Recently I was out having lunch at a local restaurant with my family when I over heard the people at the next table talking about politics. There were three women chatting away and one man at the table who sat silently watching the television, seemingly oblivious to the conversation. The women were expressing their dissatisfaction with the protesting that went on in the days following the election, with one of three women more vocal than the others. This woman talked about how she was “sick and tired” of the protests, and after a few minutes of complaining about “those no good people” she exclaimed, “and I am talking about those police protests too. Those people have absolutely no respect for authority!”
At that moment I felt sad, once again, with the thinking of some of my fellow Americans. A few days later while at work my students (all adults) in one of my classes expressed a similar sentiment about the protests when we were discussing persuasion, so I took a moment to explain what I had heard at the restaurant and how I felt when I heard it. I told my students that I was immediately disappointed with the lack of critical thinking skills that the women displayed. I told them that after I sat in my disappointment for a couple of minutes the next feeling that took me over was the desire to confront the most vocal woman, although I did not because I accept that she is entitled to her opinion and I had not been officially invited to take part in the conversation, even if her loudness left me no escape.
They asked what I would have said had I gone over to speak with her, and so I explained to them what rose inside me as I sat there at the table feeling disappointed. I told them that I wanted to walk over and stand beside her seat with my hand stretched out, palm up, and fingers beckoning her to give me something, an action that would have continued the entire time that I spoke to her. I told them that I would have said the following to her: “Give it to me! And I mean all of it! Come on. Let’s go. I want the driver’s license, voter identification card, bank and/or credit cards-give them to me-any papers that show that you own something-give them to me-your choice to marry or not, marry the person you want to marry, bear children or not-give them to me-become educated or not, choose your own career, your right to state your opinion out loud in this restaurant-give them to me-and while we are at it, I want the pants too. Give them all to me because you are ungrateful with regard to all those who came before you who decided that they would repeatedly defy authority so that you could experience the freedoms that you have today. Everything that you are is the result of people who stood up to the authority of their time, so you, Miss hypocritical ingrate, can turn it all over now! How dare you stand in harsh criticism of people who feel that they are being treated unjustly!”
I ended the discussion by reminding my students that every argument has a counter argument, and that it is important to avoid talking out of two sides of your mouth, so to speak, because someone at some point in time is going to call you on it.
Women should always know their place in history.