Warning: Some discussion mentioning rape. Non-graphic
Sometimes, I can’t be angry when I should be. I always like to think I’ve come a long way from being a quiet and fairly passive person, but every now and then my passivity comes out. It’s always rarely come out with my friends. With my friends I’m often the loud and somewhat boisterous one. Out alone, I’m often more quiet. Or I used to be.
Becoming disabled changed that. I’m really thankful for that. Now when I’m denied basic rights I say something about it. Sometimes, I’ll even do something about it. I’ve gone into stores and informed them that they pushed the entire lot of snow into one of the two disabled parking spots. I mention to clothing stores when their dressing rooms are either completely or partially inaccessible. I’ve written letters to my school and gone to meetings to discuss the many issues that I had while I was there. It’s not just disability issues either that I focus on. Being physically denied rights made me realize how wrong some other things were. Like, how wrong it is that my being a woman means that I should always be on guard for a rapist. It’s wrong that not being raped is something that is solely put on me. Should I forget to lock a door, should I get lost at night, should I get pulled over by a cop car in a non-populated area, should I wear a tank top and shorts in the summer, are all things that will be pinned on me if I am raped. I took self-defense lessons. I tried not to look like a “whore”. I lock my doors and windows. I carry a knife with me at all times. I try not to end up in undesirable places. And I’ve always thought that that burden was on me, that my not being raped was all up to me.
It’s not. I finally recognize that now. Of course, there is sense in taking basic safety precautions, but it is completely wrong to pin the burden on the woman. I recognize when things are wrong. I don’t just take them anymore. I no longer roll my eyes and give a small sigh at the unfairness. Instead, I become angry. In a way, it feels good, as if I’m not merely a passive person in life.
That passivity is still there. Being angry takes a lot out of you. Writing letters and scheduling meetings and approaching people who look at you as if you’re the scum on the bottom of their shoes takes a lot out of you. There are days when I still roll my eyes and just give a little sigh. I notice though, when I am passive around my friends, they become angry for me. They rage about the injustice or at least have a sarcastic comment ready. My mother, in fact, once stuck her tongue out at a man who kept staring at me in my car (I don’t look disabled in my car, but that’s a story for another day).
These instances remind me that I have a right not to be passive. I’m reminded that I do matter. And at the same time, I’m given a break. And it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.