I had surgery last week, a pretty minor outpatient procedure to remove a bunch of varicose veins from my left leg. My surgeon said he could date them precisely to my last pregnancy: thanks, son! Surgery doesn't make people happy very often, but this surgery went smoothly, was relatively painless, and has had a remarkably quick recovery. Best of all, it's only 10 days later and I can already see (in spite of major bruising) that the veins are gone. The surface of my skin is smooth. The achiness aspect is not gone yet, because my leg still hurts a bit from the surgery itself. In another week or two, I assume the pain will be gone. Yay! I only wish I had done this long ago.
That's the private sphere WMMH. From the public sphere, I've another silver-lining thing; a story that doesn't sound good initially, but from which I squeezed a drop of optimism.
By now you all have probably seen the Hollaback video documenting one woman's experience with catcalling in New York City. It went viral, with many many women attesting to how common her experience was. Some men jumped in to express shock and dismay at the constant and scary nature of the harassment, and other men patiently explained to the clueless why it's a problem. But upsettingly, even more men were invested in downplaying or even defending the harassment. With the defensiveness came anger: within moments of joining different conversations on friends' walls, I was called nasty names by creepy guys. Not Strangers On The Internet (we know how they are), but friends of friends.
At some point, assuming I can find the energy, I plan to write a longer piece on my own history with street harassment and assault, and my evolving attitude toward "harmless" catcalling. For now, though, because this is a WMMH, I'm bringing the good news. Which is this: harassment of women is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Defending the behavior also looks pathetic and out of touch, and clever people are pushing back in creative ways. This guy found a way to instantly show all defensive dudes why catcalling is not about a person being friendly to another person. The message is important (and dead funny) but the messenger is also important: He will be taken seriously in a way other messengers may not. If you have a Twitter account, I'd recommend following him and his #dudesgreetingdudes hashtag.
In a related story, read about this movement among young men to end sexual assault, and this story about a community who stood up and said a loud "no" to a man who preaches to other men that the way to pick up women is to abuse and assault them.
People are standing up. Women are increasingly rejecting the status quo, and critically, more men are standing beside them as allies. This makes me happy.
Happy weekend everyone! May you walk down every street in peace.