I first started crafting this while sitting on the beach as the sun was setting on a day I would rather forget. Finally, vacation was all around me. But as I attempted to relax, a problematic sense of unbalance took effect. Unable to forget the events of the day, that feeling I had been ignoring was ignited. I must confront and truly acknowledge what had been lying before me: an underlayer of sexism.
While meandering in bliss to dinner earlier that day, I passed a group of teens who were listening to their rapping comrade. The rapping teen turned his attention to me and insensitively aimed his words toward me. He started to rap about wanting my white pussy. I felt as if he was verbally undressing me for all to see. Instead of confrontation, I just ignored it as I hurriedly sped past. I wore a blank face of indifference and powered forward. Physical violence is not stronger than verbal—they both leave their internal and external marks.
That was not my first encounter with verbally offensive men nor will it be my last. So why didn’t I say anything? Because fighting every sexist battle is overwhelming and mentally draining.
Catcalls and threats are a frustratingly familiar occurrence and happen no matter the location nor the clothes of that instance. While I was ambling across the street a few years ago, a handful of males approached in a car with the windows rolled down and shouted at me how beautiful I was. When I didn’t respond with profound gratefulness, one miscreant actually egged on his friend to run me down.
On another occasion while I was strolling home at night in college, a group of five young males beckoned to a young passing woman: “You are beautiful. I want to rape you.” I will never forget how she just starting running for her life in the opposite direction. In my blind fury, I confronted them with absolute indignation of how they could fathom this was a flattering statement and then they actually said the same savage words to me. That statement runs a chill down a women’s spine. If my boyfriend at the time didn’t come along, I don’t know what would have happened.
On vacation, I hoped to be in a bubble of slap-happy bliss. I hoped to find a short escape with reality, to take a break from the business and worries of my daily life. On vacation, you expect life to become easy, happy, and idyllic. Yet, this can never truly happen wherever I go, because the world is absolutely drenched in sexism.
Raising my voice makes a difference, but realistically does not make a mark every time. Regardless of age or gender, that outright slandering absolutely cannot help but be acknowledged. Once objectified, individuals back down, the bullies take hold and all is lost. The remarkable young Nobel Peace prize winner persevered after being attacked by the Taliban while advocating for education. Regardless of her safety, she fights a daily battle for girls’ and women’s education. The world needs more Malalas to banish the injustices.
Stay strong and let your voice remain mighty and strong. The voice of the aggressors needs to be drowned. The injustices cannot remain ignored. I won’t remain silent. Progress in the world would never occur otherwise. Having a voice is wonderful; that is why I am a journalist. My voice will not remain hidden behind a wall.
Ignorance continues to be a major factor in the prevalence of sexism. Educating others and creating discussions on valuing each gender is one step in the direction of generating more awareness. Each person on this planet deserves the same respect, no matter how he, she or they identify.
That crude teen ruined my night, but he also showed me a cautionary view of the world. No matter where I go, no matter how happy and freeing my circumstances may seem, sexism will forever be a part of my world. However, I won’t let it take hold of me and overwhelm me. This battle of discrimination against my gender will forever be mine.
While contemplating sexism on that small island split by two countries, a beach bar singer began to croon “Stand By Me” nearby. I will not stay silent nor will I let future generations be objectified. One voice makes a difference.
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