A few thoughts on invisibility

Twisty had a brief entry today about invisibility which I thought I might expand upon for a moment. I also have a homework assignment for you! That’s right, homework. And you thought you could just sit in front of your computers and read all day.

What Twisty said was this, more or less–that being part of a patriarchy, there are a lot of things that are inherently invisible, that we don’t notice, that are a part of our everyday lives. I would add that I think these things cause a bit of a feedback loop–because we don’t notice them, the patriarchy continues to exist. So it’s time to start noticing, and that’s part of your homework assignment.

Twisty says: “Today you will not notice the makeup on women, or the Mexican landscapers, or the predominance of male honkys in suits downtown at lunch.” Now, because today is a national holiday in the United States (first we assassinate ’em, then the post office gets a day off!), I am giving you until Wednesday to complete your homework assignment.

Go to the bank. What sex are the tellers?
Go to your favourite restaurant. Where are the kitchen staff from?
Go the video store. How old are the clerks?
If you don’t know who your mayor is, go find out. What can you tell me about this person?
Have you been to the veterinarian lately? Who are the technicians? What do they look like?

I want you to take the next two days to notice. Open your eyes up wide to the world around you and think about what you see. Does it bother you? Are you indifferent? Do you not see what the big deal is? What kind of assumptions do you think you make in your daily life that contribute to the invisibility syndrome? What sort of language do you use that reinforces the patriarchy? Think about where your food comes from, who packages those gooey little pastries you like, how much you think your pants cost to make, and the global water crisis.

Do you distinguish between male nurses and female nurses? Do you assume the people on the phone crew are male? Are you frustrated by clumsy constructions like s/he, he or she, they, and so forth, and do you secretly wish that zhe had taken off, linguistically?

Take two days to notice the invisible and comment on it, even if only internally. If enough of a comment thread gets going, I will also post my experiences with the homework assignment, because although I am a patriarchy blamer, I’ve got a lot of work to do in the invisibility front myself.