As a 20-year-old coed at UCSD the newness of each day as an adventure, still had its momentum. The first female in my family to go to college, to move out at 18-years-old was at once my second-generation-immigrant family’s dream and nightmare. My first year of away-from-home loneliness was defeated by my freedom. I sucked it up, and watched other ingénues file out one by one—until there was 1 Chicana for every 17 Chicanos in my class of 100 in a sea of 7000 students. Freedom meant learning to think and speak critically, handling finances, self-management, validating my culture, being creative, making wise choices, defining myself and not appearing to have been too sheltered by my Christian-freak family.
Being away from family also gave the freedom to live completely bacchanalian, if one chose it. It was an undergraduate rite of passage “to thy own-self be true” and part of the experience needed on the road to where you were headed. By the time some of my high school friends became freshmen, I was their mentor and resolver of all acculturating problems.
I’m not sure how the situation came about–my high school friend Danny taunting me into asking Jose a 22-year old senior to buy us beer, because we were too young. I was uncomfortable, knowing that I would owe Jose some favor that I could not pay back—because he was obviously interested in me. The night ride down Torrey Pines Road in the back of a dark VW bus with Jose and my napping, assigned-sentry Raul, with John as shot-gun and Danny driving, seemed excruciatingly long. Occasionally Danny would pull back the blue Hawaiian print curtain that divided the cab from the carpeted surf den to say, “Is everything ok back there?” followed by a wink and grin at me. He knew I went reluctantly and this was his silly gesture to make light of it, while protecting my honor.
I was reared to be a feminist. My grandmother and mother had been self-sufficient, working musicians. As soon as my mother could speak and stand, she was singing duets with her mother for her own money. She encouraged me to think for myself and never allowed me to do house work—-telling my dad that I would not be serving anyone, so I did not need housekeeping skills. So much advice from my mother and hopes for me to find my inner human— then how easily I fell into getting ‘pimped’ for beer.
How common it is for young girls and women to be used by our culture. How acceptable it is. We drive by Slauson Boulevard dotted by teenaged and young prostitutes and say nothing. Young women who are not even old enough to make life-long decisions forced into twisted management by men who also have no other recourses. These women and girls trained to view a skewed world by their benefitting handlers, come from sketchy homes possibly are even human-trafficked. How easily we all fall into place—the pimps, the hos and the johns.
I have a friend who is a judge at the David Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center on Central Avenue. She passes by Slauson each day, seeing some of the girls who have been in her court—released and back to ‘it’. She sees that it is difficult to help when court counseling and recommendations have to be made in a public forum, in front of the girls’ “managers”. Even harder is the little amount of resources available to them. No help to escape the clutches of their past or their present. Over lunch, I ask my judge friend “Shouldn’t prostitution be legalized?’ She looks at me appalled.
I think this, because it seems to me that part of the social okay-ness about the current system is that ‘men have their needs’ and that’s it. Realistically, will that ever change? Will the need for prostitution ever be extinguished? Reportedly there are thousands of human trafficked women brought into town for super-bowl—American men require it. I can’t pass judgment on the need either way—thank God that’s not my job. I do pass judgment on children and women being forced into slavery to satisfy ‘men’s needs’. To me feminism means having the freedom as a conscious adult to do what you want. If an adult-women wants to be a pole dancer, stripper, president, housewife or beer bait, so be it.
I feel that it’s time to re-evaluate our culture. In literature, film and over coffee we talk about religion repressing us, repressing love, repressing our naturalness, repressing how we interact with each other— it’s not freedom. We stand on the precipice of the re-inventing of marriage. Over the last 60 years divorces are commonplace, because sticking with something that is mentally/physically/spiritually torturous for more than 7-10 years –is not freedom. That time range (7 years) seems to be the cap-off in most primate unions. Why not accept it as fact? What are we trying to prove by clinging to the impossible? [Btw, those that can do 50+ years deserve a medal.]
The reason we invented these moral systems, have no value in our world today. There is no perfect breeding, perfect union, combined fortunes, or secret knowledge to amass anymore. The collapse of the world is the perfect time to re-invent our culture.
Perhaps being beer bait was what led me to now. Each day, one false move can redirect my whole life’s course. I shudder to think, but in the end I approve the lessons I have learned from my human highs and lows–passing each one like a goal post.