Sexist Artifact

October 14th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

An intermittent of benefit amid the angst and tedium of sorting, packing and moving (and seemingly uncountable trips to Boomerangs). Unpacking can be like getting surprise presents — little rewards.

Yesterday in sorting old correspondence, I found a lost artifact, one I just knew had been tossed in my mother’s detritus from her overly stuffed garage after she died. Click on its thumbnail her for a larger view.The Helplessness of Women sketch

Journey back with me to the 1950s (if you weren’t alive then, pretend that something that doesn’t relate directly to you happened). Imagine a world in which my mother was a single-parent raising two kids without even the child support her ex refused to pay. Imagine that she would from time to time keep company with a man who asked her to dinner.

One such fellow, Allen as I recall, fancied himself as clever, hip (as the expression was) and manly. To me at 12 or 13, he seemed silly. Also, as a middle-aged guy who still lived with his widowed father, he didn’t seem like the best relationship material. Yet, from time to time he and his father would come over for a meal and some cards.

This was the modern-art and Peter Gunn era.  Today, we have our own safe-to-ridicule groups, like cyclists (particularly wearing bike shorts or fat people). Then, beatniks were fair game, as was abstract painting.

One evening, Allen took some of our ubiquitous art supplies (my mother, sister and I were forever drawing for Red Cross or school needs). He churned out the pasted piece, both to show his sophistication at satirizing modern art and to claim gender superiority.

My mother, Wanda, was astonished at his lack of observation and awareness. She was far more accomplished and self-sufficient. Indeed, among the helpless in the room, Allen was singular.

Come to see this oddity in my files, I seem to recall that she tossed it, maybe before he even left. It was his ticket out and I don’t think we saw him again.

My mom was many things, but helpless was not one and neither was accepting denigration of her gender.

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