Whoever Told You Life Was Fair?
As a senior in college, I am constantly confronted by the fact that I will soon be entering the “real world.” People love asking me what I’m planning to do with my life. I answer, “Something I enjoy, and something that makes an impact.” I know it’s not the most mature response, nor is it what my parents want to hear, but it’s the truth.
If there is one thing I have learned in college, it is how horrible and inhumane the world can be. Before college, I believed that all adults were mature and reasonable people. I truly thought that when I grew up and joined the adult world, I would be a part of a club in which everything is fair and everyone agrees on what is true and moral. (Oh, the naiveté of a young mind.) I have since learned a lot about the realities of the world, and the more I learn, the more eager I become to work against the inequities I see around me.
The issues I have been drawn to most passionately during my time in college are those that face women. I still cannot believe that I didn’t learn about feminism until my second year in college! The inequalities that can be found in our everyday language, actions, and ideas are outrageous. I do not accept for one minute that I should have to live in fear or be thought of as a sexual commodity based on the genitalia that I was born with. From that realization I grew into my current self-image: Jordana, “the woman who works to create an equal and just world.”
I have tried to live up to this ideal in more than just name. On my campus, I am the editor-in-chief of The Siren, a gender inequality awareness magazine. This publication strives to inform the UNC campus and the surrounding communities about the inequalities that still exist between the sexes today. I am also a community educator for the local rape crisis center, a role which allows me to speak out about the overwhelming sexual violence that takes place in our world on a daily basis. The presentations I give to young children help to identify those who are being abused and to get them help; they also empower children to tell an adult if they are being abused. I also created a flyer that was distributed throughout the dorms on my campus explaining our “Safe Zone” and “Haven” programs, which offer safe places to talk about sexual identity issues and sexual violence.
This past Valentine’s Day I also created a week of events centered around our campus production of The Vagina Monologues. These events were planned in the hope of generating awareness about violence against women and to raise money for the local rape crisis and family violence prevention centers.
We held a viewing of the documentary Until the Violence Stops, a film that clarifies the background of the V-Day organization and explains what The Vagina Monologues are all about. (V-Day is a global organization to stop violence against women and girls; local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues in order to raise awareness and funds for antiviolence groups within their own communities.)
We brought in a speaker to talk about the effects of pornography on romantic relationships. We held an interactive theater event on the topic of sexual assault. And we had a “love fair” on Valentine’s Day that allowed people to celebrate healthy love and learn about organizations in the community that work to stop violence against women. We held a “wage-gap bake sale,” which simulated the wage gap between the sexes in America by charging men $1 for baked goods, while women paid only 75¢. Most people found it funny and thought it was a good way to focus attention on the issue.
Throughout the week I made good use of my cheerleading voice, yelling as loudly as humanly possible to let people know about our V-Week events and how important they are. Unfortunately, there were of course people who did not see eye-to-eye with me, and one of those was our local wacky campus preacher. There is one of these at just about every campus I’ve ever heard of, walking around unofficially preaching about their own take on the lessons in the Bible. These lessons, however, are not the “love your neighbor” kind — they seem instead to focus on their belief that all homosexuals and feminists are evil and are therefore going to hell.
Needless to say, our preacher, known as “the pit preacher” (because he speaks in the common area on campus called the Pit) had a few things to say about our cause. One day at lunch time a fellow V-Week member and I positioned ourselves near the preacher and yelled, “Vaginas are coming! Come see The Vagina Monologues! Don’t listen to him, he’s already bought his ticket! He even bought one for his partner as well!” Before I could hear a rebuttal, I screamed, “It’s V-Week,” and walked away.
I wish I could put my passion and desire to create a fair and equal world into words. I remember my mother telling me “life isn’t fair” when I was young. I didn’t understand the saying then, and I still don’t understand it. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such. My college experience has truly taught me to understand the world at large and myself. Feminism and the work I do for women’s rights have taught me to be strong, giving, and proud of who I am. There is so much hate and disrespect in this world based on false ideas. My goal in the future will be to continue to prove that a just world can exist if people work not only to enlighten others but also to deal with their own prejudices and insecurities.
Copyright 2008, Jordana Adler
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