Have you ever tried to guess someone’s ethnic group? This is especially dicey when it comes to Asians. I am half Asian myself, so I’ve often been on the receiving end of this, but I’ll never forget the time I mistook a Korean woman for Japanese. My excuse is that I have one close friend who is Japanese, but have never had a Korean friend. These two countries may have similar cuisines, but neither are flattered when mistaken for the other. There’s a long history there and past deeds of one country toward another that still colors the manner in which these two peoples perceive and relate to each other in present day.
How does this relate to being childfree? It’s really about assumptions. As Laura’s most recent post points out, we, Purple and parent alike, operate on assumptions every day. It’s an ingrained habit. It can help streamline daily communication, potentially expedite tasks. But what happens if our frame of reference is not the same as someone else’s? It all breaks down. Sort of like working in a corporate framework that uses a lot of acronyms and then transferring to another industry that uses an entirely different set. All of a sudden we are not communicating, even worse, we offend.
We can’t expect someone to know everything about us by looking at us. I’ve often joked with my fellow CFers that we’re just like serial killers, we’re not really purple, we look just like everybody else! It’s fun to poke fun at it, but often not fun to be on the receiving end of the assumption. And we all know what assumption does…, it makes an ASS out of U and ME (ASS-U-ME, get it?).
Do Koreans get mistaken for Japanese? Yes. Will perfect strangers continue to assume that I have children? Yes, as least for another decade or so. How we handle the response can either enlighten or enshroud. Do what’s best for you in the moment. Sometimes you just don’t have time to educate every person you come across.
There are other ways to make an impact. Laura has decided to focus on her energy on creating documentary about childfree couples. That should enlighten a few people.
Technorati Tag: Childfree