From Paris to New York and everything in between
Don’t get me wrong - I am a Feminist. I’m an activist. This will never change. I’ve been a Feminist since I was like 3; as far as I remember knowing that I was a person with female parts. Believe it or not, I do remember conversations I had about women and equality and trying to understand why I was getting a “kicken” toy instead of a rocket or a space station or something I thought was more fun and interesting. So my history runs long.
I find it hard to be a Feminist because sometimes, I am catching myself thinking that what I am doing is not right for a woman to do. When I date men who are younger (which I mostly do by the way because I date people, not their age), I am the one thinking that’s not right. When I get into a fight with someone who sexually assaulted me on the street by making unwelcomed remarks about my butt, or by calling me “honey”, I am the one who thinks that it’s not lady like. When I am dressing in the morning, I choose neutral clothes as to not get attacked or attract unwanted attention.
It’s hard for me to admit because I always encourage others to feel free to do whatever they want; to break gender clichés and just be who they are; to walk around naked if they want to because HECK being naked doesn’t mean “rape me”.
I needed to admit this though because I realize we are the ones who limit ourselves; and by “we” I mean even the most Feminist of us. We are often called names like “haters” and “hairy feminists” and “obsolete” and what not. We lose clients and men who we thought might be interesting because they don’t understand what a Feminist is. I don’t want to date those men, but it still hurts to feel rejected.
As a man and a woman, we need to train our brains to accept Feminism as a way of life, as a fact, and equality as a given. Feminism is just about THAT: Equal rights and breaking gender roles and acceptance.
Some people even say that Feminism is dead. That Feminism was an issue 50 years ago. That we don’t need Feminism because now women can vote. We don’t need Feminism because if you are a Feminist, you shouldn’t accept for men to be manly and nice and respectful and to open the door for you. You know what though, Feminism is not dead. Feminism is very much alive and it will be as long as we live in a rape culture. Feminism is alive as long as we don’t have equal pay for the same jobs. Feminism is alive because there are men out there making laws about raping you with an electronic wand when you want an abortion and want to have control over your body. Feminism will be alive as long as women can’t just walk around naked, run bare breasted like men do, go out at night alone in a short dress and high heels if they want to, and feel safe.
It’s hard to be a Feminist because our brains have been conditioned to tolerate that women be raped if they wear a short skirt, be beaten if they speak too loudly, be humiliated if they step out of societal norms.
I am a Feminist. I am an activist. And right now, I have decided that I will condition my brain to stop stopping me.
Also, you should watch this video and then read the ignorant comments. It’s pretty eye opening.
6 May 2013
A version for tumblr that can be read without opening a new tab, since plenty of people would scroll past this story otherwise.
The bravest woman on Earth.
Today is Women’s Day- a good day to celebrate this incredible young woman.
I feel privileged to be the same species as Malala, and I hope to be half as brave as her, once in my life.
Straight up: Malala is a hero.
I have no words
9 March 2013
Standing at a bar for several hours, talking to a friend’s cousin and her daughter. We talk about gardening and feminism and comedy and family and names and cities and growing up. It’s wonderful. It’s Thursday, it’s too late, but it’s wonderful.
Two men approach us, quite drunk, offering (demanding) to sing us a song at karaoke. They are put off by the daughter’s saucy demand that they sing commercial jingles in the style of Barry Manilow. Perhaps by the several other (male) friends standing near the collection of tables. They return to their spot at the bar, and the younger woman they are with. I think they are brothers, and the woman is the daughter of one. One asserts that this is the case, but they might be lying. Who cares?
The last two comedy friends leave, both dudes. The three of us are waiting for someone to come back with a car to drive the other two home. I’m waiting with them, but we’re still talking, still talking about comedy and rape culture and feminism and twitter and street harassment.
The more aggressive would-be karaoke-er comes back, this time drunker. He stumbles over, grabbing the edge of my purse and my shoulder roughly to keep from falling. I pull my bag and body away, roughly, anger rising, my shoulders stiffen with it. He slurs out an ‘invitation’ for us to come out and get sandwiches with them. I say ‘No thank you, have a good night. No, THANK YOU, we’re fine, have a good night.’ He goes very still, staring daggers (wavy, drunk daggers) into the side of my face as I ignore him. Finally, I snap. I’m just too angry that this is happening. ‘Yes? What? We said no.’
OH YEAH? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??
I’m a human being, that’s who I am.
WHAT KIND OF HUMAN BEING?
A FUCKING GROWN UP. Please leave us alone. Don’t touch me, DON’T TOUCH ME, leave me alone.
Oh yeah, you think you’re a grown up? Where are you from? Where are you from? I’ll give you something to fuck. Fuck you! Fuck me! Fuck me right here! Fuck me right here! Who do you think you are?
His friend comes over, touching my shoulder.
Don’t touch me, leave me alone, leave me alone, no no no no no no NO.
FUCK YOU FUCK YOU, FUCK ME RIGHT HERE, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, WHERE ARE YOU FROM YOU, YOU WANT THIS (this is the point where my brain shut down and stopped recording)
My eyes rove around the bar, looking for anyone I know. Preferably, in this moment, a tall and scary-looking anyone, but they’re all gone. I’m standing at a table, gripping my jacket and holding my bag out at angle from me to keep some distance from the drunk, insistent, entitled, enraged face. Finally I manage make eye contact with the bartender, who hurries around the bar and throws them both out. I look away, in the other direction. My face is provoking them, I think, so I look away. Neither man apologizes to us, but the young woman does. She says ‘He’s not usually like that’.
I’m shaking, vibrating almost. I keep my hand around my drink to mask it, and immediately start making jokes in a jokey voice, but it sounds strangled in my head. We had literally JUST been talking about what those people who dare to exist in public as women go through to avoid street harassment. How we listen to headphones to avoid hearing it, or we change our habits to avoid certain people or areas. It’s nothing to do with age or ‘attractiveness’ or clothes. It’s because we dare to exist as women in public, and our bodies are therefore fair game to be controlled by male voices.
And it happened. It happened right there.
I had been planning to walk home because I’d already taken the train twice and I don’t live that far away, an easy 20 minute walk through well-lit and popular neighborhoods, and I’m trying to save money. If I can walk it in under 50 minutes, I am trying to do that. The weather’s turning and it’s not that bad. Instead I scurry out, doing all I can to change my appearance. Hair up, hat on, stepping lightly and trying to make no stepping, scuffing noise in my sneakers. Walking quickly, peering in every doorway. Fairly running to the train. Then checking the corners, the stairs, the platforms for their shapes, for anyone looking back at me. I stand on the platform, picking a corner where no one to can come behind me. I take out my book. It’s heavy, it’s fantasy, I love it, and I can throw it in someone’s face and run away if I have to.
It sucks to feel helpless. It sucks that there are people who buy into the patriarchy of our culture so completely that three women talking on their own and not wanting their company are inconceivable to them. It sucks that three women of varying ages, dressed in sneakers and jeans and layers and blazers and ridiculously bulky cable knit scarves that they just really LIKE okay? can’t be left alone, because obviously they are there, IN PUBLIC because they want MEN.
I don’t want your apologies. I don’t want your anger on my behalf. I don’t want to have to write this every time it happens. I don’t want it to happen. I want you to change it. I want you to make it clear EVERY TIME you see anyone pull this shit, that it’s not acceptable.
I’m just exhausted and I want it to stop.
Happens way too often. Let’s make this stop.
Let’s ALL make this stop.
1 March 2013