“I’m not a person to this guy. I’m not a human being who is giving a clear back-off signal. No, I was a cute thing, an object for him to look at.”
We can see misogyny in the big decisions our leaders make. We can feel, experience, dread the misogyny in the everyday rules that people follow.
When the House passes a bill that would allow businesses to deny women reproductive health care, such as birth control, “based on moral or religious grounds,” we see it in an overarching, overwhelming, out-of-control way.
When the man on the bus corners me and asks me why I’m not smiling, I feel it—we see it in the strained look of the woman across the aisle who he’s going to sidle up to next.
Don’t you dare tell me that we no longer need feminism, activism, that consciousness-raising is dead, when the consciousness of our country often caters to the lowest common denominator.
I’m sick of you wanting me to be sexy, then denying me the right to be sexual.
Sick of vibrator envy and orgasm misinformation, done with being followed and scrutinized, over political hate. I can no longer wrap my head or body around being skin and bones and “real” simultaneously, when like most women, I fall somewhere on a spectrum of perfectly imperfect. Finished with anyone who embraces the feminine, like trans women and queer women, being made illegitimate.
I’m through with my sexuality belonging to anyone but myself. Care to join me?
I’m through with my forward movement, my free navigation through space and time, being halted in the most minute ways.
I am quite literally talking about my ability to get to where I need to go safely.
When I’ve got a book out and my eyes peeled late at night at the bus stop, refrain from craning your neck. “Infinite Jest, huh? That’s a big book. I see you like big books.”
I do, and wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if I could read it in peace, without you standing close to me? Without being belittled?
I thought my bike would save me, too.
“Hey babe, can I get a ride? Babe on the bike? … Bitch.” “You’re brave, being out here, muscles.” “I just want to talk, slow down!”
I’ve been touched, grabbed, told to smile, and insulted. I’m living with politicians, musicians, teachers, authors, men and women who don’t understand the lived experience of gender having one hand on my throat at all times. These aren’t friends I can have a compassionate conversation with.
These are strangers. Strangers who are no better than the ones who screw with me daily.
Understanding the big picture of misogyny, what can we do about the little stuff that piles up? How do you talk back when you are embarrassed, scared and silenced?
Enter Laci Green. She’s a prolific blogger and peer educator who primarily uses YouTube and tumblr as her platform. Her take on street harassment is one of my absolute favorites. She’s extremely funny, but extraordinarily knowledgeable and concise. Not to mention that it’s good advice.
The fight isn’t over. Be safe, kind, and informed. But, for the love of life, don’t be patient.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise