sixteen. riding the wave

A scene.

A mother (3), and her mother (2). 2 is having chemo treatment. 3 is keeping her company. Both flip through back issues of women’s magazines. Damia, a nurse wearing a hijab, checks on 2 periodically.


3 – I’ve been thinking a lot about feminism.

2 – Oh yeah?

3 – One of my supervisors suggested that I haven’t quite reconciled my position on it.

2 – On what?

3 – Feminism.

2 – Oh yeah?

3 – Yeah.


2 – Why would she say that?

3 – From the stuff I’ve been writing about work and motherhood and stuff.

2 – Oh.

3 – The other one gave me a book to read about post-feminism. I wonder if they’re trying to tell me something.

2 – Post-feminism? Never heard of it.

3 – It’s about how young women today hate feminism.

2 – They do?

3 – Yeah. A lot of them do. Didn’t you know that?

2 – No. Why would they hate feminists?

3 – The whole man-hating, bra-burning thing. That you can’t stay home and be a mum.

2 – Oh. Well I never burnt my bra, but I’ll tell you what, if I could have stayed home more with you kids I bloody well would have.

3 – You would?

2 – Oh yeah.

3 – But…I thought you were a feminist.

2 – I never really thought about it.

3 – But what about telling me off for saying sweeping is women’s work?

2 – When did I say that?

3 – When I was six. Jason was mucking around with the broom and I wanted to be a witch, so I took it off him and said that sweeping was women’s work and you heard me say it and you tore a strip off me.

2 – Did I? (Laughs delightedly)

3 – What about the fact that you wouldn’t let me have long hair?

2 – I never stopped you from having long hair –

3 – Yes you did! You never let me have long hair.

2 – Well with those thick glasses of yours, it would have hid your face –

3 – AND you made me wear pants on school photo day —

2 – Probably just forgot it was photo day –

3 – AND kids used to ask me if I was a boy or a girl.

2 – They did?

3 – Yeah they did.

2 – Oh.

3 – I got hassled all the time for it.

2 – Really?

3 – Yeah. A boy pushed me down on the ice rink cuz I was wearing white skates. (Shouts) Those are GIRL’S SKATES!

2 – (Laughs fondly again)

3 – It wasn’t funny, Mum!

2 – Sorry darl.

3 – So…wasn’t it because you were a feminist?

2 – I don’t know darl. I don’t remember.

NURSE enters, checks on 2’s chemo needle.

N – How are you feeling, Mrs K?

2 – Just fine darling, thank you. This is my daughter – you haven’t met her before have you?

3 – Hello.

N – Nice to meet you. Your mother is doing very well.

3 – Fantastic.

N – She is a very brave woman.

2 – Oh stop…

N – No it is true. She is very brave. And strong.

2 – Thank you Damia.

N – (To 3) Why have we not seen you here before?

3 – Oh, I…

2 – She’s very busy. Two kids – my grandchildren –

N – Yes! Katy, and…Elliot! Very beautiful children.

2 – (To 3) I showed her their pictures…

3 – Thanks.

2 – AND she’s working. AND she’s doing a PhD!

N – My goodness! You are very–

3 – Busy

2– Very busy.

N – Yes, I see.


N – Well. Just relax now. I’ll be back to check on you again soon.

2 – Thank you lovey.

Damia exits

2 – She is so lovely.

3 – Yeah, she seems really nice.

2 – She takes such good care of me.

3 – Yeah, you’re really lucky.

They return to their magazines.

Long silence.

3 – I just watched this video on YouTube called “The F-Word”.

2 – Sounds racy.

3 – It deals with feminism from a young woman’s perspective.

2 – Mm.

3 – It was an interview thing. They were all really young. The host had make-up packed on, and I thought “some feminist you are”. But then they talked about what feminism means to their generation and why they consider themselves feminists. One of them talked about how feminism defends the rights of all – as opposed to both – genders.

2 – But…

3 – What? Do you have a problem with transsexuals?

2 – Now don’t jump down my throat. Of course I don’t. I saw Priscilla three times. I just don’t understand how feminism defends the rights of all genders, when it’s called FEMinism. Don’t you need a different ism for that?

3- Fair enough.

2 – Everyone-ism.


3 – They were only in their early twenties, but they were all so bright and confident. They called themselves third wave feminists.

2 – Third wave? Is that like new wave?

3 – No mum. You were a second wave feminist.

2 – Was I?

3 – Well I thought you were. The first wave was the suffragettes, who fought for the vote.

2 – (Fondly) Like Miles Franklin.

3 – The second wave fought for equal work and equal pay.

2 – (Proudly) Like Germaine Greer.

3 – Right. Although she’s given up on feminism too.

2 – She has?

3 – That’s what this book I was reading said.

2 – Oh. (beat) I think I might try this recipe.

They go back to reading their magazines.

3 – I don’t know if I’m a third wave or a second wave.

2 – I wonder what tamari is?

3 – I mean I call myself ‘ms’ and I didn’t change my name when I got married –

2 – Is it like soy sauce?

3 – But I never really thought about sisterhood or solidarity.

2 – Maybe I could just use teriyaki. Look it up for me would you?

3 – Sorry?

2 – Look it up. On your iPhone.

3 – I don’t think you’re allowed to use phones in here.

2 – Of course you are.

3 – Doesn’t it interfere with the machines?

2 – Don’t worry about it, it’ll be fine.