Prrr, hey baby! is not a good way to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Unfortunately, many women on campus know firsthand that not everyone knows that.
Goshen Monologues, a storytelling project that features the experiences of women at Goshen College, fulfills a long-needed venue for silenced female voices. It is a symbol of progress for our community.
My first experience with catcalling came last summer during my internship in Philadelphia when a man called to one of my female colleagues as we walked toward our office building on the sidewalk.
The man’s audacity came as a shock to me – but my colleague, who has experienced worse harassment, was unphased.
She told me that she’s received such unwanted attention ever since she’s been old enough to walk around alone (and it doesn’t just happen in the city).
It’s everywhere, she told me. And sometimes it’s blood-chillingly terrifying.
Many GC students don’t need to try hard to imagine the fear that ripples down the back of a catcaller’s prey as soon they’ve been spotted.
The ignore-it-keep-looking-forward-and-don’t-stop-moving thought that strikes like an instinct is too familiar to some of GC’s women.
Fear is a weapon of control and at its worst, it’s violent. Goshen Monologues will expose that fear on stage and subvert it completely.
And speaking of progress, The Record published a lot of it this week.
The Athletic Department is moving forward with a new logo, GC was given a silver rating for its environmental sustainability efforts, basketball seniors are moving into “the real world,” the composting crew is gaining national attention, students are volunteering off campus… and then there are the yellow shirts.
For some students, those shirts signify progress. For others, they are the opposite.
Regardless of who wears purple and who wears yellow, I can’t say that I see progress until I see those people talking to each other.
The conversation about GC’s hiring policies is a lot more important than whose campaign has the best merchandise. We are talking about people and identity.
This cannot be a war of the t-shirts.
As soon as the shirts become more important than the people wearing them, we have already lost – all of us. Those shirts will dehumanize the people who wear them and when we see someone as less than human, the best that can happen is that the weapon of fear will slay us all.
Face-to-face conversation – and more importantly, listening – has to happen.
Let’s take a lesson from Goshen Monologues and expose our fears and passions in the flesh, not in a t-shirt.
Talking honestly and lovingly to one another will turn the weapon of fear into a tool for peace.