Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My skewed reality

Mr. Geeky called me yesterday and said, I'm reading some woman's blog about "The Last Abortion Clinic" and she says that it was her idea to watch the show. When he got home, he said, I don't remember anyone treating you badly. Your reality is a little skewed.

Well, of course it is. I fully realize my version of events is just that, my version. It's filled with interpretation, misperceptions, and sometimes, embellishment. To me, it's perfectly real and truthful. If I felt scorned by some faculty, whether that was my misinterpretation or their real scorn makes little difference. I don't hold a grudge or anything. I'm merely describing how I felt at the time. Anyway, if I asked them whether they were looking down on me because I didn't have a Ph.D. or because I was a faculty spouse, would they admit to that? In most cases, I think the disdain was subtle and unconscious. I also freely admit that my own feelings of inadequacy might have played into my interpretation of events, but those feelings might have just made me more sensitive to certain signals.

It reminds me of something Bitch, Ph.D. wrote about a long time ago. Maybe she'll dredge it up for us. She wrote about how women experience sexism differently than men. Men may not perceive something as sexist when women do. I remember the comment thread on this got very heated. Lots of women were saying, yeah, I feel like I experience things differently and some were saying they weren't sure that was fair and some men were throwing up their hands and some were saying absolutely, women experience the world differently. It's tough to decide how much you privilege individual experience of the world because, of course, each one of us brings a different background to everything we do. When you think about it, it's amazing we communicate at all.

I actually welcome the differences. I find it fascinating when someone's experience of something--even the exact same event--is different from mine. When we discuss why we interpret signals and language in different ways, sometimes we come up with a completely different view of things. I think the frustration in the Bitch, Ph.D. thread had to do mainly with some people not listening to others' experiences. Some were saying, no you don't experience the world differently from me. I see a lot of that in a lot of areas right now, all the way up to the top of our administration. Doesn't it seem a little bit like that, like the administration thinks everyone experiences everything the same? Sure, people are different, but they still want freedom, they still can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, etc. Recognizing that you can't know someone else's experience is the first step to trying to understand it.