Nature is calling, gentlemen
This past weekend I celebrated Father’s Day by performing comedy on stage with my dad.
I watched as he put himself out there on my behalf. How he came the closest he’s ever been to actually putting himself in my shoes. I felt a seismic shift in my universe. A weight lifted off my shoulders.
I wish more of you would continue to surprise me in the way that dad did. Not necessarily performing comedy on stage with your daughters but seeing your daughters. Hearing the women in your lives who are your friends, your colleagues, strangers you pass on the street. This out of character moment from my serious, stoic father was proof that you have it in you.
Over the last two months, I’ve been overtly and aggressively told by strangers of your kind how gorgeous and beautiful I am. I've received unwanted messages telling me about the size of one’s dick. I've been asked if I 'take care of those legs’ myself'. I've heard 'Oh, I like you.' as I cross the street. And then when I didn't respond or told them to stop, I’ve been met back with an all-too-familiar attitude. ‘Oh, you can't just say thank you?' As if they warrant my thanks. As if I should be grateful. As if I needed your validation.
I’m constantly questioning when it is ok to speak up. When it is considered ‘right’. I sat on a bus back to New York and allowed the man sitting next to me to keep his elbows just a bit too much on my side of the armrest. I could feel the heat of his skin and I hated it. “Relax, Carolyn. You’re being crazy.” I told myself. I didn’t ask him to move and remained uncomfortable.
Back in March in Arizona, after returning from sessions at the Southwest Love Fest, I walked to my Lyft driver waiting for me outside. I noticed he was standing outside his car door and wondered if I was truly seeing what I was seeing. I got in the back seat and looked again. Yes, he was pissing outside the car. I didn’t know what to do as he took his seat up front. “Sorry, nature called, ma'am.” he said. Hours earlier I sat in awe listening to Susan Wright, one of the directors of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, speak on the importance of consent. Speak on giving yourself the confidence to remove yourself from uncomfortable situations and yet I sat frozen. I could not find the words. I let him take me to my destination and screamed at myself in my head for not immediately telling him to fuck off or refuse the ride.
The elbow moment was small, the Lyft driver moment was bigger. Was I in harm's way? Probably not. But it was another moment of a man 'doing as he pleased'. ‘Nature’ calling. What would be the next, bigger moment where I couldn’t stick up for myself?
It’s good to remind myself that there is no ‘right’ moment to speak up. There is only how I feel and that should be enough. My dad is not guilty of actions like the above, nor is he of that mindset. But up until recently I had settled with the fact that my father is who he is. You can’t change a man just like you can’t change nature, right? But as we see everyday, nature adapts and nature blends. It survives by stretching necks and changing colors. Take a look around, my little finches. It’s time for you to change.
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