Shortly after the New Year, I read a post by a young woman of what it means to be a woman in a world of discrimination and indoctrination. The post, “I Am Reminded I Am a Woman When I Learn to Be Silent,” by Laura Jensen, is a powerful sentiment that I have seen reflected in many forms of media. The piece hit me in many ways that were both unexpected and obvious. It made me sad, reminding me of all the times catcalling had occurred to me. It made me angry and oddly comforted that this writer did what I did when presented with a situation in which I may be harassed; I attempted to hide in plain sight, downplay my identity and wish for invisibility. The plight of women is real. So is discrimination. Women, as well as, many identities of humans in all societies feel the weight of otherness placed on them by the dominant society. My initial take-away from this piece was that it was a straightforward post that needed no other evidence to support it. Women feel othered, littled, harassed and disrespected; it is an unpleasant, universal reality.
A week later, reminiscent of the author’s own decision to revisit her own initial response to the question of whether she thought often of her identity as a woman, I thought again about what feelings this piece evoked in me. There are other truths that the statements silence. While a majority of the time I may avoid a construction zone because I fear harassment, there are other times when I don’t. I asked myself the questions: Why didn’t I? Why should I?
This post is a thoughtful and reflexive response and an answer to those questions. I am very grateful to the author’s post and how it inspired me to think beyond. This blog post will first quote the original piece, followed by my own interpretation in bold.