A gift of ‘equality’

I’ve recently been writing a lot of fiction. It’s my escape, because we all need a mental break or two right now. Okay, I need about fifty million breaks—which comes in the form of fictional words.

So, I’ve been signing up for competitions and trying my hand at different types of fictional works to improve my craft and expand my mind. Recently I was asked to write a short story, in one-thousand words or less, with three elements. The genre was political satire (something that’s so far from my wheelhouse, I had to phone some friends and do some internet searches to understand what exactly this genre entails). The location, a merry-go-round. And the object…a Christmas Ornament.

Well…challenge accepted. I submitted this story about two months ago now, and today I found I was given second place in my challenge group. Second place! For that, I celebrate. And now, I share.

I described this story as: A merry-go-round in the equality for women, highlighted by the portrayal of Women’s Fiction. A holiday ornament as a gift is the reminder of what’s wrong with women’s rights, and what may be her misconception.

I hope you enjoy. Here is the final fiction product:

A holiday ornament dangles from your fingertips, the tied ribbon draped over them to keep it from falling. It’s a reminder of your privilege today. A woman who is a writer—a weaver of words—a deliverer of important messages. And Women’s Fiction is the genre you categorize your stories as, because they are about women, for women, after all. 

Your boots land in the frosty mud below your feet, and they stick a little as you push against the ground and lift them back into the air. A mother’s weekend, fulfilling the entertainment of children through active play and spinning rides. While your children are unfazed by the crisp air, you aren’t. You should have worn your winter coat, the one designed by a prominent male designer. And you would have, had you anticipated swings and merry-go-rounds earlier on today when loading up the kid crew.

Despite the delighted shrieks and shouts around you, your eyes stay glued to the holiday ornament. A small package in the mail arrived, and you were eager to open it because it came from your female counterparts in the publishing world. The stop at the park a perfect way to entertain the children as you took the time to read the card and open the gift. The padded envelope now tucked under your thigh—your way of taking care not to litter—you transfix your gaze. It’s a dainty thing, made of thin metal and adorned in a shiny gold sheen. The logo of your writer’s association stands proud in the center. A trophy to indicate your small part in the accomplishments of women in writing. 

It’s a gift that you are given a voice through the written word. Women weren’t always allowed to write. Those who dared to try found pseudonyms, their chosen name a male’s. But today you get to write, and there’s even a genre created for you specifically.

A gift. Just like this ornament. The cool metal of the merry-go-round reminds you of your role. You may write, but you’re a mother, a full-time employed female, and the keeper of the household. Everything runs because you keep it going, including this merry-go-round your children were insistent on riding. Pushing sideways with your feet, you keep it spinning. Entertainment for your children, and a reminder of how things really are. 

Women’s Fiction. The corner women are pushed into so they can be free to write about the things they believe are important. Personal growth. Family life. Love from a woman’s perspective. Anything from a woman’s perspective. Women’s rights. 

A label, so men can avoid the propaganda you are putting out, asking for equality. And all under the ruse of a gift of being granted a genre that’s special. So special that a main character centered around a woman, written by a woman, could never possibly fall under general fiction. Save that for the men because they haven’t been given Men’s Fiction. 

So, you write. And you continue to deliver your message through words. And you continue on the merry-go-round of life—equality, a thing that’s portrayed but never given. 

“Mom, keep pushing,” your youngest child shrieks. Even your children know you can’t keep up. 

“Sorry, I was thinking,” you answer. 

“What are you thinking?” Your oldest asks.

“About this holiday ornament, the one my Women’s Fiction association sent. And about how I wouldn’t have gotten it if I wasn’t a woman.” You aren’t sure why you explain, but you hope maybe she can change the world in her lifetime. How, you don’t know, since the world pretends things are already equal.

“That was nice of them.” And she returns to the giggling conversation of her siblings.

Yes, so nice of them. Now you wonder, maybe you are considering this all wrong. Maybe the fact that Women’s Fiction exists is a good thing. Women have come so far. Women have platforms men don’t, because of the work and time it took to push for equality. Women have come a long way. 

And your husband is your biggest supporter. Your cheerleader in accomplishing your dreams. He treats you as an equal. Perhaps things aren’t as bad as you currently believe.

You look away from the ornament now. This is ridiculous. You are happy to write Women’s Fiction. Ignore those thoughts that say you aren’t good enough to write whatever the hell you’d like. That you wouldn’t be allowed if you tried. 

As the world spins in your vision, pushing sideways to keep this merry-go-round turning, you take in the perspective around you. Children playing, boys and girls together, as equals. The trees have shed their leaves, winter taking hold. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Again, and again. It never changes.

Your eyes travel to the perimeters of the playground. Women sitting, standing, chatting, or reading. Yes, your audience is here with you at the park. Women watching their children play. Tending to their family. Taking any spare moments for personal growth through conversation and stories. You imagine what they do on their weekdays. Work. Cook. Clean. Those are what you guess—soul sisters in the making. Comrades in your life.

Let it go. The words dance in your mind, shifting your thoughts from negative to positive. You love your life. You love to write. Your family believes in you, and you believe in them. Things are good, spinning here on this merry-go-round of life.

This cold metal platform keeps spinning now. Your feet push instinctively. Routines. Safe choices. Expectations fulfilled.

Thank you for taking time to read my little political satire. As always, I appreciate you.

Hannah

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