We women used to think Esperanza was under the thumb of her macho husband, Ramón. She often held her tongue and cast her eyes down meekly rather than speak up and oppose him. We could see how much effort it took for her to do it, but she continued to do it.
Until that day of the union meeting when the women’s auxiliary suggested that they should march in the picket line in place of the men, who’d been enjoined by the court to stop picketing. Several of us spoke up, arguing that the strike must be kept going and that we, the women, could help it continue. Some of the men derided our proposal and complained that they’d become laughing stocks if their women took to the picket line until one of us asked, “Which is worse? To be accused of hiding behind your women’s skirts or to go down on your knees in front of the boss?”
No one expected Esperanza to speak up in front of that large group, in front of Ramón, but she did when it was announced that the vote on the matter was restricted to the men in the union. We were surprised to see Esperanza stand and wait to be recognized before beginning to speak. She was hesitant at first but firm: Shouldn’t that ones who would be carrying out the task be allowed to join in the vote? she asked. Her argument was convincing. The union meeting would be adjourned, and at a subsequent community meeting, men and women would vote on whether the women should go to the picket line and keep the strike going.
From that time on, Esperanza was a different woman—more confident, more hopeful and resourceful—and she and our community grew stronger.
Author: Nancy King