Monday, February 17, 2014

My English Teacher Rejected My Writing.

   When sitting in class one day, I was given the prompt, "Write an essay arguing for or against the idea that Western women are free or not free." As an aspiring writer in high school this direction evoked an explosive amount of inspiration in my head, inexplainable or rather exceedingly explosive so that I could not respond monosyllabically. This "prompt," evoked a sense of wonder and eventually, a theory of my own. However, this theory, was apparently insufficent.
   If you're anything like me, making a general judgement about a vast group of people doesnt really make sense. How would you respond to the question, "Are blacks free?" "Are hispanics free?" To me, the vagueness of the question makes it almost impossible to answer so that I end up asking, "Which black?" "Which hispanic?" which woman. It depends. To me, it depends on the person, whether woman or man or black or white, it depends, and this is what got me rejected.
   Unless we happen to be writing this at the time of slavery or the holocaust or something along those lines, it's hard, for me at least, to say that one group of people is not free. Obviously, during the time of slavery, blacks were not free but slavery was widespread and largely enforced. As an attempt to ruffle the feathers of the school system, I ended up writing this essay suggesting that freedom is controlled not by the state but by the individual.
    My teacher gave not many further instructions than the ones I've described to you. I opened the work with a the description of a recently fired woman, a victim of prejudice and oppression. A dialouge follows as I explained to her that with hard work she could end up transcending her boss in the work force and even end up firing him. I turn the tables for her and completely reversing her perception of the world. She takes the cruel verbal oppression that has struck her and uses it to fuel her own motivation, in turn freeing herself. (I'm reluctant to attach the raw essay itself as I think it's a bit outdated and childish in style.)
    The point was to say that liberation and freedom could not be printed on paper. It's something you can limit to the minute characters of language, something you can compress onto  a piece of fine script. Liberation is in one's soul. Freedom is spiritual. One may be freed by the affection of her lover, or the embrace of her children, or the feeling of silence on bench somewhere in the middle of the night. One can have all the money in the world, he may parch every ocean and starve every farm in the universe and still not be freed if his heart is not content.
   And when I think about this, the more I do, I start to think about how stupid it must be to try to limit someone's freedom. Once slavery has been abolished, once civil rights are granted on paper, one is set free into the bustling outside world, and is perhaps even more oppressed than she was when enslaved. She is torn from routine life and placed among her liberated constituents. She may be lost, caught within the stares and occasional prejudged slurs and dirty looks and it is up to her to fight back. Or rather, fight thr
ough, fight on. It is up to her to walk quickly and strongly through that crowd of dirty looks with her head held high enough to scare them all away. One woman, with her headstrong determination and resilience, can silence all the oppressors and squelch the demons of the world and universe. But if this one woman decides to let her head down, shy away from her goals and slowly comes to a stop, there is nowhere to go but backward. And this woman is enslaved. She is devoured by the snarling pups and abused by the demons. But the choice is as extreme as that.
   As soon as one has been told that they have been freed, I do not think that freedom is truly given to them, at this whim. However this answer is not sufficient. It is not monosyllabic, nor does it fit the 26 lines I am provided with in class. So I receive rejection, a flat out demand to "redo my work" in a more "fitting way." But I didn't stop writing. Because maybe one day they will hear me and if they don't, at least I will live knowing that I followed my own example of liberation and freedom as a western woman, as a human being, and as living creature of the world.