Lindsay stares the patriarchy in the teeth and is surprised to find it wears braces.
Last night I had a dream about the Modern Greek salad at Chop’t, and I awoke today with the conviction that seeking out and eating this salad for lunch was my destiny. Nothing would stand in my way – not the chill of one of the coldest, windiest days of the year, nor the stubborn and sort of depressing insistence of most of my co-workers to eat lunch at their desks. (Read the Employee Handbook, dudes. That hour is our given right.) Anyway, little did I know that this fateful craving would lead me on a 3-block journey walking against the direction of the crowd (y’all heard of this thing called SYMBOLISM) assembled for the March for Life.
At first, I was sort of amused by the serendipity of it all. Especially the part about my lunch craving: admittedly this is the sort of thing that would happen in an episode of 30 Rock, or if Jason Reitman had cut a coyly soundtracked montage of my workday. But then, becoming overwhelmed by the feeling of walking against a large crowd, I noticed how young most of the marchers were. We’re talking 7-, 8-, 10-year-old kids (and a surprisingly large number of them boys) holding up “Abortion Kills!” signs, grinning cheerfully through missing baby teeth. A lot of them seemed to be there with their families; some of them seemed to be there with religious schools (a few kids were proudly waving their schools’ flags). As I elbowed my way down the block, the whole thing started to feel surreal, but it was a group with a flag from an all-boys school that put me over the edge. They were maybe 13 or 14, and one of them was goofing off, not looking where he was going, and he slammed right into me head-on. Overcome by the whole scene, I screamed “EXCUSE ME” at him in a tone of voice that I wouldn’t normally use to a kid that age, or really anyone. I was pretty sure I was one of the only people I’d encountered on the walk who was of the age to possess a functioning uterus, and for that silly and subjective reason the whole thing couldn’t help but feel like a personal affront. By the time I reached Chop’t, I was fighting back sobs.
Musing over my lunch, I realized that my stance as a pro-choice individual is about something even larger than my reproductive rights. It’s about the very nature of choice, the power in fighting through brainwashing ideologies and collective groupthink to come to my own opinions and conclusions. What was so terrifying about seeing the faces in that crowd was that most of them don’t even understand what the issue of abortion is about – they’re holding signs because someone in a position of power over them put them into their hands. Parents, teachers and religious educators should allow these kids to make up their own minds before using them as pawns in this sort of debate – though as Mia rightly pointed out to me later, I’m sure the “making up their own minds” part is what most of those adults are afraid of.
Still, I took my time eating my salad, and as I did (see, co-workers? You really can do productive things on your lunch hour) I channeled my anger to write all this down. Which goes to show that nothing – not even the disarming baby face of the patriarchy – stands between me and my lunch break. And in the heat of that moment what I wanted to say is thank you to all of you for helping us create the kind of community in which we feel comfortable venting about these sorts of incidents and the emotions they stir up. But I also wanted it to serve as a reminder of the still prevalent, everyday absurdity surrounding discussions about women’s rights. Because even though Jimmy hasn’t yet gotten to the part in his health textbook where they teach him what a uterus is, he’s pretty sure what you should and shouldn’t be doing with yours.