Another Small Rebellion

At first I did not want to: I was afraid of getting caught, breaking the rules—maybe even a law? I’d always tried so hard to live up to expectations—rarely doing so—but there was this here-right-now person wanting me to do this thing and all of society in my head tsk-tsking and looking disappointed. But I’d been reading my mom’s Ms. magazines. Loved movies about rebels. So I did it. I got down on that floor in the Macy’s bathroom and to the sound of cheers, laughter, and encouragement, I slid my tiny tween body under each stall door of the women’s room pay toilets and let every waiting woman in for free. It was the early 70s and society wanted women to pay to piss in the bus stations, restaurants, department stores, and service stations. I continued my tiny defiant crime spree, a women’s libber connecting with women throughout New York, learning firsthand the importance of body autonomy, the viciousness of sexism, and the power of small rebellions. Soon after, pay toilets were gone, another bizarre relic of the past, like my portable record player, mood rings, or streaking, while the punishment for having a feminine body remains, a woman’s personal always political, always involving a floor we are required to crawl on.

*

Mary Christine Delea is the author of The Skeleton Holding Up the Sky (Main Street Press) and 3 chapbooks. She has worked in many arenas: university professor, social worker, improv comedy performer, retail manager, and more. She lives in Oregon but still spends a lot of time on Long Island, where she grew up. She was a Tupelo Press 30/30 Project Poet in October 2021. Her website is mchristinedelea.com.