By Emma Padure
Honestly, I hate listening to people complain. I always end up zoning out, paying attention only to the subtle movements of their eyebrows whilst they move from one subject to the next, effectively rendering me comatose. Then, when they finish their complaint, they look at me expectantly, waiting for a grand declaration of my sympathy for their suffering.
“Yeah!” I say, preparing the speech I have rehearsed in my head, the one that works for absolutely any superficial teenage grievance.
The thing about complaining is that it’s useless; it achieves nothing. If I had time to achieve nothing, I’d become a politician. Complaining and then doing nothing is very much a politician’s game.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly no anti-establishment anarchist — I’ve got a good rapport with all my teachers, I say hello to the hall monitor every time I see her, the principal and I are essentially business partners, and every time a new set of vice-principals roll in I make sure to leave an exemplary first impression.
I guess you could call me a suck-up. Whatever, I don’t care. Suck-up or not, who’s actually getting stuff done around here? That’s what matters in the end. Who gets stuff done.
That is exactly why I decided to get the Gender-Neutral Washrooms open, and also why I need to give you all a very stern talking to. Because, honestly, what is up with you guys?
You have no idea how to behave.
We live in a world that has been neatly divided into blue blankets and pink blankets, trucks and barbies, future doctors and future mommies. I know for a fact that you have all, at least at one point in your small lives, felt restrained by these rules.
In big ways or small:
A little boy, reaching for the princess dress instead of the superhero costume, only to get his hand slapped away by his mother.
A teenager, not quite a girl and not quite a boy, staring at their reflection, wishing it would change. They come from a home where the space between the binary is not quite understood by the people who have nurtured them since birth, though.
At least the washrooms there don’t force them into making a choice that is not theirs to make.
Not a girl. Not a boy. Something in the middle. Something entirely detached.
In the middle of class, they have to pee.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
The Gender-Neutral Washrooms are locked.
What would you have them do? I have given you no indication of what they have between their legs. Go on. Tell me. Where would you have them go?
The washroom has been open for a week now. I walked in three days ago and the stink of vape smoke hit me like a hammer with the word ‘disappointment’ written on it in large cartoonish letters. It’s not that you vape. Believe me. It’s that you vape at the expense of accessibility.
Guys and gals and everyone in between, what you have is an addiction. I’m not villainizing you for doing what you have to do, but, are you serious? The behaviour I have seen and heard accounts of is absolutely not representative of a student body that is deserving of any form of additional privileges. And it’s not just vaping either.
Dirt, piss, spit, theft, littering, physical violence.
You fight like clowns in a circus, being laughed at by everyone around you, gaining nothing other than false pride because of the idiocy of your actions. Great, you hit some guy in the nose, and the blood that dripped from it will probably stain the pavement for weeks. Are you proud of yourself? That blood says less about its owner and more about you. You are more than this. Better than this. If you don’t see it, trust that I do. If you can throw a punch, challenge yourself to do something infinitely harder, a favour, for the person you will eventually become: work on kindness. Be kind on purpose. It’s alright if it doesn’t come naturally, continue doing it. Will you be wise with your power or will you abuse it? The argument does not matter. If you are violent, you have lost it already.
Richview, you are unhappy with your school, you want things to change. You want to feel a difference as much as you want to see it. So do I. But in order for this to happen, you must first look inwards. Are you representing the world that you want to see? Or are you another crack in the long road to unity and equality?
I can unlock your washrooms, I can build you new ones, I can get you tampons and pads. I can do more. But I can’t do it alone, and I cannot fight you all. Nor do I want to.
Be better Richview.