These three syllables were hurled out the open window of a car as I had just finished crossing the street in the course of my workday. It was an act of cowardice, and one of power. I couldn't retaliate, because as soon as I stepped out of the crosswalk, they sped away. But things like this happen because men are confident in their ability to do so without censure from their (male) peers. And censure from women doesn't matter, because these men do not consider women to be their peers.
As a woman in a society in which our value comes from our looks, I am an unattractive, fat woman. I am a low-value object. This opens me to all kinds of abuse, from being groped at bars, to men wanting me to be their secret girlfriend, to being shouted at, and yes... barked at, in the streets.
And it's moments like this that I feel like I should just stop. Stop trying to do anything other than conform to the image that society has set forth as acceptable, to stop writing and dedicate my free time instead to laboring at the gym desperately trying to achieve a body that I will never have. And that's stupid, because even if I became a high-value object, which is likely now impossible due to fast approaching middle age and the hormonal complications of losing weight, I would still be an object... and in the process, I would have given up things that bring me tremendous joy and satisfaction.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is both a poet and a person of color, and he asked me when the struggle would be over. And I told him that it will never be over... that he will die still fighting and with work undone. It's a grim prospect, but it's what we're left with, and it carries a kind of strange, numb comfort with it.