By Engelberta Yue.
When you were an infant and struggled to walk, I was there. I held your hand and cleaned the vomit and unsanitary means aboard the vessels as you sailed across the seas. I saved you from my father when it came down to your head between his club and the rocks of the earth, and I ventured out of my way to understand your way of life. I built a home for you, taught you how to feed yourself, and nursed you into the strong, valiant individual you’ve become, but you were not satisfied with what you had and took up the sword, so I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me to stay away.
When you rebelled against your mother, I took your side and nursed you through her blows. I followed you in your regiments and served you meals, washed your clothes, and nursed you in your wounds. I made it my priority to devote my life to your cause though you had no name and no inheritance, and still I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me to stay away from the battlefield.
When you became restless with the life I gave you, you betrayed me. You hunted me down like a witch and accused me of despicable evils and murdered my sisters. You believed that I had consorted with the devil and that I was more susceptible to sins and evil, but you were wrong. Yet still, through it all, I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me to forget.
When you became independent, I watched proudly on as you hoisted the banner I made in commemoration of our victory and I wept tears of joy for your freedom. Though you chose to take the credit, I obeyed and allowed you to build our nation without me, believing that you had both our interests at heart. I constantly wrote to you and pleaded with you to “remember the ladies”, so still, I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me that you knew what was best.
When you fought amongst your brothers, I stayed by your side, treated your wounds, and formed my own little army as you prepared for another fight. My already feeble heart broke as the nation we sought to create began to break off into factions right before my eyes. Though we were again victorious, I reprimanded your inappropriate antics and ignorance to the sufferings of our colored kin and often reminded you that their rights were important as well. When you lashed out in retaliation, I let you have your way and waited patiently as you disregarded me and refused to let me say my peace.
When you left chivalry and pursued the disillusionment of material wealth, I sought to defend those whom you mistreated – the poor and the foreign. I built settlement houses to care for those whom you ignored and I wrote letters and journals in hopes that I could open your eyes to those in neglect. When you prioritized your parties and unimaginable wealth, even my change in character and appearance did nothing to draw attention to my needs, as your focus was heartbreakingly selfish. I put myself out there in hopes that you would remember me, but still, you didn’t, so I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me to conform.
When we had our falling out, it felt like I was alone against the world. I felt powerless, voiceless, and helpless as I finally realized the control you held over me. I no longer felt loved in our relationship, and I saw that for a long time, our union had not been equal as well. So, I distanced myself and began to rally my sisters and my friends. I drafted a new Declaration and passed a resolution that stated, “all men and women are created equal”. I watched as my legislation fought its way through your courts and saw it struck down over and over again. Nevertheless, I persisted. I saw myself rising with much more vigor as this plea became a demand, and I witnessed you waver as my influence regained its strength. You ratified my proposition and our nation cheered as you had finally liberalized our rights and remembered our romance and partnership. I had waited fifty-two years for my voice, but the moment was short-lived. I soon realized that I had so much more to do, but for now, I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me that it was enough.
When you found your wings to soar, I languished to rejoice with you. But you sought other interests and I flew across the oceans alone. When you found your strength to once more fight for the core beliefs of what it meant to be human, I rallied our children and propelled our nation to victory. I saved what I could at home for you to win abroad and was a constant reminder to our country that “we could do it”! I supported you in one of the greatest achievements of the century as you flew man to the moon; an act that would have been impossible without my help. In this victory that we shared, I was willing to celebrate our achievement and ignore the lack of credit I received, and yet again, I waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me you had done it.
When you became arrogant in your business and ignorant to our world, I had enough. I was fed up with your conceit and your tendency of egocentricity, so I wrote about the atrocities you’ve begun to commit, about how your methods were killing our ecosystem and fellow inhabitants on earth. I was sick of you taking advantage of everything and everyone and I was sick of having waited patiently as you disregarded me and told me to stop my nonsense.
Now, I see that I could no longer continue to wait patiently as you disregarded me and told me what to do.
When you finally pleaded for me to return to you, I was no longer the same person from three centuries past. Though you granted my dreams of having a seat beside you in your meetings, I would no longer hold my tongue but instead see to it that you hold yours as you listen to my grievances. I was there every step of the way along your path. I fought in every battle you trudged through and I was there as you declared independence. I was willing to serve when we were needed to defend democracy and preserve humanity. I didn’t sit at home and simply cook and clean. I worked every second, every day for this nation and for our future. I built inventions that have furthered technology and I was among you scholars, activists, and leaders. I have stood patiently by your side and labored for ninety-seven long years, yet still I am disregarded as you continue to tell me who I am.
Through the gender wage gap, you tell me I am not valued, that my work isn’t worth yours. We do the same work; admit it, sometimes even better on our part, yet we receive only eighty percent of your earning. Statistics state that we will have to wait another one hundred and thirty-five years for our work to be perceived as equal. You preached the doctrine of equality hundreds of years ago, but the evidence begs to differ. So, tell me. What do you have that makes you worth more than me?
Through the lack of assurance of maternity leave, you tell me that I cannot have both family and work. I must choose between a paycheck and caring for my loved ones. What kind of sense is this? It is obvious the decision I must make, but should there have been a choice at all?
Through the gender-based taxes and policies, you tell me that my sex is my fault, that having this body is my burden, and that the necessary means of which I should be entitled to are actually my “luxuries”. Ridiculous! Through all the times of which I had supported you, I am always left to fend for myself.
You may have kept me quiet, but there has been dissent inside me all along. Take a moment and let that sink in. We were supposed to be equal and we were supposed to be partners. So, tell me. Why in the world am I still asking for you to listen?
All I wanted was for us to be companions, equal in life, in love, and in prosperity. You have the power to share all that you hold; yet still, I see myself as the one who has always had to sacrifice for our relationship. We were supposed to be partners, but it had never been truly so.
If you think back to all the times we’ve had together, remember that I was with you. I was there to help you grow, and now, I ask for the same. America, listen to my voice and take a good look at yourself once again. Because, for the last time, I beseech you, to remind yourself of the words we wrote, to remember that all men and women are created equal. Let me join you once more, and take on yet another battle to end the war on gender inequality and abolish the discrimination that tears us apart.
Therefore, I will no longer wait patiently as you disregard me evermore.
An American Woman