When I lived in New York, I created this superhero fantasy in my mind where I was in a league fighting to protect women and girls. In reality, I would walk around the streets of the city and watch those around me to make sure no creepers were following them, grabbing them, or telling them to smile. I would stand in front of a girl on the subway and purposefully shove my back to the man making eyes at her, my three tote bags blocking his view. I would glare at men who dared to catcall me or anyone else on the street. I would yell at them and get in these guy's faces to make sure they knew that I saw them. Then, this vision would play out in my mind where I would jump on the hood of a car, do a flip in the air, and drop kick his ass. I didn't have a slew of amazing powers in this fantasy other than the ability to fly through the air and fight really well. But I also had this stellar radar for anyone bringing violence to my others. Yeah, I could sense them a mile away. I always thought that was pretty cool.
It was this fantasy that brought me a lot of comfort as I sat next to an unconscious woman on the train one evening. But it was that experience that opened my mind up to the reality of The League. It was that night on the subway, as I was sitting across from another woman, when I realized I wasn't the only one who created this fantasy in her mind. She and I were both there watching over this unconscious body, our superhero powers radiating from within. She and I both knew we didn't have to be there. Nobody had asked to watch over this person, but we weren't the type of people to wait for an invitation or ignore what was going on around us. We were in this together.
Now, even though the movie version in my mind has slowly faded away over time, that force I felt has remained strong within me. I still refuse to stand by and keep quiet when I see people being assaulted or harmed. And as much as I wish I could drop kick some men, I do know there's actual work we can do.
April is 'Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, which Trump just proclaimed the other day. And to be clear "National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month takes place every April. It's tradition for the president to proclaim it so each year with a statement of support for the month's aims." It just makes it super awkward, uncomfortable, and terrible to have a man proclaim it who once said "Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything." Talk about wanting some superhero powers when that video came out. Which, looking back now, we actually kind of created for ourselves. There's the "Pussies Grab Back" movement and the "Nasty Woman" one. And I can't think of a more heroic way for people to stand up to sexism and misogyny than by owning these words themselves. By speaking out against hateful language and actions, we become more unified and stronger together. We become The League fighting against sexual violence.
It really is on all of us to take a pledge, stand up, and speak out against this. If you're not sure where to start, here's a few ways you can get involved with SAAM:
Also , some websites to check out:
And if you need more incentive to be a superhero, in the 2016 proclamation from President Obama (you can read the whole thing here), he said:
Anyone can be a leader in the fight to prevent and end sexual assault. As employers, educators, parents, and friends, all Americans have an obligation to uphold the basic principle that every individual should be free from violence and fear. During National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we recommit to embracing each of our individual responsibilities to keep our communities safe from this crime and to stand with survivors and victims of sexual assault.