Saturday, March 18, 2006

out of water

I guess there are advantages to being one of only a handful of men among a couple thousand women. One can certainly draw a lot of glances. But I think they really are saying, “what on earth is he doing here?” Regardless, the awkwardness outweighs any advantage that one might think of. Oh wait, there is absolutely no one in the men’s restroom. That’s an advantage.
I’m at High Point Theatre in High Point, North Carolina. Molly is here to participate in a competition with her lyrical dance company. Actually, my predicament is a disadvantage for Molly as well. She doesn’t have her female parent who can go with her into the dressing room and help her get ready for her performance. I've found myself in many such situations since the advent of children in my life. No changing tables in men’s restrooms, strange glances from women who think you can’t possibly know what you’re doing, comments about the way the kids are dressed, assumptions that you’re divorced and this is your weekend.
Things have gotten much better for men parents since then, even in the past few years, but there are still definite disadvantages. And people can’t figure out why men are less apt to get involved.
When situations like this arise, I realize that I have issues with gender bias. I take it hard, for example when my boys are frowned upon for being boys, I take it hard when they are subject to female learning style bias in school, and the list goes on.
So this evening, my poor male-parented daughter is sent into the dressing room among 100s of other girls, and I wait outside. But that’s not enough. While I’m waiting outside, I’m asked to wait somewhere else, because "some of the parents are concerned that there are men hanging around outside the dressing room." I apologized and left, but inside, I was furious. Inside, I analyzed the terminology of gender bias. Parents really means moms and men?, well obviously not parents. Inside, I said, would you please tell the women that there are parents waiting outside?
Funny thing is, these girls are wearing no more on stage than they wear under their street clothes. So either I shouldn’t be banned from the dressing room, or the mothers should feel very awkward that I’m even watching their daughters dance. I don’t know if they feel awkward, but I do now.
I told Allison today that I was taking Molly up here to try and plug into this part of her world, but evidently, I’m trying to plug into an ungrounded outlet, my plug has one prong too many.