I didn’t realize that my adoptive father was a chauvinist until I became an adult. I hadn’t known any better, although I was fully aware of the signs in the household growing up. After dinner, when my adoptive mother would get up from dinner to clear the table, he would immediately say, “The maid is off today!” A signal for my adoptive sister and me to jump up and start helping, as he continued to sit. It wasn’t that I didn’t think we should participate, it was the manner in which he ordered us, as if we were to serve him, simply because he was a man.
I was in my early teens when I recall hearing him exclaim, “She runs like a girl!” while watching a women’s track racing on television. This deragatory remark implied to me that he didn’t think women should be involved in that sport. He’d also made it clear that he wasn’t fond of the L’Oréal commercial that stated, “Because you’re worth it.”, which was meant to empower women. He verbalized often how he despised vanity, and even told me once that God would give me a pimple if I were too vain. He always seemed to me to be extremely arrogant, and I wondered to myself if there was very much difference in arrogance and vanity.
I’ve always felt that was partly his reason for joining the LDS church, because of the subordination of women to men. He had been raised by his mother after the death of his father at a young age, along with two older sisters. I pondered at how he developed such attitudes, when his mother seemed like a strong and independent woman, who owned her own business. Someone pointed out to me that maybe he resented their dominance over him. He was also much older , and more like a grandfather to me, with a generational gap. My adoptive mother was twenty-one years younger than he was, and was probably more submissive than his previous wife, who had two daughters that were geared more towards woman’s liberation. He had referred to that wife as very social, a woman that enjoyed a party, as if that were a bad thing.
When my son was about twelve years old, I found him watching women’s track racing on tv, and I said, “She runs like a girl!”, just to see his reaction. He replied, “Mom, she is a girl!” “You are right son, she is a girl.”, I replied, and then I just smiled.