On SCOTUS, Hobby Lobby, and those Dove commercials.

This is something I posted to my facebook page about four hours ago. I thought it might be worth sharing here as well.

 

I have a lot of thoughts on today’s Supreme Court decision, but let me hold off on that for just one second.

I want to talk to you about a class I taught today. It was, if I’m being honest, one of those assignments that teachers dole out when they don’t have anything better to do. I’ve been pushing them pretty hard with an intense curriculum, and this is a theatre summer camp, after all — I figured I’d throw them an easy day of coloring with crayons and pencils. I asked my students to draw a self-portrait (aka “their headshot”) and write a brief biography about their life (aka “their bio”) so that I could display them in the lobby before their parents come to see the short plays they created. Fun, right? A stupid, time-killing, summer camp assignment.

Most of the kids had a great time.
The teenage girls did not.

It was an almost instant chorus of “I can’t do this,” “Can we do something different?” “This is hard.” When I pressed them for a reason why, I got: “Because I don’t want to look at myself,” “Because I’m bad at this,” “Because I don’t know what to write,” “Because there’s nothing interesting about me to write down.”

Let’s be clear, these are some of the funniest, weirdest goofballs I’ve ever taught. These are smart girls who get straight A’s and who have excelled at everything I’ve ever asked them to do. They are, frankly, vastly more talented than I was at that age. And they come from the kinds of nice families that have the desire and money to send their kids to theatre camp. They know they are smart and funny and great. They know this. And yet they turned into these wilting, melting puddles when asked to talk about themselves, when asked to represent themselves on paper. And maybe it turns out that they don’t know that anymore.

It’s everything those fucking Dove ads and tampon commercials keep saying. It’s a really depressing fact, and I hate that it’s being used to sell me shampoo, but the fact is — girls hit puberty and the self-confidence heads down the toilet. And in the microcosm of my classroom today, I knew this to be true.

So what does this have to do with Hobby Lobby? Well. Maybe nothing. And maybe something. And I know this is just a small personal experience that I’m conflating with a much larger issue, and I know that there are more informed opinions than mine to be read and studied, but the thing is — it just feels like the message being loudly proclaimed is that women do not matter.

And I’m sorry, but I cry bullshit on all that. And I’m so exhausted from repeating it, but I will repeat it, again and again, to those girls, to myself, to everyone who needs to hear it, until I cannot anymore. That we matter. That we matter. That we matter.

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