I Was Never A Feminist Until I Imagined My Daughter Going Through What I Have Gone Through

Jesse Herzog
Jesse Herzog

It’s waking up in the morning and questioning my favorite dress. The question never is, “is this appropriate for work?” But rather “Is this appropriate for society?” I check the length. I check the cut. I wonder what shoes to wear. I wonder will this subject me to ridicule and how much?

And I carry on with my day. I know from the moment I step out that door things will be different. A dress I love in the privacy of my house could easily never be worn again.

And I stand at the bus stop and get whistled and honked at. Do they think it’s a compliment? Do they think I feel better about myself? Do they think they have any right?

It’s the walk to work as I pass a group of construction workers. My earphones are in and my head is down, but I can feel them watching as I pass. And suddenly my dress feels like it’s getting shorter. My high heels are getting higher and I wonder why did I choose to wear that and draw attention to myself.

It’s the ride in the cab as I discuss my knowledge of the country he came from and my opinion on conflicts going on. It’s him telling me as I leave, for a beautiful woman you are surprisingly intelligent.

It’s a night at the bar with my friends and someone touches my boob with a comment, “boobs like that shouldn’t be hidden.”

It’s the comments I heard in high school of a woman’s place was in the kitchen and she’s only good for cleaning, cooking and sex. And they laugh. Everyone’s laughs. It’s a joke I’m not understanding. It’s a joke at my expense.

It’s me being called a slut if I sleep around. It’s him getting a high five when he does it.

It’s the comment an older man makes as I did community service at 14. “If I were your age, the things I would have done to you.”

It’s the stranger trying to feel me up in public and when I cringe and move away, he says he likes a challenge. Or I’m made to feel bad.

It’s being called a tease if I don’t sleep with him and a whore if I do.

It’s the tears my best friend cried when she got harassed at work and she called out sick the next day. And as much as I wanted her to report it, she was a gorgeous young girl who wouldn’t stand a chance in a male dominated company.

Because the reality is we live in a male-dominated society.

I wonder about these people and if they have daughters. I wonder about these people and if they have sisters. I wonder about these people and I think who made them feel like they have the right to make me feel bad about myself just for going through the motions.

Because I know I’m not the only one who endures this. I know I’m not the only one who has a dress they can’t wear. I know I’m not the only one who’s cried themselves to sleep.

And for a while, I never considered myself a feminist. I laughed along with the jokes and thought people were too sensitive.

But then I thought if it were my daughter if it were my sister it wouldn’t be okay.

It isn’t okay. And we need to stop pretending like it is. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Kirsten Corley

Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words.

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