LESLIE CRISS: Even little girls can stage rebellion of sorts

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“I long to hear that you have
declared an independency. And by the way, in the new code of laws,
I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to stir up a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
– Abigail Smith Adams

So Abigail Adams wrote in a letter to her husband John in 1776 concerning a new code of laws known as the Declaration of Independence.
Since those words were penned, countless women have “stirred up a rebellion” or two in the fight for justice and equal rights. The month of March, designated Women’s History Month, is a time to remember – and be grateful for – the vision and the valor of women living and those long gone who took part, continue to take part in such “rebellions.”
I have always declared my independence, and unlike many women who lived before me, I have never personally been put in the preposterous position of having to prove my gender is not a disability. Except once.

• • •

In elementary school, my childhood friend Betsy and I formed a club. We met in a wonderful old barn behind her family’s home in Grenada.
The club’s name – if it had one – has been long forgotten. The membership was limited to two – Betsy and me.
Our mission? To spend the sultry days of summer having fun. And we did. Until the boy across the street showed up to harass us with his maddening mantra: “Girls can’t do anything.”
We tried to ignore him, cajole him. Nothing worked. He would not leave us alone.
One exceptionally hot day, he pushed us past the breaking point with his youthful male chauvinism.
I’ve heard confession is good for the soul. I’m hoping that’s true.
Under the guise of friendship, we invited our tormentor into the barn. We grabbed him from both sides and wrapped a rope around his ankles. Within moments he was hanging upside down from the roof of our clubhouse.
Unharmed, but mighty surprised.
We let him dangle only until he admitted he’d been wrong, that girls, in fact, could make a contribution in the world.
Proud that we’d won a small battle in a still-ongoing war, we cut him down and watched as he ran home, leaving behind Navy blue Keds. He never bothered us again.
Perhaps there was a kinder, gentler way to open his mind, but at the time, we could think of none.
After all, a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do.
Nearly a decade later, we met in that barn, Betsy and I.
We entered the dirt-floored building slowly, allowing time for our eyes to adjust to the shadows. We must have seen it about the same and responded in kind – with laughter.
Our trophy from that long-ago day remained, still hanging from the rafters.
The shoes of the young chauvinist.

Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@journalinc.com.