said. They just wanted to go out with me and—here she picked up the braid hanging down my back—my blonde hair. (Agonizingly, I eventually realized that this classmate was at least partly right.)
I am fairly certain that most people telling me blonde jokes just thought they were being funny. Obviously, they didn't really think blondes were stupid. I am fairly certain that the people telling me I got into college based on my looks thought they were paying me a compliment. I am fairly certain that the people telling me that the male scientists just wanted to talk to me because I was blonde thought they were doing me a favor. Maybe they were, given that experience eventually taught me not to trust that a man coming up to talk science with me at networking events was truly interested in my work. But Thursday night, I was reminded that all those years of jokes and off hand comments did some damage, and that I haven't really fixed that damage, just papered over it. I should work to really fix it before my daughter starts getting the same jokes and comments. Maybe I can help her figure out how to avoid being damaged by them. I now ironically joke about the blonde jokes with friends, so that's progress! I don't know how to help her skip to that stage, though. Perhaps it isn't possible.
(And yes, I've seen the recent study about the disproportionate number of blonde women in positions of power. I'll direct you to this article that looks at why that might be.)
So anyway, sorry for the lack of links. I was busy working through personal baggage I thought long since stored away.