Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The MCAT, God be praised, is over. I was expecting it to be a long test--I'd reckoned on 6 hours--but imagine my surprise when I arrived at the testing center and realized that it was instead a 9 hour ordeal. Well. I'd completely forgotten to factor in the writing sample portion of the test, and to make allowances for the sundry registration and administrative tasks that inevitably accompany such a test. Thus, I spent the majority of my Saturday (from 8 in the morning until 5 in the evening) in the grip of this...this...thing that is the Medical College Admissions Test. Making it somewhat more bearable: the fact that I feel I did well.

And then, today (two days later) I took the make-up final exam for my Organic Chemistry course from last semester. Frankly, I think I'll be proud of my grade when all's said and done; I busted my ass over the summer, studying like a champ. The sole stain on an otherwise satisfactory exercise was the fact that there was a question on the exam (a 20 point question, fully 10% of the total grade) that focused on information that was NEVER. MENTIONED. IN. CLASS. We never covered Fischer projections, never. No one ever intimated that they were important; they were never on any of the tests; we skipped over the sections of the book that covered them. And yet there it was, crouched like a malevolent beast on the first page of the exam: A Fischer projection of glucose. Damnation.

What else is there to say? I had an interesting experience tonight (more than a little frightening, truth be told). I was out running a little after dark--you could still see lingering rays on the horizon--and of course there were all manner of inebriated students out celebrating the last days of freedom before the beginning of the semester. My main beef with drunks on the sidewalk is this: When I'm running, most people at least pretend to move out of my way, giving me a few centimeters' space to pass (centimeters--ha. Now I know I've been in science for too long). People who are drunk never do. They plow blindly forward, or stop, trying to get their bearings before staggering a few more yards. These particular drunk people, two men and a woman, were on the sidewalk on a fairly unpeopled stretch of my usual loop. As I approached, one of them tripped, spilling her drink. "You dropped your beer!" another one cried, laughing. Then one of the men--I'm not certain which one--saw me coming towards them. "Hey, you!" he called. "I love you!" The other one called, "I love you! I would fuck you!" I kept running, passing them by running on the curb. "I would totally fuck you!" I didn't say anything. I started to worry--what if he followed me? Should I turn around, which would mean passing them again, or just keep going? Was it my fault for running after dark, alone? For wearing my shorts?
I don't think most men--even 'sensitive, evolved' men--really understand what it is to be a woman in American society. To have to set up a 'battle plan' every time you go out after dark, not to feel safe (and not only not to feel it--but really, genuinely not to BE safe) if you go out alone. For all our talk about the horrors Afghani women endured under the Taliban, their confinement to their homes and so on--and to which, by the way, I am hardly comparing my situation--we are remarkably unmoved by the fact that most women feel confined to their
homes after dark here, too. At least if unaccompanied by someone else--maybe not by a male relative, as is the case in the Middle East, but still by a 'guardian' of sorts. So, to avoid being harrassed, I have to give up running after dark and doing other things I want to do? I realize it's in my best interest to be careful, and for the most part I am, but giving up freedom for a dubious security? Fuck that.

For information on dealing with harrassers and abusers, and coping with the aftereffects: The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Check it out at www.rainn.org

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you read Feministing? It talks about how all women have a "rape plan" as in we all wait until we're at our cars to unlock them. How we carry keys as weapons while walking to our cars. How we all sort of expect any man we see when walking alone to be a potential rapist. It's sad but true.