A few weeks ago, I witnessed a teenage couple verbally fighting on the subway. The girl looked like she was on the verge of tears as her boyfriend prodded her to open up about why she was upset. At one point, he threw out a taunting hypothetical, “If I was in a room alone with ___some other girl’s name___, would that bother you?”
“Well, would anything happen…?”
“I mean, we’re alone. So say something does. Would that bother you?”
As I listened to this conversation, I’m thinking (1) what an asshole (2) someone needs to tell this girl that she is worthy of better. I could feel the same hesitation emanating from her that I felt years ago when I attempted on multiple occasions to break up with an ex. My problem was that I feared I was not worthy of someone else.
At the next stop, the boy got off the subway. My heart raced as I pondered my place in this situation: say something or not? Subway conversations are rare especially in New York, where people (usually) avoid talking to each other. Eventually, it was the knowledge that if I was in her shoes, I would have been thankful for some validation from the universe. That, and I could feel the regret building within me if I stayed silent. So I turned around and said, “Hi, I overheard your conversation. I hope you know that you are enough on your own and you deserve better.”
There’s a combination of factors that contributed to this moment: my Catholic guilt, my Jesuit education’s call to social justice, my growing courage, and most of all: my identity as a womxnist. Continue reading