10:58 am - 04/21/2014

MMMMonday! Personal assumptions.

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Today, in the spirit of (and inspired by) Shakesville's questions of the day: What are some erroneous assumptions people make about you? Why do you think the assumptions are made? Do they bother you? Are those assumptions ever an asset? We'd just like to get some discussion going in comments, so if you're moved to, hop on in!
neumeindil 22nd-Apr-2014 04:58 pm (UTC)
What are some erroneous assumptions people make about you?
Outside of this immediate area, people tend to assume that I'm a lesbian based on how I dress (jeans, hoodie, ponytail), where I work (technical theater, so covered in construction mess at any moment), my hobbies (dog rescue, hiking), and how I deal with difficult people (quietly but sternly and with direct, powerful body language).

In our home town, it's assumed that I'm a mother, or want to be, or that I should be upset that I'm not and can't be; that I'm whatever political or religious affiliation they hold. (The racists assume I'm also racist because I'm white. The Protestants assume I'm also Protestant, because I'm white, etc.) It's also often assumed that I'm less intelligent or less educated than I am because I'm a sales associate instead of something that requires a skirt and heels.

Why do you think the assumptions are made?
People here, at least, aren't exposed to a lot of wider or worldly experiences, which makes it hard to understand that the entire world isn't just like you.

The population here is quite outwardly homogenous and therefore, assumptions that the person you're talking to is straight and Christian and (if outwardly female) a mother are (outwardly) correct much of the time. People seem to think in binaries with very little recognizable gray area. And regarding education, college is a pie in the sky dream for most of the population, and the myth that all you need is that BA or BS to make sure you avoid a crummy minimum-wage retail job is believed like gospel. A lot of my neighbors simply can't fathom someone who "went to a fancy school" standing behind a cash register and on SNAP, and won't believe it because then, they have no guarantee that their sacrifices for their own childrens' educations will be worth the suffering.

Do they bother you?
Some, yes. I find it troubling that someone would assume I'd join them in running down another ethnicity or race "for fun" or "to be funny". I'm saddened that so many of us are so close to the line between "poor but living like humans" and "too poor to care any more". I'm angry about the tinges of misogyny in the things I hear every day. (If nothing else, ffs I'm 32 years old. Stop fucking calling me "such a good girl". I only say that to dogs!)

Are those assumptions ever an asset?
Only when my choices are to be honest or to pretend to be stupid/ignorant (in the uneducated sense of the word) and let the bully on the other side of the counter leave without the rush of knowing they've upset someone intentionally. Simply acting like I don't get their meanness makes them the angry one in the situation, which only seems fair. (The US retail system is, put succinctly, abusive, and designed to maintain the status quo. I think we see a different side of people when we're presented as powerless, worthless, or servile than we do if we treat them as equals.)
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