A comment by user merrywidow struck a chord with me today. The comment was in response to a blog post by Leslie Salzillo recounting the experience of Amber Nelson on an Alaska Airlines flight. On this flight, a male passenger interrupted an air safely briefing to comment on the appearance of the flight attendant. Commenting on this blog post and event, merrywidow commented:
Gonna be tough for a lot of men when women get parity in public and private, no more putting up with this crap.
Here’s the thing: parity is not an infringement on our rights as males.
Holding your tongue and refraining from creating an uncomfortable or hostile environment is what moral, civil people do.
Anything less – any rationalization – of sexually suggestive, demeaning, taunting or aggressive is tantamount to declaring that men have some inherent right to this speech.
This is not the case. Words are not “just words”.
This is an excerpt from a letter I penned to my daughters:
Words are not just words.
Words have power.
They are an act of will.
They are an expression of a thought.
They are the physical manifestation of an intent to speak, the audible result of will.
They are thoughts given life, an act, which inspire others to further action.
Demanding parity is not an infringement on the rights of men.
It is, instead, honoring the equal right of women to enjoy a space free of aggression, of hostility, of having to play defense to ‘words’.