“Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.”
Social media was inundated yesterday with clips from a video called “Be a lady, they said.”
Published by Girls.Girls.Girls magazine, the piece features Cynthia Nixon who recites the words of blogger Camille Rainville.
“Be a lady, they said,” she wrote for the first time in 2017. “The skirt is too short. The shirt is too low. The pants are too tight.
“Don’t turn your back. Cover yourself. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs.
“Don’t be an itch. Don’t be so tight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Men of pleasure. Be expert. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virgin. Be sexy. Be the pretty girl. Don’t be like the other girls. “
The video is as powerful as it is accurate, a two-minute, 50-second reminder that women are the constant recipients of criticism, regardless of how they act or what they don’t.
But unlike other clips, speeches or blog posts that have posted the same points over the years, “Be a lady, they said” is somewhat different.
Every now and then a job will consume social media, flooding Instagram stories and Twitter feeds with the same persuasive and valid message.
They attract attention because they are relevant to almost everyone.
They are detailed summaries of experiences that almost all women can relate to, evidence of the unfair disadvantage that women tend to face day after day.
A frequent reminder that we don’t have to be all things simultaneously.
Entirely by coincidence, yesterday also saw Harvey Weinstein guilty of sexual violence and rape.
The disgraced producer was convicted of third degree rape and sexual offense. Still to face other charges against him, Weinstein was led from the New York courtroom in handcuffs – an image of arrest and a crucial moment for his accusers, as well as those who have stood with them for the duration of the process.
The case became a pivotal moment for the #MeToo movement, a campaign born of multiple accusations against Weinstein and finally many other men who hold positions of power in Hollywood and elsewhere.
Following Weinstein’s belief, his accusers issued a group statement praising the jury’s decision, reminding the public that their work is not finished yet.
“While it is disappointing that today’s result does not offer the true, full justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now be forever known as a doomed serial predator,” they said.
“This belief would not be possible without the testimony of the brave women and the many women who spoke. Their courage will be remembered forever in history. Our struggle is far from over.”
The belief was entirely right, yet for many it was simply – and unfortunately – not expected. How could justice be served in a society where women are constantly guessing, their words taken for granted compared to those of a powerful man, not perfect enough to be believed?
Except in this case, they were.
Rainville’s powerful blog post cleverly delivered by Nixon deals with many facets of what should be – and often is – the feminine experience.
Judgement. Anger. Body problems. Rape. Weight. Appearance. Sex. Don’t have sex. Virginity. Prudery. Feminism. Provocation.
It is a job that undoubtedly has a different weight for different people, yet there is an important thread that is evident in everything.
The image of a woman requesting it, regardless of the answer she gives.
“Don’t sound easy,” says Nixon. “Don’t attract attention.
“Don’t work late. Don’t make dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes.
“Don’t say no.”
You can check out the full Girls.Girls.Girls video “Be a lady, they said” here.