Feminism Needs Me and You
By Hannah Koval
In small-town America, it’s not easy being a feminist. Girls like me live with threats and insults. It isn’t cool to have an opinion about politics and social issues when you’re my age.
The biggest challenges are the ones you inherited at birth. Will you be a first generation college student? How much money do your parents have? What gender will you be? People whom you and I otherwise respect have this idea that society has progressed to a point where men and women are equal — and believing otherwise is considered radicalism.
I want to know their definition of equality. Is equality knowing more women who have been sexually assaulted than fingers on my hand? Or is it radical to say so? Am I violating terms of “equality” that weren’t explained to me?
I need feminism because the world’s definition of equality is different than my own.
I remember being a 13-year-old girl walking through the mall by myself to go to the bathroom with not a worry in the world. That was until I passed a group of men who believed that it was necessary to tell me how nice my body was and that I should try smiling more because “Pretty girls shouldn't have a reason to frown.” Thirteen years old.
As a society these situations have become a social norm. Men will be men, boys will be boys, and girls will be silent. I became aware at the age of 15 that if women have to walk around with their keys in between their fingers and have specific apps on their phones to make sure they get to their cars safely a mere hundred feet away from the exit door, something isn’t right. I decided to test a theory I had, can men handle the idea of you knowing your own strengths, qualities and knowledge? I found my answer, and it only took verbal abuse from strangers on the streets to find it.
When I began to get involved with politics I saw that the reason behind this mindset of male superiority is partly due to the lack of female representatives in our country. The year is 2019, and this is still a problem we have to deal with. I found my voice when I realized that if I didn’t find it now, I never would. We all want to be equal, but it’s hard to achieve equality when those with privilege don’t see anything wrong with calling the shots and having everyone follow their lead. Becoming a feminist (and calling myself a feminist any time I wish) gave me a new perspective. I am not alone, my voice will be heard, and I will not settle for the status quo out of fear of being stigmatized for being socially aware of the injustices in my country. It takes me hours to look through articles and clearly articulate my thoughts on certain problems just for someone to come and tell me how wrong I am and how my opinion shouldn’t matter.
The shift towards progressivism began a long time ago -- in the early years of the last century, in fact. On behalf of my generation, I have one thing to say: I am not going to sit back and let this movement take its time. I need feminism, and feminism needs me.
Art of the Deal, or Demise?
By Colin Callahan
Donald Trump wrote a book called Art of the Deal to show the world how he negotiates business deals to make a lot of money. Trying to put his “art” into action, he used his business tactics to get his way with a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border. He shut down portions of the federal government. It’s fair to say Americans are awestruck by Trump’s actions, but that doesn’t mean they support him. Has he gone too far? Does he have what it takes to lead our nation? Does his own party support him? Is Maine’s voice being heard?
My thoughts? Trump blackmailed the Democratic Party to get what he wanted – a billion-dollar wall that may not last under the next presidential administration. Why will our taxes fund a wall when there’s no evidence that a majority of voters want it? One of my teachers, Kristin Ross, summed up the dilemma by saying, “ If this wall is such a big deal, why not let the American people vote (on whether ) they want the wall? Let democracy solve this”.
Congress hasn’t done anything to stop President Trump from getting his way. What did Senator Susan Collins do to help Maine families affected by the government shutdown? Frankly, I’m tired of our government not thinking about Maine’s interests. I am tired of Washington not listening to our state’s concerns. If our Congressional representatives don’t speak up, who will?
I talked to teachers and students for a reality check. Richard Kramer, a health education teacher, called the border wall maneuvers “a tremendous power play.” Kramer also said it was an embarrassment that our government can’t find compromise and negotiate deals that help people. Some teachers I tried to interview wished to remain anonymous because it’s considered controversial for a teacher to speak openly about politics. Let’s just say nobody I talked to was a fan of the government shutdown as a strategy to acquire votes for a border wall.
Alanna Myshrall, a junior, predicted Congress would give in and fund the wall, after which it would be torn down by the next president. I agree, but I also have a different take. The U.S.-Mexican border is our Berlin Wall dividing two cultures that do not need to be separated from each other. The wall may get built, but it will carry an opportunity cost as well as a financial price tag. Build it and risk sacrificing affordable health care for all Americans, or having no government funds left to stop violence in American public schools, or no money to make post-secondary education affordable for all Americans.
Ten Seconds: Out of Life
By Hannah Koval
When you’re a kid, you don’t think about death much. Death happens in the movies, on television, on the side of the highway, in the ant holes you flooded with water, or (smack!) when you destroy a mosquito on your arm.
Then you get to a certain age and (smack!) it hits you. You will die some day.
This concept – death – has been surrounding your whole life, but suddenly it’s a reality you must deal with. If you’re like me, it will consume you. You will stay inside on snowy days, you say no to canoeing in the lake with your friends, and you’ll avoid risks that could make this ultimate nightmare come to life.
In my case, a life-threatening heart disease became less frightening than a paper cut in calculus class. Death went from vague concept to an obsession.
I had been out of school for a few weeks. My heart was not beating the way it should – in fact, it would sometimes stop. I had almost no energy to do anything. Then I decided on a calm Monday morning that I would try attending some classes. I was pretty excited knowing that I was going to be able to see some of my favorite teachers and feel normal again.
Then I stood up and felt like my body was being squished by a hydraulic press.
My mother hovers. Every time I coughed she would come running to me from the next room to make sure I was OK. She wasn’t going to take any chances. Worrying runs in our family.
I knew that something wasn’t right. I had felt sick for the past few weeks, but this was a different. You don’t know how your normal self is supposed to feel until you are no longer normal. Turns out my blood pressure was extremely low … like, barely-beating low. I had known that my next trip to the hospital was going to be a long stay. Doctors had informed me that I’d stay there until my surgery. I packed my stuff that I needed for a long hospital stay and off we went, me and my mom.
I cracked jokes on the ride to the hospital. My mom said I couldn’t eat too much because of the possibility of surgery. Then I said something stupid. Perhaps it was my inability to deal with serious situations, or just my quirky personality. I said, “These could be my last doughnuts though, Mom.” If I had known what would be happening later that day, I would have kept my mouth shut.
In the emergency room the medical team heard me complaining about my chest. They knew about my last hospital stay. I was placed inside a fluorescent lit room, barely big enough for a bed. All I knew was that I’d be there for a while until they figured out the date of my surgery,. All I could actually do was patiently wait for them to move me upstairs.
We tried to make everything OK. My mom and I sang songs, watched a movie, did some origami. The typical “I’m trying to get my mind off of the fact that I’m in a hospital” things. Our third run of Coco was ominously interrupted by a lab nurse who was going to take some tests.
And then I died. My body went numb, panic washed over me, and I realized what was happening. “I love you, Mom” I said weakly, before losing consciousness. In the movies, a character will see things, “going towards the light,” as they say. I didn’t see light. I didn’t see anything, I couldn’t think about seeing. The longest ten seconds ever, and the shortest ten seconds ever. I woke up to see my crying mother holding my hand as tight as she could, as if she could have somehow pulled me back during those ten seconds.
The weirdest thing happened to me after this. I stopped worrying. I seemed to remember something, but at the same time it was nothing. To me, that was the least amount of worrying I’ve ever felt, while at the same time, all of my mother’s worries had become reality. But there I was, alive.
That’s the reality of dying. My heart stopped beating for ten seconds, and I began to understand that when your biggest fears come true, you haven’t been doing much worrying after all. Why worry in the first place? Dying gave me new insight on life. It made me hungry to explore and experience the unknown. Instead of worrying, I am hungry.
PRHS KNIGHT WRITER