I believe we should pursue our passions no matter how silly they are considered. The other night I asked my husband to describe my interests. I thought for sure he’d mention my interest in great literature, classic movies, and current affairs.
Instead, without missing a beat, the first interest he listed was home decorating. I was floored. Even though I regularly pour over home decorating books and watch an absurd amount of Home and Garden television, I felt insulted that home decorating was the first thing he mentioned. Why didn’t he just say bunnies and puppies? What about my serious interests?
After I soundly lambasted him for not really knowing me and for diminishing my other real interests I thought about it some more and realized that he was, of course, right. I am a closet homemaker.
The truth is in our society if you want to be taken seriously you have to be interested in serious things. Serious interests include war, business, politics, science, history, etc. Frivolous interests are home decorating, scrap booking, crocheting, baking, fashion, Broadway musicals, furry animals—you get the picture.
Basically, stereotypically male interests are considered serious and stereotypically female interests or the “home arts” are considered vapid and silly. I wanted my husband to think of me by my more male interests like reading the newspaper, listening to current affairs shows on NPR or at least my love of reading books of substance. I just checked out Jeffrey Goldberg’s new book at the library. Admittedly, I haven’t opened it yet, but throw me a bone here!
Despite its lowly social status, home decorating is actually the synergy of a few talents. It calls to a creative mind, a visionary who has the intuition and confidence to make something out of four blank walls.
Home decorators are also industrious and good with their hands. No truly creative and innovative home decorator envisions where she can buy everything. She is custom making everything in her little head. How can I sew that? Could I build that? But women who are good with their hands are called crafty, and men who are good with their hands are called craftsman. Sounds very different, no?
Is a man who dotes over his Model T Ford or obsessively reads the same diatribes over and over again in a political blog any more serious or smarter than me? He’s just fulfilling his silly passion too.
The difference is he’s not ashamed or embarrassed, always wondering if it’s just one curtain panel away from stupid. Men have that luxury because they have dictated the rules on serious versus not serious.
So maybe the most feminist thing I can do is not be insulted by being identified as a passionate home decorator and see it for what it is: a genuine passion I’m good at that brings me pleasure and fulfillment.
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