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The Glass Wall
“There is nothing you can do that I can’t. I am a woman, so what? I can run, jump, and work just as hard as any man or boy. Don’t judge me from my appearance, my manners or anything else. Judge me only from my soul, my spirit and my hard work. I am not someone whom you can beat with your words or you blows. I am a human being and a hard worker!” I said, tilting my chin up to the sky. Charlie Lock paced around me; watching and waiting for my defenses to fall.
“Oh? You are just as worthy as a man. Just as strong? You claim that you should have the same rights as a man? You think you should have to work just as hard as a man?” Charlie asked.
“Who says don’t already work as hard as any man?” I asked him.
“I do, you work only as hard as a baby child.” Charlie sneered.
“How do you know how hard I work?” I stared levelly at him.
“I see you girl. I see you work in the kitchen singing with you friends. I see you garden. You enjoy the dark, dirty soil. It’s easy, a child could do it.” Charlie looked to his friends for their support and they gave it to him. They laughed at me and at my kind.
I glared at them all, cursing them with my eyes, “You think that I am nothing but I am just like you. And you don’t know anything about what I do.”
They didn’t. They had never spent a day in my skin. They never knew how sore my hands were, how chapped they got to be. I was a woman but I could ride a horse, throw a punch, shoot a gun, anything that they could. “I bet you it’s nothing compared to how hard we men work.” He stressed the word men as if they were superior.
“I do know, I have worked as a man for three weeks. I ask you to work as a woman for three weeks. Experience everything I do, everything we ‘women folk’ experience.” I taunted him, daring him to step down from his imaginary pedestal. He could decline but risk losing the respect, or fear, of his friends. It was either that or go through with the task and risk losing his friends respect; he probably would lose their respect.
Charlie knotted his jaw, shifting his eyes back or forth from his buddies to me. I stood strong, “Very well I will. I Charlie Lock will spend three weeks living like a woman.”
I didn’t smile or show any emotion but I was proud of myself. I had won one battle against the world of prejudice. “Very well, I’ll set you up for that. You won’t be able to back out now.”
“Once I give my word I don’t go back on it.” Charlie snorted.
“Oh? I can think of many times when you have done just that.” I wished I was taller so that I could stand above him like a tall, tall gate that scares everyone from before it.
“My honor wasn’t at stake then.” Charlie grunted, “It starts tomorrow.” With that he left with his buddies trailing in his wake.
The very next morning Charlie worked alongside me. He bit his lip, narrowed his eyes and kept on working, the whole day. At the end he walked up to me and nodded, “You work just as hard as us men. We aren’t better than you all; we’re equal. I could see that after a day and I can’t imagine what you learned after three months.”
“A lot.” I smiled, “Would you do me a favor? Tell your friends what we go through. You haven’t gone through half of it. We women of 1901 know what the whole of it is.”
“I don’t doubt that and I’ll tell my friends what you go through but I don’t know if they’ll believe me.” Charlie held his hands in fists at his side as if wanting to beat me for proving me wrong. I nodded they probably wouldn’t believe him, but at least he’d know. The trouble we went through each and every day but the pain as we faced the Glass Wall; that he would never know.