Joana Carpenter: A Woman’s Perspective
“Look at this pretty little thing. Can’t wait until she gets older and we can see what she’s got.”
She was 10.
“Do you think she’ll be this cute when she’s legal?”
She was 8.
The boy who sat behind her unclasped her training bra through her shirt. The teacher knew, and did nothing.
She was 12.
Every girl that you know becomes a woman. Every woman was once a girl who experienced the feeling of being objectified, seen as a thing for the taking, sexualized before they understood what sexualization even was. Every woman you know is programmed to check their surroundings, dress according to what outfit will keep them the most “safe,” and de-escalate confrontations with men who feel thoroughly entitled to take ownership of their body and space.
I am a woman. A breathing, thinking, powerful human, who’s been made to feel utterly powerless by men that would move to exert their own power over me. I am disappointed. And I am angry.
I am also an artist. In August of 2017, I realized that sitting and stewing in my own anger would not create change–but if I used the talent and vision I had, I could create a spark that might ignite a bigger conversation.
This film is a series of vignettes, re-creating actual instances of harassment and assault that I myself or women I know have personally experienced. It is by no means all-encompassing–is there enough camera time in the world for that? But I hope it can be a start.
We are women. We are mothers. We are sisters. We are daughters. We are nieces, aunts, lovers, friends, partners, and creators.
We are people. We have ownership over our own bodies.
It is time to change our world for the better, and it starts with making the men in our world understand as we fight to protect, empower, and give voice to the women around us.
Jackie Summers: A Man’s Perspective
In 1999, I was in a catastrophic car accident.
Someone ran a stop sign and totaled my ’72 Buick Skylark convertible. The police came. They made sure no one was in critical condition, wrote down stories, and ran checks on licenses. It was at that moment I discovered my license had been suspended, due to an unpaid ticket.
A first-time, misdemeanor offense, the officers had the option of writing me a $75 fine, along with a summons for a court appearance: the minimum penalty for this particular offense. The maximum sentence was five days at Rikers Island.
I was sentenced to five days at Rikers Island.
There are actually ten separate jails on Rikers Island. Actual barred cells are reserved for historically violent offenders; most of the housing at Rikers is dormitory-style: 100, 2′ x 6′ cots, one foot apart, in one gigantic pressure-cooker of a room.
I was assigned a cot in a dormitory style jail. A short time after lights out on my first night, I heard the unmistakable sound of people having sex. In a split second, I had a series of terrifying revelations:
- This wasn’t consensual sex.
- New people are most often targeted.
- If I was attacked, I could fight back, but…
- Any altercation would prolong my sentence.
Given this set of circumstances, there was nothing I could do to prevent myself from becoming a victim of sexual assault. I would have to live with this fear for the entire time I was incarcerated, without somehow giving off the air of fear, which clearly smells like sweet perfume to abusers.
MEN: This is what it’s like to be a woman, 100% of the time.
- To always fear for your safety.
- To wonder if strangers wish you violence.
- To know that fighting back could make things worse.
- To wonder if people you (think you) know are capable of sexual violence, on you or others.
- To face threats of rape and death online if you speak out on social media.
Men, you will never know what it is like to live with this kind of fear, day in, day out. The only question is:
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO HELP END IT?
Start by watching this short film. Empathy can and must change the world.