I Will be Strong for You

A simple “wrong” answer on one of my exams, first made me laugh and then made me cry.

I am a geologist.  I teach geology.  I give exams.  And I ask questions like:  What are 3 principles of relative dating?

A very sweet student honestly answered that she did not remember.  However, she chose to write me 3 guidelines by which to navigate “dating”.

As I read it, my first reaction was laughter.  I was taken by surprise and thought it a very creative way to fill the blank space on the paper.  I put a smiley face on the side and commended her on her creativity.

But, then I paused.  And I read the answers again.  These are not her exact words, but the guidelines she provided:

  1.  Make sure you can always get away…learn how to drive a manual and an automatic car.
  2. Carry pepper spray…and make sure it has dye so that the perpetrator can be identified.
  3. Don’t allow the date to pay for too much or they might expect more from you.

Not only do these not have anything do to with geology (and therefore the wrong answer); this is socially WRONG!

I wrote more on this student’s paper than I do for most.  I encouraged her to take care of herself.  And, I actually apologized that my first reaction was laughter.  I am so sorry that this is the dating “climate” that young women must navigate.

This is our culture.  This is our fear.  This is why so many of us women cried when Donald Trump was elected as our president.

This culture, that has been widely spread by him and others in places of power, is prevalent.  And worst of all, it is accepted.  Not just by you, or just anyone, by me too.

I find myself using the word “wife-beater” to describe those white tank top undershirts…and telling my daughters to smile when they don’t want to…accepting for way to long that hurtful words about women is just “locker-room” talk.  There are things that we unwittingly say and do every day that perpetuates this culture.

Hillary was our hope.  A strong, intelligent, very capable accomplished woman in a place of power.  A symbol, a message.

We want change too, not unlike the millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump. Many of these are people that I know and love, people from rural America.  Hard-workers who haven’t caught a break in a very long time.  They feel neglected and overlooked.  The reasons are vastly different, but I truly think that for the people that I know, the feelings are the same.  We want change.  I don’t believe that Trump will bring the change we need (and this is only one of the reasons…perhaps more to come on environmental justice and health), but I do agree that we all feel sad and angry when we are treated unfairly.

I am taking the time to feel that.  I’ve let the sadness and anger come when it comes.  And I let it move through me.  Cleanse me.  That does not make me weak or vulnerable.

My heart is opened even wider. I feel stronger, more determined than ever for it.  And our voices will continue to be heard.  With Hillary winning the popular vote, there are an awful lot of people who will be overlooked if only the Republican agenda is enforced.   We have much more space than to advocate for just one change at a time, or even one political agenda.

If we cannot have that leader, then we must be it.  We must be it for our children, who will likely be exposed to some ugly behaviors in the times ahead.  We must be it for our students and our friends,to create a safe space for everyone’s voice to be heard.

I will be strong for you.  I will be strong for you.

I will be strong for you.for you.for you.

for you. for you. for you.for you.

for you. for you. for you.

for you. for you.

And for me too.

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