December 1, 1955, someone decided things weren’t right, and refused to stand up. Against what was, at the time, considered normal, she was a hero.
As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, “Why don’t you stand up?” to which Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the police and had her arrested. Later, Rosa recalled that her refusal wasn’t because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.
In the jungles of Vietnam, a humble soldier who did what needed to be done. A true hero.
As many as 175 enemy troops killed, 18 wounds from enemy fire, 38 hours of battle, 48 hours evading the North Vietnamese troops in the bush — and one tiger … Adkins rushed through intense enemy fire and manned a mortar position defending the camp,” the Army report says. “He continued to mount a defense even while incurring wounds from several direct hits from enemy mortars. Upon learning that several soldiers were wounded near the center of camp, he temporarily turned the mortar over to another soldier, ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several comrades to safety. As the hostile fire subsided, Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to a more secure position. …
“I’m just a keeper of the [Medal of Honor] for those other 16 (U.S. troops) who were in the battle, especially the five who didn’t make it,” he told Army News Service.
Fu Yuanhui, a 2016 Olympic swimmer, explaining her poor performance in the women’s 4X100 meter medley:
“Yes (my belly hurts) because my period came yesterday.”
The Twitterverse heartedly approved:
“Fu Yuanhui dismantles female stereotypes too. She’s talking about her menstrual cycle at the Olympics. Wow. Remove shame, stigma & silence.”
“Fu Yuanhui talking about her period is the Olympic hero I can relate to”
The article goes on to explain that in China, long-held cultural traditions forbade women from using — much less publicly discussing — feminine hygiene products, and only in the last few decades has this trend changed. Fine, good for them. But do we have to hear about it? We all go to the bathroom every day, but we don’t provide the details of the aftermath of the five-alarm chili. There’s a reason: It’s inappropriate.
Fu (surnames go first) is a great athlete, and apparently has a spontaneous and lovable personality. But are we culturally so far gone that someone blurting out an improper remark to an international audience automatically means she’s a hero? I objected to this on Twitter, and you should have seen the insults I received. “Yes, women bleed. It’s natural. Live with it” was essentially the theme of my detractors.
Challenging what a tiny group may deem taboo simply because we feel like it isn’t enough. We have to be able to articulate the logic behind the challenge, frame what we object to against some standard of decency, and ask ourselves if what we object to is suitable. Crazy as this sounds, it might be.
Free speech is like wearing Spandex: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Image: Screen Shot: http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/sports/chinese-olympian-openly-talks-about-her-period/vp-BBvHMM0