Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Friendly Gendered Skies

On an airplane today, flying to L.A. to visit Dr. Husband’s mom while he does some work at the University of Alaska this week. The plane is full. I’m in the window seat with the baby on my lap/boob. The middle seat is occupied by a sweet-seeming Ukrainian woman. The aisle is taken by a chatty man who works for World Vision and does his banking at Bank of America and used to do a lot of international travel but now is mostly traveling domestically, as his wife prefers to stay home in Seattle.

As a rule I believe the armrests on either side of the middle seat belong to the person in the middle seat because what else does that person have, really? But it turns out that trying to nurse discretely on an airplane sort of requires the use of the nursing-boob-side armrest. So I apologetically ask the woman next to me if it’s okay if I use the armrest between us to prop up my arm while I nurse. She kindly agrees. I use it for five or ten guilt-ridden moments during takeoff, feeling like a shitty row-mate.

Midway through the flight I glance over and see that Mr. Bank of America International Travel World Vision With the Travel-Averse Wife is totally hogging both his armrests. Without asking. Or apologizing. Or, presumably, feeling guilty. And I think, not for the first time, that is the definition of patriarchy.

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