Law in Contemporary Society
-- By MinahSo - 25 Apr 2018


Writing the first assignment in March, I was desperate for a directive. When we were given a prompt for the second essay, I was relieved. I read the question and told myself to sleep on it. I slept on it. I tossed and turned on it again the next night. I also sat on it, walked on it, and drank on it. Pen did not hit paper, despite the hurricane rushing through my mind. I know I had learned something this year, but my ideas were too discordant to put on paper.

I still don’t know what kind of lawyer I want to be. I was only recently borne onto this question. I’m a risk-averse control freak—I need more time to think about a pivot as fundamental as this. Though I can’t answer the question right now, I am okay with that, even if it means I can’t finish the assignment properly. All good things take time, and I want to be really good.

An Essay

The question I have an answer to is what kind of person I want to be. The last time I was ever asked that question, I was eleven years old. I was then expected to swim before learning to float. $300,000 in higher education fees later, I have one increasingly large nut wondering where and how it will sustainably take cover.

It was disconcerting reading Cecilia Day recount her observations of Daisy Mae on the subway. The young woman was an easily definable phenotype, contoured in ways so obtuse and devoid of depth she might as well have been relegated to an entry on Urban Dictionary rather than Merriam Webster. I saw myself in parts of Daisy Mae and I also saw parts of myself in the young lawyer she eventually disembarked with. Neither questioned their roles in society, moving forward with the easiest roles they could take on.

I am constantly trying to distill what I believe in against a persistent current of what everyone tells me my place in society should be. I was told in my first essay that understanding might begin at the transfer of trauma itself. When did it start? Most of it unfolded in nearly imperceptible ways, so I turn to the earliest memories I have. As a high schooler, a male teacher I worked closely with would affectionately call me a siren, telling me that I didn't need to work if I maintained my figure. When I was studying for my LSATs, my tutor told me, in front of the class, that I would look better at the reception desk than drafting legal documents behind a computer. When I was hired for my first job, my superior explained to me my hiring process: “I liked what I saw so I just….hired you. Wanna fuck?” He later gave me an unwarranted salary raise as if he was making an advance payment on something. These types of interactions played out with a monotonous repetition and I learned never to bat an eye. I believed I had somehow risen, unscathed, because I did not feel expected feelings of hurt or disorientation. I had always known life would be this way as a woman.

I now know, however, that the effects have been insidious. There were two moments in class where I felt tears in my eyes, with a feeling of discomfort simmering stronger than what I had ever felt when assaulted. Rather than one large wound, I instead had hundreds of tiny nicks. They certainly didn’t hurt, but they did dull the surface. Determined to be taken seriously, I developed an unconscious, hyper awareness of my surroundings, stemming from my discomfort in my shape and place. Is she comparing herself to me? Why isn’t he looking at me? How will the mood of the room shift if I stand here? If I wear this? Having been inundated with what others thought of me with the full force of The Male, I could only define myself in relation to others, which required a disabling form of preoccupation with utter nonsense. I soon lost sight of the billboards, the happenings of the streets, and the great problems that come from them.

The greatest gift of my law school experience has been the feeling that I can slow down in order to read the signs, rather than letting them pass by in a flash of incoherent color. Learning from people with giant personalities who have faith in themselves, whether they be fictional or moving in real time in front of me, has been elemental in making the end goal feel tangible. Others I’ve observed who can’t find strength purely in themselves hold onto their principles. Neither group cares whether people are watching or agree with the way they represent themselves—they simply do according to principle.

My to-do list overflows with what I must do to build that principle, far removed from how others may evaluate it. I hope to spread myself out in many directions, going places just to observe and meeting people just to listen. The focus is dual—constant vigilance directed at myself, addressing each nick as it scratches the surface, while allowing the space and time to take notice of the currents pushing others into places they don’t want to be. In this way, I might be able to ensure future Daisy Mae’s get to wear what they want to wear and do what they want to do for all the right reasons.


Webs Webs

r3 - 30 Apr 2018 - 01:59:53 - MinahSo
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