No More Broken Ferris Wheel—Guest Post by Kathleen Winter
International Women’s Day is March 8th, so with the help of some of our female authors, we’ve decided to dedicate the entire month to women and their stories.
No More Broken Ferris Wheel
When I was a teenager I put up with stuff and kept my mouth shut until I could find money and head out on my own. Shot with pellets on my way home from school by classmates yelling homophobic slurs? Say nothing, flee into hiding. Hung upside-down from a malunctioning Ferris wheel for twenty minutes the night the shitty circus came to town? Cling on for dear life and tell no one. Not so my daughters, by whose example I’ve learned more about power than my own mother had it in her to teach me.
Outside Esther’s monocultural high school where they cancelled the music program there was a shack where grade eleven girls got ready for prom by paying at recess time to lie under tanning lamps with Playboy bunny decals stuck to their asses. Army scouts interrupted math class to recruit new blood. Did Esther put up with it like I’d have done? Hardly – she scrammed outta there and found a different high school where a boy in a dress welcomed her and ushered her to the grand piano. Ever since that day I’ve looked up to Esther for her continued insistence on leaving small minds behind and carving out inclusive places of power, community and belonging.
From Juliette I learned how to stop being fake-nice. Before she taught me otherwise, I’d learned to give away work for free, listen politely to narcissistic monologues, and drain my emotional well. I gradually learned from her that it can be both kind and powerful to say no thank you, to decline not-so-enticing offers, and to value my own decisions about how best to spend my precious time.
I never had a sister, and my mother and grandmothers are gone. If it wasn’t for my kick-ass daughters I’d be a lot more lonesome and a lot less strong.
Kathleen Winter is the author of the international bestseller, Annabel, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and CBC’s Canada Reads. Her first collection of stories, boys, won both the Winterset Award and the Metcalf–Rooke Award. A long-time resident of St. John’s, Newfoundland, she now lives in Montreal.