Ophelia’s Revenge

There once was a precious, courageous, little girl. Her big blue eyes never missed a bat. She could see farther and deeper than most adults. When she would outsmart them, from deep in her belly would roar an innocent, high-pitched laughter.

Unfortunately, her laughter and her wisdom were so often muted. Her tiny toes tiptoed around the dark, treacherous place she called home, cringing with every creak, anticipating his next attack. The man who dwelled in her mother’s bed, not entirely a man, but part monster.

This little girl was a soldier. She had a sworn duty to protect herself and her younger siblings from the monster. Her mother worked long hours and a lot of overtime just to pay the bills, so she was in charge of taking care of them. She wasn’t the “typical” nurturing little girl who liked to play house. She was an awful cook, and she’d rather read a book than play with dolls, but they all survived, thanks to the little girl.

This was no easy task, mind you. The little sister seemed to rattle the monster no matter what she did, and then a whirlwind of anger would wreck the home, breaking everything and everyone in sight. Once, the beast had the sister by the throat, snickering “I will kill you!” The little girl called the police and the beast never tried that again. Something about the little girl frightened the beast, perhaps he could sense her strength…or maybe it was her crazy father.

When the little girl went to her father’s house it was like an escape, from one hell to another. Her grandmother didn’t relish children, she was cold toward the girl and her father. As an authoritarian German woman, she pushed her to do well in school. It was so much responsibility and pressure for one child to bear.

The girl was smart though. She had a way out. She dreamed of becoming a lawyer since she was five years old and her parents were divorced. The path to a better life began with school. School was predictable. The rules made sense, they were fair. There were kind, loving adults who praised her good work.  

She lived in a small town on the Hudson River, about two hours north of New York City. Beautiful Victorian houses and large farmhouses decorated the valley, and hidden in its grooves, under large pine trees, were tiny houses and trailers, like the one her family lived in.

She went to a decent school. Many of her peers came from normal homes, with two parents, without scream fests and mind games. Their parents were doctors, professors, and lawyers. Some of her peers were even ancestors of the wealthy settlers that came to the town long ago.

She was never first-chair in the band because her peers got private lessons, but often second because she spent so much time practicing. Her peers had access to better technology and materials for their projects.  Some of her peers had parents who taught at a renowned private school nearby, and they got to sit in on their lectures. They didn’t have to go home and live in terror every day, and she still competed well with them.

Of course, there were bullies too. Mean girls would make fun of her non-brand clothes. Teachers asked her how she would be a lawyer and a mother. There were scheduling conflicts and counselors urging her to take easier science and math placements or justify why she wanted to take such challenging classes. Questions that boys were not asked.

Nonetheless, she persevered, she survived childhood and she graduated salutatorian from her high school. She held close to a 4.0 average in college and passed the bar at the age of twenty-four. Her first job post-graduation was in retail, since she didn’t have any family connections, and after her law school was sued for skewing numbers on post-graduation employment rates. She eventually landed a  government job in worker’s compensation with a starting salary of 40,000, not even enough to pay the interest on her student loans.

   Now she works as a hearing officer, making 80,000, still not as much as her male co-workers in litigation. Litigation lawyers have the highest salaries and biggest bonuses at her firm, and they are all men. The females and minorities are at the government jobs with significantly lower salaries. At the litigation dinners, she is the only woman. The air smells of ego and cologne. Loud brass voices and puffy chests tower over her. She sips her drink and listens to them rating the female lawyer’s attractiveness. She feels so out of place, so violated, but she nods and smiles.

This is the status quo in her field, the delicate tickles on her wrist, the unwanted hands on the small of her back, as to escort her into a room. As if she didn’t know the way. As if she didn’t get this far without them helping her. As if she hasn’t fought more battles than they could imagine, and won, on her own! Once after winning a hearing, she hears one of her co-workers loudly professing that she had only won because the judge thought she was cute, not because she had a better argument.

She did everything she was supposed to and more. She conquered beasts in her home, in academia, and she continues to fight them after she accomplished her dream of becoming a lawyer. But she will never back down, she will never tire. She has fought all her life and will continue to fight until the battle is won. She has penetrated the walls of the patriarchy and is dismembering them from within. I am the little sister who angered the beast and Lord, I aim to be again.

This is just one woman’s story, but the more we share, the more we’ll find this is every woman’s story, and the infection runs deep, carved into the veins of society. Until the remedy is found, let our voices continue to echo out, beyond the borders that have silenced us for so long, causing a crack that will eventually tear down that wall.

Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia, in Hamlet

“Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be”-Ophelia

 

Feminism for All

I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Over the years my ideas, as well as society’s, about what feminism means has changed greatly, but I still proudly profess my feminism.

As a young girl, I was fixated on boys. I wanted to date boys, marry boys, make little baby boys. When I had a man, I was loyal to him, I took care of him. I thought about getting married a couple of times, thinking that would be the end of my problems. I would have someone to help me out through life, keep me safe. Like all little girls, I believed the patriarchal propaganda getting shoved down my throat since birth.

From “Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster”

As a young adult, I always considered myself a strong, independent woman. I only let guys pay half of the time, I wanted to be a doctor. I always had a boyfriend, though. My boyfriends and I would talk shit about all of my single girlfriends who were slutting it up. I’d say, “Feminism isn’t about acting like a guy, becoming emotionally inept, power-hungry, horndogs. Women should still act like women, but be pure and nurturing mothers or professional career women if they choose. And men should act more like women if they want. To hell with gender roles.” Not realizing that I was doing what women are “supposed to do,” gossip and talk shit about each other, fight with other women, and agree with men.

Nearly a decade later, half of it spent single and exploring my identity and my sexuality, my views of feminism have clearly shifted once again. I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to define feminism. The way someone practices their feminism is contingent on his or her unique experiences navigating the world. Lately, however, I have been feeling many people trying to force their ideas of feminism on me, and spurning me if I disagree.

Ever since women were recently granted the right to think for themselves, there has been a division amongst us. Now that she has some autonomy, how should she behave? Now that she can work, what should she be allowed to make? Does anyone else wonder why teachers and nurses are so underpaid for the imperative jobs they do? I don’t think it was women making these decisions, and it still isn’t. Because the decisions we make are based on ideologies instilled in us by our fathers.

If I laugh at rape jokes, can I not say #MeToo? Even though I was a victim of sexual assault? If I objectify myself for a living, can I not call myself a feminist? Even though stripping empowers me? Even if it helped me succeed in life more than my college degree did? Am I “a part of the problem” because I didn’t vote for Hillary? What about the women picketing outside the abortion clinic, because of their religious views? Aren’t we all victims of inequality and injustice?

Dave Chappelle

I didn’t want to bring up my political views on the blog originally because I didn’t feel the communities I write for would agree, and didn’t find it relevant. I also believe people’s need to label everything and everyone has consequences. But politics, religion, sexuality, and gender are all different building blocks to an individual’s belief system. To ostracize someone because of any of these beliefs is to attack their personal freedom.

I feel identifying as a “Spiritual Christian,” libertarian, bisexual is part of the reason I  constantly feeling like a fish out of water. “Spiritual Christian” is just what I say when people ask my religious beliefs. I am both spiritual, as I believe aspects of many theologies and create my own, and Christian, I was baptized and pray to Jesus. Although, some Christians would say I’m “not Christian enough” because I believe in other entities. Trying to date in the LGBTQ community as a bisexual feels like you’re “too straight” to be considered. 

I never caught so much flack as a bisexual libertarian as I did the last election. Gary Johnson wasn’t my favorite libertarian candidate, but I really thought he could get 5% this year, which would allow the party to join the debate next election. I would obviously love for my voice to be heard, but people were attacking me, saying a vote for anyone but Hillary is a vote for Trump, and that I “wasted” my vote. After he was elected, it was like you can’t be feminist or bi and support Trump, or do anything less than despise him. (It’s not that I don’t despise him, just that I despise Hillary too). The LA Pride parade earlier this year became the “Resist March” that was “not supposed to be democratic or republican,” but ultimately became an Anti-Trump march. In my opinion, this divided the community it was meant to bring together. I see moral confusion and abhorrence trickling down from the pinnacles of society, corroding communities at every level.

2017 LA Pride marchers deface Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star

Beliefs are not black and white, there are gray areas. People always tell you, “Just make up your mind! Choose one!” Why must I choose one, when there are so many options? So many combinations of the two, options beyond the two you haven’t even imagined!

Feminism is something unique and personal to everyone, so why are we segregating those who don’t share all of the same beliefs? Don’t we all have the freedom to believe what we wish, without the social chastisement?

If you disagree with someone, feel free to argue with them, provide evidence for your opinions, but at the end of the debate, if they still disagree with you, that’s their right. Don’t shame them, and hate them. Don’t excommunicate them from your community. A community exclusively of individuals with mirrored belief systems will lack adequate size and strength to make a difference. It also sounds to me like a cult because naturally, people disagree on some things!

An informative Washington Post article suggests modern feminism should focus on equality, inclusion, and personal choice.  Anyone who wants to join the fight for equality should be allowed to. Period.

…But to paint a silver lining, if we are strong enough for them to try so hard to divide us, that means we are getting stronger.  

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”-Martin Luther King, Jr.