Take a Joke, Sweetheart | Teen Ink

Take a Joke, Sweetheart MAG

April 10, 2011
By ohmakemeover BRONZE, Centerville, Minnesota
ohmakemeover BRONZE, Centerville, Minnesota
3 articles 0 photos 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth."- Margaret Atwood


He leaned over my desk, his body casting a shadow over my writing. Two fists were suddenly pressed hard next to my book, giving him an air of undeserved authority. “You know they're just joking, right?” His voice was gentle, as if he were speaking to a timid animal.

I nodded slowly, confused, trying to focus on my work as my blood boiled. “I'm aware that they're joking, but jokes can be offensive, and I was feeling uncomfortable,” I said.

He took a deep breath, a small, nearly undetectable smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He shoved his sleeves up his arms. “The more you ask them to stop, the more they'll just keep doing it. That's how they work.” He was telling me what many men had tried to explain before: men don't change, men don't stop, men won't listen to you.

And oh, he was so very smart, his words so very wise. I knew that he thought he was imparting some helpful, kind-hearted wisdom on me. He was trying to save the silly girl who was making a fool of herself by refusing to tolerate something that made her and other girls uncomfortable. He was playing big brother, daddy, the savior on a white horse sent to shut me up.

I looked at him, anger burning the back of my neck and my cheeks. “So, because they won't stop, I should just give up? I should let them make sexist jokes that make me very uneasy?” We were in history class. I thought I deserved to feel safe.

His smirk faltered a bit. “They're just joking. They don't actually mean what they say.”

People were watching us; I could feel their eyes. I was suddenly vulnerable. I wanted them to stop staring, to go away. I wanted this boy to sit down and talk instead of towering over me.

“They may mean those jokes to be harmless, but they're ignorant,” I continued. “Believe me, the jokes don't end at ‘Women should stay in the kitchen.' They continue until they become sexual and inappropriate. I want them to stop now before I have even more reason to be angry.” I'd been down this road before, many times.

“I think you should just give it up before they gang up on you,” he replied, calmly and reasonably, like an adult pacifying a cranky child.

I was so upset I wanted to cry, but the steam gathering behind my eyes made tears impossible. I wondered who he thought he was, standing over a girl he'd never spoken to, telling her that her words were useless, that she could try but she'd always fail. If we had been friends, I would have listened; if he'd spoken to me like a peer, I would have cared. But he was just pushing me down, stuffing me into a box until I suffocated on all of my useless, silly words.

I looked him in the eye and said, “If they're going to be rude, then I will be rude back.”

My comment didn't even make sense. Ten minutes earlier, a group of boys had been trading sexist jokes about women. I had turned around in my seat, looked one of the boys in the eye, and said, “Just please stop, for me. I'm asking you to stop.” That boy looked doubtful but he stopped, and I resumed my work. I ­didn't yell, lecture, or swear. I simply asked. I used words, the only weapon I knew how to use, and everything was okay.

Now this boy had the nerve to tell me that my words didn't mean anything. This boy hurt me more than he realized. He tried to take away the only weapon I had to defend myself.

But he didn't have the power to do that. I will never stop fighting for what I believe is right. I will never stop standing up for myself, my friends, and my gender, and I will never stop using my (stupid, useless, fruitless, beautiful, powerful, amazing) words.

He backed away, easing off my desk. Frustration was apparent in his face, but he kept his features stony and emotionless. “Fine, whatever. But you'll never get anywhere with them, believe me.”

I didn't believe him. To this day, I don't believe him, because I have continually used my knowledge and my words to make others rethink their actions. Sometimes I fail and they don't stop. Sometimes my words get me into trouble. But sometimes I even make a new ally.

Little did he know, that boy didn't break me down. He made me stronger.


The author's comments:
This was a pivotal moment in my life as a feminist. This moment helped me to realize my strength as a woman. After this experience, I've never doubted my power to express my feelings with words.

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JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 79 comments.


on Feb. 18 2013 at 3:15 am
Sabeen_Yameen SILVER, Karachi, Other
9 articles 10 photos 34 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you want something you have never had,
You have got to do something, You have never done!

Impressive. I must say, 'true' and 'touchy'.

on Feb. 18 2013 at 3:06 am
Matthew17 SILVER, Bainbridge Island, Washington
5 articles 4 photos 8 comments
This is really amazing. You define toy know how to use words to your advantage. Incredible.

on Feb. 11 2013 at 1:12 pm
iam4evermyself PLATINUM, Chicago, Illinois
20 articles 1 photo 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope. It is the only thing greater than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is okay, as long as it's contained."

Truth has been told in your writing. I know how it feels, and it is the worst feeling in the world. When you see things like this everyday, your mind questions to get involed or stay out of it. If involved, it could hurt you more than the other person, not involved, it hurts the person naturally. I am glad, that you have WRITTEN THE TRUTH that many seems to not want to hear. Thank you. Always stand up for yourself. It's Perfect. 

on Feb. 10 2013 at 4:53 pm
SunshineKarmaGirl, Weedsport, New York
0 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Don't Say It At All

I really liked reading this. :) It takes me back a few weeks ago and I learned from your story that i need to gain some confidence and stand up for myself. If you could please check out You Know My Name Not My Story i would appriciate it so much. Thanks! :)

on Feb. 1 2013 at 1:25 pm
Tiara Hansley, Wilmigton N.c, North Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
I Really Enjoyed Reading This Poem I Loved How The Girl gained some confidence and standed up for what was Right.

on Jan. 31 2013 at 10:49 am
muna.najihah PLATINUM, Malacca, Other
25 articles 14 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
if life was given two choices, to become a writer or a character, I will choose to become a writer.
I have the power to decide what my life should be.

love it so much times a hundred Write more for us

on Jan. 27 2013 at 4:00 pm
Laurel-F. BRONZE, Willow Spring, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 10 comments
This story is inspiring. You go girl!

on Jan. 26 2013 at 6:12 am
Roe-Daniels BRONZE, >>>>>>>, Other
2 articles 0 photos 49 comments
This is allsorts of an amazing.Well done 

on Jan. 24 2013 at 5:12 pm
SunshineKarmaGirl, Weedsport, New York
0 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, Don't Say It At All

So well written! The truth was finally  spoken and I'm glad you wrote this.

Plume BRONZE said...
on Jan. 24 2013 at 2:56 pm
Plume BRONZE, Milano, Other
2 articles 0 photos 31 comments
This is wonderful :) well done. Please check out my work

Long_Gone GOLD said...
on Jan. 19 2013 at 12:02 pm
Long_Gone GOLD, Lansing, Michigan
10 articles 43 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
There is a good side to everyting, if you look close enough

Love it so much. I can be the same as you sometimes and am a feminest to the extrem. 

on Jan. 16 2013 at 3:08 pm
Luckystar78 ELITE, London, Other
114 articles 0 photos 97 comments

Favorite Quote:
"..though warm as summer it was fresh as spring." (Thomas Hardy) ("Far from the Madding crowd")

This article was such a relief to me - I've spent years trying to defend people and causes when immature boys and girls alike make inappropriate, rude and offensive comments - without even realizing it. I'm glad you didn't let that level of ignorance affect your views - and for the record, I'm a fierce feminist too! Good article, by the way.  

Alanda BRONZE said...
on Nov. 13 2012 at 11:38 am
Alanda BRONZE, Auburn, New York
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
I loved it!!!! Way to stand up for yourself. GREAT JOB!

KJackson said...
on Oct. 9 2012 at 11:20 am
The article made me really mad because I know exactly how she feels. Yes I have, when i had workshop some of the boys in there were so rude they kept making like "Why are you in this class, cooking is down the hall" and it mad me so mad. I would tried my best to not let their stupid comments get the best of me but sometimes I said something smart back. To be honest I don't think the people at the school really care about things  like this and when they try anything people don't take them seriously.

on Sep. 17 2012 at 6:05 pm
beautifulspirit PLATINUM, Alpharetta, Georgia
35 articles 0 photos 1398 comments

Favorite Quote:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
--Eleanor Roosevelt

This article was one for the books! Exactly what runs through a person's mind in this particular situation. The title was certainly eye catching! Loved every word~

bluhs said...
on Jul. 10 2012 at 4:19 pm
bluhs, E, Alabama
0 articles 0 photos 111 comments
YES! GIRL POWER!!!

on Jul. 4 2012 at 4:06 pm
This is a great essay! We would love to promote you on our website! We are a non-profit that is dedicated to raising awareness of the prevelance of bullying! Please check us out! http://projectantibully.com

on Jun. 6 2012 at 4:03 pm
ashley112027 BRONZE, Grand Rapids, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come out of it."

I loved it!!! Way to stand up for yourself and make a difference!!! What other kind of writing do you do?

on Jun. 6 2012 at 4:03 pm
ashley112027 BRONZE, Grand Rapids, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come out of it."

I loved it!!! Way to stand up for yourself and make a difference!!! What other kind of writing do you do?

on Jun. 4 2012 at 12:13 pm
ohmakemeover BRONZE, Centerville, Minnesota
3 articles 0 photos 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth."- Margaret Atwood

Thanks for reading! :-)