Brave at lunch

Someone at lunch today called me brave.

I don’t know how to respond to that.

I had finished telling stories of my time in 2nd grade slavery. I was a long term sub with an absolutely dreadful experience–that class is the biggest reason I got out of education altogether.
I’d been in that class for a while and noticed the horrible sexism of the kids. I had kids who would use “like a girl” as the ULTIMATE put down to other boys. I finally overheard it one day, instead of having a report from a tattletale that was usually less than trustworthy. I knew I had to do something to put it right at that moment.

I stopped all scheduled instruction and bellowed “LOOK AT ME. LOOK AT ME RIGHT. NOW.” in a voice that usually meant the world was about to end, recess and snack times were canceled, and that you’d rather be anywhere than in my classroom at that moment.

“GIRLS!” I yelp. “GIRLS! SHOW ME HOW TO JUMP. LIKE A GIRL. GET UP OUT OF YOUR SEATS AND SHOW ME. JUMP RIGHT NOW.” The girls in my class give nervous glances to each other and to me; they’re not sure what is happening. Ms.B isn’t usually this weird in the middle of reading time. Finally, some of them jump. “Jump again! Jump high! Show me how you jump, girls!” At this encouragement, they smile and spring from the ground towards the heavens. My girls jump for all they are worth–which is millions, by my calculations. “THAT! THAT BOYS! THAT IS HOW YOU JUMP LIKE A GIRL!” My boys grumble to themselves and their friends. Generations of inbred sexism won’t be undone quickly or easily; this I know.

I lead my girls through a few extra activities. We run like girls. We punch like girls. We do math like girls. We lead the class like girls.

I don’t know if I really got anything through any of those boys brains that day, but I certainly did see a turnaround in the tiny females in my class. My girls smiled wider and they sang louder. They seemed proud to be girls and they finally seemed to believe that they could do anything. We learned about important women in history and I pointed out our country’s never had a girl in charge. I told them any single one of my girls could lead the world and I meant it.

I taught that lesson because I knew it was the right thing to do.
I taught that lesson because sometimes at school, you don’t need to practice finding the proper verb tense.
Sometimes at school, you need to practice being a good human being.

When I told other adults in the building what I’d done, I was met with resistance, especially from most of the women. Adult women who disagreed with me that women can do anything men can. Adult women who were uncomfortable with me teaching little girls that they were just as good as little boys. Adult women who perhaps never had any discussions about equality, gender, and civil rights.

I never thought that I’d done anything special or extraordinary, so today at lunch when another woman called me brave for tackling these subjects in a classroom, I was flabbergasted.
I’m not sure who or what I consider to be brave in the highest sense, but me? Lil ole me? Naaaaaaaah.

It was hard praise to hear and even harder praise to believe, but maybe just maybe… My lesson did make a difference. Maybe one of the kids in my class will call a friend on some sexist behavior one day. To me, that kid will be the brave one. I made a point to a captive audience; standing up to your friends when they do something wrong?

That’s real bravery.

Looking back and moving forward

This past week has seen some incredible changes.

Nationally, our country has now legalized marriage. All marriage. Gay marriage. Straight marriage. Legal marriage. This is a wonderful step towards equality for the LGBTQ citizens of America.

However, there is plenty of work still to do. This is a first step towards a move civilized world for all.

Much like the country, which has been laying stagnant for far too long, I’ve been lying dormant for years.

I graduated with my Masters in 2011 and I’ve been trying for years to get my first big teaching job. In a world where people assure you that becoming a teacher, a nurse, or a doctor will ensure your financial success for the rest of your life. I heard that the world will always need teachers and that I would always be guaranteed a job. Instead, I couldn’t find a teaching job in Gainesville. I didn’t find a teaching job in Waco, and now I haven’t found a teaching job in Austin.

I began speaking with hubby a month or so ago about the stress of job hunting and the defeat that envelops me every time I begin again. It’s incredibly demoralizing to have all the knowledge, but zero opportunity to put it to use.  He pointed out that my passions usually lie in advocacy these days and that perhaps I should  chase a new career.

So, this past week, I have done exactly that.  I started looking for internships/jobs/volunteer opportunities with non profits.
Monday, I started finding ads. Tuesday, I made calls. By Friday, I had a job and an internship and a volunteer spot.

It feels amazing to know that I can work and make a difference. It feels thrilling to consider jumping into a new career path.

It’s been a tremendous time of change. What a difference a week can make.
This time a week ago, two of my friends couldn’t legally marry and I was still seeking teaching jobs.

Today, Marriage is legal.
I am no longer a teacher.
I am an executive assistant for a non-profit.

I am happy, excited, and energized to think of where I’ve come from while looking forward to where I can go.

Feminism

Someone on facebook posted an image to make fun of feminism. The someone is a woman. I know this shouldn’t send me in a tizzy, but it does. Anytime a woman rejects feminism, I am flabbergasted. HOW?! How do you live in a body that men consider “the lesser” and not want to fight for equality? How do you look at the conditions other women exist in and decide that’s alright with you? HOW do you ignore everything in the past of our country, our hemisphere, our world with regards to the “fairer” sex and not want to simply explode?! Maybe people just don’t know what it means. Maybe they’ve never looked it up in a dictionary, so here goes. I’ll look it up for you.

fem·i·nism
ˈfeməˌnizəm/
noun
noun: feminism
  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
    synonyms: the women’s movement, the feminist movement, women’s liberation,female emancipation, women’s rights;

    “a longtime advocate of feminism”
Origin
late 19th century: from French féminisme .
This definition does not say “all men are demonspawn and we seek to destroy them”. Some men might be demon spawn, and perhaps they should be destroyed but that’s something to be determined on a case by case basis.
All feminism wants is for the genders to be treated equally.
Feminists have been fighting long and hard to achieve a form of equality in our country.
The United States of America declared its independence July 4, 1776.
Congress passed the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, on June 4, 1919.  The states were slow to ratify, and it finalized in 1920.
That’s 144 years without an ability to vote. 
In 1923, things were looking up for women. Two females sponsored an Equal Rights Amendment. The text is simple. It reads: “Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification”
This Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in every Congressional session from 1923-1970, but it rarely made it out of committee.
In 1972, The ERA passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives. To become a full constitutional amendment, it would need to also be ratified by 38 states. In 1979, it feel three states short.
We are living in the year 2015. We are quickly approaching a 100 year anniversary of the Right for women to vote.
We are approaching a 100 year anniversary for the attempt of women to secure equal rights in this country, and still we do not have them.

Women still do not have equal rights on paper or in practice.

I am feminist because I deserve equal pay for equal work.

I am feminist because my body is my own.

I am feminist because I don’t exist to take care of a man.

I am feminist because I control my career.

I am feminist because little boys still call each other “GIRLS” as an insult.

I am a feminist because girls can do anything; women feel more limited.

I am feminist because sexual harassment is alive and well in the workplace.

I am feminist because cat calling is wrong and prevalent.

I am feminist because No means NO.

Our country has existed for 239 years.  

That’s too long to ignore the rights of half your population.

You’re damned right I’m a feminist. If you don’t like it. that’s too damn bad.

Waco, TX

I am not a native Texan.

I moved to this state a little over two years ago. I was living happily in Florida and engaged to get married. I came home from work one night and the boy asked me how I’d feel about living in Texas. I giggled and asked him how he’d feel about getting married. His face suddenly got very serious, and I realized at that point, I’d made a huge mistake.
Two weeks later, we got married. One week after that, we loaded up my Mustang and drove across the country to begin a new life together in Waco, TX.

As an outspoken liberal woman, moving into Texas, I felt petrified to move into enemy territory. I knew that Waco, Texas was not a place famous for its open minded attitudes. My family lives in a small Alabama town that could be the basis for Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry, and I went into Waco expecting something similar. Everybody is friendly and fun in Mayberry. I was in no way prepared for the hatred and personal attacks I would encounter as a free spirited woman.

Day 2 of life in Waco was quite a surprise. My first day was lovely. I drove around, looked for an apartment and spoke with tons of friendly strangers. I had some very positive interactions with realtors and apartment workers both. However, I will never forget driving down the street while rocking out to some Lady Gaga. I was wearing a tank top, my radio was blaring, and my windows were down. A Backwoods Bubba in a pickup truck pulled up beside me, his passenger leaned out the window to attract my attention, and when I turned towards him he hollered “WHORE!” The truck then sped off.
That’s the first time I’d actually been attacked in that way and I’ll never forget that feeling.

Scandalous Tank Top strikes again!

Scandalous Tank Top strikes again!

Two weeks later, I flew back to Florida to finish packing up our things in Florida to complete the move. I had a great time the first night in town. The second night in Florida, I slipped down the stairs and broke 5 bones in my foot and caused significant soft tissue damage. Packing up the house became much more difficult, but we managed and moved out to Waco for good. I was house bound for over two months, with the exception of weekly trips to the podiatrist.

When I finally managed to convince my husband I was healthy enough to go on an adventure, we went to the grocery store. I wore a comfortable dress to the grocery store. It had a V-neck. I rode my little cart. I adored the fresh air and freedom. I made it through the store with minimal discomfort. Hubsy left me by the door to go pick up the car, since I’m still unable to walk at this point. While I’m sitting outside and reveling in my close proximity to the sunset, an older lady shuffles by. She glares at me, and scuttles away mumbling loudly to herself, “Wear some clothes. Cover that nakedness”.
I turn my cart around and loudly call, “EXCUSE ME?!” I couldn’t believe someone would really say that to me, given how I was dressed.
The old crone walks back over to me and bends down to get into my face. “You should be wearing clothes! Cover your nakedness!” she hisses at me.

I was flabbergasted. Jon drove up as I waited, mouth agape. We had a long talk about it, but I still will never forgive that old bat for ruining my first outing after breaking my foot.

I’ll even post a picture of my scandalous “naked” dress. You be the judge!

Clearly, the selfie of a naked person.

#Selfie #Naked #GroceryStore

And so, within the first few interactions I’d had with the people of Waco, it was clear to me that I didn’t belong. As time went on, I met some friends and found a few I could be myself with. I’m still close with a few of them and I love my Waco peeps dearly. They helped me during the hardest two years of my life-breaking my foot twice and then having surgery and learning to walk 3 times in a 2 year period doesn’t come easy.

My treatment by the general population of Waco told me a lot about the city. I’ve traveled to plenty of places and I still wear that dress out whenever I want. I’ve worn it in Florida, Alabama, and even in Washington state. I never had another problem with it, and I doubt that I ever will.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog.

On here, I plan to write about the things that plague me in daily life while I am trapped in Texas.
Education, the constant erosion of a woman’s right to her own body, and the obsession that others have with imposing their laws on other forms of love, to name a few. I’ll be writing about the imbalances of power that are present in society, as well as how strange Texas culture seems to an outsider.

A little about myself:
I am 26 years old, soon to be 27. I’ve learned to walk 3 times in the last two years. I was born in Oklahoma, but as an Army brat I’ve lived in a few interesting places across the world. Okinawa was the most exotic, but Gainesville, FL was my favorite and the closest thing I’ve ever had to a home.
I am ENFP if Briggs-Meyers tests are to be believed.

I have worked to match words with actions.
LGBTQ+ rights and legislation are also intensely personal to me and I work very hard to address the imbalances that exist in my state and local communities.  I’ve attended workshops by Equality Texas to learn about legislation and what a citizen can do to affect the outcome of any bill. I’ve walked the Capitol and spoken with state senators and state representatives on Equality Texas and Texas Freedom Network Faith Advocacy Day.
I watched Wendy Davis’ filibuster on the state senate floor and wept when it seemed that she might be cut off. I went down to Austin from Waco to Stand with Wendy and attend the rally, at a time when I could barely stand myself. I watched as she declared her candidacy while with friends in Waco.

I am passionate about a woman’s right to her own body and the equality of women in general. One of the best things I think I’ve done in my life thus far was to teach a class of kids about the concept of feminism and introduce them to the idea of strong, powerful women. Most of my kids hadn’t known that a woman can be president of something; most of them didn’t realize that women have been presidents of other nations or companies. Then, my kids started questioning why America doesn’t have a woman president.
Sorry kids. No easy answers there. It was a great discussion and reminded me of why I enjoyed teaching.

After spending some time in Texas schools, I realize that I need to find another outlet for my passions and interests.
My husband noticed that I wasn’t interested in reading/working/learning more about education so much as I was constantly engrossed in political discussions with friends. I follow news stories that affect women and I voice my thoughts passionately online often. I started this blog to have a wider audience and hopefully have some fun dialogue.

I have time, passion, energy, and strong feet. It’s time I put them to use.
I’m here in Texas to advocate for all of the voiceless.

It’s time for some change.