So … Who’s The Woman?
I thought it was a joke.
All this time, and I thought the idea of someone asking which member of a male couple is the woman was just a joke. Or, if not a joke, something said just for the purpose of being offensive. Something that only the most bigotty of bigotty nitwits would ever say.
I think I was wrong.
I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but I was talking with my best friend, probably about our kids and how hers had done something cute while mine had scratched each other to bleeding again. (It’s a good guess, because it’s frequent.) The topic turned to parenting styles or something, and she asked the following:
“So, just out of curiosity … how often do people ask you which one of you is the mommy?”
I laughed, and said, “Never! No one has ever asked me that question.”
“Of course, really. It’s like a joke, a variation on ‘Who’s the woman?'”
We talked a little bit about the idea of “who’s the woman?” and how it’s a question that speaks to this fundamental misunderstanding of relationships. There’s no woman in my relationship with Austin. That’s … kind of the point.
“Oh, good,” my friend said, “that’s exactly how I answer the question about which of you is the mommy. I laugh and say, ‘No. There are two dads.'”
I casually said that I thought that was an excellent answer, but there was kind of a pit in my stomch as I realized …
“Wait. Someone asked you whether one of us is the mommy?”
“Mark, people ask me that all the time.”
I asked her who asks her that question, but then I stopped her. We both agreed that I am probably happier if I don’t know. It’s not my own friends, she assured me. But it’s friends of friends. People I see casually, some of whom I’ve been acquainted with for years.
I slowly come to the realization that I tend to put myself in a bubble. I’m usually friendly, but I’m cold and aloof when I think someone is a moron. I don’t make friends with people who require some sort of “living in modern America” education in order to be my friend. If I find out that you vote Republican, chances are that I quietly unfriend you on facebook. Ditto if you post about defunding Planned Parenthood or how vaccines probably cause autism.
I used to be more of a … steward of the gays, I guess. At the end of my freshman year of college, my roommate asked, very seriously, if we could talk. He sat me down and told me, basically, that I had changed his worldview. He got a little choked up and said that he was sorry if he’d ever been an asshole to gay people. I remember telling him that he’d never been an asshole to me, so if he needed to apologize to anyone, I wasn’t it.
That may have been the most dramatic example, but it was something that was repeated many times in my college experience. People used to tell me that I had changed their opinion.
For a while, I just assumed that it was a college thing. Something that happens during those exploratory, decide-who-you-are years. And maybe it is.
Or maybe I just used to be nicer.