What are things he says?
Things He Says are universal, inescapable, all at once here and everywhere—before a young girl becomes a woman and throughout her lifetime. They aren’t only the hey babys or oye mamis shouted across sidewalks. They’re the thoughtless remarks that might sound innocent on the surface, but veil a deeper hostility toward women (a.k.a. misogyny). When a woman decides what to with her body—shave or not shave, take birth control or not, have sex with whomever she wants—she doesn’t ask for a man’s commentary. She doesn’t ask for a man to tell her she’s pretty/ugly, smart/dumb, fat/thin, or anything in between. These things he says make her feel unsafe, dirty, ashamed: “After days, weeks, months, and years of being objectified, shamed, policed, and stereotyped, women grow to feel inferior…”
Would a woman tell a man to shave his legs? No. Would she call him a slut for sleeping around? No. Then why do men say these things to women? It’s these remarks that reflect and perpetuate a patriarchal system in which men hold power and dominate while women are objectified and powerless. Thing She Says aims to make men aware of the things they say and their loaded meanings.
You’re not the things he says. You’re not alone. A collection of images and words said to women, Things He Says aims to create a safe space for women looking for a supportive community with whom to share their things he says.
Why do we question things he says? (Or, Why do we need feminism?)
Violence against women isn’t only physical; it’s the unchecked jabs, joking jeers, and off-hand comments that sear and scar. Unapologetic and uncensored, this blog interrogates the threatening compliments and criticisms that illustrate misogyny:
- Street harassment: By the age of 14, 67% of girls have already been a victim of street harassment, with that number rising to 85% in the span of three years of her life (by the age of 17).
- Slut-shaming: In 2010, two teen girls, Hope Witsell and Phoebe Prince, committed suicide after being relentlessly called “sluts” in their high schools. In 2012 and 2013, Rehtaeh Parsons (age 17), Audrie Pott (15), and Felicia Garcia (15) were shamed by peers and committed suicide. Their stories are mirrored in the countless girls and women victimized by the mentality that “Boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts,” regardless of their sexual activity.
- Policing: Telling women what to do, say, wear, and think are all forms of policing, of asserting dominance over a powerless individual. When women resist this policing, we are regarded as bitchy, aggressive, unfeminine.
- Gender stereotypes: The belief that women are supposed to be docile, passive, feminine, submissive, prude. If we’re not, we’re considered bitches, sluts, butch. Cultural archetypes (like Batman’s Harley Quinn, who embodies the seductive, murderous femme fatale archetype) enforce these stereotypes.
- Body image: Women are surrounded by media that dictate what’s beautiful and attractive; young, thin, airbrushed models without body hair are plastered on billboards and magazines left and right. These ideals teach women how they should look—often to the detriment of their mental and physical health—and train men to desire certain physical attributes in a woman.
No matter if she’s wearing pants, wearing shorts, wearing nothing, he says the thing. On a plane and on a train, over here and over there, he says the thing. No, we do not want these things he says—here or there or anywhere.
Disclaimer: While the same issues also affect men, this blog specifically targets the things men say to women as expressions of systemic sexism.