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?