Sunday, August 23, 2015

CBHS Hannah Fagan Essay - 23 Aug '15

Camps Bay High School is extremely proud of Hannah Fagan whose essay is being published in the 2015 edition of English Alive. The launch of the edition will be taking place on 2 September 2015.

We reproduce Hannah's essay below:
A Woman’s Place

They wanted to speak about the cartoon. The president had not done as much as she would have liked during her first three months in office, but she couldn’t help thinking she’d done some things worth discussing. The opening of negotiations with the dictator of a small Eastern country. The removal of the last troops from another Eastern country in which her predecessor had started a half-hearted war. But it seemed the public were far more interested in a certain cartoon which had gone “viral”, and been sent to her so many times by friends and foes alike that she was sick of it.

It was a crude, sexual joke, and disappointingly from a cartoonist whose work she usually found witty. She was used to seeing herself in a hand-drawn dominatrix outfit by now. The first time,  in a college newspaper, it had made her cry angry tears, but at this stage in her life she only wished she looked that good in fishnets. This time, though, the cartoonist had thrown in her husband, as a cowering Uncle Sam (his name was Sam, so it was funny, see?) on a leash. And it was this that caused Jessica Brinkett to comment.

“I would like to start by saying I take no offence at the depiction of myself in the cartoon, or any such cartoon. A public figure such as myself is of course going to be satirized, and so might as well accept the fact, and maintain a sense of humour. However,” and here the journalists lifted their heads, so that it seemed the room took an inward breath, “I do take offence at the depiction of my husband, Samuel Brinkett. My husband is a successful academic in his own right, and that he shies away from politics is, I think, to his credit. Yet there has been a general assumption made from the start of my campaign, that because he is married to a strong woman”- she should not have said strong, she should have said powerful. Strong sounded self-promoting; powerful was an undisputed fact – “he must be a weak man. This is further accentuated by the fact that the role of a president’s partner up until now has been to stand in his shadow, support him from behind, smile and wave. No one has questioned this role when the partner was a woman , but America seems uncomfortable with a first husband, and so deem him weak. They are wrong on two counts. My husband is not weak, and he does not stand behind me, but beside me”.

Watching his wife on the television in his hotel room, he didn’t listen to the words, he’d known what she was going to say. They would accuse her of mixing politics with the personal. They’d be right: Jessica never had known where to draw the line. The cameras were not kind to her. He could see the skin of her once-lovely throat was starting form folds beneath her chin. Sam Brinkett turned away from his wife in front of him to the firm, smooth body of the woman beside him.

It came out, eventually. Everything does. Not for the first time, Jessica Brinkett wished her country could separate the personal lives of its presidents from their policies. Had she been having an affair she would have been seen as dishonest and cunning. But to be cheated on was to be naïve, pitiable, a national joke. Her people knew it was better to dupe than be duped.

They stand waiting before the press conference. He looks at her with eyes that can never be sorry enough. “What do I do?” He says.

“You smile and wave,” she answers, “and you stand behind me”.

Hannah Fagan,
Camps Bay High School