Lyssa, an enthusiastic gleam in her eye, was in Diana's bedroom at the back of the house, talking to a circle of women including Myrine, Diana and Sam. She really was in her element. Lyssa and her element were carry-overs from the sixties, from an era of Group Feeling and Causes.
"I guess doing something is always better than doing nothing, even if it's hopeless," Myrine was saying.
"Why do you think it's hopeless?" Lyssa asked with uncommon intensity. She was always an engaged idealist, but causes had a tendency to alter her personality from tentative to determined, testimony to the transforming power of fanaticism.
"What good will a demonstration do?" Myrine asked. "What good do demonstrations ever do?"
"Why do you go to them if you think they're useless?" Diana asked.
"If I didn't, then I wouldn't have any say in anything. At least it's a way to express your opinion."
"I've got more up my sleeve than just your average demonstration," Lyssa said, the glint in her eye becoming more pronounced.
"Well, I hope it's good," Myrine said. "I would try anything if it would put an end to sexual warfare."
"Why all the feminist rhetoric?" Sam asked impatiently. Diana had gotten a hold of her to beg for some publicity, and she was taking her role of observer rather than participant seriously. "Doesn't the rape and murder of a young girl have more to do with violence in our society than the emancipation of women?"
"But this form of violence is exclusively against women," Lyssa pointed out.
"And how common is it?"
"Now look here, Sam," Diana protested. "I distinctly remember you saying once that you wouldn't go riding around the streets of this city on a bike at night like I do. Why not? Isn't that an admission of how common it is?"
"It could be an admission that we're all paranoid."
"Even if we are, aren't we being supported in our paranoia?" Myrine asked. "We're told that we shouldn't go out alone after dark, and if we do, we're only asking for it. If that's the case, we're being oppressed as effectively as if the danger were real."
Sam laughed shortly. "I could tell you something about oppression." She thought about the stories her grandmother used to tell, stories of racial violence and hatred, of civil disobedience and efforts to get people to vote.
"Do you really feel you've been that disadvantaged?" Diana asked. "What about your scholarship? Or your high visibility job?"
"Prejudice is still there, Di. Anyway, I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about blacks in general."
"Exactly!" Lyssa exclaimed. "And we're not talking about ourselves, we're talking about women in general."
"None of us has ever been raped, but the threat is there," Diana agreed.
"You all act as if rape were a vital part of the relations between the sexes," Sam said with exasperation. "Do you even know anyone who's ever been raped?"
Diana and Myrine nodded and Lyssa winced. "So do you," Diana said. "Mutual acquaintances."
"Oh," Sam said.
"Actually, if the ratio is one in ten, then we've just about filled our quota," Myrine added.