A Visit from the Stereotype Fairy
Today I became incensed at stereotypes, as I often am. This happened while watching an episode of “News Radio” which made a joke about how all women love scented candles. As steroetypes go it was pretty weak, but enough for me to scoff and point out mentally that I’m a woman and I own no such thing.
Until I walked into my apartment and was sucker-punched with realization: I DO own a scented candle!
It is on the table in front of the door. It smells like cotton when it burns. And, most importantly, I DON’T REMEMBER BUYING IT.
I sat dazed, cotton wafting. If I lived with roommates I would assume it was theirs, or at the very least that they were pulling a fairly subtle practical joke. I tried to think where I could have gotten it–as a present? A drunken purchase? I have no idea what store even sells cotton candles–SEARS? Did I get drunk and go to SEARS?
Uneasy, I began to worry. Did someone break in solely to place a conventionally female item on my table? Ridiculous, I snorted, entering my bathroom. That’s like someone putting–
My scream had the neighbors pounding on my door. “Hey!” they yelled through the wall, “What is it?”
“BATH SALTS!” I screamed.
The pounding stopped. “Uh…what?”
I stumbled, unable to look away. There they were, on the counter, next to bottles of bubble-gum “flavored” lotion and enough mascara to supply a Sorority. I ripped open my shower–jars of body butter. I tore through my medicine cabinet–purple glitter nail polish. I ran to my bookcase–two copies of “Eat, Pray, Love.”
“Why would I need two?” I cried, sinking to my knees. “WHY WOULD I NEED TWO!?”
Get a grip, I thought, slapping my face. Dear god, I was wearing the glitter polish–NO! I couldn’t think of that right now! I felt like a Philip K. Dick protagonist, except instead of learning I used to be a Martian secret agent, I was discovering that I had taken the “Are you Compatible With Your Man?” quiz in Cosmo.
“What’s happening?” I whispered as I lay in the fetal position. I hated frilly things. I never bought them, and avoided places that had them. Yet here I was, proving every TV show, movie, and shitty comedian right.
Had I really bought these things, unknowingly? Had the very shows and ads and movies and books and magazines and billboards and assumptions I decried influenced me? Were these things beat into my subconscious to the point where even I, staunchly anti-feminine Josie, think of apricot face scrub the same way I think of band-aids or toothpaste?
“No.” I sat up. I knew what it was. Without a shadow of a doubt, I could name the force that did this to me. I looked around, eye twitching.
So that’s why I have mousetraps all over my place. It’s just a waiting game now. Sooner or later they’ll emerge–to add high heels to my shoe hang, or perhaps to replace my backpack with a clutch that says “I love to shop!” in rhinestones.
But when they do, I’ll be ready. Oh yes…I’ll be ready.