Thursday, April 30, 2009

Judgment Day

This is an email I wrote recently to a friend during an ongoing conversation about judgment and classism, spurred on most recently by a blog post at (hey, spell check doesn't recognize 'should'...or maybe I spelled it wrong!):

We are talking about the same thing and on the same side, believe it or not. I was raised not to judge people based on the very things you're talking about, and my father was the anti-bigot, made sure we didn't pass judgment. So I was almost afraid to say I didn't like someone (for some real reason, like they were leering at me lustily with dishonorable intention) for fear it would be misinterpreted as racism, or whatever.

As I said, I was raised blue collar by a beer drinking, whiskey swilling, smoking, womanizing father (I can't say anything about my mom, she's got her issues, but nothing that applies to this conversation) who was funny, fun, and loved by almost everyone he met. He raised me to be confident and proud of myself, no matter what I did with my life.

I was the first grandchild on my father's side of the family to graduate high school, and didn't take college courses until I was about 30. I married a man who, ten years into the marriage, told me he knew from the very beginning that his parents wouldn't like me, because in their eyes I
wasn't good enough for him. His parents never asked me anything about me or my family, didn't care to know.

And yet, because I was married to a Naval officer, I was often pointedly (I mean in my face, in a checkout line) sneered at because of it (as if I thought somehow I was better because of who I married...I never gave a shit that he was an officer, didn't even know they were different than enlisted until I met him, and my dad was Navy for 20 years!) I felt defensive, and wanted to wear a sign that said, "You don't know me or where I come from, so don't judge me!" One night at a ball (full dress, long gowns) I was drinking a beer (out of a bottle) and I overheard another wife whisper, "Someone should get her a glass." As if!

Contrast this with the folks back home in Norfolk (looked down upon in general by many in Virginia, and I defend it like it were my own child), who at one point implied that I thought I was too good for them, simply because I left home and went out into the world and saw and did things. When I came back years later, they realized I was basically the same person, but still.

I have struggled all my life not to care about the fact that I didn't have a college eduation, or that my degree, when I did get one, is 'only' an AA in Japanese Studies and nothing more lofty. It encroaches into my dating life, when I find myself figuring I'm not good enough for someone because they are more educated or hold a 'better' job.

...we're all just human and we make judgments (like it or not) based on our life experiences. I've got folks who live near me right now who are considered redneck or even white trash, and my daughter is friends with one of the kids there. I have no issue with these folks in general, but when the one guy w/the souped up car starts squealing up and down Naomi Drive (and not just once, but for 30 minutes at a time) to the point where I can't sit on my patio and hear the person directly across from me when we're talking, well, I get a little pissed off...more at the lack of
consideration for other folks than anything. I try to base my judgment on how folks treat me and how they treat others.


  1. I can relate. And (not that it matters but...) I wonder what might be assumed about me when I drive my little red pick-up like a bat out of hell (while wearing a black baseball cap, my hound dog in the seat next to me).

    Oh, and the people in charge of Google's spell check must be computer techs. Those people couldn't spell their way out of a paper bag. ;)

  2. Hey, Em, I think it's your gravel driveway. I wanted to spin the tires when I was feeding Dizzy too! LOL

    Lori, I think it comes down to people wanting to feel special. I know I struggle with it. It's insecurity. I'm not saying everyone has it; obviously you've mastered some of that natural urge to stand out based on criteria, and good on ya. Society raises us this way though, especially in America (great country that she is for many reasons). I'm not saying that it's America's fault; hell, the Native Americans, or American Indians, or whatever native peoples want to be called, didn't even call her America. My point is, and I am getting to my point, that people pass judgment because we are expected to reach for the goal that the larger society sets for us. It is only when we decide to forgo that goal and be happy in the moment and with who we are that we will truly realize the potential of humanity.

    Wow! Three glasses of Pinot Grigio really clear the mind after a week of hormonally challenged 8th graders. Let's go!

  3. Amy is not nearly as think as she drunks she is.