Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and all its characters © Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, and TV Asahi. All my works are not for profit.
A/N: Yaay, something new! Here's a little ficcie that I hope you'll enjoy while I polish my next update for Scissored Kismets. Hoho, R&R!! The women's org that I mentioned here is real, but the situation has never happened; is based off a scene in Haruki Murakami's book entitled 'Umibe no Kafuka' (Kafka on the Shore). Go read it, it's funnnn! :)
Forgive my Wufei for being OOC in this one.
"From the Viewpoint of Women"
by Schizoid Sprite
"I expect Woman will be the last thing civilized by Man." -George Meredith :P
Wufei was chewing on the third mouthful of his first meal for today—bubble and squeak in a lunch box, the usual 'Preventer brunch' as Sally had called it—when a middle-aged lady entered and marched straight towards the reception desk.
"Yes, what I can do for you ma'am?" the receptionist for the day asked, beaming cheerfully like how a fastfood crew member would.
"Good morning to you, sir," the lady greeted, pushing her glasses higher up the bridge of her nose. The receptionist threw Wufei a glance, and he responded with a laugh that if wasn't stifled would have caused a spray of half-grinded brussels sprouts and carrots. He grabbed the canteen and tried hard not to choke, his eyes continuing the laughter.
The lady cocked her pepper-and-salt head to one side. She fished out a business card from her handbag and handed it to him. "I'm a representative from the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action."
The receptionist nodded on every word, his eyes on the card. "GABRIELA…It's under the Mariposa Alliance."
"That's correct," she replied. "We're currently conducting a nationwide investigation of public facilities from the viewpoint of women. That concerns mainly fair access and other issues connected to it. I am investigating this part of the country, and from what I have researched I think this Preventer center have some issues that need to be addressed."
Wufei saw how the receptionist mouthed the words 'from the viewpoint of women' from where he sat. Nice topic, he thought. They both waited for the woman as she fumbled to open a manila envelope and pulled out a creased paper.
"I would like to speak to your superior on this matter," she deadpanned.
"I'm currently taking charge of this center," he answered warmly. "There are a lot of Preventer centers scattered around this region and apparently our superior would only operate from the main Preventer Headquarters."
She seemed to mull over this for a while. "Very well then," she decided. She ran her eyes over the document first before she spoke again. "Your center has a restroom that is shared by both men and women."
He nodded. "Yes ma'am."
"According to previous studies, women prefer to have a separate facility for them, for the sake of safety and equality. As a public facility, I think that in principle, you should put up a restroom set aside for females. Haven't you heard reports that shared facilities often rise to all sorts of harassment?"
He stole another glance at Wufei, who was smirking.
"Another issue is that we've learned that your sector recruits mainly male applicants. Only ten percent of the Preventer population is female. This rises up to the issues concerning job stratification, income-generating activities, and gender role stereotyping between the two sexes. We know that we are living in a modern world now, so why don't we live the modern way? I found out that among the thousand women that applied for a position in the Preventers this year, you only hired seventy of them while among the same number of men who applied, you decided that more than half of them are qualified."
Wufei noted the shallow furrow between the receptionist's eyes.
"Ma'am, as for the first issue," he started uneasily but with an amiable curve of a smile, "We all have our reasons for putting up only one restroom. As you can see, our center is not that big; we hardly have the space for another toilet. Apparently, none of the civilians who often come here stay that long to use such services. They just stay long enough to report a crime in this area, and that would take only a maximum of ten minutes. The ones who usually use it are us, the Preventers. Approximately we have fifty officers here, including the agents from the night shift. Complaints were unheard of, as far as I could remember."
"That is because of issue number two!" The woman almost shrieked. "You don't have enough women here to complain about this predicament!"
"We'll go on to that," the receptionist said quickly, "but if you're still going to pursue issue number one further, then I say you must also go to the Lunar Base aviation headquarters and file a complaint on the issue of its spaceports having shared restrooms. If you're considering convenience so you can type up something for your report immediately, you can go to any of Earth's spaceports, too. If my memory serves me right, I believe that all of the roundtrip passenger space-buses have shared restrooms. All of them were far bigger than our center and are full of people in every hour that they function."
There was a triumphant silence that lingered around the receptionist after that.
"We're talking about your center here, not space buses or spaceports," the woman retorted.
"But you said you're investigating public facilities," he responded. "Aren't most of spaceports and means of transportation on Earth and the colonies public ? And wouldn't the same issues bear the same problems? "
Silence again. Point two for Mr. Receptionist.
"As for the second predicament," he emphasized the last word with a derisive edge in his voice, "I think we could explain that well. We in the Preventers are hiring only the ones who we think are qualified, being the most trusted security institution here and at the colonies. We have our sense of integrity; gender is not exactly the thing we are concerned about. Military background is of course our main requirement. Mostly, we hire the fresh graduates from the best Military schools like the Lake Victoria Academy and most of the students there are male. In fact, most of the military co-educational schools we know have greater number of male students. If those percentages you said a while ago are true, then we must say that most of the women who applied this year didn't pass the series of test we are giving all the applicants."
The woman jutted her chin up. "I expected from the beginning that you are just like those men who are tied to the status quo. You always regard women as your inferior, lower-ranking citizens!"
The receptionist beamed. "Just a little trivia. Do you know that in ancient Athens, the definition of the word citizen doesn't include the women?"
She gaped incredulously at him. "That's just it, sexist!"
"No, wait," he said calmly, palms up, "It's just something I have to insert. I have to prove that you're wrong."
The old eyes widened and her spectacles slid down as she perspired. "Explain to me exactly why I'm wrong."
"First of all, ma'am," he said while digging for something in his pocket, "I'm not one of those 'men who are tied to the status quo'."
"You just proved that you were."
In response to this, he handed her of what looks like a driver's license to Wufei. Both watched with anticipation as the lady's eyes grew wider—if that was even possible—as she read the content of the little card.
"Lucrezia Noin ma'am," the receptionist said with a one-sided smile. "Preventer First Lieutenant and female."
She made it sound like the two titles always go together. The woman crinkled his nose at the license and raised her glasses to her eyes, then squinted at the officer in front of her.
"That makes your accusation technically wrong, ma'am," Noin stated matter-of-factly, "since I'm not a man and I was never tied to the status quo. If you think we still have issues that need to be addressed from the viewpoint of women, please feel free to pay our superior, Lady Une, a visit at Geneva. That's where our main headquarters is located."
She reached out to take back her license from the frozen old lady, who apparently just learned that even their superior is a woman. Noin smiled as pleasantly as possible, but Wufei could easily see that her eyes are blazing with contained laughter she was aching to make. He doubted that the lady could notice that.
As the old woman get her bearings, she mumbled something to herself and spun around rapidly, her embarrassed steps towards the door making the tiles squeak. When Wufei thought that the woman was finally out of earshot—roughly some seconds before she even reach the door—he burst into teary chuckles. Noin was motionless for some heartbeats.
"Maybe you should let your hair grow a little longer," Wufei suggested between his uncontrollable sniggers. "I think Zechs would even like it."
"Or," Noin said cheerily, "That organization should hire younger investigators. I made my voice as girly as possible while talking to her and she didn't notice it until the end!"
The center echoed with hoots and teases as the little happening was passed on from one agent to another. By the time Wufei remembered his lunch again, it was as cold as it once was before being considered bubble and squeak.
"My meal needs a third reheating," he protested.
"The lunch break will be over in five minutes," Noin reminded him.
"I know," he replied. He forked the sausage and resumed eating. "I think this is the best brunch I have since I joined the Preventers."
"Glad that I can be a source of entertainment," she said in mock bitterness, hearing the implication of his statement.