by Shaker RedSonja
I am a progressive in a regressive workplace.
My immediate supervisor is
• a young-earth creationist
• a Glenn Beck fan
• and a pre-millenial dispensationalist. This means that she believes the earth is 6,000 years old, the Bible is literal truth, and Glenn Beck is hilarious.
• She believes that bisexuals "just can't make up their minds.
The doctor I work for is
• also a young-earth creationist
• an evangelical Christian.
• He believes that same-sex marriage is disgusting, and doesn't "understand why they feel the need to let everyone know what's going on in their bedroom."
• Complained aloud that he was tired of "all these chick flicks, like Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias."
Another doctor I work for
• is a huge O'Reilly fan
• a casual sexist, racist, and homophobe.
• Upon seeing two adolescent girls of color walk by the window at work, he announced "Oh look! There go Sasha and Malia!"
• He can often be heard announcing that "you girls (meaning myself and my adult coworkers) are too [fill in whatever characteristic he's objecting to]!"
• Recently informed me that "girls don't read Asimov" and "Everyone in this country has the same opportunities."
If I spoke up every time someone used the word gay, or retarded, or said something racist or sexist or homophobic, or called out every right wing talking point that got spewed, or countered ever bit of irrational creationism, or bristled every time someone inflicted religion upon me or a coworker, I would never get any work done.
So this is my bargain: I shut up, I earn my paycheck, I give my patients excellent care, and I get an ulcer. I try not to hear the comments about people I love, my friends and family, myself, and how we are all less than. I try to shut my ears to jokes about fat clients, about how women are such crazy bitchez, about how all the damn furriners should just learn English! About how the woman whose live in boyfriend killed her should have just left, about how the 12 year old girl who was raped "asked for it," about how there are death panels in Sweden.
Sometimes I break the bargain. Sometimes, like today, I speak up.
"Don't call her a girl, she's a woman."
"Well, she's college age—she's a college girl!"
"No, she's a woman."
"Why does it matter? See, that's the problem. What I say shouldn't matter, it should be my intentions!"
"I don't care about your intentions—calling her a girl is infantilizing and not okay, please don't do it!"
And I was promptly reminded of the bargain—as long as I am content to remain less than, I will be considered an exception to the crazy bitchez rule. As soon as I speak up, I am a man-hating feminist and should be treated as such.
I long to scream "Emotional does not mean irrational!" but it would go unheard. I want to throw things and rage and cry and shake them until they see, goddammit, that all of us Others—we are people. But instead I keep the bargain.
I'm looking for a way out, into another job I can do without crying on the way home, without feeling myself dying inside, without feeling that I am betraying those I call myself an ally to by not speaking up. But I will hate every moment of it.
[Terrible Bargain: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven.]