A Story Where I Don’t Have to be the Damsel

Last Saturday, I marched in the Norfolk Sister City Women’s March. I was a part of millions of people who came together to show up, stand up, and speak up. I have a lot of thoughts about it but they are still brewing.

A few days ago, a friend posted asking for friends to share examples of sexism and misogyny they have experienced. The idea being to help point it out to people who might not recognize it. There were many stories of obvious sexism and even some that I think cross the line into harassment. I shared two examples that are more subtle:

1. I had a boss insist that a male coworker help me carry a box (which I could carry with no struggle) to my car
2. A man held the door open for me, there was another door before we entered the building so I said thank you and then I went to hold the second door open for him. Instead of thanking me and walking through he stopped and insisted I go through. I told him I was just returning the favor and for him to go ahead, he responded “I couldn’t” and stood there staring at me while he grabbed the door around me.

Someone else commented that they found that behavior chivalrous and charming.

But it’s not charming, it’s rude and demeaning. And I don’t need chivalry. I just need the decency for people to see me as a person and not a damsel in distress that can’t lift a box or even hold open a door.

It shouldn’t matter gender or sex, if someone’s struggling with a box, ask if they want help. Hold doors open for men and women, it’s the polite thing to do.

Sexism can be big things but it also is little things. I want to tackle the big things. I want equal pay, equal rights, etc. I want women (and their doctors) to have control over their bodies, not a room full of men with no medical knowledge. But sometimes I wonder if it’s better to start small. Hit society on both fronts. Some people might wake up to the big things, but for others the small stuff might be what slips through the cracks and makes them take a step back, really look at society and change their own actions.

Since last week I’ve been thinking about a quote from Westworld:

“You said people come here to change the story of their lives. I imagined a story where I didn’t have to be the damsel.”  -Dolores

Saturday, millions of people imagined a world where they didn’t have to be the damsel. I’m not the damsel of my story, I’m the knight and I’m going to fight.

If you want to join me and are asking yourself what’s next, check out the Women’s March campagin: 10 Actions / 100 Days. Write your representatives, run for office, donate to charities, elevate minority voices, find your way to stand up and fight for what you believe.

 

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