As my time in Dublin is coming to an end, I am filling my last few weeks with a lot of self-reflection. Despite Dublin being a safe and progressive city, I am bothered by a pattern of bigoted behavior. I do not believe that it is my responsibility to prove to the ignorant that misogyny still exists, but I can understand that it may be difficult to empathize with an injustice if you are not directly affected by it every day. I am extremely privileged, and I understand that receiving a few catcalls a week is not the epitome of a challenging life. Nevertheless, recent conversations have shown me that it may be important to provide some insight about the casual degradations that my fellow women and I deal with daily. I created a short gender log about events that may not be blatantly derogatory, but they are examples of encounters that have made me hyperaware and often uncomfortable to be a woman.
These are a few things that have happened to me only within the last week:
- I got in line behind a man at the grocery store. He turned around, vertically assessing me, and gestured for me to go in front of him in line. He said, “Feminism hasn’t killed chivalry yet.” I declined his offer, but he persisted. To avoid entertaining the conversation, I eventually got in front of him. Even I, a fragile female, would have been just fine waiting my turn.
- On Saint Patrick’s Day, a large group of my friends and I went to a pub and ran into a few other people from our program. One of the guys was at the bar with me and we were both about to order drinks. He mentioned something about hoping that the bartender accepts cards because he didn’t have any cash. I told him not to worry about it and I could cover him and he could pay me back later. He said, “The day you pay for my drink is the day I run around naked.” They did not accept cards. He was overwhelmingly apologetic. Please dude, I can afford to buy you a drink.
- The other weekend I was meeting up with my boyfriend for a weekend in Edinburgh. I had arrived earlier than him, so I was walking by myself to the Airbnb. It was dark, about 9 o’clock at night, and I was alone on a relatively secluded street. A man walked towards me, aggressively kicked the suitcase I was rolling behind me, screamed a sexist slur at me, and continued to walk. Angry and confused, I walked teary-eyed until I found the apartment.
- A female friend and I were sitting in the sunshine in the park. A large group of teenage boys began yelling sexual and intimidating profanities while I was quietly enjoying myself in the park. Despite the frequency of similar situations, I always find myself at a loss for words.
- The other night, one of my best friends from home was visiting, so I took her out to a club. She went to the bathroom, so I waited outside for her. One guy came up to me, touched my face, and said, “I like your hair.” Another guy came up to me seconds later, didn’t say anything, and grabbed my waist. Not to mention, the only reason I left the dance floor to wait for her was because I was afraid that men would be too touchy with a girl by herself on the dancefloor.
I think it is important to recognize that gender discrimination is a global phenomenon, and traveling as a woman is intensifying what I already knew to be the patriarchy. As frustrating as it may be to try to prove that we are still suffocated by social constructions, I find that it may be advantageous to try to educate by outlining concrete evidence about indignities, whether they be subconscious or intentional.
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<p>I’m currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Information Science. I also plan to graduate with a Legal Studies minor and a Latin American studies certificate which is evidence that my curiosity is always being pulled in chaotically amazing directions. I would like to consider myself a cooking, hiking, and gardening aficionado. I believe in empathy, vegetarianism, and girl power.</p>