because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jessica Watson

At age twelve, Jessica Watson decided she wanted to sail around the world -- unassisted and alone. At age sixteen, she did it. A citizen of both New Zealand and Australia, Watson grew up with her mom and dad and three siblings living and being home schooled on sailboats and in a double-decker bus. So she's more than comfortable on the water and in small spaces. But even for her, the seven-month voyage she took from October 18, 2009, until May 15, 2010 (three days before her seventeenth birthday), was a test of true spirit, which is actually the title of the book she wrote about her feat. "I hated being judged by my appearance and other people's expectations of what a 'little girl' is capable of," she explained after arriving triumphant back to her home port in Sydney.

Facing forty-foot waves and 80 mile per hour winds, having to repair virtually everything on her boat at one point or another, and spending hour after interminable hour alone, Watson traveled a total of 23,000 nautical miles in 210 days crossing the equator and all meridians of longitude without touching land or any other boat and without anyone giving her anything. Yet her route, her management, and her unwillingness to accept "advice" from the powers that be telling her she should attempt shorter trips to work up to her monumental accomplishment has been criticized by the mainstream male power structure that regulates who gets recognized and who does not.

Robbed of her "official" standing in the record books, Jessica knows that an in-your-face woman -- however young -- is liable to meet resistance. But she also knows who she is (as demonstrated by a whole raft of accolades and awards), as well as what she can do. And so do the 75,000 people that met her at the dock on her return. Nothing and no one can change that.

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