Ozzily Yours

Friday, January 27, 2017

Resistance

Last Saturday, I marched with 500,000 others in Washington, DC. The energy, the community, the hopes and fears of that group of people were all palpable, and inspiring. The next day, I spent 7 hours wandering around DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood with two friends, talking about family, books, politics, food... really anything that crossed our minds. In the course of one weekend, I experienced the power of women coming together on both the most macro and the most micro of scales.

It got me thinking. About what drove me to be there over that weekend, for that historic event.

I once told my mom that it turned out I couldn't be a doctor because my neighbor had told me girls couldn't be doctors, just nurses. Mom told me to to go right back to that neighbor and tell her that was totally untrue... but that would have been embarrassing, so I didn't. I took the path of least resistance.

I once had a classmate turn to me, noticing I was developing ahead of my friends, and cry loudly, "Ooooh, you've got big boobies, do you wear a bra?" I should have said "none of your business," but instead I just turned bright red and stared at my desk, blinking back tears. I took the path of least resistance.

I once, when asked if I was a feminist, stammered, no, not that, just "a firm believer in equal rights." I knew "feminist" was equated with rigidity, man-hating, political correctness - and I didn't want people to dislike me, so I shied away from the word. I took the path of least resistance.

I once tried to make a point about gender issues related to a reading for English class, only to have a classmate across the room yell, "Oh, get off your feminist high horse!" I laughed along with everyone, and dropped the point. I took the path of least resistance.

I once had a boyfriend do his damnedest to isolate me from my friends and family, then tell me I was lucky to have him, because clearly no one else would ever want to date me. I chose to accept his version of reality for far too long. I took the path of least resistance.

I once had a college classmate look at my "Keep abortion legal and safe" pin and declare, "Well, I guess I'll go home and get my coat hanger, then." I didn't point out to him that the coat hanger method had led countless women to infections, infertility, even death. I took the path of least resistance.

I once had a long, drawn-out fight with a boyfriend about girls who had dressed and danced provocatively. He thought it was his right to ogle them, and to assume that they "knew what they were doing, leading men on"; I thought there was a bigger picture to consider, around what they had been taught about their girl- and womanhood from an early age. I felt incredibly disrespected as a woman and thought, several times, that we should just break up if that was how he felt. I didn't go through with it, though. I took the past of least resistance.

I once had a family member consistently refer to my beliefs and politics as "feminazi." So many times, I wanted to ask why he thought it was even the slightest bit appropriate to compare a desire for equal rights to the genocide of 6 million innocent people. But I choked up every time. I took the path of least resistance.

I once had a job where I was fairly certain, due to a few off-hand comments, that my male counterparts were making more than I was - in at least one case, significantly more. I never asked about it, though - I never even asked for a raise. I took the path of least resistance.

I once, at a party, made my way to the makeshift bar and asked the guy manning it for a glass of wine. As he poured it, he eyed me up and down, then declared, "I wish I had a roofie to put in here." I didn't call him out on his date rape "joke." I took the path of least resistance.

That's just the tip of the iceberg - the first few things that come to mind when I think about what's made me a feminist, what's given me this drive. There's so much more. (As a friend observed recently, haven't we all been groped a bunch of times? Isn't it just part of being a woman?) And then I stop and think about my privilege - I'm white, I'm highly educated, I'm solidly middle class... clearly, things could have been so much worse and, for so many women, are so much worse.

I felt a momentum and urgency around so many issues last weekend, and I need to keep that up. So I'm here to say I'm done with the path of least resistance. It's time to start resisting.









3 Comments:

  • michaela, this really resonated with me. i was having lunch with a coworker friend today and i mentioned how i just did as i was told as a kid and he couldn't believe it. he kept saying no way that i'm so determined and spunky. i continued, "i was just a really shy asian girl." and frankly, even though there is this perception that i may not be, i usually take the path of resistance as well. i've decided i don't want to be that person anymore. i'm ready to mobilize for myself and for others.

    By Blogger Catherine Gacad, at 1/30/2017 5:57 PM  

  • Catherine, I was also very shy as a kid - and also find that people have a hard time believing that! Thanks for sharing, and best of luck mobilizing in whatever way is best for you... it's an interesting time to be alive, isn't it?...

    By Blogger mcm, at 2/01/2017 12:20 PM  

  • Hopefully change will come through actions like yours. :)

    By Blogger Jason Howard, at 2/09/2017 8:51 AM  

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