Be Strong, Speak up and People Will Listen

My Senior year of high school was full of AP classes, college courses that I was taking to try to eliminate courses I would need when I actually got into college.  Everyone in my school took Psych AP.  EVERYONE.  They all said the teacher was fantastic, the course itself was so interesting and best of all most of my friends would end up in my class with me!

In high school, I wasn’t the activist I was now.  I thought a lot of things and wanted to get involved but I never really had the confidence to do so.  I remained silent.

The very first day in my Psych class, we went through the usual introductions and met our outspoken teacher.  He was the kind of teacher full of energy and willing to push the rules a slight bit….

We began our very first class discussion about the differences between men and women.  As he lectured the topic slowly shifted to the reasons why men’s sports were much better than women’s.  Men were more entertaining and better athletes.  He just went on and on and on, bringing up ‘facts’ about how all the major games are men’s sports, the majority of the money from the school is received by the men’s teams, maybe if women’s teams were better athletes, they’d have more viewers, women’s sports were a joke.

I sat there stunned.  My heart was racing and more than anything I wanted to just scream at him, how dare he say that?  Those were blatantly sexist statements!  Women’s sports were a joke???????  I just sat there dumbfounded with my mouth open, looking around to see if anyone else was as surprised as I was and I wasn’t alone.

He continued bringing up what he called ‘facts’ and finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  He said “women aren’t even in racing because they can’t do it.” and that was my last straw.  As many of you know, I was raise around Drag Racing and was always well aware of how women were viewed in the sport.

My hand shot into the air.  It was like it flew up all on its own, I had absolutely no control over it.  He paused and looked at me and said yes?  I told him “You know you’re wrong.  Shirley Muldowney began racing cars in the 1970s, she was a top fuel driver and men in the sport told her to get back to the kitchen where she belonged but she never listened to them and beat them.  Rhonda Hartman-Smith was another woman racing top fuel, Angelle Sampey races motorcycles and Melanie Troxel is coming back into the sport.  Who told you women can’t race cars?”

It just came out of my mouth and there was no way to stop it.  Just like my hand, it was a knee-jerk reaction, it just happened.  I had never spoken out like this to anyone, ESPECIALLY to a teacher or any adult in an authoritative position.  That statement stopped the few boys from laughing in the class and several more girls began to speak out.  However, it didn’t phase our teacher at all, he tried to argue with me and just make a complete joke of what I had just said.

The worst class in the entire world finally ended and I just unleashed my thoughts about this teacher to my friends who were with me.  How could everyone like him so much when he is so rude and narrow minded!!?? 

That night I went on my computer and made a list starting in the early 1900s of women in racing and their accomplishments, stapled it together and was ready for battle the next class period.

We all sat down, waiting and then he entered the room.  He started by saying he wanted to talk about yesterday’s lecture and I prepared to raise my hand again.  Then he dropped the bomb, it was an experiment, he didn’t actually believe any of what he said.  My mind was blown.  He went on to explain different concepts that applied to reactions by the class.  Then we continued our studies. He was not the horrible sexist monster I had battled with the day before!  He ended up being one of the greatest teacher I had during my high school career.

At the end of class, I went up to him and I told him I almost dropped the class! He told me that I surprised him, I seemed quiet and not the person to speak out first.  I laughed and presented him the list I made the night before to which he laughed and leafed through the pages.  He said “I like your dedication, you’re smart, you know how to argue.”

It was a long while after my senior year in high school, not until my senior year in college, that I remembered that I have a voice too.  I can speak my mind, I can argue intelligently about topic.  Instead of living a life of self doubt, lacking the confidence to say what we feel, we should all remember how capable we are and how our actions affect those around us.  I was the first to speak up in class during this experiment and after me other girls followed.  What if I had said nothing?  Would anyone have tried to say something?

Change happens when one person speaks.  That’s all that is needed, one person to raise their hand.  I’m not saying I changed the world in the slightest by that class room demonstration.   However people often say 2 things to me

1.Why do you keep talking about this stuff, nothing you do is going to change anything.

2. You should really just stop talking about this stuff.  Stop pulling out the feminist card (latina card, white card and the list goes on, who knew I was carrying so many cards with me?) every 5 seconds.  The only reason these problems like exist is because people of you keep going on and on and on and on about them.  If you just stop people will forget about it and they will be fine.

Each time these things are said to me, I remember that when one person speaks, those with similar beliefs go to them and then a group is formed.  That group grows and grows and grows until major changes are be made.  That is a fact.

I will never stay silent because as a society have the ability to change.  We have come so far, but there’s more to be done, not only in the states but around the world where women aren’t so lucky.

Don’t let lack of support or criticism of your voice ever stop you.  Be strong, speak up and people will listen.

♥ Meggie

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Debates

The other day, I got in a political debate on Facebook.  I normally tend to avoid those things because they end up in this awful, confrontational argument rather than a civil debate of two people expressing different opinions.  There are a few people involved so we’ll start with Person 1 who is extremely against guns, no guns in the house, on the streets or available for any civilian possession.  He mentioned I believe a police officer that was shot in New York and saying this happened because average americans can have guns. 

Before I explain anything else, let me first talk about my opinion on guns.  I’m in the middle, with the idea that if someone wants a handgun in their house, then they can do what they want as long as it’s stored property or if they are hunters who have shotguns, however I think we need a better process to obtain weapons, I HATE concealed carry and people don’t need firearms that can shoot out 100 rounds in a few seconds.  The reason why I partially accept guns because I grew up around guns, my grandparents were hunters, I’ll get into that more in a bit.  I’d never want a weapon in my house, that’s for sure, but if others want it then that is their choice. 

I wrote to him that not all americans go out with their guns and kill people.  My grandparents were very responsible gun owners and respectful sportsmen.  They had their guns properly stored and locked away and their bullets were in a separate locked location.  They taught us that guns were not toys, that they were not power that one held over everyone else, you weren’t more powerful just because you carried a gun on you because they cause more trouble than good, which is why they only used theirs to hunt. 

I comment on this status and start a debate with Person 2 who is completely for guns, whether it is the concealed carry law or weapons that can fire 100s of rounds, completely opposite of Person 1.  Anyway, Person 2 and I have a really good debate, we can both express our opinions in a completely civil way, pointing our flaws in each others arguments or different ideas without it getting mean or confrontational.  For example, he said that the city has the strictest gun laws but the most crime and to me that doesn’t really make sense in comparing the city to the suburbs.  First of all, the city population is so much larger than out where we live, in the burbs.  Second, the make up of neighborhoods and the crime itself is completely different, we don’t have gang activity out here for one thing, there are some but you don’t hear about gangs in Elmhurst or Naperville or things like that, but in general, city crime is different and on another level.  It’s like comparing Chicago crime to Montana, it doesn’t make sense.  It was a really good debate though because we could point those things out about each others argument and no one got hostile.  He eve joked around saying you’d thank me about my ideas when the zombie apocalypse happens!

Then finally Person 1 comes back online and begins to talk about how we’re missing the point and people shouldn’t have guns.  Then he got into the hunting issue saying that hunting is not necessary anymore, which is a valid point and then he went on to say this “Shooting a deer or human because “it excites you” is absolutely sick”.   This comment made me very angry because to me, you can be against hunting, you can not want an animal to die and that is totally fine!  However, the average hunter is not a “sick” individual and you can’t compare killing a human to a deer, that is just beyond ignorant.  Whether it was right or wrong I took offense to this.

Many people who I’ve talked to assume hunters love this thrill of death and that is not the case.  There are some dishonorable hunters out there but many are not.  My grandparents weren’t trophy hunters and anything they killed they cleaned themselves and then ate.  They were able to provide for themselves, a thing most Americans can’t do and take for granted all that they are lucky enough to have at their fingertips. 

Also, to me its more honorable to have to work for your food and give the animal a fair chance in the wild rather than having them lined up on a farm awaiting their death.  You hear so many people against hunting because it kills animals, what about fishing?  I’ve never been hunting before, but I have been fishing and the fish I catch, if they are the right size, I kill it, clean it and cook it for dinner.  I was able to provide for myself.  I don’t fish for a sick thrill of death and my grandparents didn’t hunt for that reason either.  

What people don’t realize is that hunters, true honorable sportsmen put a lot of money into these wildlife refuges.  That’s where the money from the fishing/hunting licences go and they make donations.  Hunters respect the animals they hunt and know more about them than any average american with a no hunting pamphlet because they spend hours with them in the wild.  Our family friend Bob Torstenson, an avid hunter, donated 95,000 acres and a $4 million endowment to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation when he passed away.  That was in his will.  Obviously not everyone can make such a large donation.  His family business did very well, but he was a hunter that killed elk and look what he did for them. 

I know this is such a long blog, but the last thing I want to say is this is why we don’t get anywhere in debates, people turn to insults and ignorance.  It is totally fine to be against hunting!  I understand that, I’m against trophy hunting but I grew up around true sportsmen so I’m ok with hunting as long as you use the entire animal, but when you compare killing a person to a deer and say it’s for that sick thrill of death, that is just ignorant and insulting, especially when one of the people you’re debating with specifically stated she grew up around it.   These insults and ignorance is why we get no where in politics, everyone is so busy insulting each other rather than saying, well that’s not the case, here is a fact or something like that.  The next time you debate, think about that and just keep it civil and state your opinion without insulting whoever you’re debating with.  We need to get things done in this country and we can’t do that if we all act like children arguing.