It’s somewhat of a complicated issue.
Sometimes people opine about stuff, and it’s apparent to maybe most everyone but themselves that they’d have been better off not doing so.
You know the saying? That it’s “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain have both been given credit for the phrase.
It’s not really so much where we are as a society, though, it sometimes feels like, because of how social media gives everyone, if they want it, a platform and a megaphone to shout from.
I mean, should you be weighing in with vigor and tell people that you think wearing a face mask is worse than useless, and can’t do anything to keep you from getting or giving COVID, with the same confidence as an epidemiologist discussing the same issue?
Should I be analyzing a boxing match, and be designated an “expert” on the matter when two high grade pros fight each other, even though my record as a pro boxer is 0-0?
Should I, a big ole Caucasian cat who grew up in Wellesley, Mass., the son of a neurologist, speak with the utmost confidence when asked my take on the “Black Lives Matter” deal, and the presence of racial oppression within the United States?
Does one need to have a “license” to speak about matters of import, especially sensitve ones? No, but do I believe that there are some times when it’s best for me to shut my fucking trap, and let someone who has walked all the miles in the shoes have the floor? No doubt.
This was my train of thought as I read a Facebook post by Brooklyn-based boxer Heather Hardy.
The subject line–
What it’s like being a woman
Yesterday morning, about 6am, while I was taking my routine walk home from the coffee shop some dude stopped me in front of my back door – blocking my way to the entrance of my apartment building.
“Hey, I just wanted to introduce myself I see you getting coffee the same time everyday… my name is Andrew.”
It was still dark and I felt very threatened because 1) I noticed this man standing across the street every morning when I went for coffee and (2) Nobody was around and (3) This has happened to me once before and ended up badly. Out of habit and panic I told him my name and asked him to excuse me because I was late for work.
“Do you live here or work here,” he was asking as he was inching his mask-less face in front me of so as to block my way into my door. Both, I told him as I walked around him and went into my building.
And then I sat on the floor inside the door shaking and I cried.
Why had he been standing alone across from my door all summer and I just acted like it was normal? Was he some creepy fan who followed me from the gym, because God knows that’s happened before. Why did he mention that he saw me every day? What do I do now? The answers that poured in over the next 24 hours were so alarming that I had to share.
The answer is NOT that I should switch up my routine.
The answer is NOT that I should take another route to work.
The answer is NOT that I should ignore it because I’m a world champion who shouldn’t be afraid.
The answer is NOT that I should find a new place to get coffee.
The answer is NOT that maybe I’m over reacting and the guy just wanted to ask me on a date.
The answer is, that man should NOT have invaded my personal space trying to force conversation after I asked him to excuse me the first time.
I reached out to Hardy, who reps Gleason’s Gym, and Everlast, believing this to be a serious topic, one that deserves more attention and discussion. What if, I posed to this NYFights favorite, you said please leave me alone, and he didn’t comply, and you punched him in the gut, and he doubled over? Is that an option…or nah, because really, one should be PAID for fighting?
“As a woman – champion or not- there’s an inherent fear when approached by a man in an unsafe situation,” the 22-1 fighter told me. “The dark, at night, on an empty train car. Uncomfortable stares at a restaurant or someone who works at a specific bar. Every woman knows the time you’ve had to say ‘come with me, there’s a guy there who is creepy.’ I was terrified with this guy in front of me. What if I punched him in the stomach and he grabbed me and threw me in between parked cars? The man was bigger and probably stronger. It’s not a boxing ring on the street. There aren’t rules or a referee or a timer to stop and give me a break. Could I out-box him? Of course! Out muscle him? Not so sure!”
And here is the home stretch of her message to the masses, a reminder to me that I have NO concept of the reality my older daughter lives when she tells me she doesn’t like walking home on Sixth Ave., she prefers Seventh or Fifth Ave., because there are more shops and people and activity.
“So in case you’re wondering, that’s why I’m carrying a bat,” Hardy said.
“And for every woman who has been afraid to go to a certain gas station, or ride the subway alone, or dine at a certain restaurant because some douche has made you so uncomfortable that you feel actual physical fear? Carry a bat. There is nothing more unapproachable than a woman carrying a bat.”
*******The writer, NY Fights publisher Michael Woods, can be contacted via LinkedIn. *******