Thanks to the Supreme Court, we now have one form of equality on the books: marriage equality. But the battle for equality doesn’t stop there. While marriage is a great start, there are many battles left to fight such as racial equality, income equality, and, of course, gender equality. With that in mind, we present our creative nonfiction stories around the theme of equality.
“Amanda! You aren’t going to be happy about this.” Lorraine cried as she stood in front of my car.
“What?” I quickly opened my door to join her.
“You got a super flat tire.”
“Oh, crap. There’s like no air in that at all. How the hell did that happen?”
We were in Costa Mesa, California, 30 miles from my friend’s house, and about 50 miles from my house. We were heading to a wine tasting. After we got off of the 55 freeway, my car drove fine. We stopped at the light on 19th street and as soon as the light changed, my car started to make an awkward thumping sound.
My tire went from fine to flat in the span of a red light.
“I have AAA.” I quickly dug through my bag to find my AAA card as I sat on the curb where my friend had located herself.
While we waited, I pulled out my spare tire. I lacked a jack and a jack stand, so I couldn’t actually change my tire myself, but I could make the job easier for the roadside assistance person. I took auto shop in high school; I at least knew the basics of how to change a tire, a headlight, a taillight, windshield wipers, and, last but not least, my own oil.
In a half-hour, a guy, no older than 20, came to change my tire.
He pulled out his massive jack and a lug wrench and started to change my tire. He stopped after testing my lug nuts.
“I can’t change your tire.” He said, nervously.
“Oh, okay. Why?” I asked.
“I can call the tow truck in and have it taken to a shop for you. You need new lug nuts.” That’s all the explanation I got. “Don’t worry ladies; I’ll take care of this for you.”
The tow truck came and the first auto shop the AAA roadside assistant sent us to said they couldn’t do the work that day. I asked what work, and they simply replied that they didn’t have the parts.
The tow truck driver then took us to a tire shop, which was the first place to explain what was wrong with my car.
“It’s not your lug nuts dude; it’s the lug nut studs. The lug nuts are stripped, and that means,” he paused and I picked up his line of thought.
“That means they’ll break and I’ll have to get new ones.” I finished.
“Yeah. And we’re not an auto shop,” the tire guy continued, “so I can’t replace those parts. I don’t have the tools. I just do tires.”
It started to rain as my car was pushed towards the new tow truck. I ran out to help.
“No ma’am,” the new tow truck driver commanded, “you don’t push. I don’t want you to get wet in the rain; not in your dress.”
I didn’t listen and I continued to push my car. The rain was mild and it was, after all, my car. I wanted to get things done as soon as possible.
I was tired of polite sexism. I don’t like being told I couldn’t do something because I was a woman, or when people assumed I didn’t know something because I have tits and a vagina. I was tired of these men not telling me what was going on because I was wearing a dress. I was just tired, period.
I know the excuse is that these men were just being polite and doing their jobs, but no one should spend five hours and three tow truck rides trying to fix a flat tire, especially when no one will actually say what’s wrong with the tire, other than being flat.
I could push my car in the rain. I could push my car in the rain in a dress. If I had high heels on, I’d push my car in the rain in high heels. What I wore was not limiting; what was limiting was the way I was treated, talked down to, and ignored by men who felt I was in need of rescue.
– Amanda Riggle
So we have all heard of this fake geek girl thing, right? A girl enters a comic shop or attends a Star Wars convention or plays D&D, and immediately gets challenged by those “gatekeepers of geekdom.” The question always starts, “do you even?” I’ve been lucky enough (or perhaps intimidating enough) that I haven’t been challenged often about my geek cred. But I have run into other problems.
It was my first visit to this new comic shop my friend goes to, and I was glancing over the trades for sale. A short, stocky gentlemen approaches me tentatively, arms crossed and ready for rejection. He appreciated the fact that I liked comics, stating, “we don’t get many girls in here.”
I politely smiled and replied, “well, I’ve liked them for years and am just now rebuilding my collection.”
He then added, “we don’t get many girls as pretty as you either.”
He then promptly stopped talking and stared at me.
I know what many people tend to say in these situations: “It’s a compliment; can;t you just take a compliment?”
Well, when this compliment is accompanied by a burning stare into the back of my skull as I turned to continue talking with my friend, along with an awkwardly maintained and close proximity to my person, I don’t enjoy the compliment anymore. It didn’t help that one of his arms was propped up on the other now with his finger to his mouth, as if he was deep in contemplation.
He stared at me like I was Red Sonja or some equally sexualized woman he is used to seeing painted on comic covers. He eventually shambled away from my friend and I, after what felt like an eternity, but he kept an eye on me as I walked the floor.
I left with nothing that day.
– Nicole Neitzke
Her dad had always worked honest days, from his first job dragging trees to his current desk job manning an entire school. He was Montana and always would be, even if he could tie a perfect Windsor knot. Not only was he a man, a hunter, a woodsman, a horse wrangler, a carpenter, but he sometimes traveled in the same bureaucratic circles as the POTUS, and every administrator in the state knew his name. He was everything, and she was nothing, but they were, at least, both Montana.
As a kid, he had helped her study for history tests and praised her papers but rarely said “I love you” or touched her unless it was to pull her shoulders back or wrestle her socks off. And as an adult, she was opinionated as hell but still leaped when he said failure wasn’t an option, and she thought the same of him.
She imagined him only approving of a husband with athletic trophies, a degree, and the ability to build barns and gut a deer. The two would mend fences or pitch hay in silence, her husband even taller than her dad, and maybe they’d drink an occasional whiskey or swap their spectacular hunting stories, but they’d never know each other, the way one woodsman never knows another.
And when a man exactly like him finally did spring from the ground, did fall into her world, did become the best part of her day, it was weird and compatible and uncanny.
But while her newfound man was her father’s equal, she still wasn’t, even though she was Montana, too, and knew she would never be.
– Missy Lacock
What does equality mean to you? Share your stories in the comments!
You can follow Amanda on Twitter @ThePandaBard, on Pinterest @ThePandaBard, or on Medium @ThePandaBard. You can also find her research on Academia.Edu at Cpp.Academia.Edu/MandaRiggle.