Jessie Atkin
author, procrastinator, nerd, twin
author of We Are Savages

Jessie Atkin


Cultural Consciousness

Posted by Jessie on March 8, 2017 at 10:10 PM

It's only Wednesday. But it's already been a hard week. A bomb threat was called into the JCC in my community. And today I went on strike for International Women's Day.

These two events may seem unrelated, except in timing, but they have become combined in my mind. This week there were many people in my life who wanted to advise me on what actions I should take, what voice I should use to address the events around me. I was told what my voice should sound like, what box it should fit in. As women have been told, are still told, constantly in 2017.

I was told not to use the term anti-Semitism when speaking or writing about the bomb threat at my local JCC, or when referencing the Jewish cemetery that was vandalized in my city last week. I was told I shouldn't use the term because others were not comfortable defining the act that way. I was told I should not march today, should not go on strike. Why? Because other people were striking for offensive reasons or with offensive people. Others were trying to define the terms under which I was striking.

None of these naysayers or Internet voices wanted to talk about how frustrating it was for me to grow up idolizing only the male heroes I read about in books. No one wanted to hear about my high school experiences, being told a swastika drawn on a notebook was only a "misunderstanding." These were not the people who stood with me outside a Congressman's office to hear the painful true experiences of other women who had chosen (undeterred by events in their lives that were meant to scare them, force them, silence them) to speak anyway, despite what anyone told them they should or should not do.

I was told there were a lot of things I shouldn't do this week, by a lot of people who had not chosen to act differently, but had chosen not to act at all. They wrote no other statements using their own words, nor did they plan any other events when they found fault in those taking place around them. They chose not to speak out against something or march for something. They chose inaction.

Instead they tried to tell me what I should or shouldn't do. It was frustrating, it made me angry, but it did not change my own choice, the choice to act. And, by arguing with me, the fact is, wherever they got their information, whether it was true, or the point, or fair that I was their sounding board, they talked about it. They wrote things, and argued, and for once knew there was such a thing as International Women's Day. Cultural consciousness has been raised. That's impact.

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