The consistent buzzing of her phone had gone past the point of pure irritation and become a nuisance she could no longer tolerate. She roughly shoved it from her dresser with one hand and it crashed into the carpeted floor. Finally silence. It was music to her ears. She looked down at her trembling hands not sure if it was anger, fear or confusion. “BZZZ! bzzz!” the resilient gadget buzzed from its abandoned space on the floor. She looked at it and saw the lit screen: seven missed calls and twelve messages. She was in a horror movie and was the unfortunate character that kept tripping over nothing. That one character whose tragic end is eminent right from the start.
She was married to a man that loved her and glorified her ambition. Her Ph.Ds and outstanding career had not stopped him from loving her they seemed to be the motivators. After several years they got a bunch of lovely kids and he loved her even more. They were a power couple dominating almost every arena and showing up in lifestyle segments to give tips on happy living. The cherry on the top came in when she got into politics and stood out as a rare specimen fighting and speaking in testosterone filled rooms. She was a voice for so many and presented herself with fiery fierceness and stood as a pillar of hope. Unfortunately, that was not the reality of her world.
Defeated, her eyes gave way to the waterworks. She couldn’t quite place a finger on the emotions in her tears, some drops burned like acid when they touched her cheeks and others just trickled down a numb face. Her eyelids grew heavy and stung too much to support open eyes. The reflection she saw on her dresser mirror was a distorted version of who she was. The mirror was not a stranger to that face. That face that looked terribly wounded, the endless flow of tears, the trembling fingers struggling to hold a make-up brush- that was the face the mirror knew. Her reality was pain from the place she hoped to find solace. She was trapped in a life that was the complete opposite of who she really was and what she stood for. She was ashamed of the fact that she had almost no power to her money yet she was part of the legislation that had given women the power to take charge of their own lives. The most painful part was telling her daughters and son that nobody could take their rights from them yet she couldn’t do the same for same for herself. She couldn’t live her life for their safety. She had to slave for them, bow down to her oppressor with the hope that the future would treat her kind with the glory they deserved.
She picked up her phone and reflexively typed an apology message informing the desperate caller that she would be running late. She picked up her makeup brush applied layers of concealer to the obvious bruises on her face until she looked good as new. She looked at her reflection and dug out the killer smile that had fooled the world without fail. As she got up, ready to leave, she carefully placed the crown on her head. It was who she really was, her strength, and the battles she would win despite the fact that it was an imaginary crown.
The conversation of strong and bold social activists whose personal lives do not portray their public image is one that has been going on for ages. It seems hypocritical for a woman to be preaching gender equality walking into parliament “wearing the pants” while wearing a face full of concealer to hide evidence of a violent marriage. To some extent, we are almost naturally inclined to accuse such people of pulling public stunts and we shun them and shame them for their double lives. The hard truth is that is it never that simple for everyone sometimes people discover their advocacy amidst their oppression and getting out of it is not a slogan away from reach. Achieving goals such as gender equality are concepts that may take longer than we want and if we were all to wait until we were perfect role models then this journey would not make sense.
The bigger picture, that end goal is what we should keep in mind looking at that young girl or boy who will see a strong woman holding down a career that she was not expected to be in, it is that young child finding out that they have the right to choose love and that it is okay for people to be different. The hope that this generation will grow to make the magical future we seek a normal reality is what we should focus on. Instead of being disappointed in that woman stuck in harsh marriage for the sake of her children yet she is at the forefront of campaigns against domestic violence we need to celebrate them. We need to celebrate that secretly gay guy that fights for the right to love but cannot come out because of their personal safety. It’s not weak to protect yourself and just because you see her kneel before a tough situation does not mean she is not wearing a crown and ruling an empire too.