Kate watched Hannah in amazement as she climbed up the pedestal of the Pioneer Mother with Randy's help. Hannah was coming into her own, and the funny thing was that her own was a lot like that of the mother she had been so busy rejecting not so long ago. Kate hoped that didn't mean she herself would end up a dissatisfied housewife.
The Pioneer Mother sat there serenely reading her book, probably the Joy of Cooking or a religious tract, an embodiment of female decorum despite the flurry of activity surrounding her. On the other side of Johnson Hall, centrally located in one of the main quads, the Pioneer Father strode purposefully in her direction, where she was hidden back behind the administration building and the trees, another clear case of sexual stereotyping. But Hannah had let herself be inspired by her mother's appropriation of a female image and had chosen the statue for her mini rally anyway, even if she was a bit of a wimp compared to Portlandia. The only other props they had were the flyers Kate was distributing, written in the middle of the night and printed in the morning.
The action was so spontaneous campus security hadn't even gotten a whiff of it, and the only males in the crowd were a few Eugene-looking types like Randy, examples of the Oregon variety of the latter-day hippie. But as a small crowd began gathering purposefully around the statue with Hannah sitting on her lap--or rather, her book--more and more of the curious stopped to see what was going on, and the percentage of males increased accordingly. Luckily, it wasn't raining for a change, or the crowd might not have grown so spontaneously. In the rain, Hannah's audience probably would have consisted only of the die- hard alternative types, the veteran protesters. Portland had outrage going for it, but all Eugene had was curiosity and political correctness. In order to get your average successful demonstration going, it takes good weather and a good atmosphere, not necessarily idealism and conviction.
Hannah's gaze swept the crowd. "Do you know what we're here for?" she asked a tall, self-important-looking blond guy on the fringes of the gathering.
"Who, me?" the blond responded when he realized Hannah was talking to him. "Nope."
"We're here to protest the attitude of guys like you," Hannah said matter-of-factly. She hoped she'd picked an appropriate victim.
"What?!" the guy asked.
"I bet you imagine you have quite a way with the ladies. And you don't listen much to what the ladies have to say about it."
This interchange inspired laughter and cheers but also cries of "Hey, come off it!" and "Poor guy," and "He didn't do anything."
Hannah shifted her attention from the blond to the woman in the front who had made the last comment. "Are you sure?" she asked. "Let's ask him!" The blond, however, was trying to make good his escape. "Scared or something?" Hannah yelled after him, and the crowd laughed.
That was too much for the old male pride and the youth turned around again. "Hell, no," he said. "Just thought I'd try to get to class on time for a change." Everyone chuckled.
"Can I ask you a question first?" Hannah asked with a sweet, wide-eyed look which made her seem even younger than she was.
"Shoot," the blond said, shrugging. "It won't be the first time I'm late."
"How many times have you ignored it when a woman told you to lay off?"
"Hey, what is this? A cross-examination? That's getting pretty personal."
"But you have, haven't you?" Hannah insisted. She no longer looked sweet. "I mean, every guy does, as long as he isn't a wimp or a softie. And you're neither."
"So you haven't always taken 'no' for an answer?"
"Sure. You never get anywhere if you're not persistent. 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again,'" he quoted.
Attracted by the crowd, quite a few people had come out of the administration building and were standing on the steps where John Belushi had once slunk up and down in a parody of secrecy. "Great advice," Hannah said. "So you don't believe it when you're rejected?"
"Rejected? Aw, come on. Those are the rules of the game, girl." Hannah winced almost imperceptibly when he called her that, but Randy noticed. He reached up for her ankle and began to caress it as if to soothe her.
"The rules, huh?"
"Women always say no first. You think you're supposed to or we won't respect you. A guy has to be persistent, then the girl is flattered, and then she finally gives in." The blond raised his eyebrows and gave her a sardonic grin. "Sounds like you need a lesson."
"Thanks but no thanks," Hannah said. "I've learned plenty already. You haven't told me anything I didn't already know. I just wanted to hear the male side of it. Maybe you can help me out on one thing I don't quite understand, though," Hannah asked, sweet again. "What is there in it for you if your partner isn't really enjoying herself?"
"They always enjoy themselves in the end," the blond said with a smirk. "At least with me."
"There you have him," Hannah said, extending her arm with a flourish. "God's gift to women! Even if you're not quite in the mood, he'll roll you over with his ungentle persuasions, and you will surely love it!" Kate, distributing her flyers, shook her head and laughed, a loud explosive laugh audible to everyone.
"Hey, wait a minute..." the blond began protesting.
"Oh, Joe's not that hot," a female voice came from somewhere behind and to the right of Hannah in the direction of Gerlinger Hall. The crowd joined Kate in her laughter, and Joe turned beet red and turned tail. He scurried off to class, followed by other less daring males afraid the atmosphere was getting too hot for them. Hannah didn't try to stop the exodus.
Kate returned to the pedestal with empty hands, taking note of the way Randy's hand was busy with Hannah's ankle. "What now, Hannah?" she asked. She stared pointedly at Randy's hand and he removed it.
"Now we get serious," Hannah replied with an impish smile. As soon as the crowd thinned out a bit, she abandoned her joking expression and became aggressive, addressing those who were left, mostly women. "I bet quite a few of you have come close to experiencing date rape at the hands of a guy like Joe there, even if you did manage to avoid the real thing." A number of the women nodded and murmured agreement.
"What are we supposed to do about it?" one woman towards the back yelled.
"Have you heard about what's going on in Portland?" Hannah asked. The crowd responded with more nods and murmurs. "I suggest we join them!"
"Join the strike?" someone said, horror in her voice.
"Well, no one has to join the strike who doesn't want to. But you can always demonstrate."
This suggestion met with more approval.
"We will take over Condon Hall!" Hannah continued.
"We thought the associations were appropriate," Kate contributed, and the crowd laughed.
"Condon is fine, but I'm not too sure about the strike either," another woman said.
"It wouldn't be forever," Hannah said encouragingly.
"I hope not," Randy said.
Hannah looked down at Randy and Kate looked up at Randy, but neither of them responded.
"Are you with me?" Hannah asked the group at large, and the women cheered.
Hannah scrambled down from the Pioneer Mother and headed through the crowd in the direction of Condon, Kate and Randy beside her. "You should be studying drama, Hannah," Kate said.
"I'm serious about this, you know," she said smiling.
"I know. But you're acting."
Hannah shrugged. "Sure I am. I'm putting on a show. So maybe I will study drama."