Passports and Predjudice

He said, “Jane Austen is terrible! She didn’t understand women, or men for that matter, although I can forgive her the latter as she was a spinster. But I understand women better than she did.”

I said, “And sir, you just proved how little you understand women.”

I have grown to realize that I am deeply suspicious of men who claim to understand women. Anyone who makes such rash generalizations is bound to be entirely stupid in all rights. To say one understands women, the fairer and more contradictory sex, is simply pompous and self congratulatory. This fellow is nothing more than an average academic. He who looked for a role in life in which he could pontificate and spend hours over thinking the role of a loaf of bread on a dinner table and never actually needing to find the usefulness of his own discourse.

As much of my travel abroad has been rooted in educational pursuits, I have often found myself afflicted by the mindful ambitions of others.

As an undergraduate I was given the opportunity to travel to Strassbourg, France on the German border to represent my College at the BCA Peace Conference. My group was generally made up of young minds aiming to become wizened heads of states and leaders of NPOs. The severity with which they met general conversation was unnerving and rather boring. Shopping was capitalism, television was propaganda, and sex was the ritualistic condemnation of women. Even the addition of alcohol did not change the general abuse of language, instead of injecting gaiety into their tone it simply bolstered the volume of their declarations.

I am a princess and these serious conversations have an expiration date on my shelf. (this way of thinking was rather ironic on this trip as our group leader was a literal princess of a Middle Eastern nation not far from our meeting point.) This isn’t to suggest that a princess cannot be smart or academically inclined but rather to say that there is more to life than sitting around and discussing everything that is wrong with the world. I have met countless people on these trips who have spent years living in the far off corners of the world only to return with a single photograph and a tale of nights spent in the same pub with the same ex-pats having the same conversation. The great adventurers of the 1920s and 1600s were movers. Diaries were filled and thoughts were spun into great narratives and modern doctrine but they were never sitting, never still. This weekend was trying for me as there was lots of exploring to do and a lot of sitting was being done. (for those who know me they will also know how deeply i adore sleeping and general laziness but there is a time and a place for such things) An unfortunate moment occurred one night while we had a nightcap in the hotel bar, two students, who later turned out to be NPO organizers and panelists, asked us each what we intended to do with our lives. I am a proud member of the undeclared. One of those people who showed up in college and picked the most generalized major one could think of, and passed, and who then went on through life with no real direction hoping things would eventually hash out into a well paying job and the supposed happiness that goes with financial security.

I was on this particular adventure as the resident journalist and had already been branded a traitor in the first panel discussion. One should never trust a write. (being called out for being a bad seed in front of heads of state and business was oddly exhilarating if not a bit insulting) clearly the organizer has not done his due diligence to see that my portfolio consisted of assignments on movies, shoes, and snow days. So when asked to describe my future in ten SAT words or less I was a bit lost. I didn’t know what i wanted to do. I like philanthropy as much as the next person but it had become clear to me after years of Girl Scouts that one must have an even temper and good disposition for these jobs and I have neither. Not to mention i tend to be a bit of a capitalist when it comes down to it, i believe in the power of a lot of money. This is essentially what I said to the group. “I don’t really know. Whatever pays the most.”
There is nothing quite like the feeling of eight pairs of eyes starring at you and thinking, ‘well she’s obviously dumb… And possibly evil.’
I was joking a bit when I said it, after all when is anyone ever held to what they said in a bar. But after being judged so harshly I felt I needed to defend it, and then I found I actually meant it. The other students at the table planned on running orphanages, teaching abroad, fighting for women’s rights, and putting their ivy league education to good use. All i could think was, ‘great. Good for you. When your NPO flatlines look me up and maybe if I’ve forgotten your accusatory stares I’ll cut you a check.’


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