Sunday, October 16, 2016

You Have to Wonder

You have to wonder where along the great long timeline of evolution the truth of women's lives became something to be quiet about.  How long after Lucy started it all did her female offspring decide it was better to be quiet than to be free of the large and small terrors that are perpetrated upon them by the other half of the human population?  To be sure, not all women have suffered what some of us have and definitely not all men are perpetrators, but there have been enough of us victims on the female side that you'd expect a howl of anguish to rupture forth every now and then over the eons. (And, yes, I know that it can happen in the reverse; another story, another time).

Every single woman in my world has experienced an episode of some sort - physical or mental (or both) - that is seared in her memory.  My episode, the one that had a domino effect that stayed with me for years, began on the first day of sixth grade when Mr. McCarthy, a man who degraded the teaching profession every single day he stood in front of a classroom, commanded all of his 11 year-old female students to stand up next to their desks and do a slow turn with arms outspread.  I was mystified why he would want us to do that but....I did it because he was the teacher and he asked.  And so did all of the other girls in the class.  And it turns out that he had us do this so that he could look us over and choose two of us as his secretaries for the year.  I was one of them.  Having been chosen I was then forced to sit at one of the two small student desks flanking his desk and facing my fellow students.  Every day was a misery and to this day I am not sure how or why I accepted the situation.  I knew I didn't like it but...I didn't say anything.  I think I didn't say anything because, you know, mystified.  At home, and at school up until then, girls were just people, not different. Girls ran like the wind at recess, climbed trees, read adventure books, sang, laughed.  Just like the boys.  Girls were people and I was fine, mystified but fine.

Until school photo packets were handed back to us to bring home to our parents and mine (and his other "secretary's") contained his photo too.  That was more mystifying and wrong enough that I had to tell my parents.  I'm pretty sure my mom and dad were out of the house before I was the next morning and things changed big time at school.  My desk was moved, big drama from my "teacher", retribution from his best friend (my math teacher).  It was all pretty ugly but it was over.

I hadn't thought about it for years until recently, for obvious reasons.  Trump has done that much for us, at any rate.  The sheer deluge of tweets, posts, essays, op-ed pieces is staggering, until it isn't.  Until you realize that it's practically all of us.  Then it isn't just staggering, it's mind-bending.

And I think that's why more women don't speak up more often.  It's our life.  So many women, with so many horrible stories.   Stockholm syndrome for 50 percent of the population.

Is this the howl that will change things?  You have to wonder.

No comments:

Post a Comment