As many of you know, I have devoted my life to dueling with and defeating the white male patriarchy. It is has been a tough slog.
I admit that sometimes I have waffled and reverted to the old ways. But now, I have discovered a path for male[i] readers of Simple Justice to take concrete steps that will ultimately result in defeating the rampant scourge. As you will see, it takes courage and can only be accomplished one foot at a time.
However, I must first make an admission. This past year, and despite the best of intentions, I transformed myself into a pirate. Pirates are emblematic of male dominance.
I was shaken to the core because of my immoral and unwoke behavior. But I have been saved, praise be the God(s).
My wedding anniversary arrived just days ago. Joan has devoted much of our marriage to kicking me in the butt when I have said or written stupid Scheiße (perhaps like this). This time she gave me a gift that would transform me into the image she probably prefers. She had purchased and booked a pedicure for me.
In our family, my feet have special significance. Our oldest granddaughter has labeled me as “Stinky Feet Grampa.” She did that as a toddler and the accurate appellation has stuck.
Indeed, while on the beach in Australia this Christmas, my son, a PhD in biology, remarked, “You know Dad, your feet are gnarly!” I asked what he meant, and he said I had toenails like a Velociraptor. He informed me, rather condescendingly I hasten to add, that these long ago creatures had sharp, deadly, sickle-shaped, retractable 3.5-inch claws on each foot.
Anyway, desiring to shed my pigment challenged compulsion for dominance, I hiked myself over to the strip mall near our house. I walked into the place Joan told me to go. It was buzzing with activity.
Large white women (of a certain age) and small Vietnamese women abounded. I was the only person there (that I know of) with male genitalia. I was terrified.
Even then my inherent penchant for dominance arose. The Ride Of The Valkyries sounded silently in my ears.[iv]
Using my unusual facility for sign language, I was able to make clear that I wanted the $22 basic pedicure. (Joan had paid for more, but I desperately wanted to get the hell out of there.) With some difficulty, I was informed to take a seat in a comfy chair, shed my shoes and socks, and put my feet in a bowl from which warm water gurgled soothingly. The bowl had a plastic liner to catch the detritus of what I was about to undergo.
The very nice Vietnamese lady who worked on me immediately donned a face mask that covered her nose. I noticed that the mask was unusual. None of the other white women receiving a pedicure required their operators to treat their feet as hazmat sites.
And, so, the procedure began. The water was warm and smoothing. The cleansing of my feet with a soapy scented substance went well. The clipping of my toenails seemed to stress the operator, but only slightly. The white woman next to me remarked that her husband would never get a pedicure. Despite my efforts, she refused to talk to me further.
A large chunk of skin from my heel floated to the top while the operator scoured the underside of my feet with a brisk motion and a stiff brush. After that, I removed my feet from the water and the operator went about the task of cleansing the nails. Then she placed a wonderfully scented balm on my feet and all the way up to my knee. After a while, she removed the balm and did the same with another equally aromatic cream. She then wrapped both legs and feet in warm towels. After she removed the towels, and I looked down, I was amazed. No Stinky Feet Grampa was I.
I tipped the kind operator, and exited as soon as I could. The white women in the shop glared (or so I thought) and Vietnamese ladies giggled (or so I imagined).
I didn’t care. I had been freed of the soul crushing burden of being a white male!
Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska)
[i] It goes without saying that the word “male” is a social construct. Thus, I use “male” in the colloquial sense. I trust that you will take no offense at my reversion to slang.
[ii] Although unlikely, it may have been the removal of a cancer from my lip. The through-and-through wedge resection was somewhat disfiguring and the following six weeks of radiation made it more so. On the other hand, my reversion to piracy was much more likely to have been my latent desire to display my white male privilege. That is, dominance in the most extreme form. As I willingly admit, I backslide frequently.
[iii] “White men will often talk about these things while blocking out the emotional content, or if they do connect with it emotionally, try to move on and/or stay in their heads. When these things come up, try to help participants actually feel what they are talking about. Simply naming the emotion and pausing are often effective.” Quoted from Challenging White and Male Supremacy Curriculum, Example of 4 Hour Challenging White and Male Supremacy Workshop Agenda, Collective Liberation.org.
[iv] Even now, I must confess that Colonel Kurtz remains my hero. Indeed, I shave my head bald and spout crazy nonsense from time to time.
*Ed. Note: TMI.