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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

Those small acts of dissidence.

I was very close to my Auntie Anne, my mother’s twin, when I was young.

I remember when she was going to the University of Washington, living in a rooming house with a group of other women students. This was during the 1970s, when the women’s movement was just gaining power. I would call her a reluctant feminist. She knew the tenets were right, but she fought her upbringing. She was a single woman in her early 30s, but she hadn’t realized her independence yet. She hadn’t gotten her voice under her yet. She was still desperate for her mother’s approval, trying to make a life of her own while still bowing to outdated and even puritanical expectations, that there was simply no hope she could ever meet.

She bought us tickets to the Seattle Repertory Theatre. One season, they performed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. There was a scene where Brodie’s lover, a fellow teacher, is painting one of the Brodie Set, who had grown into a young woman. She sat on a settee with her back to the audience, her naked breast in clear silhouette.

My grandmother knew there was a “nude scene” in the play. I remember she and Auntie Anne discussing whether or not I should go. Not really a discussion. My grandmother telling her I should not go, I was too young. My aunt just nodded her head. Then took me anyway.

Those small acts of dissidence, I watched carefully. I took it all in. Auntie Anne was her own woman. At some point, she separated off from her mother. She made the break. I knew she was living her truth, but she still pandered and played to my grandmother’s expectations. But it was an act. My Auntie Anne was very much her own person.

I am who I am because she was who she was.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash



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