Title Hostility in High School 

From Anonymous  

NOTE: I’m sure there’s some politically incorrect stuff in here, but I don’t have the time or energy to go back through and analyze everything for proper definitions and such…. Just keep in mind this is coming from a sleep-deprived high school freshman with an inordinate amount of math homework that has not been done.

I’ve just been majorly pissed off, and i guess this is a good place as any to vent…
Reading through these stories, I’ve realized that even though the climate of women in the workforce is changing (the #METOO campaign for example), it feels like it isn’t changing fast enough to meet that golden 2020 deadline where all our problems will be fixed, yada yada yada.
Growing up, that really is the deadline for pretty much everything for me. I’m a 14 year-old girl, graduate in 2021, and I’ve sort of had the illusion of my own awareness of how bad things are in my career path of choice ripped away. Of course, I’ve seen the effects of the lack of girls in STEM around my school (Girls who code club starting, women coming in to talk in the library, the ratio of around 6 girls to 50 boys in robotics club, etc.), but I haven’t really experienced it on the level that most of these stories are at.
Because in school, you have to play it safe, especially if you’re aiming for college. So people opt for the passive-aggressive option where you aren’t technically saying anything bad about anyone in particular, but it feels like it’s aimed at someone.
I was asked a while ago by my friend in Science Olympiad why i was doing robotics club with a bunch of mysoginistic men. Jokingly, I replied that they weren’t the ones who bossed me around, because I was the one giving orders to them. And in a way, that was and still is kind of true; in less than a year, as an 8th grader (on the high school team…I technically wasn’t supposed be on it haha), I managed to get myself into influential positions on the electronics and programming teams.
And after a sort of unspoken competition/arms race over the summer, mostly with two sophomores, I was announced as the programming team lead about a week ago.
And that brings me to today’s occurrence. I’m not entirely sure of this guy’s intentions, or any context or background, but here’s how I experienced it.
I was working with a programming mentor, one of my friends who graduated as a senior last year and came back to work with the team, when we overhear a conversation between a dude I’ll call Cactus and this other guy (I’ve known him since like 4th grade, he’s cool… I think was dragged into the conversation by Cactus).
Cactus is one of those guys who is only in the club to put on his college apps… He’s technically a programmer, but showed up like…. maybe once per week to work on programming.

Maybe I’m reading too far into this, maybe not. But he was essentially complaining about how feminists were taking up all the spots in STEM and how feminists suck so much, etc. After about a minute of him talking unnecessarily loudly about 5 feet behind me, the mentor turned around and demanded that they stop the conversation b/c it wasn’t an appropriate topic to talk about.
“Are you a feminist?” he asked me, disregarding the mentor.
Caught off-guard by the whole situation, not really expecting such an occurrence to happen, I replied with a simple “uuuuhhhh”
“Not that it’s bad or anything” says the guy who just complained about how annoying feminists are.
“I mean… I believe in equal opportunity for men and women” was my reply. I didn’t necessarily want to state a yes or no because I tend to go about life with half-understandings of words, and have accidentally offended a few people b/c I didn’t realize the full meaning of the word. But after looking it up, yes, a thousand times yes, i am a feminist.
He then went off on a mini-rant on how “yeah, I really hate those 3rd wave feminazis…. I mean, the first and second waves were fine, i guess, but those third wave feminizes… I really don’t like them”

I looked it up.

women’s suffragists are “fine, i guess”?
reproductive rights are “fine, i guess”???
but the movement that redefined the way feminism is seen to include women of all ethnicities and backgrounds is called ‘feminazi’?
what about the fourth wave, do you think that calling men out on sexual abuse is feminazi(ist?), CACTUS? Hmmmm???

Had I known the information I just looked up in a quick google search, I could’ve refuted his evidence-less argument like nobody’s business.

I never felt the need to look this information before, but it seems that Cactus is like me… He does not always understand the full definitions of the words he says. However his message was still there, even with the broad terms that most of society operates under. from my understanding of it, he is a man whose financial security was nearly assured at birth by his gender, social status, and race. He is threatened by the rising competition in the workforce and chooses to lash out at it blindly.

Growing up in this society… where, as cards against humanity puts it, “this month’s mass-shooting” is given nothing more than a glance by the vast majority of the population; where wars are raging far away from home; where the truth is constantly being put into question… It’s tiring to wake up each day, sit through an education system initially designed to make factory-workers, and come home.
Then to go to shop, what I have considered my ‘safe place’, where I can be myself, where I can learn more about how to prepare myself for my dreams. But also where it is considered a triumph when more than seven women are in the same room at the same time, where I constantly look around and realize I am alone in a room of the opposite sex, where unspeakably sexist, racist names were submitted anonymously for naming a f*****g robot, where my friend had to be written up and reported by her own mother because she kicked a person who declared that “women are just slaves to men” (literally… I don’t know who it is, but I have my suspicions… Also, they got written up to so that’s good.).
I look around and I realize that this should not be normal.
This should not be the status quo, where half of the human race is fighting desperately to be heard.
I don’t know if the world will ever be satisfied with its condition, but I certainly don’t like being questioned by people because of my sex, especially by an under-qualified majority of sheep trained to believe they’re better than other people b/c of what’s in their pants.
Because it’s not my fault if I’m “hysterical”, it’s just hard-wired into my brain. (pls don’t think that’s my opinion, I have literally the opposite view, use context clues)
I can’t really think of a good way to end this… my angry adrenaline and self-righteous fury has sort of worn off, so I’ll just leave with a little saying my mom always says:
“The best way to get back at someone is to succeed past their expectations”

You go girls (and guys)! Surpass the wildest expectations of all those toxic people in your lives!

2 comments

  1. The lead engineer at the garage I work at lets his customers come in and join us and work on their cars with us. I look young, but I’m 30. The two customers that day were 50+. So, of course, these two guys eventually just had to strike up a conversation with each other right next to me about how young people aren’t interested in the skilled trades.

    I mean, I’m a clear counterexample, and I know dozens of counterexamples… But whatever! Today everyone should feel free to say what they think out loud! Well, they kept that shit up about 30 more seconds, and I was just like, “What is this attitude where older people hate on younger people? I don’t think this about people older than me. Listen, could you guys cut it out? I’m not buying it–you’re trying to get some kind of reaction out of me.” (Encouragingly, the lead engineer came over and chimed in, “You guys sound like a bunch of republicans. ‘Young people are up to no good nowadays and they don’t like hard work!’ That’s what you sound like.”)

    My aim in sharing this story…facts and debate would not have served you in this situation with Cactus, nor do I believe a high school boy was venting his frustrations about the job market in saying this to you–he does not have true job market concerns yet. I think he was likely just spewing back some bullshit he read on Reddit, testing it out to see how it sounds. Interactions like this are all about power and out-grouping, they are common socially-programmed games people learn to run on the members of their group to feel them out when navigating the power structure of the organization–he was just trying to get a reaction out of you.

    If someone asks you if you are feminist in such a way again, hold yourself in a manner that embodies dignity, look him in the eye, and serenely say with a voice that belies wisdom beyond your years and manages to makes him feel ashamed, “Of course, I am.” And don’t say anything else! End the conversation there. Do not respond in any manner to his follow up comments. Just move away, start working again. Never engage if he brings it up later.

    Like

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