Sexism is a tricky thing to talk about. What do you do when you’re discriminated against, but so were the boys yesterday? What do you say to an anti-feminist who thinks all feminists are angry, without being angry? What do you do when sexism works in your favor?

The other day I went against all my morals and beliefs regarding the subject of violence, and hit a guy. It wasn’t real—we weren’t about to have a fistfight or anything—and it was over something stupid, like knocking a book off my head or something. But it made me feel so guilty, because I know he couldn’t hit me back. It was a double standard.

“I’m sorry. Hit me back,” I said. It was the only way I could feel like I hadn’t just kicked defenseless Bambi.

“I’m not going to hit you.” He was acting like it didn’t hurt. Maybe it truly didn’t. I didn’t care. I told him it was the only way I could feel equal.

“Someone just punch me!” I shouted. I was exasperated. About five people in my area stood up and made their way toward me, jokingly. One boy said, “Yes, finally!” but sat down when he got the laughs he was looking for. It’s OK to threaten a girl, to tell her you want to punch her, but you can’t really do it.

My group’s lunch in the corner of the science lab proceeded as usual the next day. I put something on my head and a boy knocked it off, just out of jerkiness. It wasn’t revenge for what happened to some other kid; it was because he knew I was defenseless now. I can’t hit a boy because a boy can’t hit me. I can’t be angry because then I’m giving in to the ANGRY FEMINIST stereotype. I can’t be passive because I can’t give in to the WEAK, SWEET GIRL stereotype. I can’t win. And because he was picking on someone who couldn’t win, he was in the same position I’d been in the day before: a loser for being mean to someone who couldn’t defend themselves.

When it comes to fighting between genders, nobody wins. When it comes to turning on our own gender, the other gender wins. This means that nobody can win a fight that they start. Unless nobody ever argues or fights again, everyone loses, unless everybody magically puts away their strengths and weaknesses and backgrounds.

I went to my strings-ensemble practice in a rage, and someone said I should be happy that I didn’t get hit. But they didn’t understand. Equality will never exist until everyone will stop accepting sexism, even when it works for them. ♦