Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pay Us Back, All that You've Stolen from Us

It may have been 11th grade social studies. We were supposed to do a collage illustrating a topic of our choice.

I was 16 and it was 1976. Despite growing up in a daughters-only household within a neighborhood that had hardly any boys, in a time with the least gender marking of probably any in U.S. history, I still somehow felt the effects of sexism in my life, though probably less than many others.

I don't know what slights and discriminations I experienced, although not being allowed to take shop class in 8th grade was part of it. But I reached the conclusion any sensitive person can come to, living in this culture that tells girls and women that they are not really part of the human race.

But anyway, back to my collage. I somehow had gotten a direct-mail offer from Ms. magazine, which included a small fold-out poster featuring the woman symbol, a circle with a quartered cross attached at the bottom. The shape was a collage of small photos of women.

I cut up a bunch of my family's Life magazines, showing women from all walks of life and parts of the world, and pasted them onto poster board with the women's symbol in the center. Then I added a (probably-ransom-note-like) headline that said:
Pay us back, all that you've stolen from us.
I wish I still had the collage so I can see if it's as I remember.

I was only 16, living outside a small town in the middle of a rural area. I had little awareness that there are lots of other kinds of people who also need to be paid back for the exploitation and abuse they've been subjected to. But I was onto something.

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