Disclaimer: The story you are about to read is based on a real life experience. All names were changed for confidential purposes. Also, quotes used aren’t verbatim.
Jane was stressed out when she came home from school; the last couple of days drained her out. Her sister, Nora, just got home from work, and asked her what she’d been up to. Jane needed someone to talk to, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk to Nora about it. After a second of self-doubt, she finally gave up; she knew that Nora would back her up, so she waited until her sister was dressed down, before she started to tell her what happened.
“I went down to the principal’s office today,” she started.
Nora’s ears perked up, and her eyes grew in disbelief. “What happened?”
“Something happened in class today,” she continued, telling her story piece by piece. Nora wasn’t one for patience, so she pushed Jane to tell her more. “I couldn’t stay there anymore, I had to leave.”
And Jane went on with her story.
Her teacher, Mr. Fricke, previously asked the class to do an assignment based on controversial topics. Everybody was technically allowed to pick their own topic, but Mr. Fricke didn’t want any two or more students to talk about the same subject, so, everyone had to be specific. They were able to choose whether they were for or against the subject, but they had to be able to back up either side.
Sounds simple, right?
Being an advocate for feminism, Jane wanted to talk about that. But she found out that another student, Peter, also wanted to talk about it, and tried to persuade him to change his subject. Sam revealed that he was against feminism, and felt that he really needed to be the one to talk about the subject.
Without trying to be judgmental, Jane asked him why. And without much of any explanation, Mr. Fricke walked up to the two kids talking during class.
“What are you two talking about?”
The teenagers try to tell him their situation, and Mr. Fricke disrupts the kids with his own opinion.
“Women don’t deserve equal rights.”
Women didn’t deserve equal rights? Jane couldn’t believe her own ears. She had issues with Mr. Fricke in the past, but this interaction, by far, was the one she wouldn’t stand for.
“What do you mean women don’t deserve equal rights?”
Mr. Fricke explained that women didn’t build this country from the ground up alongside men, and that they didn’t fight, and put their lives on the line, for America, like men did. They don’t deserve equal rights.
Jane couldn’t take his disrespectful manner, so she grabbed her bags, and left the classroom.
You would think the story stops there, but it doesn’t.
For the remaining ten minutes of class, Jane went to another classroom—one that she felt more comfortable in. And for the rest of that day, she went on with her life.
But the next day was different.
When the time came for Jane to go back to Mr. Fricke’s class, she decided that his class wasn’t worth her time. Instead, she headed to her good ol’ friend, Mr. Burnham’s, office; he was one of the deans of the school. She brought one of her friends with her, who had also been in a similar situation with Mr. Fricke, and the girls told Mr. Burnham about their experiences.
Mr. Burnham’s face fell. “I wish this was the first time we had an issue with that guy. I’m going to have to address this to Ms. Winters.”
Ms. Winters was the assistant principal. She was also the go-to person about this kind of thing. She sat down with each of the girls, separately, to hear what they had to say, as well as write it down for records. And then she said something—something she probably shouldn’t have said.
“I can’t believe this. This is, like, the seventh complaint we’ve had with Mr. Fricke about this kind of thing. I can’t overlook this anymore.”
Jane had finished, and Nora could not believe what her sister was telling her. She didn’t expect this kind of thing to actually happen, right in her own backyard. It was 2017, for God’s sake—but clearly, there were still men around who thought that women didn’t deserve equal rights as a human being.
Nora was disgusted with the world she lived in when her dad called her and Jane for dinner. How could a teacher—someone who is meant to tell students that with hard work, anything is possible, and to follow their dreams—be the kind of person to not believe in equal rights? She was so annoyed, she vocalized it.
“I can’t believe it,” she says to Jane, and her sister nods back. Their dad, Sam, asks the girls what they’re talking about.
Jane disregards his question, but Nora speaks up. “A teacher said something they shouldn’t have.”
Sam turned towards the girls, away from the sink, and asks for more information. This time, Jane answers.
“Mr. Fricke said that women don’t deserve equal rights, Dad.”
And just as quickly as Sam’s interest perked, it died.
♦ ♦ ♦
How would you feel if your daughter/sister/friend/whatever came home and told you that a person in their life said that they don’t deserve equal rights—to their face? Isn’t that just insane? I never thought that I would have to hear that. It’s insulting.
What right do men have to tell us that we don’t deserve to be equal to them? Women were told to stay at home and bare children and do housework basically since the beginning of time, and some guy—someone who is supposed to head children in the right direction—is going to tell a girl that she doesn’t deserve to be considered equal to a boy because her female ancestors didn’t die for our country? That’s the biggest load of bullshit I think I’ve ever heard.
And then, I think what annoys me the most, is that administrators knew about this issue. They’ve heard it—not one, not twice, but—at least six times before. I can only imagine how many times it hasn’t been addressed. And on top of that, an administrator who is also a woman, let it slide multiple times.
I’m so baffled, I don’t know what to do with myself right now.
To top it all off, after the altercation was addressed to the girls’ father, he blew it off, almost as if it didn’t matter. Almost as if he wasn’t just told that his daughters weren’t worthy of the same respect as his sons. He didn’t care.
What kind of world do we live in?
There are still people in this world that seriously can’t accept that everyone should be treated as equals, and that is what makes this place an ugly one. Home is supposed to feel welcoming and accepting and safe. If this is the kind of world we live in, I can’t call it home.
Prompt: Describe the last time you were surprised by the intensity of a feeling you had about something, or were surprised at how strongly you reacted to something you thought wouldn’t be a big deal.