It’s been a strange, painful week. I’ve walked around New York City with a constant dull ache in my head and in my heart. New Yorkers are notorious for avoiding contact with each other, but everything about the past 4 days has been different.
Eyes meeting, a brief connection that maybe says “I’m here for you.” and definitely says “I won’t fuck with you.”
You can see so much in people’s eyes:
I haven’t been sleeping well either.
I’ve cried in public several times these past few days, too.
Are we really awake? Is this really real?
Fuck wearing make-up.
Is that Beyoncé I hear, pumping through your headphones?
IF ANYONE GRABS YOU BY THE PUSSY, WE WILL FUCK THEM UP.
GIRL POWER is the one thing keeping me okay right now.
Thanks America, for making me more ferociously feminist than ever.
Much of America, even the majority of voting white women, made it clear they’re cool with women being sexually assaulted: grabbed without consent. That’s really hard news to comprehend. Of course we’ve felt sick all week.
I’ve always felt safe in New York, even after being mugged on the street! But this week has been different. Every day I ride a crowded subway in intimately close proximity to hundreds of strangers. It’s what we do in New York, I’ve rarely thought twice about it. This week, I felt uncomfortable on my commutes. Will someone grab me, now that my country’s made it clear that’s a totally forgivable, nbd action?
Uncomfortable isn’t so bad. I can put on my
big girl nasty woman pants and deal with feeling uncomfortable about my personal safety. I sure as hell shouldn’t have to, but in my white lady privileged, I can say it’ll be okay. My discomfort is a macaron-filled PICNIC compared to being terrified.
I say “terrified” and I’m not exaggerating. That terror is real. Listen to the people the future-POTUS has attacked, look into their eyes, and you’ll see it. FEAR and TERROR.
THIS IS SERIOUS.
On Tuesday night, standing outside what would’ve been Hillary’s victory party, I saw as that terror creeped into people’s consciousness. I’ll never forget a father and teenage daughter that I saw that night. They never dropped their signs, hers read MADAM PRESIDENT 2016 amid drawn blue and red stars. His proclaimed:
Build Bridges Not Walls.
Spread Love, Not Hate.
Great leaders unite, they do not divide.
She wore a star-spangled head scarf and the look on her face was pure joy at the beginning of the night. My eyes were drawn to hers, she made my heart swell with hope and happiness.
I couldn’t stop myself from turning to peek at her periodically through out the night, watching her radiant face fall from joy to worry as the results started coming in. When I left at 11:30PM, they still stood holding their now wilted signs. I know nothing of their story, aside from assumptions I might make from her head scarf and the color of their skin. I know nothing of their fear, aside from the look of anger and horror in his eyes and the sadness and fear in hers. These looks spoke more than any words could at that moment.
I didn’t go over and talk to them. I didn’t offer words of comfort or reassurance. I’m not presumptuous. But my heart went out to them that shitty, shitty night. It continues to go out to them today.
I was stupid enough to stand up to a guy who stole my phone on a New York City street. I better be smart enough to stand up for any fellow New Yorker being harassed for their race, religion, or sexual orientation. Don’t worry, I’ll be safe. (I gotta be, I’m about to lose my insurance.) I’ll take the non-confrontational method from this great Bystander’s Guide to Standing up Against Islamophobic Harassment (and Other Types of Harassment, Too). I encourage you to do so too.
I’ll add a safety pin to my wardrobe. Not as a nod to my punk rock teenage years when I railed against the Bush administration, but as symbol to let strangers know they can feel safe with me.
A badge of support I’ll affix to my chest. You can learn more about The Incredible Reason You Might Start Seeing Safety Pins Everywhere. NYC starts trends: let’s make safety pins the must-have accessory of 2017.
I needed a place to write this week. Yes, about politics. Writing always makes me feel better about shit situations (that should be obvious if you’ve read: my numerous posts about heartbreak). While I’m being propelled to become more politically active and less complacent than I have been in years (and I encourage you to join me in that!!), I don’t expect New York Cliché to turn into a Political Blog. There’ll be plenty of that elsewhere, all over the internet.