Thursday, March 12, 2009

A girl thing

One of my friends, E, is an art history major, and for a final in one of her art classes she's been printing out huge versions of computer keys--ctrl, alt, esc, all the ones that mean something in English--on stickers and putting them up around school, then taking photos. It's pretty cool.

Anyway, we were in rehearsal (she's in Voices with me) and someone reported to her that her sticker was still up in BartMart (convenience store near the library). She asked which one it was, and our friend replied that he hadn't known there was more than one--what was the other one?

E: "I put 'ctrl' next to the cookies."
Me: "Ahahaha, nice one."
Everyone else in the room: "I don't get it."

Most of those people were boys.

"Maybe it's a girl thing," I said. Another girl, L--who has previously demonstrated her seemingly complete escape from diet culture--remarked that it had gone over her head too.

E and I exchanged glances. "Well, I'm sad now," I joked. E burst out laughing and we both cracked up for a minute while everybody else looked on in slight discomfort.

It ended as a joke, but I wasn't entirely kidding. It's one thing that I immediately understood E's intent with the notion of control; it's another that it was such an alien thought to every single guy in that room. (L hadn't thought of the interpretation but seemed less mystified by it once it was explained than the boys did.) Sometimes it's hard to really understand gender divides until they slap you in the face; until suddenly there's a barrier between you and your friends that you never knew was there, built out of the unspoken and the assumed.

It should go without saying that of course this divide is entirely socially constructed. When you realize that the boys in the room do not and probably have never thought about cookies the way you have for as long as you can remember, it becomes more obvious that the way you think about cookies is not necessarily the way cookies have to be.

For crying out loud, they're just cookies. Or they should be.

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