A few days ago I went to a friend’s house to visit her and her adorable new baby girl. I walked with her up the stairs to an impeccably decorated nursery. I admired every detail of the room. The specific color choices, the images hanging on the walls, and the pristine white furniture got me thinking about how much time, effort, and love her parents had put into their daughter’s first room. Her haven. Her safe place. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this precious little girl’s face. As I watched her mother nuzzle her, I said a quick prayer for her and all the other little girls out there in the world. That they would all be so fortunate to feel that same love, safety, and joy that this little angel was experiencing now.
Recently, I was asked if our blog was going to only be about feminism. I said we would write about anything that weighed heavy on our hearts. It’s true that the issues that make an impression on us the most are ones that women face. And why wouldn’t they? We are both women.
Being a woman is incredible. The ability to bring life into the world is nothing short of a miracle. That extra gene in our body to be able to show compassion and to nurture is really marvelous. I know this very well because I see it daily in my own mother. She has an incredible ability to juggle her family, career, and responsibilities without ever missing a beat. She’s strong, confident, and intelligent, and the song from the Disney movie Tangled is so accurate in saying “mother knows best” (Hi Mummy!).
But there’s another side to being a woman. This other side consists of inequality, harassment, and discrimination. These aren’t things faced by women of a specific geographical location or certain socioeconomic class. Women on this other side are combatting things like wage inequality, the right to drive a car, and the right to decide whom and when they will marry.
I came across an article recently that really troubled me. A mother in Maharashtra shaved her 16 year old daughter’s head so she would be “less appealing” and would be spared by her rapists who continue to harass her for making a complaint against them. Where the justice system failed her and her daughter, this mother decided to take what little control she had in the situation and did what she thought would protect her child.
Maybe you can’t relate to this article because its not something you think would happen in your hometown. Maybe it’s something you think only happens in rural villages in third world countries. But what about the places you live. Have you faced or witnessed some kind of injustice in your place of work or education? I have.
The other day I was taking the red-line train home after class. For any Chicagoans or for those who have taken the train during prime-time rush hour, you know that it can get a bit crowded. However, that was not the case in this instance. It wasn’t shoulder to shoulder jammed packed as it usually is.
I stood up as the train approached my stop when a man, who I don’t know, grabbed my bottom. I turned around quickly, fists clenched and arms stiff by my side. I felt this red-hot burning anger inside of me.
Infuriated, I immediately asked the man, “what the f**k do you think you’re doing?!” And the response I got was even more enraging. At this point, I didn’t think it was possible to be more pissed off, but I was wrong. This man. This stranger who had no business putting his hands on my body had the nerve, THE AUDACITY, to say, “Well, with those tight jeans you’re wearing, you’re basically putting it out there for people.”
Mouth hanging open. Eyes wide. Speechless. That was my initial reaction.
I have no words to describe the pure, unadulterated rage I felt at his comment. How one man, can make me feel so cheap and disrespected with one sentence rendered me speechless. Fortunately I quickly recovered and told him (or yelled, tomato-tomatoe) that I could be naked and it still wouldn’t give him the right to put his hands on my body without my permission. And then I ended with a not-so-nice line telling him what he should go do, before exiting the train.
This is the type of mentality that plagues our society today. The “she-asked-for-it-because-of-what-she’s-wearing” mentality.
What was most shocking to me was that no one on the train reacted to this incident. There were 10 other people standing near me and not one person spoke up. No one felt the pull to say something about an incident this disgusting that happened in front of their eyes. Awareness is step one. Action can only began after. Today it was me. Tomorrow it might be you or someone you know. Will you still stay silent?
And to all of you who share his mentality, I only have one word for you that sums up my feelings perfectly…