Written by: Sheena Macmillan
Ivy Davis is the new President of the “free world”. She’s 47th in a line of all female Presidents. From my spot at the very back of the stadium, I look to the giant screens on the side of the stage to see her face. She stands in the middle, behind a podium, lined by all of her Ministers. All women. They wear bright gowns with long trains; they wear short skirts with their natural hair cascading down to their knees; they wear dark blue suits with flowers sprouting out of their cuffs. On the stage everyone is represented. Every skin tone, figure, hair texture. Except, when you pan out the image of proud women waving to the girls they wish to empower and inspire in the audience, you realise there is a lack of men. Where are they, you ask? They are with me, out of sight, at the very top of the stadium. We wear white shirts and white pants with white shoes, and sometimes we wear white jackets too. If we’re feeling spunky.
My name is Aaron Smith. I work as a nurse at the Grey House, so I get to take care of President Ivy if she gets a cold or something tragic like that. It used to be called the White House, but former President Violet changed it to Grey to symbolize how most problems aren’t just black and white, but there is a large grey area in between that should always be taken into account.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, specifically a surgeon, but all my friends and family said that I was living in a fantasy if I thought I could make it as a doctor. They said nursing would be more fitting for me, you know, since I’m a guy. In school, all the other nursing students were male. Just across the hall there was a classroom filled with the newest doctors in training. They were a huge class of at least 100 students, 90% women. It always seemed to be like that though. In the engineering programs, in the law programs, in the science programs, the classes were always 90% women.
My dad always told me stories of when he was young and in school. How university was a place where men flourished. Where every other guy was on the path to get a degree in something expensive, like medicine. He always told me stories about how horrible his life became when the Empowerment Movement began. The Empowerment Movement started before I was born, and its purpose was to bring the women of the world to their full potential and out of the oppressive hands of the patriarchy. All of the roles were switched. Women were given more roles of leadership, women were taken seriously in serious situations, and they weren’t harassed in the street for wearing that cute dress they’d been saving for a nice warm day like today.
Ron stands behind a pot in the Grey House kitchen, cooking up something for the President’s supper. He’s my friend, Ron. The only guys in the Grey House are either chefs, nurses, or cleaners. The only reason why I’m closest with Ron is because he always hooks me up with some great leftovers from what he’s made that day.
“Ron! Ronnie Ron The King himself what it do Mr. Ronster!!!” I yell.
“My man! My man, my man, my man, you look nice! White is such a good colour on you.” Ron answers.
“Yo I can’t lie I was feeling this look. White on white on white is my new thing.” I look at Ron’s outfit, “Mate, how could you do this to me we’re wearing the same thing! We can’t both be in all white or we’ll look like fools.” Ron laughs, “You know what it doesn’t matter if we wear the same thing, cause I know I look better than you.” Ron stops laughing.
“C’mon man you know these are my nice white pants don’t hate on my swag.” Ron is on the defense now. One the the Secret Service agents pokes her head into the kitchen. She calls for me, says the President isn’t feeling her best.
I walk towards her. “Any specific symptoms?” I ask.
“She’s very nauseous, and she’s got some cramps in the uterine area.” She’s walking quickly in front of me. She escorts me to President Ivy’s bedroom. She opens the double doors and we find the President laying on her side in the middle of her bed. She’s clutching her stomach and her face shows she’s in pain.
“Are you on your period?” I ask Ivy.
“No, it’s been at least four months since my last period, maybe even five.”
“And you didn’t think that was weird? To have missed so many months?”
“Well no, I mean I am a very successful career woman. I am under constant stress because of my job, so naturally I miss my period sometimes.”
“Alright, what I’m gonna do is give you an ultrasound to see what’s happening in your stomach since you’re so nauseous. Is that okay?”
I walk over to her bedside and turn her onto her back. The same Secret Service agent from before brings in all the things I need to perform the ultrasound. As I pull her shirt back to expose her belly, I can tell it’s more swollen than usual. I want to ask if Ron cooked up an extra large lunch today, but decide against it. I put the jelly on her stomach and fire up the ultrasound machine.
“I’m just looking for anything that shouldn’t be there, like a Lego or the Declaration of Independence, you know?” I pause. “Woah.”
“What’s wrong?” Ivy asks with obvious concern.
“I gotta ask, four to five months ago, were you sexually active?” My eyes move from the screen to meet Ivy’s. She’s lost all colour in her skin.
She exhales, “Yes.” I look back at the screen and examine the ultrasound more. I look at the small fetus growing inside of her and see something I know she won’t be happy with.
I exhale, “It’s a boy.”
She’s crying now. So filled with disappointment and regret. She’s having a son. She’s mumbling about how she’s always dreamed of having a daughter, of raising her to know that she can follow all of her dreams, of giving her all to her daughter and making sure that her daughter loves every ounce of herself because she is perfection. But, she’s having a son. What is she supposed to do with a son? Teach him how to do laundry? She doesn’t know how to do that. Teach him how to keep a happy home and cook balanced meals? Make healthy snacks for his ringette team? She doesn’t know how to have a son. She’s never thought about having a son. She sits upright and dries her tears.
“You know, when I was younger I wanted to be a doctor.” I check to see if she’s looking at me; she is.
“I wanted so badly to be a surgeon but everyone told me I would be setting myself up for failure. My biggest regret is listening to them and going into nursing instead of being that 10% in the classroom. In school I was always taught that the
Empowerment Movement happened so women could live to their highest potential. But what about my potential? I should be offered the same opportunities that women are offered. I should be able to tell my parents that I want to be a doctor and not get laughed at.
“Creating equality for women isn’t switching the roles of leadership and having a matriarchy instead of a patriarchy. Creating equality isn’t oppressing the oppressors. The boy growing inside you deserves the best. You are the President, you should be setting the example. I believe in his ability to be an engineer like I believe in your ability to change how men are treated in today’s society.
“Let your son wear what he wants, don’t restrict him to white. Let your son think what he wants, don’t restrict him to domestic affairs. Let your son be athletic, let him play the sports he wants. Let your son be. He is blossoming just the same as a daughter would. He is growing strong because he knows you are the right mother for him. Don’t set your son up for failure even before he knows what adversities he faces.”
President Ivy looks at me with understanding eyes, like she is surprised I can speak so eloquently. She turns to the Secret Service agent, “Get me my tablet, we’re having a second Empowerment Movement.”