I’ve always been a feminist activist, although my level of activism has varied and gets less physically active as I get older. I used to love zap actions and guerrilla theater – all perfectly legal and safe– but I loved getting in, making my point, and getting out quickly.
I remember one event in the 80s. There were two local restaurants and bars called The Quiet Woman. The logo was supposed to be cute – a female body with no head. Cute. That is the only way a woman could be quiet, right? You know how we girls like to blab.
There was a local domestic violence murder – a woman had been beheaded. The link between that act of beheading and The Quiet Woman was obvious to us. He finally shut her up.
A group of us went into one of the Quiet Woman bars for a Friday night happy hour and occupied several tables. We held them for 3 hours, ordering only water and tipping our waitress very generously every time she brought a round. (Several of us had previously worked as waitresses and we weren’t about to make her pay for her employer’s mistake.) When we left, we papered every customer and all the cars on the block with a flyer we had printed giving statistics on violence against women. It made the local papers.
The owner of the restaurants wrote in, protesting that the logo was an honored logo and tradition that came from England and besides, she, herself, was a woman.
We responded that slavery was also an old tradition brought to the US from England, and that being a woman didn’t give her a moral license to promote misogyny. Shortly after, one of the two restaurants closed down. It may have had nothing to do with our zap action, but it made us happy anyway.
Fast forward almost 30 years.
Tilly’s, the popular surf and skate clothing chain began selling a T-shirt that delivered the same message in a slightly less violent manner.
The T-shirt has been pulled.
Although it is changing some and depends on the topic, research still shows that men generally talk more and interrupt more than women do. Other research suggests that people assume the person who talks more in a group is the leader.
So we have to ask, what is really going on here? Is it what women say that is so threatening or simply that they speak?
How long will we have to fight the same battles over and over and over again?