Jeers, Leers And Angry Comments: Women’s Issues Require A Thick Skin

By Laura Johnston
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Laura Johnston shares her thoughts on feminism and her experiences as a journalist reporting on women’s issues.

CLEVELAND, Ohio

I’ve never been sexually assaulted, thank God. I’ve never been seriously sexually harassed.

But I remember wearing long sleeves, jeans and running shoes during a summer internship, to try to keep a creepy editor from leering.

I remember a co-worker pressing the tip of a ballpoint pen into my bare back, just above the V of my dress, for no reason. I remember the boob jokes and innuendo from a few boys on the high school swim team.

Those experiences bothered me. But they were normal, just part of the world you have to put up with as a woman.

Every woman has these stories.

That’s why the anti-sexual harassment movement is called #MeToo.

One out of six women will be sexually assaulted. The rest of us share these smaller stories, of being ogled, belittled, discriminated against, because of our gender.

Some of us may chalk some of it up to “boys will be boys” and brush it off, like a catcall on the sidewalk. Me, I constructed a forcefield my best friend called my “F-you vibe.”

I became a reporter. I developed a thick skin covering Cuyahoga County government, corruption and reform. I learned to take angry voice mails as a point of pride. I became a parenting columnist, writing about the foibles of raising kids. I learned to ignore personal attacks in the comments section of cleveland.com.

Which has taught me well for writing about women’s issues on cleveland.com’s Shatter page, which launched with reporter Mary Kilpatrick in May.

My most recent post, about the feelings of Case Western Reserve University women’s history students after Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings, garnered nearly 400 comments, mostly bashing women.

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