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Speaking Up This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   How do I see myself? As a strong, independent person, someone who speaks her mind and stands up for what she believes? An incident last week made me recognize that while this is true most of the time, I do not always function as the powerful and fearless young woman I am in my head. After coming to the realization (strangely, on the school bus), I vowed to change.

Riding home on the bus recently, I could hear loud rantings coming from the back seats, where the so-called "cool people" sat during elementary school. Those seats were now meaningless to most of us, but perhaps they lent some feeling of power to the boys who sat in those putrid green seats. I tried to tune out the brash yammer ringing in my ears, but I couldn't ignore the content of their ignorant conversation; it was filled with references to women described in a number of offensive and demeaning ways.

In my head, I sifted through the many things I wanted to scream at them, never actually gaining enough courage for the words to leave my mouth. I was infuriated with them for how they thought, but even more I was disgusted with myself for keeping quiet. Sadly, I know why I remained silent. I was simply at a loss for words. Since there are no counterparts to these offensive words that can be directed at the male gender, there was nothing for me to say. Another reason was that I was actually worried that, had I said something, they would think I was a man-hating, pushy feminist. I know I shouldn't have cared what they thought, but that is easier said than done.

This fear of what the guys in the back seat thought was buried deep in my psyche, for I had fooled myself into believing that I would never feel intimidated and always stand up for my convictions. I knew what I should have done, but my fear kept me from doing it. I have since vowed to speak up when I feel something is wrong - to overcome that fear and become that powerful and fearless young woman. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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