I remember one day in primary school. It must have had quite the impact because I've never forgotten it (40 odd years later, give or take ;-)
We were doing some sort of spelling/geography quiz....name a place and ask someone to spell it. If they can't, you had to and got a point etc etc. I have an uncle who at that time, travelled widely for work. We were always getting postcards of the places he visited. So my suggestion was Saudi Arabia (from memory this was P3 ish, so 7, maybe 8?). The person I asked looked totally blank and I remember being excited because I knew that I could spell it correctly! The teacher said that as she was sure that no one in the class could spell that, she would move on. My god!!! The sense of humiliation and shame, because there was the doubt (that maybe I didn't know.....but I did!), the presumption that I had tried to 'show off' but most of all the injustice of not even being given the opportunity to demonstrate that I DID know and wasn't showing off/acting up or whatever I assumed my teacher was thinking.
And this comes to mind because of a recent injustice. One that has my blood boiling because of the sheer unfairness of it all! It's difficult to write about, because of privacy etc etc, but I've realised (through making this connection) that what really makes me angry is when I don't advocate for myself. Ok, asking a 7 year old to say "excuse me, I do know how to spell Saudi Arabia, may I demonstrate?" might be a bit much, but I remember my parents asking whether I'd said that I could spell it. And in this recent event, I was put totally and unjustifiably on the back foot, and although I TRIED to advocate, this was turned against me. And I can't advocate in order to redress this injustice, because my words were twisted and put back to me so bloody reasonably that it was impossible to defend in the moment without some perspective! How can I protect myself from presumptions, unfairness, gaslighting and manipulation if I don't see it, recognise it and be good enough to defend effectively against it? For some reason, that timid, compliant little 7 year old, who was easily silenced, easily shamed, easily made to feel like she was in the wrong is still here, still quiet, still timid. Diffident. I am so angry on her behalf and on mine, but I don't know how to fight this fight...
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