I am careful to avoid getting into Facebook wars, or even passive aggressive Facebook snark battles, but I am functioning on approximately 3 hours sleep and have been sitting in Washington National Airport (it still pains me to call it Reagan Airport) for the last seven hours. I am facing another four or five hours of travel, including a 90 minute drive, assuming my flight gets out on time, so it doesn't take much to get me into honey badger mode. Alas, that is what happened, and I'm opting to take the high road (or at least not the low road) and post here, and not on Facebook..
As most of you know, I don't post that much stuff on Facebook, and it is usually cat pictures, geeky stuff, nature pictures, or toilet humor. I don't brag or humblebrag too much (I think), and I don't complain all that often. When I do, it is pretty neutral stuff, like complaining about being stuck at the airport. When I posted that I was stuck at the airport, I didn't think I'd get more than a bit of commiseration, which I got from some of you, as well as a truly shocking story about a flight from hell. However, I also got the following comment from a childhood friend's mom.
"At least you don't have a family at home waiting, Old Biddy, but it is always nice to get home." and she tagged me in the post instead of leaving it untagged.
Um, WTF?!?!?!? I've managed to happily reach perimenopause without anyone daring to snark openly about my singleness and lack of kids so this blindsided me. Apparently, no woman escapes, and by daring to post that I am on a business trip, she took it as a reason to throw some shade in my direction about the fact that I don't have kids or a husband. And sexist shade it indeed is. No one would post something like this if a guy wrote that he was stuck at an airport.
Now, if the person posting this were some older conservative woman who never worked outside of the home, that would be one thing. However, she is a scientist and worked while her daughter was a kid, and I am sure she had to deal with a lot more sexism that I do. She and another female scientist in the neighborhood were role models for me. I assumed that she was a feminist, or at least not a chauvinist. So WTF is she doing posting that?!?!? Is it some kind of delayed guilt? Internalization of patriarchal attitudes? Jealousy that I am eating greasy meals on the government's dime? I am just blown away.
So, for the record, if you wouldn't say it to a guy, it's sexism. It doesn't matter if you're a woman, and a feminist. It doesn't matter if you're an older feminist and think the young'uns have it easy now. Check your assumptions at the door, because we are all the product of a patriarchal society. Even though I never strongly wanted kids, comments like this still sting because (a) she doesn't know if I really wanted kids and couldn't have them, or if I actively avoided it, or something in between, (b) I've absorbed enough patriarchal conditioning to be hurt by her pulling the "pathetic middle aged single woman whose feelings and desires to get home are somehow less important than all of the women with kids and/or husbands, men or young people of either gender who also just want to get home and (c) I am so goddamn sick of the constant chorus of "You are doing it wrong." Fuck this shit. It's not the World Cup of who deserves to get home the most.
So, dear readers, I'm not going to post on Facebook, but I would like you to vote on which retort you like best. Feel free to add your own, but please don't put them on Facebook because I really want to keep things civil and not draw her daughter into this.
A. "Friend's mom, would you even dream of saying that to a guy?!?!"
B. "Friend's mom, you are the last person I would've expected to make such a sexist remark. You were a role model for me when I was a kid"
C. "Friend's mom, Wow, I've hung out and discussed chemistry with two Nobel Laureates this month. I had an awesome time at my grant meeting and have helped bring in millions of dollars in grant money this year. But thanks for reminding me I'm a childless loser who doesn't really deserve to get home on time."