14 years old. That’s around the age I was when I first started to notice the behavior of men when I was in public, mainly when I was alone. Taking the city bus home from school in a Catholic school uniform will open your eyes to a whole mess of humanity.
I’m all grown up now – a 20something currently living in NYC. The harassment, both subtle and overt, has been a part of my life for almost 15 years. And I’m tired. I’m tired of the mansplaining, the catcalling, the commentary on my appearance, the power plays, the sexualizations, the threats, the catcalls-turned-to-threats… The list goes on and on.
I have a hypothesis. I believe we (women) only share these stories with other women. We make jokes, we commiserate, we rage… We know they will understand. We know they will sympathize. But we don’t share these stories with enough men. We don’t tell our fathers, husbands, brothers, boyfriends, male friends, etc. And I truly believe that if we told the men in our lives every single time something like this happened (whether the story was big and scary, or as small as being told to smile on the street) that they would quickly grow tired of the conversation and become annoyed with us.
And I wouldn’t blame them. It would not be a reflection of the kind of men they are, because I have *good* men in my life. Men who would never act the way the antagonists in each of our stories act. But I’d become annoyed too. It would be an incredible burden to have to hear the same situations, the same fears, the same active harassments over and over again.
I wouldn’t blame them for hating the burden. The problem is… I hate it, too. But I can’t erase it from my frame of reference by simply choosing not to talk about it, or not to hear it talked about.
There are many internet outlets where women share these stories as a way to show the world just how often this happens and how violating it can be. I love and appreciate these outlets, but I’m wondering if an all-out-strike isn’t as effective as showing people (mainly, the men we don’t vocally share this daily burden with) what it’s truly like for *each* of us. When millions of stories pour into our newsfeeds, we lump them all together and maybe even start to feel apathetic. I want people to see the facts of what it is like for *one* woman over a period of time.
I want to start a dialogue that exposes the sheer volume of these stories. And to do that, I need to document them. So, this is a year in my life. This is a year of being a woman in today’s society.