A couple of days ago Historiann, one of our blogging heroines, posted a long yet totally justified rant about the fact that women, no matter what they do, will always be faced with the accusation of being selfish:
“We’re selfish if we use drugs or technology to get pregnant, and we’re selfish if we accidentally become pregnant when so many others who are so much more deserving can’t get pregnant. We’re selfish if we choose to go through with these pregnancies, and we’re selfish if we choose to have abortions. Selfish is the insult hurled at women who dare to think they’re the authors of their own lives. (…)
How else would society at large get us to do loads of unpaid or drastically underpaid work, if we weren’t afraid of being accused of being selfish all of the time?”
It’s not only in the working environment, though, that women always put themselves second because of their “fears of selfishness“, Historiann continues, but also in the domestic sphere:
“How many of you always take the crumbly, weird first piece of pie or the smallest helping of something, out of deference even to your family members (let alone guests)?”
I have to admit, that last question really got me: It was the point where my mind switched from a plain “Hm, I guess she’s right…” to an outcry of “Holy crap! She’s so darn right – she just summed up my grandma in one single sentence!” Seriously, at family dinners my grandma will not only content herself with whatever the others have left, she’ll even admonish my mum and my aunt to let the men have their pick first. Not to mention pies… You know, my grandma spends an amazing amount of time baking pies and cakes and flans and tarts, all, of course, for her children and grandchildren. And yes, she’ll always cut off “the crumbly, weird first piece of pie” or even all the edges of a cake and eat them herself because, apparently, those are neither tasty nor nice to look at and shouldn’t be forced upon anyone but their humble maker.
The tale of my grandma and her pies, however, comes with a twist, probably unforeseen by Historiann: In my family everyone just loves those presumably “weird” pieces from the edge! In fact, there is a consensus that those are the best parts of any cake and we’d happily trade the “proper” cake for its cut-off edges. We have tried to explain this to my grandma on numerous occasions and have frequently asked, nay, begged her to please, please, please leave some of those marginal pieces for us. All to no avail. She keeps on trimming all her pastries and eating the trimmings herself. Now, it seems to me that there are two possible explanations for this phenomenon:
a) The belief that nobody could possibly like those trimmings and that she has to unselfishly sacrifice herself and eat them is so firmly imprinted on my grandma’s mind that she just can’t change her ways even when faced with contrary evidence.
b) While appearing to do the unselfish thing she manages to effectively act totally selfish by just pretending to operate under assumption a) and cunningly using it as a pretence to secure those tasty trimmings for herself.
I really couldn’t say which of the above applies but I certainly hope it’s option b) – that way, at least, someone would get to enjoy the best parts of the cakes! Also, it would mean that my grandma actually subverts the system so appropriately described by Historiann, and let’s face it: Even if my grandma gets to eat all the best pieces of her pies, that system is still very much intact and can definitely do with some subversion.