On the weekend of Black Friday, a group of three people emptied a calendar stand of its entire stock of sexist and objectifying products.
Every day on the way to work, we had to walk by this kiosk. Each passing encounter forced a specific sexuality and beauty standard upon us, and we couldn't take it anymore. We were sick of being told that our worth is equivalent to what aesthetic pleasure our bodies can afford someone else (typically a man).
If your environment disturbs you, disturb it.
Or even better, disturb it with your friends. Together, we formulated a plan and decided upon roles that we were all comfortable with: the distraction, the bagger, and the lookout. The area was scoped out beforehand for cameras, number of employees, and general foot traffic, and escape routes were elaborated. We created placards with anti-sexist rhetoric to replace the calendars, being cautious to touch them only with gloves on.
The distraction pretended to shop until the other two entered separately, and then began to engage the sole employee in conversation. The bagger stashed the product in a trash bag, while the lookout stood beside watching for passersby and police. After the product had been replaced with the placards, the bagger took the trash out through a side door, appearing as a mall employee. Once sure the bagger hadn't been followed, the lookout exited and headed to the meetup spot. The distraction ended the conversation with the employee and walked away without incident. We all left laughing.
It's been nearly a week, and the kiosk has been unable to restock its lost product. The shelves that once displayed women now hold golf courses and racecars. We smile every time we walk to work.
A big part of any action is strengthening bonds of trust with those whom you already know and love. We invite you to disturb your own environments, with these suggestions:
- Always use gloves for everything you handle (no fingerprints)
- Make sure you have enough bags/baggers (we had to make several trips, and the employee at your kiosk may not be so inattentive)
- Wear a very different change of clothes underneath your outfit--if followed, you can hide and remove the outer clothing.
- Wear something to obscure your face from cameras and passersby (if a hat, look down at the ground while passing a camera)