Ambivalence

Today’s post comes from Jacque

On March 16 I started my new job one day per week.  I will gradually build my time there to 3 days per week by June 1, while at the same time reducing my time at the other job.  Most of my clients will follow me to the new job, which gives me a nice head start building a caseload and an income.

Every new job starts with The Orientation.  This one is no different.  I will be working with a colleague and friend who I met at a previous job at a Chemical Dependency Treatment Center in 1993.  We know each other well.  She showed me around her office, identifying where I find supplies and where I find the coffee.   I noticed an item sitting on the top of a file cabinet next to the refrigerator.  A chocolate man, a la chocolate Easter Bunny, packaged in plastic and labeled as follows:

“He’s sweet and decadently rich!  Just how a man ought to be!”

I barked a startled laugh, asking, “Where’d you get that?”

She replied, “A friend sent me that recently.”

I was surprised.  I find such a limited view of a man objectionable.  I am surprised she has this.  And I find it wildly funny!  Especially when ensconced in chocolate.  And I am a woman who has nearly always challenged limiting assumptions of what a woman can or should do.  Don’t men get equal treatment?

Several inches away from the Chocolate Man, hanging on the wall,  is a sign. The sign says, “Get the facts and reject false beliefs.”  This phrase would reflect a techniques of the kind of psychotherapy we practice:    Challenge cognitions which are somehow limiting and faulty.  Describe consequences and refrain from judgments.  I teach this technique at work daily.  And concurrently,  I hold fast to some false beliefs of my own.  And I must add I am completely unwilling to let go of those beliefs.  These are best left unwritten.

But back to the topic.  There the two items sat together, awash in judgments and assumptions about the gender role of a man.  What a combo.   I moved the man next to the sign to take this picture, thinking, “Now this is a Baboon topic!”

This combination of items created ambivalence in me.  I think the Chocolate Man is funny.  And politically incorrect.  And offensive.  That is a dynamic that humor experts say often occurs in humor—two opposite statements juxtaposed, creating cognitive dissonance. Many of the jokes we told on joke day last week have the similar dynamic that is what makes the jokes funny.

I think the Chocolate Man is perjorative to men, and I think it is funny.  It says boldly the unspeakable belief held by some women towards men. I am ambivalent—holding two conflicting emotions in the same breath.  And I am still laughing.

 

What creates ambivalence in you?

58 thoughts on “Ambivalence”

  1. I’ve thought about this quite a bit in the last decade as the phrase “politically correct” has become so recognizable that we now says “PC” instead. If you find something that could be construed by someone else as PC, does that make you insensitive/racist/bigoted? Is there room in the world anymore for enjoying the cognitive dissonance? Gosh I hope so or my love of Blazing Saddles will have to go underground.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gender-based humor is definitely on my list of “things that engender ambivalence.” I have used it to get over the hurdle of being the only woman in the room in male-dominated places, but I have also railed against it in those very same places. (With apologies for being absent so much lately – mornings, when I can usually catchup, have had a different rhythm lately.)

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      1. Check out the Blevins book club page. It’s link is at the top. I’m talking from my phone in my car so can’t type out all the titles myself.

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  3. I am ambivalent about the wedding we will attend today, as there doesn’t seem to be a whiff of spirituality (notice I didn’t say religiousity) associated with this event. Just one big party, which is ok, too, I guess. I will, of course wish them well and try to not be such a stick in the mud.

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    1. We have a joy tonight. Going to see our grand daughter in a high school play, which includes grades 7-12, with the younger kids usually as stage dressing. But eighth-grade Lily has a prime speaking part and she did very well last night we are told. third generation in academic drama. We will see if she does so in college.

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        1. A small school doing a silly farce with lots of characters to get as many kids as possible involved. But the two with the most stage presence were two eighth graders, Lily and boy.

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  4. Saw the pix & thought that we would not see the female version of that on here. Then read it. But I was not offended. My favorite tv show consists in large measure older men and women talking about the opposite sex in narrow stereotypes. Funny lines result. In each case the lines reveal more about the speakers than the opposite sex.
    PC– one of the topics we see in narrow terms. I have mostly withdrawn my wares from “the marketplace of ideas.”

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    1. Ignore that. Do not know what happened. my fingers messed up on cut and paste I guess. I was trying to say there are buds on the brush outside my window.

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    2. I perked up when I read this name. It is a joy to me when someone in public life speaks well, dealing adroitly with complex matters and thinking clearly. Right now the only person in public life who pleases me this way is Adam Schiff. When I see his face on my TV screen I pay attention because it is a pleasure just hearing him deal with different issues.

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      1. I did a search for him yesterday. His name is stuck in my cut and paste engine. I was going to copy the statement about buds to send to my two kids. But when I hit copy, it inserted his name. Took a bit of playing around to get his name out of there.

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  5. Is there a female version of that? If so, what would it say? Would that change anyone’s ambivalence about the male figure?

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    1. I have to say that I’m not at all ambivalent about Mr. Chocolate. It’s a cheap, obvious, one-dimensional stab at humor, on a par with the greeting cards that rely on fart jokes. I assume a female version would be equally shallow and without wit. It dwells in a realm of assumptions I don’t recognize.

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      1. Well, I know a couple 3-year-old boys who think fart jokes are terribly funny. They are second only to butt jokes which is the top sense of humor around here.

        Just saying there is a difference of opinion about humor out there…

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  6. I have spent so much of my life being offended by bigotry toward women that I have to guard against assuming all men are boorish and full of prejudices against women. Old patterns in the culture really have changed, even if I’m sometimes slow to see that.

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    1. Yeah…but not everywhere. I could get on a soap box about the kerfuffle around “women in tech” and “women in STEM”…for a long time the argument was that it was a “pipeline issue” – get more girls my daughter’s age interested, and we would have more women engineers. Easy peasy. Except that’s not the magic bullet. While a lot of work environments are not the flat-out hostile places they were 30-40 years ago, it still can be decidedly unfriendly. (See also: the tip of the iceberg that is the sexual harassment news at Uber…)

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      1. Do you remember when we met Anna? It was a Blevins meeting held at the Minnehaha Falls park. Having been in two good book clubs, I had a strong suggestion for how we could run the Blevins club so men didn’t dominate the conversation. You said we didn’t need that. I suggested it again, and again you dismissed my view. Then we had the book club discussion. At the end of it I just had to shake my head and say, “Wow! These women need NO help from me in order to say what they think!”

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        1. Is it just me, or is that a rather paternalistic view that women need help from men? I know the intention is good, Steve, but it seems to me that it’s rather condescending.

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        2. I can see why you would say that, PJ, but I disagree. In my case, I’ve learned by experience (good and bad) that without some planning, men will dominate discussions. Remember, I was a witness during the 1960s and 1970s when women were not respected and men felt they had a perfect right to dominate discussions. Younger women surely need less help than they used to, but I can’t empty out my memories of how often men disregarded what women had to say.

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        3. It’s not so much “help” as it is allies. Like the GLBTQ community and their inclusion of straight allies in work for things like marriage equality, male allies in the workplace (and elsewhere) is key. It’s not the traditional, “come save the damsel in distress” so much as it is being the person who steps in to say things like, “As Anna was saying before you interrupted her…” or calling out when men are applying a double-standard (Mary is “not technical enough” but Kevin “can learn”…even though both have the same resume and skill sets). It’s helping to create a space for equity in a non-patronizing or paternalistic way. Though, admittedly, it is a delicate balance.

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      2. its gone so far the other way on thependulum that the women in tech andnt he women in business and the women satrt ups groups out there are numerous. i wounder how the perception would be if you did a white guy protestant group or a guys only group and tried to exclude others by listing the wanted particpants.

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  7. Somehow my reply to the original question got posted inside a long conversation. Not sure how that happened (could it be user error?).

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  8. I constantly wonder if I am doing the right thing(s) with my time, now that I am retired. More some other time on that.

    Today I am ambivalent about whether it’s ever a good idea to try and go out of town for any length of time, because of how much must be done before you leave. ETD Is Tuesday noon, when we drive down to Mt. Pleasant, IA to catch Amtrak to west coast… will be fine once I step on that train.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My experience has been that aging has caused me to be ambivalent about most things. For example, I love aspects of Portland and yet am uncomfortable with some things. I expect the same to be true about Michigan. Of course, about some things I am not at all ambivalent, such as the current occupant of the White House.

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  10. Rise and Garden Baboons!

    Well, it is too nice a day to be indoors on the computer. I have been raking and inventorying plants. Then I took a nap. I am not ambivalent about the garden after another winter. I am not ambivalent about pejorative assumptions about women, especially after a lifetime of living with such assumptions. Does that buy me some ambivalence about such a chocolate man?

    Will Ben be bringing chicken poo in to the Cities again? It did wonders for my raspberries last year!

    We plan to be at BBC tomorrow. I listened to the Nightingale some time ago and loved it.

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    1. Hi–

      I am on for straw and chicken poo…
      does next Saturday work for people?
      With Easter on Sunday people may be busy and I apologize I haven’t gotten up there sooner.

      Rain is in the forecast for Saturday… but maybe it will be wrong.

      I have started my local deliveries: did 3 today.

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  11. I am ambivalent about gardening.

    While I enjoy looking at flowers and eating things like fresh raspberries, I found out after my long illness last summer that I no longer find much pleasure in the act of gardening. At this point, it’s too much work to undo the various beds, and I am not ready to give up fresh herbs, raspberries, black currants, and rhubarb, so I will look for ways to cut down on the weeding and not plant much new stuff this spring. We’ll see how that goes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clarification. I should have written: “…after my long illness last summer that I realized that I do not find much pleasure in gardening.” I didn’t mean to imply that my illness caused me to lose the pleasure.

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  12. I’m ambivalent about my predjudices. I’m not talking about racial predjudice although I’m not sure any of us can be confident we are completely free of those, consciously or unconsciously.
    The predjudices I am talking about are the ones that lower my expectation of a person’s intelligence before I actually know them. My ambivalence is due to my inability to parse whether I am being unfairly biased or simply reading the available cues.
    An example of where I am being almost certainly unfair is that I lower my expectations whenever I hear a strong southern accent. (But even here, you notice, I am only ALMOST certain.)

    Liked by 3 people

  13. i have mixed emotuions about stewardship on my rental property. i am thinking i want to buy the place form the terrible landlord so it is not good to fix up the dump but my neighbors deserve a good neioghbor. i will know in a week or two if im staying buying or moving on. unfortunately im leaving for china saturday and my wife is not ambivilant about my to do list before i go. all these years she has been wishing i had a salary and a real job. first trip out of town she learns to watch out what you wish for.

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  14. i came into the house late this afternoon evening and came upstsirs to ask my wife if she wanted to watch the netflix movie we have and found the movie rocketman on tv. i started laughing at once.
    if you ever need a pick me up watch rocketman.
    it is one of the least ambivilant things in my life.
    i used to recommentd tin men with danny devito, think ill switch to rocketman

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    1. I love Tin Men, have never seen Rocketman. Will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip, tim.

      OT – My massage chair was delivered late yesterday afternoon. After dinner I may have overindulged, testing out the various cycles. Today my body was so sore I could barely move, even my feet hurt. Apparently two hours in one sitting is too much! I may have to dial down the intensity a tad, too. 🙂

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