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She Wants to be Everything
She wants to be Everything
“Down with the patriarchy!”
Not only was it yelled quite a bit but it was also one of the many recurring themes of that day, along with the main one being the 50th anniversary for women’s suffrage. That’s why we were there, marching down 5th avenue, while others like us did similar things in their city across the country
The day started off simple enough; I had woken up in my one bedroom apartment in my not so great side of town but good enough for me and got dressed, I was wearing a jean jacket with my f*** the patriarchy pin especially made for me, T-shirt, denim shorts, and comfortable shoes. I then finished getting ready only to skip breakfast and go on a walk, I got wolf whistled at four times in two blocks (new record) and started heading down to the subway to go to 5th avenue.
I’m gonna be honest, I’ve been living in New York for years now, and still have no clue whatsoever how to use a subway, I understand the logistics, you get one, it takes you somewhere, but how the hell do you know which one to take? There are like five different ones. And New York these days is basically a s*** hole, I’m not too interested in getting lost and mugged. Therefore when a man decided to stop and give me directions I was both grateful and irritated, I appreciated the directions but definitely not the staring at my breasts while giving me said directions. It barely even phased me, I was so familiar with this though.
“Yeah but what were you wearing?”
“Does it matter, it’s not like I was staring at his crotch the entire time, and he was wearing really tight jeans. Like I-was-concerned-for-the-circulation-of his-waist tight”
“Yeah but if you were wearing something really low cut then you’re just asking for it.”
“I was wearing a blouse and it did not have the words please stare at my rack anywhere on it so I don’t know how I would have given off that impression”
“Well if you don’t want people to look then wear something else, clothes say a lot about what you want.”
I stared at her.
“Do you know how clothes work?”
After tapping my fingers on a railing to the rhythm of David Bowies’ “Space Oddity” for what felt like hours until I escaped the bowels of hell that are the subway, I made my way up to 5th avenue. I could already see tons of people there so I jogged over only to be greeted with delight.
“Are you here for the rally?” A nice young lady asked me, she had long blonde hair and green eyes, I also noticed the NOW pin on her blouse that was tied just above the navel and went well with her bell bottoms. She reminded me of some of the girls I went to highschool with that became hippies after graduation. She was holding a poster that said “equal opportunities” in large letters, and from her enthusiasm alone you could tell she wanted that shouted from the rooftops.
“Yes, I am.” I responded with all the gumption I could muster, no matter how hippie like, she seemed to know what she was doing.
“Far out. There are so many people here already, like, it’s so awesome.”
I only nodded and smiled in response. Someone came up to her and pulled her away, saying how they need to go.
“Catch you on the flip side!” she yelled to me as she was tugged further into the crowd. The same crowd that was getting larger and larger, packed with ralliers. Ralliers? Sure let’s go with that, ralliers. And they did not come quietly, as they shouldn’t. I just wasn’t expecting the turnout. Similarly, I was also not expecting the amount of ignorant hecklers that were shouting things at us.
“Shut up femmes!
In any case, someone got up on stage, one of the organizers I assumed, and began to speak, even though I wasn’t necessarily able to pay attention
“Thank you so much for coming everyone…”
“Yeah but why?”
“Because I believe in equal rights for both genders. You don’t?”
“Well, yeah but, aren’t those kinds of people really angry?”
“If by “those kinds of people” you mean feminists, we have a right to be angry, we’ve been discriminated against and underrepresented for centuries.”
“Oh, there you go with your big words again. Look I’ve been looking into this and I don’t like it, I mean what’s the problem with having a man open the door for me once and awhile, or wanting to settle down with kids while he brings home the money. And are you still gonna shave your legs?”
“ Well the reason those things usually if not always happen is because women are viewed as the weaker sex, so that’s just one reason. And I don’t shave my legs regardless.”
“Ugh, just don’t turn too much into one of them ok?”
I began to clap with everyone else when the sound snapped me out of my day dream, the first person’s speech was over and someone else came on stage claiming to be the head of the national organization of women. She went on for some time and talked about the amazing turn out which I tried very hard to pay attention to, but I couldn’t help but notice all the cops around. The pigs were here to make sure that nothing got out of hand but the last time I went to an event like this they almost stopped me from getting in.
“And where do you think you’re going, Miss. ”
“To join the protest.”
“Shouldn’t you be at home, it’s getting late.” It was five o’clock
“No, I should be here.”
He let me pass after that with a sigh and shake of his head. I was standing on the side during the actual protest and could hear them all b****ing between each other.
“I don’t understand why we need to be here.”
“Incase these girls get outta hand.”
“Exactly, why can’t they all just get back in the kitchen, it’s good gig to have, better than ours, having to stand out here, and make sure these chicks don’t start a riot or some s***.”
People pushing past me brought me back into reality. The speech was over and the march down 5th had started. I felt bad for not listening but there wasn’t much I could do about that then.
It really was great though, hundreds of people blocking traffic just to spread a message felt incredible. And it wasn’t just women, although joining forces with other empowered women was wonderful of course, there were also men, not sexist men! Not cops just trying to push women around or some random moron yelling things out about my ass from the sidewalk. At least for me this was a novelty in itself, I knew they existed but I never knew I would actually see one!
“What it is, can I buy you a drink?”
“Oh uh, no, I’m okay thanks.”
“What’s the problem, here with someone?”
“Well I mean I’m here with a friend but I just don’t want a drink, thanks though.”
“Oh common, a pretty girl like you? Hey two more!” he yelled to the bartender disregarding my objections.
“And what is that supposed to mean exactly?”
“What? What’d I sssay?” He sounded way more drunk then he should have been at this hour. The drinks were put in front of us and I refused mine.
“Look, I don’t want your stupid drink or your company, savvy?” When things started to heat up and he somehow managed to get even closer to me, his friend jumped in.
“Woah man, cool it, that’s no way to treat a lady, you know they can’t take care of themselves.” he then turned to me, purposefully brushing against me as he did. “You alright there baby?”
I gave them both some choice words, let’s say, before peeling out of there before things got rough.
We had just past the midpoint of 5th avenue at this point people were chanting with signs in the air and banners. There were even more cops than before because we were all literally blocking traffic. It felt good. Liberating even. To take up space and be loud, about the issues that affect us, exactly what women are told not to do. I never understood what people meant when they said that, especially when there’s no major change, women are still expected to abide by ridiculous gender roles, the patriarchy is still in power, we get paid less than men, don’t get the respect we deserve, et cetera, et cetera. But hey, baby steps are better than no steps right?
“What are your plans for when you get out of high school?” my guidance counselor asked me, the word guidance being used loosely.
“You’re interested in college?”
“Well, that is definitely commendable, what do you plan to study? Teaching? Nursing?” Very loosely. “I’ve been taking a look at your grades and I must say, they’re something else” At least he wasn’t being intentionally rude. That’s something.
“I want to go into political science or sociology. Possibly become a reporter or journalist for some sort of major current event publication, someone who can comment on the issues in those fields.”
“Wow...” he cleared his throat. “Well, do you have any other... ideas? Maybe something that would be easier for you you to go into?”
“No. I have a lot of opinions, and this is the way I want them to be known and use them to change things, make a difference.”
“Well dear, you see, I think you may be asking a bit much of yourself, it is very difficult to change the world you realize, although I encourage you to do right maybe in not such a taxing way.”
“Sir, there is a quote I very much enjoy from the book The Bell Jar “When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know."Oh, sure you know," the photographer said. "She wants," said Jay Cee wittily, "to be everything.” And I greatly resonate with this.”
“Well… You seem... very determined.”
“That’s correct, sir.”
“You aren’t concerned about not succeeding with this endeavor at all?”
“ Honestly... Not really” I replied lightly and to this day I still don’t know if I really did turn his opinion around or if he was simply tired of me.
“Fair enough.” he said with a shrug.
The whoops and cheers were deafening. I didn’t mind though. I did mind the fact that we were almost to the end of 5th avenue meaning that the ralliers would be dispersing soon. Hell, I joined in on the chants just so that it wouldn’t have to end.
When people asked me why I was going to this rally and I told them that I wanted to support the cause, they didn’t understand. Everyone, affected by sexism, myself included, is the cause. I want every opportunity, right, option. I want to be able to do anything, regardless of something I didn’t choose to be and I want the same for others. And if I have to fight for that then so be it.