When I first started 100 Day of Leslie Jones, I wanted to steer away from all the bullshit she was going through. And instead of making it a "I'm going to do something nice, because these creeps on the internet suck", I wanted to just focus on all the good things and why, in general, she fascinates me and I'm a fan of her work. I didn't want to make it about the gross internet stuff that was running the headlines surrounding her name.
Although that is still the main purpose, it would be silly to pretend that her internet bullying/hacking/shaming/fucking assault wasn't a catalyst for wanting to explore Leslie Jones further as a performer, public figure and woman. It was getting to a point that pretending this wasn't a factor and not addressing the elephant in the room was making it harder to keep writing.
I know that Leslie has her personal way of handling bullshit and protecting herself. You don't get to that stage of success without being able to hold yourself up again...especially as a woman...especially as a woman of color. Why bring the fact that she's a woman or, more specifically, a woman of color into this? Because it's a factor for the viciousness.
I can't speak to the being a person of color part, but I'm hoping to get a couple voices on here who can bring that perspective.
I can, however, speak as a woman.
This morning, I was walking my dog around 9 am. I was wearing gym shorts and a loose t-shirt. I had my messy hair pulled back. I was wearing my glasses.
A man noticed me, slowed down in front of me and pretended to intensely study the open/close times on a store for just as long as it took me to walk past him...which was not a short time. Immediately as I passed, he began walking directly behind me.
This is not the first time something like this has happened.
The amount of times that a man has gone out of his way to look at my butt. The amount of times I've been genuinely followed. It happens daily in women's lives. You don't have to be all done up for it to happen. You can be in your pajamas, a block from you house and trying to get your dog to poop.
As a woman you have to pay constant attention for strange changes in behavior, just to keep yourself safe. We become masters of slipping into stores for a few minutes waiting for a person to get bored and walk away. We know our surroundings and make decisions on what streets we can turn down right now. Sometimes I'll slow down and pretend to be looking at my phone, so that the person's only choice is to make their move right now or walk past. At times I've employed all of those tactics and even started texting a friend and tweeting about it, so that there would be some record if something happened.
I know exactly zero women who don't have a story like this. I know exactly zero women who don't have a ton of stories like this.
If you're a dude who reads this and you want to be like "not all dudes", I'm not saying that. But I am saying that it IS all women.
This is the experience of a woman. This is what we are dealing with every day of our lives. Every type of woman. Every size. Every height. Every ethnicity.
When something like what happened to Leslie Jones plays out so publicly, it hurts. It's vile. And it's not even unique.