She gave birth to her firstborn ‘cause she walked the aisle, and the hand on her clock stopped as her work of nurture began for her first born child. She just walks into that room, a smile on her face and groceries tucked into her arms, she heads for the kitchen ‘cause THAT, THAT is where she belongs. The breadwinner hands her money to buy bread, ‘cause he needs her to be well fed, and all she has to do is smile and do her work ‘cause that is her duty, and as Meghan Trainor says, all he has to do is tell her she’s beautiful so she can get that special lovin’.
She expects no pay for the work she does ‘cause isn’t that just barbaric? Would you look down on her if she took that money from her husband? For doing housework? Oh well, isn’t that tragic. To cook, clean and feed, isn’t that her job? I mean, ‘cause aren’t trophy wives hot?
The look on your face doesn’t seem so pleasant, I’m sorry did I anger you? Does it make you resent? If so then listen up. Remember that feeling and take a leap into your verstehen. Imagine yourself in her shoes. ‘cause she can’t seem to get out of hers, ‘cause they’re stuck in the kitchen just as her clock that hasn’t moved.
She can’t move and her lips unable to form words ‘cause oppression is right in front of her screaming at her face, maybe once he heard, will he show her grace? She cries for freedom so he gives her freedom to go out for work, but at what cost? At what loss? Equal rights is what he claims as she goes for work. Yes she works, works , works, touching the glass ceiling she still works. Same occupation, but less recognition. At the end of the day she picks up her child from daycare and drives home only to meet another nightmare. Her clock is stuck, she’s still at work. There seems to be no luck, she turns to her parents, they think it’s a joke.
Yes she’s back to square one, no complaints. She cleans and cleans until there are no stains. She cooks for her husband and child, smiling once again the burdens pile. She’s told that her life is a gift, but Anne Oakley screams ‘Triple Shift!’.
The sound of the car pulling up and her hand immediately goes for the food, preparing the table neatly for her husband coming back from work. Tired, he sits down and smiles at his wife, telling her the food was good. And she does back to work once again to put a blanket on her sleeping child. Not done with work the clock still stuck. She goes back to wash the dishes in the sink that’s piled. She looks are the distorted image of the clock, in which the hand is forever numb, her house holds no comfort as she works till dawn not knowing when to stop.
Once again she gets up within a few hours of sleep to her child’s cry, wondering when The Clock’s hand will move, no one hears her cry. Her husband wakes to see their child in her arms, sees nothing wrong. Smiling, he shuts off the alarm. The perfect image he sees, she thinks it’s distorted but her lips are shut as oppression speaks. Same thing yet again, he eats breakfast cooked by his wife, and she says ‘have a good day’ but she doesn’t need one back ‘cause she knows she want to fight.
The clock still stuck her work began, she looks at the hand that hasn’t moved much like her work that never ends. A woman she is, declared the society. To confirm, sparks her anxiety. Her work is insignificant, ‘cause she’s just a wife and once again society screams, ‘it’s just your life’.
Her desire to fight earns her no dollars, ‘cause in the end oppression fights and her words she swallows. Her story goes unheard, like many others that are sealed, wishing the clock of labour to change and the hand to move, so once again she can feel. Her desire to end the never ending cycle, for the hand to move once again to escape the reality of a woman’s title.
A woman she is, and so as a woman she works. The hours on the clock mean nothing due to the constant labour she performs.
The same reality is faced by other women, labour doesn’t stop as their clocks have also seemed to halt.
A woman’s scream fills the air
“One more push!” echoes the doctor
And with a final bellowing cry, the exhausted new mother collapses backwards.
“Congratulations,” chimes the nurse, holding a brand new life in her hands, “It’s a girl!”
And the woman?
Well, the woman sighs.
The only thing she can truly say, considering the society she lives in, is, “Oh, I’m so sorry, baby girl.”
Her baby girl is going to grow up into a world
Where she will be labelled ‘lesser’.
Her baby is going to grow up, thrust into a world where she will be pushed aside to someone she doesn’t recognize.
Her baby girl-her precious baby girl- is going to grow up without knowing who she really is. Without knowing who she really wants to be. What she really wants to do. It’s not fair, it really isn’t.
But what can she do about it? What can she do to make her life easier?
Nothing. Nothing, but fight. To make things right.
Why? Why, you ask?
Because her daughter could be part of the 65 million girls in the world who aren’t in school.
Because her daughter could be part of the 17 million of whom will likely never go to school in their lifetimes.
Because her daughter could enter the workplace and only earn 83% of what her brother will earn for the same work.
She’s going to go to hell and back to fight for her daughter’s rights, to work and to be. She’s going to bang her fists on the doors that keep stopping her from being who she wants, she’s going to kick and scream for her daughter to be able to be who she wants to be.
When her daughter’s nametag reads ‘NOT GOOD ENOUGH’, bruised fists blooming red with blood from trying to shatter the glass ceiling-she will fight that barrier that is stopping her, she will fight to get what she rightfully earned, what she deserves and what many other women do. She will fight to make a difference.
Because of this wretched pay gap, this blatant marginalization of women in the workforce, the complete unfairness of it all to the women who work hard to earn, to support.
A century. Since the 1900s, this inequality has been prominent to the women around the world. A century; a century that could have been spent rearing the dragons in our girls’ bellies instead of teaching them to extinguish their scorching flames, to manicure their salient claws, to shut up and look pretty.
You can ask why again. Now sit down, and let us tell you.
It is because in the 1940s, it took 16 million men leaving their jobs to fight their wars, for female participation in the workforce to reach the highest it had ever been. It is because through the 1950s to the 1970s, during the roots of the Quiet Revolution, women’s education was still belittled. Even though it became more common that women were finally able to go to college and pursue a higher education, they only did it to get a husband.
They were expected to be tied down to marriage, to home life, along with the expectations of going to work. The so-called MRS degree as in, “missus”.
Even if, or when, she finds a husband, has a family, and has a job, her life will become a balancing act; Oakley’s Triple Shift comes into play and this means triple the work, triple the shame; trying to juggle the jobs, making an effort to be the perfect wife, to become the flawless mother, to become the ‘ideal worker’. She becomes a circus act with the patriarchy as her ring master.
So this poem, this speech, thus calling, us is for the women who handle their wolves, who handle their lions and their fire with unwavering will and defiance. The belladonnas who are not just a Quiet Revolution but a loud one; the ones who speak too much and love too loud. This is for the women who came, who saw, who conquered, with their soft, fierce flowers; bloomed in the face of adversity; resilient rivers as much as they are the ocean, as much as they are the storm.
The other day I got a BBC notification on my phone: “at least 68 children among 126 killed in bus bombing.” I didn’t have to read any further to know that this article was about the Syrian Civil War. Unapologetically, I swiped the notification and diverted my attention to ‘more important’ things — my Instagram likes, my email, and who had tagged me in memes on Facebook. You know. The things that actually affect me, and thus the things that actually matter.
Yes, there was an underlying feeling that would have, I suppose, felt guilt if I’d bothered delving into the hollowing pit in my stomach (that seemed to fill itself up in seconds). But I’m also pretty sure that my subconscious decided this matter wasn’t worth mulling over. After all, the war going on in another part of the world has no direct effect on me, right? Life goes on. What bothers me, looking back now, is how nonchalant I was about this despite being the person who used to constantly read content about the crisis in Syria and share those articles on my social media. Yeah, I’m that person.
Or so I thought.
This phenomenon, as I coincidentally learned in Sociology class a couple of days later, is desensitization. Google defines it as ‘the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative, aversive or positive stimulus after repeated exposure to it.’ It applies to just about everything: war and violence, global warming, the Kardashians, even clickbait like ‘you’ll never believe what happens next!’ or ‘dermatologists hate him!’
And I have to admit that it does make sense. Constantly having the same thing cutting into your newsfeed like a persistent, sharp knife will make you indifferent to it. Humans, it seems, detest uniformity (even when it comes to modern day genocide). That is the only theory I can possibly muster to explain why so many important issues go unrecognized in this day and age. It’s an ironic coincidence that the height of purposeful ignorance dares to exist in the so-called ‘Information Age’ — where one can dig up the most elusive of information at lightning speed.
So why do we continue to do this? Yes, there is the whole psychological aspect of desensitization but what about people who are aware of their own negligence and make no attempt to change this? Is it simply because we lack sympathy? Because we don’t relate to or understand the gravity of these situations? I highly doubt it. After all, we are humans and we usually choose to believe that what sets us apart from other animals is that we are empathetic creatures (an ironically primitive concept which, by the way, is slowly being denounced with more scientific discovery of animals having empathy. So much for mankind being the special little snowflakes!).
No, I believe that the reason why we choose to ignore the plight of the Yemeni or the systematic injustice faced by people in other parts of the world, for example, is because we are fatalistic creatures. We think that there is no point in getting involved in things that don’t affect us. Most people away from the conflict think that surely, there must be someone else more powerful, wealthy and accessible who can help these people. Pin your guilt onto an unknown entity to make yourself think there’s nothing you can do. This is also, by the way, completely normal. The more privileged part of the human race has come to develop a dependency culture, where the bystander effect (when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening during emergencies) runs notoriously. This cycle has been bred over generations and generations of purposeful ignorance, so it is understandable that a person is conditioned to ignore everything that happens around them.
However, the cycle needs to be broken. As descendants of said Information Age, we need to take it upon ourselves to gain back our empathy and try to make a difference in any way we can. The pen is mightier than the sword, and in this case, our pen is our presence and voices. Our paper? Our social environment. Online platforms like blogs, social media, online petitions. Even the tiniest effort could make a difference, if one is persistent.
It was William Shakespeare who said, “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This was sociologically explained by a man called Erving Goffman, who deduced that people are simply acting in accordance with the roles assigned to them: daughter, wife, mother, Instagram meme account owner. What both of these two men have failed to highlight in a more important manner is the roles an actor takes on by themselves. Most of the time, these are not assigned or enforced. A free spirited hippie. A social activist. A cycle-of-desensitization breaker. So watch that video of war footage. ‘Angry’ react when you see something that enrages you. Share that article that moved you and tell people about it over your coffee dates and family dinners, too.
The world is not going to wait for you, so don’t wait for the world. It starts with you.
The Junior Arts Fest of 2017 was based on the theme of ancient civilisations; students dressed in costumes based on a civilisation of their choice, like the Greek, Roman, and Chinese civilisations of the past. A few students arrived dressed as pirates, and even as Queen Cleopatra.
Like the senior arts fest held a while before, this fest also consisted of activities like rap battles, quiz events, and charades. The most memorable rap battle took place between Layath and Aya, who were dressed as George Washington and King George the Third, respectively.
Every school has that one feature that is seen to be “striking” which ensures it stands out from the rest of them. It perhaps even gives them an identity. Billabong High’s unique feature and event is undoubtedly the Annual Arts Fest. Since 2015, it has been the single most successful event to be held in the school, and has increased in prominence with every passing year. The idea behind the Arts Fest is to create a “humanities haven” in Billabong where Arts students, as a minority, have a platform to explore the varying and eye-opening strengths of History, Sociology, Travel and Tourism, Global Perspectives, and Geography through a range of activities. This includes small-scale events such as charades, speeches, and quizzes, to the intense debates, poetry recitations, and of course, the iconic rap battle at the very end.
This year’s event was on the theme “Ages of Revolution,” where both students and teachers dressed up as characters from differing revolutionary ages, including the French Revolution, waves of feminism, and even the feudalistic era. After weeks of planning and overcoming tedious obstacles, we began the event with a speech that highlighted the significance of Humanities, both as individuals and as a school, for refinement of the world. The BHIS Humanities Department was also proud to inaugurate its blog and magazine — the one which you are perusing today — called Invictus, meaning unconquered.
This was followed by the quiz and charades, where students from grade 9 to 12 faced questions that were a combination of all Humanities subjects at once. A mix of the simplest and trickiest questions surely held the mood in the school hall, which was magnificently decorated with canvases of historical eras that matched perfectly with the hanging fairy lights and dyed cloth from the ceiling.
A good hour or so of quiz and charades called for a break, during which we lined up to take photos and polaroid pictures of our costumes, as well as to prepare for the more energetic events up ahead. With renewed vigour, we returned to the fest with the next event: poetry recitation, with the topic being “women and labor,” during which students delivered heartfelt poems regarding the hardships women face as laborers. A few tears were spotted in the audience as well! With tough competition, 3 places were awarded to well deserving participants, making poetry perhaps the most prized activity of the day. Then, lunch was served at last — a huge thank you to the caterers that filled the void in our tummies!
After this event was the debate, during which our best debaters came up on stage and presented various arguments regarding the statement: “Is Communism practical?” This broad topic displayed several opinions on the popular notion of Communism and Socialism that many of us seem to be sharing memes about. The competitive mood amplified further with the next event, impromptu speaking, which displayed a considerable amount of talent. Students imitated characters — one participant almost fell off the stage during her impersonation!
The day came to an end with the epic Rap Battle. Now let me state a thing or two about Billabong and rap battles. The infamous rapping came into being in 2015, and since then we have never missed the chance of showing off the “rap god” skills. Thus, as expected, it was a blast with Hitler rapping against Putin, Blackbeard and Maynard hitting off some verses, and Karl Marx and a millennial dissing each other. We surely couldn’t have had a better end to Ages of Revolution, which in turn became a pretty revolutionary day itself.
Our trip to China was, to say the least, amazing.
The infrastructure, the busy streets and the hushed murmurs of citizens walking along on the gravel street is something I don’t think I can ever forget.
The day consisted of the actual traveling; we went to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in the early morning, before the sun even rose. It was just about 8 o’clock when we boarded the one hour and forty five minute flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and then stayed for transit and went to Beijing, Shanghai on another flight that took about a little over eight hours. By the time we left the airport and boarded the bus, we were exhausted. We spent half the ride to the hotel to go to a cheap McDonald’s, had some burgers, and headed straight for the hotel. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.
Our first day was the walk up the Great Wall of China. It was quite a difficult feat, and many had given up after passing two towers. The scenery was gorgeous; tall, large trees swayed in the wind and sharp rocks surrounded us. After we came down, we treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and coffee that was sold by a shop right by the entrance. I was fortunate to have been in the group in second place, and when we’d gotten back to the hotel, I was crying out of relief from the sheer pain I experienced from walking so much.
The next morning came, and we made our way to the Forbidden City; there was a bustling crowd, people carrying hats and toys and selling them, and we got to buy whatever we wanted before we entered. The walk through the Forbidden City was tiring, and I was completely knackered by the time we were done, but it was amazing. Tall, red and yellow buildings were scattered around, long pathways and beautiful architectures were all I could see. Our tour guide, Nancy, had spent the entire time telling us the history of the city.
When it was our third day, it was time for some business. We visited the Embassy of Maldives in China and got to showcase our culture through a traditional Dhivehi dance, while some of the Chinese people that were there played instruments and gave us some information about their culture. We ended the day by learning how to make paper kites; something that was surprisingly difficult, but the end product looked beautiful.
The next day would be our last in Beijing. Our first trip was to an IB school, where we got the chance to split into groups, take a tour and visit some classes. Pairs of two from the school’s higher grades had attended to every single group, and we got to take our time and participate in a Q&A session with them, something we highly enjoyed. After that, we had lunch and set off for the automobile company. We were taken around the factory, and we got to observe how cars were manufactured.
Fifth day in China rolled around, and we didn’t spend the day doing anything other than traveling to Shanghai on a bullet train, and by the time we got to our hotel, it was already late. We didn’t do much in this city other than visit some landmarks and go shopping.
During our sixth day, we got to go see the Shanghai TV tower, and there was a room filled with colourful umbrellas, splashes of colour everywhere on the ceiling. As we entered, we got to go to the very top to where there was a glass floor. We got to walk on it (although, honestly, it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done), and go to the floor below it that had a glass wall that acted as a window. Walking around the entire circle just showed us the beautiful landscape of Shanghai. We then visited a large shopping complex (not large enough to be a mall), and spent the rest of the afternoon buying clothes, accessories and even headphones.
Our seventh day was spent purely on nothing but fun and we headed to an amusement park as soon as all of us were ready. We spent the day riding roller coasters (I thought I was going to fall off!), walking through haunted houses (group hugs always make you feel better during these) and screaming on the gyro drop. We spent the last hour visiting the stores and buying things such as books, anime merchandise and even childish toys.
The next day would be our last not only in Shanghai, but also in China, before we headed back home. The first thing we did was visit another shopping complex, where many of us got calligraphy artwork done and bought cheap headphones and roamed around the entire area. When we got to the hotel, we spent the next hour packing up and getting all dressed up for the dinner we were having at another hotel. It was the most amazing dinner I’d had in all of China, and I had an amazing time conversing with my friends, having dinner and spending our last few moments taking selfies.
We spent the next day traveling back home and when I was wrapped up in my sheets, my luggage forgotten on the floor; I could only wish to go back once more.
Our trip to China will certainly not be our last, but it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had my entire life, and I got to make many new friends, up my standard of knowledge, even learning how to negotiate prices!
The trip not only made me discover more about myself and those around me, but made me more aware of how different our cultures could be, yet how accepting we are — and should be — of one another.
Billabong High’s teams for the International History Bee and Bowl travelled to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE over the course of five days. Our group consisted of two teams; the Varsity team and the Junior Varsity team. After our arrival in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the 15th of March, we participated in the competition on the following Friday, and spent the rest of our trip sightseeing and celebrating the Junior Varsity team’s achievement. It was an incredible excursion.
Day One – 15th March, 2017
On the first day of the trip, we spent our time resting after our journey and studying for the quiz. We had been up early, and arrived at our hotel in Abu Dhabi around 6pm. Everyone was tired, but excited to have arrived and to start preparing.
Day Two – 16th March, 2017
Both teams spent the next day the same way. Now that we were fully rested, the group was working hard to make sure we were all set for the competition the next day. Apart from our practicing, the day was uneventful — we stayed in our hotel all day.
Day Three – 17th March, 2017
On Friday, we arrived at the Brighton College of Abu Dhabi at about 9am. Our teams were as excited as we were nervous, though as the competition began and then progressed, our confidence grew. The quiz was incredibly fun and a great learning experience. We met students from schools in Abu Dhabi, explored the vast campus, and even competed between our two teams. To top it all off, we left the competition with a win in second place for the Junior Varsity team.
Day Four – 18th March, 2017
Now that the event was over, the team went on for a tour around Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the bus. We visited the beautiful and massive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and went to the top of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
Day Five – 19th March, 2017
The next day, we visited a mall to do some shopping before our main activity for the day, which was the desert safari. The safari was an awesome adventure — we drove over sand dunes, rode a camel, enjoyed a barbecue dinner, and watched performances of belly dancing, a fire show, and more.
Day Six – 20th March, 2017
Everyone was sad to be leaving Dubai on the last day, as we had had such a great time on the trip. At the airport, the teams got to explore the duty free section for some time before indulging in a meal from McDonalds and boarding our flight back to Male’.