This is the 5th in a series of guest blogs ranging from short prose pieces to poetry composed for member, Chelsea Nabozny’s, high-school creative writing class.
Nabozny explains, “Over the past eighteen weeks, I have been using my senior elective Creative Writing class as a space for students to explore ideas and issues that are important to them and reflect on their ideas through various types of writing. After several weeks of talking as a class about generational issues, technology, and media, I noticed that many females in my class were particularly interested in the way women are represented across these mediums. As a culminating project, I asked my students to create a written piece on any topic that we discussed that they felt particularly passionate about. The students below are a select group who decided to share their thoughts, opinions, and beliefs about what it is like to be a young woman in 2015. The way that this group of students articulated themselves through a variety of writing styles allows for a truly fascinating glimpse into the minds, thoughts, and daily struggles that these young women face. Through these pieces, I hope that other teachers find the confidence and trust to have conversations about gender in their own classrooms and allow their students to explore and grapple with these issues.”
January and February pieces have been submitted by secondary and post-secondary students interested in gender. If you are interested in submitting a piece, please get in touch with us at email@example.com. In the subject line, please mark the message for the webmaster.
On the quest for an unforgettable summer, I finally convinced my parents to let me go on my first, solo trip to Spain: the land of churizo, paella, and matador. I planned the trip with a long distant friend, a trip I had been waiting for for two years. Having higher and higher expectations, my heart started beating faster at the thought of catching up with old friends, going to parties, and generally spending time in the peaceful environment in Aviles, Spain, a place I was so familiar with from my last stay there.
The memory of a nice, peaceful, northern Spanish town, would soon be disrupted by new experiences from horrifying, starring men.
As I arrived and the fun began, so did the uncomfortable looks.
It wasn’t that bad at first. We did seek men, we went to parties when we could’ve stayed at home, but no, we wanted to have “fun.”
The guys would stare and yell, “Hola Guapa!” to get our attention. It was a little much, but flattering at the same time. I wasn’t used to attention from men… it was fun.
My friend and I dealt with it for a couple of days, but then it came to the point where we couldn’t go outside without getting yelled at.
Guys would call me over, wink at me, and worse of all grab me. They didn’t reach for the places you would expect – they would grab my hair.
Long, blonde hair is not normal in Spain.
It was then that I realized that my hair was the reason I was being bothered, something I was born with and can’t cover up.
We lived with it, and dealt with it, even though it was slowly ruining our vacation.
Then one day it took a turn for the worse. We were walking in Gijon, one of the biggest towns in Asturias, trying to find our way to their annual town festival.
To find the festival, we walked down the narrow streets, three girls, all fifteen years old.
I remember wearing a black and white striped dress. It went above my chest, and revealed no cleavage. It was loose on the bottom and went down to my mid-thigh.
I was walking a bit behind my friends, trying to text and walk at the same time. When I looked up I saw that I was heading towards a family with their group of friends standing filling up the entire sidewalk.
As I closed in one of the men started yelling at me, he had to be about 45 years old. “Hola Guapa, bla bla bla!” I don’t understand Spanish well, but I did catch the little nicknames he was giving me. He ended with “Have a good day beautiful!” in Spanish, of course.
In other situations I wouldn’t have been bothered by that, but I was walking down a dark street, squeezing my way through his group who were all clearly intoxicated and standing outside their house smoking, even though it was only 4 o’clock.
I assumed he was with his friends, since one wouldn’t normally say that to a girl if you were with your family, but I could see him put his arm around a lady, assumingly his wife…
Even though what he said were probably only little comments, trying to brighten my day, I didn’t take it as compliments. It made me very uncomfortable, I could feel the heat rush to my face and nervous sweating begin to form on my body.
As I passed him and walked away from him, he started yelling “Hey sweetie, too cool to answer?” and other nonsense. I felt like a slut. I didn’t know what about me had made him think that it was okay to say that. I started blaming myself, covering my arms with my cardigan, even though it was 85 degrees.
I felt embarrassed and humiliated.
As the screaming continued, I just kept on walking.
by: Emma Jensen
Emma Jensen is a 16 year old exchange student from Denmark. She is currently a senior attending Springville Griffith Institute in Springville, NY. She chose to travel to America to improve her English. In the future she wants to be an English teacher.