Sometimes, you don’t hear things right the first time.
About 8 or 9 years ago, lying in the emergency room waiting to be seen by a doctor, I was trying to calm myself down by getting my mom and husband to talk to me about anything that would distract me from my terror at being in the emergency room. In retrospect, I’m sure that because I hadn’t communicated that I desperately needed distraction, my mom and husband were wondering why I was so chatty if I were truly feeling as badly as I said I was. I wasn’t thinking too clearly, and I think we were all scared. Anyway …
I love to cook, and so often engage in the age-old exercise of imagining what kind of kitchen I’d build for myself if money were no object. So, knowing that my mom has remodeled several houses, and that she sees great houses all the time because of her job as a real estate agent, I asked her to describe what her ultimate home renovation would be like if money were no object. I even gave her the prompt of asking if she’d like to install this new floorboard vacuum system I’d just read about that lets you sweep stuff to the sides of the room, then just sucks it down.
She very tersely told me that if money were no object, she wouldn’t really care about the vacuum system, as she would not be doing the work.
Then, I was annoyed that she wouldn’t play along, that she couldn’t even pretend to be interested. To be fair to me, I was soon to be rehydrated with 7 bags of fluid, so I wasn’t thinking so clearly. And, to be fair to her, she was doing exactly what I asked, but her dream didn’t match mine.
That realization came to me this morning, as I was reading Susan J. Douglas’s article, Enlightened Sexism: “Women’s Success” Means It’s Fine to Resurrect — Even Celebrate — Sexist Stereotypes. An advertisement for “my dream kitchen”, flashed on several pages of the article, showing deals on high-end stoves (pardon me, ranges) and refrigerators. (Thanks to Feminéma for the link to the article.)
“My dream kitchen” was actually the tag line, even though I, personally, wouldn’t mind having those appliances myself. I struck me for the millionth time how ridiculous internet ad algorithms are that show weight loss and dream kitchen ads on feminist posts just because certain key words about women show up.
Seeing that ad in the context of an article about enlightened sexism was a great reminder to make sure you’re truly dreaming your dream, and not just buying the hype. I finally heard what my mom was saying.
So, confidential to Mom in Houston. If I do ever win that lottery I won’t be buying you a new house. I’ll be hiring you a chef and engaging a daily cleaning service. Dollar & a dream, baby!