On Sunday night, I was walking home in the East Village when I passed two men, leaning on a newspaper stand. I hadn’t walked ten feet past them when I heard a whistle, turned around and made the decision not to explain to them why whistling at me as they would a dog, is wrong. Previous experience has prevented me from saying more- I once had bottles thrown at me while lecturing a group of men about gender inequality after I walked by them and they gleefully shared all the things they wanted to “do to me.” They called me a bitch for standing up for myself, as the Snapple bottles they threw at me shattered on the ground.
Last night, I was at an event in Jersey City with a dear friend who was trying to call a cab for me that would take me back to Manhattan. As a very drunk guest kept grabbing at my friend’s phone, I asked him to relax for a minute as my friend was trying to do me a favor so I could get home. He became angry and eventually had to be pushed away from me after he sarcastically barked, “What can I do for you sweetheart? You need a drink, honey?” Another guest reassured me he was just very drunk and that everyone acts like that sometimes. But there is no excuse for misogyny.
At work, I’m harassed by male colleagues. One of them slapped my backside and told me to go sit down as I stood next to his desk at a meeting a few years ago. Human Resource administrators were unhelpful, telling me they would “look into” the situation.
It’s important to recognize these acts are unacceptable. We live in a society that enables, and even rewards, misogyny- so what can we do to stop it?
We can, and must, continue to use our voices.
Over the years, I’ve changed the way I respond to these degrading antics. I have been met with silence at work, and violence on the street. These events have helped influence Onward and F-Word, as the intention was that my words, if documented on this platform, would help generate the conversation our communities so desperately need to participate in. I wanted to show everyone- men and women- how great our world can be if women are recognized as equals.
I anticipate both rational and irrational responses to my work- I completely expected to ruffle some feathers along the way. However, it’s important for all feminists, women’s rights advocates and allies to understand that our work is not in vain. We must continue our fight for justice, reproductive rights, equal pay, abortion access, a culture without misogyny or sexism, freedom from sex-based legislation, and more. We will be met with resistance, but that should only provide further evidence as to why this movement is so important, and necessary.