March 8, 2023- The forlorn young woman entered the classroom I was supervising, a bit into the sixth hour of classes and sat down on the carpet. I asked if she were simply late to class, she shook her head “No” and asked to be left alone. She was not in the class, but needed a safe space. One of her friends came in, shortly after, and sat with her until she was able to let her tears out and recuperate from what had bothered her.
Dealing effectively with teenagers, or with children, for that matter, is often a hallmark of discernment. Enforcing the letter of the law: “Get back to your scheduled class!” would have been an abysmal and tone deaf response. Going over and fawning over her plight, when it was obvious that privacy was in order, would have been equally ridiculous. She was bothering none of my students and, in fact, was going to be in the very next class, anyway.
Today is International Women’s Day. As with many movements where progress has been made, over the past two decades, there is push back from vested interests that seek to cast the advancement of women and girls in a negative light-equating giving equal rights to half the population with depriving the other half of “hard-earned” prerogatives.Yet, it is not the case that treating women fairly is the sole province of progressives. Many strong, independent women have been raised by parents of conservative polity. They may, or may not, share their parents’ views, but they are loved by those parents, regardless.
As always, we do well to remember that human rights are not a zero sum game. There is plenty of room for everyone at the table. One must choose what to do with money, time and energy. The same is not true, with respect to rights under the law. Those seeking to turn back the clock need to remember that, or choose to fail.
The young woman in question came into the seventh class of the day and cheerfully participated in the group activity, having gotten a handle on whatever was bothering her before-with neither “correction” nor pampering, from any adult.