time to fight

When I took Nellie out on the leash the other night, I heard the wind rushing through the trees, a hushing of Mother Nature swaying white pines, ruffling oak and maple leaves beginning to tinge orange with the coming of autumn. Weighing in at seventy pounds, Nellie’s commanding presence makes me feel safer when walking in the dark. No one would deny her might. Regardless, I am always mindful of my vulnerability, even in this small town, telling myself: stand erect; walk with purpose; be alert; avoid the shadows, know when and how to fight.

I’m aware of these things because, as a woman, I’ve been shaped by living in a patriarchal, unjust, often misogynistic world. I will never forget the times when, as a girl, I answered the phone only to hear some creep panting on the other end. Or the afternoon in my early teens when an older punk—also a stranger—aimed to kiss me, then whipped out his junk and tried to wrench my arm into touching it. Or the countless times I’ve been catcalled by random men passing in cars or by groups of them lunching on a curb. And how can I forget the pervert who rushed up and hoisted my skirt above my waist? Or the passerby who grabbed my crotch? Or the boyfriends who tried to go too far, even though I’d made my limits clear?

In my defense, I've brushed off, sucker punched, outsmarted, taken on, chased down, torn into, fought against and rebuffed those who may otherwise have done me harm.

As a woman, these kinds of vile offenses are common. And then there are the more subtle transgressions. I remember feeling the resentment from some of my male peers, and even from a few macho fathers, when I became a winning swim coach of a once-losing team in a summer league coached mostly by men. I’ve been underestimated simply because of my sex. I was passed up for a design promotion when my male boss hired a man with exactly zero experience in the industry. I’ve been condescended to by men, knowing without a doubt I’d never have been spoken to so patronizingly if I were one of them. I’ve gotten the eye-roll, the long sigh, the rude interruption, the scornful huff, the abusive slurs, the ridicule and belittlement when discussing equality, female prowess, sexism, and when challenging sexist “norms.”

I resent the brazen objectification of women in advertising and film, the banning of burkinis and—opposite side of the coin—the required minimum measurements of women’s Olympic volleyball bikinis (yes, this is fact). I see men in power exerting control over women’s lives, over our reproductive rights, our access to birth control, our access to health care. I see school dress codes shaming girls, guilting them for distracting boys, in turn prizing boys’ education over that of girls while harming girls' self esteem.

As a woman, I’ve been scorned for being too emotional, too serious, too sensitive, too assertive, too rowdy, and then, when confronting my accusers, I see the backpedaling and the gutless excuse that it was all just meant as a joke. I hear folks accuse women of being shrill, while criticizing their attire and their hair and their looks and their age and their weight instead of noting their brains and skill, and accusing women of lacking stamina when women are proven to have more. I hear of policies written by men taxing women’s hygiene products, of businesses and individuals charging women more than men for identical merchandise and services. I see a nation paying women less for the same work, barring women from male-dominated fields, from promotions and from positions of authority. I see Hollywood rebuff scripts dominated by women, see them dismiss films written and directed by us. I see predominantly female industries being lead mostly by men. I see a congress and a judicial system sorely lacking in female representation. I see nearly three-hundred years of white male presidents of these great United States. And yet we make up over half of the population.

I wish I’d had a child with whom I could teach to value women and girls, to uplift them, to advocate for them. Had Calvin not been born missing some of the white matter in his brain, had he not been living with epilepsy and been prescribed so many drugs, he might have been that child. As it is, however, Calvin doesn’t appear to discriminate, so perhaps my wish came true.

As a woman, I’ve generally had to be better at things to gain the same respect and rewards as men. As the fastest sprinter on a men’s water polo team, I was usually chosen for—and won—the face-off in games. And though I wasn't the best passer or shooter on the team, thankfully, my fellow teammates never made me feel inadequate or marginalized; those men had allowed themselves to evolve.

I’ve heard it said that if we want our society, our policies, to reflect our values, we have to elect people who reflect us, who literally look like we do. Now is the time for a paradigm shift. It’s time to walk with purpose, to be alert, to avoid the shadows of a less enlightened time.

It’s time to fight—for us. It's time to vote for her.



  1. She has my vote and my husband's vote for sure. Just wish I could vote 100 times for her!

  2. She has my vote and my husband's vote for sure. Just wish I could vote 100 times for her!