What It Feels Like To Be A Woman Walking Home At Night


A Misogynist is defined as follows:

A misogynist is an individual who has the audacity to say, “If you’re going out to a party, walk past some guys who then proceed to make lewd and obscene statements about your body or what you’re wearing and you feel uncomfortable… too fucking bad! You don’t have the right to not feel objectified.” Most commonly, the misogynist believes that objectifying women and harassing them is ingrained within the 1st Amendment, that is, his right to speech. A misogynist, such the author of “You Don’t Have The Right To Be Uncomfortable, #YesAllWomen” will also lament that more men than women were killed and injured in a misogyny-inspired shooting spree, which is, like, too fucking bad.

When #YesAllWomen began to circulate on Twitter, I was unaware of it and of its underpinnings. My opinion of Twitter hashtags is that they often do not amount to fruition; #NotYourAsianSideChick did not create a broader discussion about “novelty” Asians, and Asian women still continue to be the “side-chick”. #YesAllWomen became something more — Time wrote about it, The New Yorker identified its power. It became more than misogyny. It brought to the forefront an act that would have easily been swept under the rug under the guise of psychosis. White male privilege had nowhere to hide.

My mother bought a pepper spray for me, encased in a baby pink leather holder. She said that she was five months too late, that she should have given it to me when I had moved to New York. Every night she asks me if I carry it with me and I say yes, and every night she reminds me to keep it in my hand as soon as I get off the train.

A new thing I do on nights out is no longer looking at shoes and making mental notes of those that I desire and those that I do not, no; a new thing I do now is count the number of women on the L train or in dim and cramped spaces whose keys hang from the metal loop of their cross-body bags. Vogue doesn’t mention this as a new trend or a timeless statement, but the more I look for it, the more I see it.

A co-worker tells me that she is now the owner of three pepper sprays, gifts from her mother every time she visits the city, which is probably a good thing to have since a man beat a former co-worker’s face in with a rod as she walked to the subway after leaving work one night. When I think of 5th Avenue, I think of luxury and dreams, the best of the best and that man with his iron rod.

When I walk home at night, I can’t decide on whether I should leave my headphones on, or if I should take them off. I don’t want to hear catcalls and I don’t want to be asked if I’m Trini or Dominican or Indian because they know that I can hear, but I don’t want them to think that I am unaware, an open invitation. I am careful to only walk in shadows and to look down and away. I try not to exist because I am told that otherwise it is my fault. Funny how something out of my control is my fault, how my co-worker and the women on the train and I are afraid to exist when we are on our own at night. Funny how we are punished for being. Funny how we should appear small and weak to those who think of us as small and weak.

I am startled by the number of women I come across who grasp their keys between their fingers as they walk home, ready; by the number of women I meet who jog home in heels if they must and knives in pockets. I am startled because the reality of harassment and misogyny scares me.

To say “too fucking bad” to when a woman is made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe by a man who makes unwelcome comments about her and her physicality is to say that she should either stay home or allow herself to be subjected to harassment. Conversely, perhaps women should make disrespectful and invasive comments about men to them, given that Equality is the foundation of a democracy, such as that of America’s.

While Jay Sun’s Hobbesian sentiment is appreciated, saying “too fucking bad” isn’t a good enough solution. Men who harass women should be educated to be respectful of women and unlearn their blatant misogyny. Women should be taught to better protect themselves, to make eye contact and walk tall when they are alone and a mechanism to defend themselves against unwanted attention from the kind of men whose only resolve is “too fucking bad.”

image – Ana