. . . You may be told that you don’t matter, but you can choose to matter.
And you may think that you’re alone, but if you have courage, you have yourself to lean on.
from Wild Blues
written by Beth Kephart
interior illustrations by William Sulit
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018
The other day I spent a little time with a woman I only know slightly. She mentioned that she was still working so I asked her where she works. A major for-profit hospital she said. So we talked all around that, for a short time. A for-profit hospital which had been bought out and bought out again was closing up in my town. Not enough money on their bottom line, or something. She felt secure in her position, though.
Then I did the unthinkable. For me, anyway. I asked her if she is a nurse. She said No. A medical technician. I still don’t know what she actually does every day, but before she told me that, I assumed she was a nurse. Because she’s a woman. My eyes popped open (literally and figuratively). I was appalled and apologized for my sexist assumption. She was very nice and assured me there are lots of male nurses. I added that there are lots of female doctors, too. Then we went onto the grandchildren or some other non-threatening topic.
I’ve been thinking about that conversation in light of last Thursday’s senate hearings. The way men treat men, the way women treat women, and the way we both treat each other (and the way we treat ourselves, too, probably) is largely determined by the people around us.
During the 1960s and 70s lots of women found their voices, but found lots of opposition, too. Seemed like everyone had some bone to pick or ax to grind and seemed like everyone was angry. Angry demands were usually met with angry threats and, when we weren’t marching, everyone stood around glaring in a hands-on-hips pose, occasionally waggling a finger, but not accomplishing very much.
Thursday we watched (heard) a frightened but extremely composed woman describe a horrible and traumatic incident from her past. Because she has a social conscience. Because she cares about fairness. Because she mustered up the courage to tell a story with the possibility of major consequences.
Then we watched (heard) a blubbering, angry man assert he had no part in her story, let alone a dominant and powerful part.
It matters very much who is telling the truth. And it matters very much who we believe. And it matters a lot who has power and who does not. And it matters that it took as long as it did for the story to come to light. Reasons abound for keeping something so ugly and so personal so closely guarded.
It all comes down to power. Power is not relinquished readily or easily. Since the activism of the 1970s, and since #MeToo, especially since #MeToo, we need to keep marching.
The cynical skeptic in me thinks she knows how this will end.
I hope I’m wrong.
We all, men and women, need to find our courage. And we need to exercise it, just like we exercise our brains and muscles. Too much is at stake to hesitate.
—stay curious! (and informed)