Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me

Old White Men in Wheelchairs Scare Me | Sedruola Maruska

I’ve never told anyone that old white men in wheelchairs scare me . . . until now.

We moved back to New York City, after living in Salt Lake City for two years, when I was ten going on eleven. It was culturally shocking. . . but that’s another post.

I was in the sixth grade and everything was new. Instead of riding a school bus I rode the city bus. I needed a bus pass and I walked to and from the bus stop every day on my own. I was a big girl.

We lived with my grandfather while we were looking for our own home, so everyday on my walk I passed this beautiful house with a lovely manicured yard. I used to imagine what it would look like on the inside or what the people were like.

This was the first time I was living in a neighborhood with houses so I was really in awe. Some days I would see people around, but most days I would walk the quiet streets home and meet my grandfather waiting at home.

[wp_ad_camp_4]It wasn’t long before I started seeing an old white man in a wheelchair passing by in the streets. At first he rode by silently. Then he began to say hello. We’d moved from a predominantly white city so white men in wheelchairs were just like every other white man I’d ever met. It never crossed my mind that this man’s presence was odd or that I needed to be concerned.

One day on my walk home this man rolled up to me:

Man: Can you help me with something?
Me: Yes.
Man: I need to get to the door of that house (pointing to my dream house) but I can’t reach the doorbell, can you help me?
Me: Sure (excited to finally meet the people who lived in that beautiful house)

We went over to the house where I started to go to the front door

Man: No, we need to go to the back door, it’s easier for me

So we moved to the back door (which was really a side door) and I rang the doorbell. I stood waiting for an answer with this man right behind me.

Man: Wow, you have a lot of dirt on the back of your skirt (as he proceeds to wipe it off)
Me: Really? (trying to look back)
Man: Ring again I don’t think they heard

I turn to ring again. A hand goes on my skirt again, but this time to lift it

Man: How did you get this dirt on you, it’s on your panties too
Me: I don’t have any dirt on me
Man: Yes, you do (preparing to pull down my panties)
Me: No I don’t! I don’t think anyone’s home (moving to go)
Man: Oh, I’m sorry, I guess they aren’t here, thank you

As I walked quickly back to the sidewalk he followed. When I got to the sidewalk and began walking home, my grandfather came out of the house looking for me. I was a few minutes late and he wanted to make sure I was okay. He saw me with this man on my heels.

Grandpa: Hello Sedie, are you okay (looking at the man behind me)
Me: Yes, I’m fine
Grandpa: Who is that man, are you okay?
Me: He needed help, I’m fine

[wp_ad_camp_5]That was the last time I saw that pedophile. That was the last time I ever spoke about that pedophile. That wasn’t the last time an old white man in a wheelchair made me nervous.

From a very young age I learned to take responsibility for my actions. Doing that meant I took responsibility for what happened. I could have walked away and ignored the old white man in the wheelchair. . . As a good and respectful girl, that wasn’t an option.

Good and respectful girls don’t walk away when someone who is clearly your elder and needs your help asks you to help. You help.

I’m realizing how we as women are programmed to do the right thing and “boys will be boys”. Because of that many women repress feelings. We walk around with wounds and scars thinking we deserve them instead of seeing that they were inflicted without our consent. I wasn’t responsible for that pedophile’s actions, and yet I felt responsible.

Never seeing that man again doesn’t change the fact that for a long time I had a reaction to any old white man in a wheelchair that came in my vicinity, never a young man, never a man of any other race.

So when people take lightly assaults that happen and are brought to light I cringe. If what happened to me took years to reconcile, and I never uttered a word of it, how much bravery does it take to come forth after a sexual assault, harassment or rape happens? How devastating must it be to get shrugged off or to watch your assailant get a lenient sentence, no sentence at all or a pat on the back because “boys will be boys”?

We need to give our girls permission to be strong warrior women. We need to let them be loud, rambunctious, unruly and obnoxious just as we allow our boys. Using the phrase “boys will be boys” while restraining our girls does them a disservice. Girls need be assertive in their purpose.

Listening when they speak and acting on what they say gives them the power they need to be strong. Not shrugging them off as “too emotional” or “girls”. Don’t overfeed the caretaker within ignoring the warrior. Let’s appropriately feed both the caretaker and the warrior. They are not mutually exclusive. They co-exist within her, society kills the warrior.

[wp_ad_camp_4]”Let girls be girls” should be said often and mean the same as it does for boys. Let girls own their bodies so they can choose to experience pleasure and report pain. Don’t push them into uncomfortable situations so they look “polite”, respect their feelings. Believe them when they say they’ve been hurt, don’t shrug off tears. Stop fearing the power within but allow that power to grow.

Throw out the double standard used in raising girls and empower them to know their feelings are valid. A woman’s natural instincts will always come into play but to be whole she needs to listen to the inner voice that says “yes” and the one that says “no”. We need to understand that those instincts are for her protection and should always be honored.

In my marriage, what makes me powerful is what makes my husband powerful. Mutual love, respect and the belief that the other is capable.

We need to let our girls know, too, that we love, respect and believe in their capabilities instead of molding them to play out parts imposed by society. Only then will there be true strength in society. Only then will the scales be balanced when it comes to our views about assault. Only then will we freely voice our opinions, show our feelings and build something remarkable together.

I’ve grown since I was ten. I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to be who I am and so have those who truly love me. Old white men in wheelchairs no longer scare me. . .


I was at the women’s march for you

Women's March | Sedruola Maruska

I live in a sleepy New England town with a population of about 8 thousand.

We live in a nice home, drive a van and the kids are part of a very good school system.

We go on vacation, travel to see family & enjoy a nice life in our sleepy town.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017 I went on my first protest march. The women’s march was a beautiful experience of unity & love.

I’m done having babies, so I didn’t march for my reproductive rights. I marched for my daughter, nieces & friends who don’t need to have their choice taken away by men in suits with no clue about a woman’s body.

Women's March | Sedruola Maruska

I have insurance so I can go get checked out as needed without feeling that I’ll need to ransom an ovary to do it. But there was a time when Planned Parenthood was my only option as a temporary worker with no insurance and very little money.

College for me was almost 30 years ago so assault on campus is not a personal concern. . . but it is if I consider that my nieces and their friends are currently in college and should be heard when they say they were assaulted. My son will one day be in college and he needs to know assault is not acceptable. My daughter will also one day be in college and she needs to feel safe going and being there. I can’t always be there to protect, guide and defend them.

[wp_ad_camp_4]I do not encounter the daily trials of hunger, abuse, gender discrimination or even racial discrimination that many do, so I could sit home and choose to believe “If it’s not my reality, it’s not really happening.” I chose not to do that. Why? Because I know that many that came before me marched, fought were beaten and died so I could have what I have today.

I want my children, and yours, to have tomorrow.

So, on Saturday, January 21, 2016 I went on my first march and became an activist! The Women’s March created in me an activist for women of color, lesbians, disabled women, aging women, young women, poor women & rich women. Because no matter how “safe”, “heard” or “privileged” you feel, you’re not.

I didn’t know what to expect. Having seen many “Protests gone wrong” I knew there was a slight chance of mayhem. I went anyway.

I knew my intentions, and the intentions of those with me, were to make our voices heard. There was no hate, just a sense of love and needing to do right for the coming generations.

[wp_ad_camp_5]So I marched and joined my voice with millions around the world:

  • For my son. He’s learning to respect those who respect him, stop when told “no” and stand up to bullies. He’s learning to be a good man by watching the men around him and aspiring to greatness by watching our leaders . . . I cannot let him watch a “leader” who undermines all that he’s learning to become.
  • For my daughter. She needs to know that there are no limits to what she can accomplish. She needs to know that her body is her own and no one she dates or votes for has the right to tell her what she should do with it. She needs to see and know that leaders are leaders because they hold high ideals. She needs to be safe on campus or on the streets.
  • For women of color who wake up every day to face this world with love & grace even though this world greets us with resistance. We know we and our children are targets for hate, yet we still rise, work and contribute to society.
  • For our right to have equal pay for equal work. We don’t need to be judged by the color of our skin, we need to be judged by the skills we bring to the table.
  • For my LGBT family and friends. They deserve to live their lives free from bias, full of love and free of violence. They deserve marriage, babies and all the same access as any of us do.
  • For women around the world. Because when our rights as women are eroded anywhere it weakens the rights of women everywhere. We are a wave rising together, and the number of women, who in their own countries joined the march, shows an understanding of the moral wrongs that need to be right.[wp_ad_camp_4]
  • For all women. Because human rights around the world are women’s rights and to have a man & cabinet that do not respect our rights is not okay.
  • For me. Because I needed to connect with others, men & women, who felt as strongly as I do that a racist, misogynistic person in the highest post in the land was not okay.

I marched for all women, even those who opposed the march, because in the end we will all benefit.

What good will it do?

If marching did no good, why would we keep exercising our right to do it? The march wasn’t the whole wad, it was only the beginning of a movement. The march was to galvanize and send a message, the real work comes after the march. It comes in the form of taking 10 actions in the next 100 days and doing our part in our worlds once we leave the march.

So, on Saturday, January 21, 2017 I marched because I believe that being a woman doesn’t mean second class, it means life. I marched to solidify my determination to do my part to have conversations, teach, love & support all women.

Ways to make a difference

  1. Call your representatives. You can email or contact on social media, but nothing makes an impact as much as calling and having their phones ring off the hook. You can easily find your representatives number by Going To This Website  and entering your zip code! They do listen.
  2. Join an organization that’s already working for you. Here are a few suggestions: Women’s March, ACLU, SwingLeft, Action Network , Injustice Boycott
  3. Learn as much as you can about what’s happening on major issues: Climate Change, Women’s Health, Healthcare, National Security
  4. Learn about your upcoming mid-term elections and who your candidate is. Help them by spreading the word
  5. Start an action group in your area by just banding with others and deciding what your main cause will be.

There are many ways to make sure your voice is heard that are easy but effective. Learn what they are and take action.

I feel a lot of frustration, but I’ve decided that channeling my frustration into action keeps me from feeling sick, useless and a victim to circumstance.

We cast our vote so we have all the right to work so our votes counts. How will you join the movement?

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