What if, universally, feminine was a synonym for strong and masculine a synonym for weak? Would the color pink be worn more frequently and crying be considered courageous and the pathetically labeled “feminine” careers of mother, teacher and administrative assistant be highly competitive, sought-after jobs? Would men constantly fear for their safety while women only worry about rape in jail, as that is the only time such a violent situation for a woman is fathomable?
What if, universally, happiness was equated to a rainy day while sunny days meant sadness? Would we welcome the darkness of clouds and thundering lightening and the soothing raindrops that collide with glazed pavement? Would we frown in the presence of blue skies because warm temperatures meant things were too easy and “perfect weather” meant we wouldn’t feel any pain? Would we constantly seek the hard times and inconvenient times and uncomfortable times in order to learn and grow and evolve?
What if, universally, homosexual meant normal and heterosexual meant dysfunctional? Would we cringe when men and women kiss or a young boy and girl hold hands or an opposite sex couple obtains a marriage certificate? Would we call something “uncool” or “ridiculous” or “unwanted”, “so straight”? Would we shamelessly make fun of men for not identifying themselves at a “top” or a “bottom” or aggressively chastise women who refuse to label themselves “lipstick” or “butch”?
What if, universally, broken meant put together and perfect meant damaged? Would we strive to fall apart and hope that we experience heartache and seek the ones who are taping together the pieces from previous relationships? Would we embrace our flaws and discuss our downfalls and distrust anyone who refuses to do either?
What if, universally, victim meant power and attacker meant weak? Would the term “slut shaming” disappear while assailant-blaming reigns supreme? Would an attacker’s attire be criticized and his flirting abilities judged and his signals deciphered for better or for worse? Would broken bones be sources of strength and black eyes badges of honor, as it would be known that the one who placed them on the victim’s skin is the impotent, incapable, helpless one.
Then again, take a look around. Military families are being denied death benefits because the government is shut down while members of congress continue to receive paychecks. An entire country is held ransom when certain members of a political party do not get their way. Veterans cannot see the memorials they shaped with their sacrifices and built with their blood and cherish with their memories, for that is where their brothers in arms are remembered. Mothers desperately relying on WIC do not receive baby formula and government employees do not receive their paychecks and monuments built for the people are now being withheld from the people.
Shutdown doesn’t mean an impenetrable defense anymore, it means bargaining chip. Public service doesn’t mean continuously doing your job anymore, it means withholding the public’s needs. Humanity doesn’t mean living, breathing, invaluable beings anymore, it means power providers.
There’s no need to imagine what the world would be like if meanings were reversed. They already are. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong ones.
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