“When I was in High School my family life was pretty chaotic. My High School English teacher assigned me to write an essay and she submitted it to a contest and I won. She sent me a cactus as a congratulations to my home. But I had just procured a 1986 Ford Mustang and I was living in the car in the parking lot of the Little Caesars where I worked. The cactus plant was returned to her as undeliverable without an explanation. So the teacher asked my step-sister why it looked like I didn’t live there. My step-sister said, “Ask Melea.” The next Friday the teacher, Mrs, Schaeffer who was 28 years old, invited me to dinner at her house. She said, “I don’t know why you are living in a car but at this rate you aren’t going to graduate or go to college.” So she and her husband Eddy invited me to live their basement and in return I had to go to school, apply to college, mow their lawn and wash their sailboat. I lived there for one and half years. After I graduated I attended Rockhurst University.” - Melea Seward is a strategy and communications consultant. #damnrightiatetheapple
“I’ve dated more than one man who has played for the NFL. The one who played the longest was also the least passionate about the sport. But he was a big guy from the South and at 350 pounds he was given an opportunity. It payed for his bachelor’s degree and he was celebrated. But because I am a woman I am denigrated if I commodify my body. If I put myself at risk for brain injury it’s “Yay!” If I put on 8 inch clear heels and dance it’s “Boo!” I’m an actor and I have a masters degree in education from NYU and after graduate school I was working five jobs just to cover expenses. I walked into a club where I applied to be a bartender and they offered me a dancing job. I danced for ten years and I define it as sex work because even though I wasn’t being paid to have sex if I were hit by a bus I’d be referred to as “Another dead ho - not an exotic creative performer”. I can’t go into a school and apply for job as a teacher and say I was a stripper and expect them to give me a job.” - Essence Revealed is an author and coaches female sexual violence survivors. #damnrightiatetheapple
“I was an intern as an undergrad in a photo studio and the photographer and I were having a small argument. I was mad that he went thru my photography bag without asking and he was mad that my bag wasn’t organized. We worked together all day without really speaking to one another and then at the end of the day he came up to me from behind and I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and he grabbed me and kissed me on the arm and said, “I’m so glad you are here.” I left and I felt disgusting. I told the University and they made me call him and tell him why I was quitting. He denied that he kissed me and asked why I was doing this to him. The University put a note in his file saying not to send female interns there. So nothing happened to him but I lost my internship. I started thinking that’s how the world works. It didn’t scar me and this incident doesn’t define me but it would not have happened if I were a man. I saw him about five years ago. He didn’t even remember me.” - Shannon Johnstone is a photographer and professor of art at Meredith College.
“One time at work someone said to me and my boss - “This isn’t a job for young pretty women” - I’m a scenic artist. It didn’t affect my life, it just offended me. No men ever get the message that they should not be where they are. I don’t think they get offended on a daily basis. “ - Julia Colicchio is a scenic artist who painted the placard of Dr. Blasey-Ford that she is carrying.
“Feeling the rage and despair after Trump was elected and hearing there was a protest planned for D.C. and knowing that too many women - without means, without freedom or with too many responsibilities to drop everything and run off to a rally would be left out of expressing collective rage broke my womanhood heart. That’s when I realized there needed to be a protest for all women and girls because feminism is collaborative by nature. Women don’t need leaders we just need organizers because we all need equal rights, representation, justice and opportunity. So I started 1at1.org so that for one minute around the globe women can unite. In 2017, 500,000 women and allies participated. This Saturday at 1pm we call for women and allies to rise again in protest of the Trump shutdown that disproportionately effects women and especially lower income women of every race. This is how we put our voice where our vote wasn’t enough. “ Aly Palmer is a member of the band BETTY, an activist and the founder of 1at1.org. For more information about Saturday’s event visit 1at1.org
“When I was 22 years old I was introduced to my distant cousin, Barbara Rosner Seaman. She was a feminist, activist and author who focused on Women’s Health Issues. Through Barbara, I met and was inspired by many other feminists who were Barbara’s friends such as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinen and Erica Jong. If I hadn’t met all of these women, if Barbara Rosner Seaman hadn’t been part of my family, my life would have been very different - meeting her at 22 was a very important life shaper. She was a networker and always supported and elevated those around her. Barbara and her friends didn’t care that I was school teacher, they loved my photography. True groundbreakers know the importance of being true to your voice and not allowing anything to stop you from being righteous.” - Meryl Meisler is a photographer and retired school teacher who taught in the NYC public school system for 31 years. MerylMeisler.com
“When I was a teenager, after I graduated High School, a friend and I went to find American like anyone with a brain would do. We hitch hiked our way South with total faith in God. And once we got a ride from some of these guys and they pulled off the main road and drove down a logging road and wanted to get sex from us. One guy reached into the glove compartment for a gun. I said, “Julie let’s get out of here” and we left with our backpacks and just hoped and prayed that they wouldn’t shoot us. After that I started carrying mace.” Sharon Jane Smith owns the store, A Repeat Performance.
“My whole life I’ve tried to break down barriers. There was one time when I was younger that I snuck out of the house and I got caught. My Father said that if my younger brother had done the same thing he wouldn’t have been as angry. I said, “I’m a human being. I’m an individual with a good head on my shoulders. Why would my brother have been allowed to do it but I can’t? We were raised in the same house with the same morals. Why is it different?” I can do anything a man can do and I can do it even better.” - Eleni Vasiliadis’s family owns The Souvlaki Lady food truck.
“I’ve been grateful for the random relationships I built while traveling on my own in South America. There were situations where I didn’t always feel super safe, but being a woman I was able to connect with other women and in that connection I found safety.” - Hannah Cianci is a freshman in college.
“When I was in Morocco during Ramadan, I was mindful of my clothing and I did not wear shorts to the souq (market).” - Sophia Seguin
“Our guy friends have no concept of what it is like to walk home at night and be scared or objectified. I remember one night when I was out with a bunch of friends and at 2 am we headed home. They were going one direction and I was going another. I was walking home alone and I saw this big pack of guys coming my way. I thought that it could mean trouble. So I walked down the middle of the road to avoid having to pass them. One called out to me, “ You’re gonna hit - yeah hit with this dick.” And they were laughing. It’s a joke to them but in reality we are scared.” - Hannah Loucas dressed up as Santa Claus during SantaCon.
“I get a lot of work as a performer because I’m a woman. I was singing at a Jazz club last week in the East Village and this guy approached me afterward and said I’d be perfect for a role in his play. He wanted to have lunch with me to talk about it. I went to lunch with him but he had a total “Weinsteiny” vibe about him and I had to walk the other way.” - Alyson Murray is a singer.
“I have heard other strong, smart, creative women continue to doubt themselves, their observations and justify the behavior around them/us. As a woman I know we have to trust ourselves and stop wasting time.” - Marci Kipnis is a life coach in New Mexico.
“Yesterday at my co-working office, I finished my coffee and put my mug in the sink and a man came and took it out of the sink, made eye contact and pointed at me and then filled and drank from my used coffee mug. I didn’t know what to do. I just left. I can’t imagine that this would happen to a man.” - Eliza McLellan is a member of the workplace design team at Plastarc.
“In 1994 I had been married for two years and I became pregnant. Neither of us thought we wanted children. I didn’t really give myself the chance to consider keeping the pregnancy because my husband was adamant against it. I had an abortion as soon as I could. We lived in rural Kentucky and there were only two abortion clinics in the state. Now there is only one and it has been a battle to keep it open. We drove for 2.5 hours and fought viciously the whole way. We didn’t fight about what was happening but about everything else. Then I went and had the procedure and went home. We are divorced. I don’t have children now and I’ve never had the drive to have children. He didn’t force me in there or twist my arm or anything but we never talked about it and never asked whether we really wanted to do this.” - Natalie is a photographer/visual artist.
“I started my organization Tallom Foundation because of two reasons. When I was turning 40 instead having of a party for me, I hosted a holiday party for the homeless families in my community. And when I was a child, I was molested by a family member. The pain and hurt from that experience and my love for giving back to my community inspires me to help young girls. I want them to know that despite their environment, their current circumstances and challenges that they can still aspire to be their best selves. The Tallom Foundation is healing for me. It gives me peace of mind that what happened was not in vain. It has enabled me to help, inspire and impact others in a positive way.” - Amarimba Charles is the Founder and Executive Director of the Tallom Foundation.
“Having sex with younger men led me to start Make Love Not Porn. A journalist once asked me whether I thought it would have been easier to raise money for Make Love Not Porn if I were a man. I answered, “A man wouldn’t have come up with this idea for a start-up.” - Cindy Gallop is the Founder and CEO of Make Love Not Porn.
“The birth and death of my son and the gratitude that I feel for the experience is what has influenced all of my work since his death. I documented one whole cycle of life and got to participate in it at the same time. When he was born the midwives slogged through the muddy clay to my house on the mesa. They braided my hair with ribbons and we sang him, Trempealeau, into the world. I photographed him as he came out of my vagina. And when he died a magnificent death of his own choosing, some of those same people gathered. We dressed in Victorian costumes and and I made Victorian death portraits of him. I photographed myself putting his body into the crematorium. This, was the first thing I really completed start to finish. Afterward I felt complete and totally empty.” - Heather Lynn Sparrow is a photographer visit Sparrow Photography to see her work.
“I always wanted kids and loved the role of being a mother. My grandmother is from Guyana and she was a “Jill of all trades”, a housewife, seamstress and chef. ”After the age of 45 she was a single mother with ten children and kept the house clean, gardened and all of her kids did well and went to college. She used to take care of all of us and my cousins at her home in Queens. The sound of the happiness that we had in that house is the sound I wanted to have in my life all the time. I had a beautiful childhood. Children have been easier to handle than the adults in my life. I have 6 sons, one daughter and one grandchild. My children are so beautiful and peaceful. My joy is how they relate to each other.” - Anjanette Dyer-Munroe