Yesterday my colleague went on our Facebook account to host a discussion with some young people doing amazing things. She spoke with a biologist and a mountain climber about their adventures around the globe and the causes that push them to work hard. They talked about the effects of discovering microbes at the bottom of the ocean, the power of teaching young girls to reach higher, and the music that inspires them during their journeys.
Unfortunately, when we scrolled down the page at the end of the talk, we saw note after note about the women in the video. Men were talking about how they looked, making vague threats about what they’d like to do to them, and commenting on their bodies. It was offensive, of course, but really it was pathetic. And we weren’t surprised.
Every day I walk down the street under the scrutiny of the men around me. I speak knowing there are people who are not interested in what I have to say, only in how I look saying it. I move through my life recognizing and ignoring people who want me to be quieter, softer, sweeter. The women I know are used to pushing these realities out of their minds, so they can continue to do awesome things every day. But sometimes you can’t ignore them. The comments on our talk were a reminder of the sad men trying to bring down the strong, bold, interesting women who threaten their unearned elevated status.
But you know what we did? We deleted the comments and watched the number of views rise and rise and rise. Because those men are so much smaller than the accomplishments of these young people and my colleague and the women who helped support them. We just clicked a little button next to their vile words and erased them.
If only there were tiny X’s next to the men on the street who harass me. I could just walk by and press the button hanging a few inches from a particularly obnoxious person’s head—sending him to some world where he has to watch on a loop all the terrible things he’s said and done until he learns how to be a decent, respectful person. Technology—it giveth and it taketh.