I stood at the train station watching many trains rush past me. I vaguely wondered what was for dinner. I flicked that thought off of the edge of my brain. I couldn’t think about food….or money…. or a place to live…… or of a nice evening out with a nice man who’d see a partner in me. I couldn’t think of any of it. I had a huge argument with my boss and as of the last two hours, I was yet again….. unemployed.
What’s new, you ask? Actually, nothing. Except the pit in my stomach that grows everyday from missing meals and walking to save train money keeps getting deeper. That place in my heart that, as a forty-something year old woman, I should have felt full with pride, dignity and some material things is darker and blacker than before. My existence is heavy for me so I can hazard a guess at how it must weigh on others. I have again been abandoned because of that dreaded thing that many men and women warned me of…. my mouth.
My mouth has gotten me into more trouble than my breasts or even my vagina. When the world was sexualized, capitalism insidiously slipped the mouth amongst the many things that are considered bad on a woman. I was told shamelessly that I must cover my privates. The gag order extended to my mouth too…… I found out after many heartbreaks that my mouth got me into.
Truthfully, I didn’t need to open my mouth at this meeting. I work for very prestigious people who have women employees as placeholders for more desirable male employees. I am an ornament for this organization. My worth is in my assent. The symbolism that I am being used for isn’t lost on me and yet……. I spoke up against the atrocious new policies that he introduced that ensured longer work hours for many of us and a little less money than we take home now.
Wait! Don’t call me flippant just yet! I didn’t just go off in the first ten minutes of the meeting. It was at the 45 minute mark. I had counted on men to speak up before me. Men! Smarter than me and better than me men sat there, their heads bowed against corporate treachery. I had expected one of them to say something but they listened and frantically worked out ways in their heads to arrange their kids’ drop-offs and pick-ups around these new hours. Some of them care for elderly parents on the weekends. They didn’t say that we can’t work three weekends out of a four weekend month. They all probably hold the interest of the company above themselves.
I don’t have kids. Actually, I don’t even have parents anymore either. I’m one of those lone rangers who can actually set out on a kamikaze mission like I started when I opened my mouth and expressed my dissent on behalf of my coworkers. My self-sabotage didn’t land well for me. Or for my coworkers. They lost me. And now will get my workload to deal with.
As for me, this isn’t anything new. I have opened this mouth a few too many times to really enjoy any consistency or complacency. I have been the one maverick in a sea of conformists. I have usually been the only woman in most workplaces and therefore my dissent has been seen as the manic raging of an older, poorly-paid woman with no sex on the side to take her mind off of things. So she rants and tries to stir an uprising.
But let me tell you that there is no real agenda behind my speaking out. My speaking out isn’t voluntary. It’s an instinctive reaction due to the biggest lesson of my survival. It’s how life has been taught to me. It isn’t my hobby. It isn’t even easy. It’s the hardest thing I do. When I speak up, many people show out. When I speak up, many learn how to dissent also.
If there’s any saving grace of careers lost, heartbreaks and missed meals, it is that my dissent has created the one ripple that most men were afraid to create. My dissent has been the only thing that has not let patriarchy spread its wings over this entire earth and usurp every right that was ever meant to come to us. My dissent, cavalier and reactionary to you, has ensured your survival (sometimes at the expense of my own). My dissent has perpetuated life and my dissent has caused the uprising that beats death everyday.