Don’t hide behind a hashtag. Be the change you want to see. Support your fellow women. Believe them when they tell you a man you know has molested them. Don’t belittle them in response. Don’t tell them that’s just how it is. Don’t be a silent victim, speak up if you have been harassed. Teach your children to have self-respect and voices of their own. Raise your sons to be feminists and your daughters to be respectful to them in return. Don’t expect women to be better than men. We are not. We are just as flawed. Don’t call yourself goddess or a queen. We are all humans. Just imagine if men called themselves gods and kings. Don’t call other women bitches just because they disagree with you. Don’t sell yourself short for a relationship. Don’t objectify other women or reduce them to their looks. As an artist, create the content that you miss. Write female leads without abuse. Don’t tell their stories in relation to a man but let them be strong for themselves. Don’t support violence. Don’t promote, condone or further it on stage or screen. Don’t be a part of what in real life you oppose. Take responsibility for your actions. Simply practice what you preach.
20°, the sun unusually strong for a day in mid October. A woman leans against a tree, her feet bare on the grass still luscious green. Her bike right next to her, her head buried in a book – she makes me pause. A group of seniors playing cards on a stump. Fallen trees all around them like wooden corpses as the last remnants of a storm so heavy it knocked out an entire city for a day. Unusual for us. I look at them, the splinters, bark and branches. They make me sad. All those golden crowns depleted on the ground, the random specks of red like drops of blood. My park was wounded badly, I can see that now. And every tree that lost its grip with roots too weak to withstand a tempest on muddy ground slows my steps and makes my heart cry out. How vile that force of nature, a tantrum really, sudden, crass. Such a reflection of my year or less self-centered: the world at large. That’s why the woman sitting by the tree caught my attention. Engulfed still by her story, she oozes calm.
Across from me on the train sat a large man of Greek descent or so at least my guess, his middle-age bordering the old, his eyes warm and friendly. His arm full of roses, their colour pink and so intense they rivaled the beauty of a sunrise half-hidden in a cloud-cluttered sky. Next to him a woman, her skin mocha smooth, her red-rimed glasses giving her an air of quirky elegance. And as we exchanged a smile over flowers displayed to us in such magnificence, her eyes lit up infecting mine. It was a smile I carried with me on my way to work as I poked along, past worker bees and office ants and parents in a rush tugging at their children’s nerves, always ready to be the first ones at their daily crosswalk, bakery or coffee shop. I shrugged them off, their rage mild today, unfeasible somehow with the sun still lurking behind some sleepy clouds. So when I reached my morning hangout, my mood was balanced, frolic even – minus the fatigue I cannot shake without my first hot chocolate of the day. So I placed my order and my favorite waiter met my smile, then brightened it by knowing exactly what I wanted. “Almond milk, an espresso and a croissant,” he beamed, “Early morning order. Busy day.” I nodded. “And with a start like today, I don’t mind one bit.”