WHEN THE SHADOWS DISAPPEAR

Sitting at a bus stop in a foreign country, three classmates share what the sisterhood is all about. 

By Claire Bruns

Little Edie from Grey Gardens (1975)

Little Edie from Grey Gardens (1975)

What is it about the sunshine and fresh air of a warm spring day that makes some men feel all the more inclined to exert their assumed and possessive dominance over women? This is the question that repeatedly ran through my head a few weeks ago as I encountered multiple cat calls from random men in the span of just one day. Although I obviously cherished each of these moments, the first occurrence was particularly memorable.

 

It happened as I sat at a bus stop in a small town in France. I was with two female classmates from my French exchange university, but we all hailed from different places – one from Austria, the other from France, and myself from the United States. Exhausted from walking around the city for hours in the sun for a group project, the three of us sat sprawled on the dirty sidewalk. Then, like a symphony raining down from the heavens above, a few men driving past shouted out some incomprehensible and rather inhuman sounds at us. We continued sitting in silence for a few moments, unsure of what to say – or if we should say anything at all – to each other.

 

But within a few seconds, the three of us had landed ourselves in a full-blown analysis of the patriarchy and how its dominance was being perpetuated through actions as small and seemingly harmless as cat-calling. Our discussion was soon interrupted by the arrival of the bus and the return of our fatigue as soon as our tired bodies received a proper place to sit. Although it left as quickly as it came, that conversation left me with much to think about.

 

These two women were mere strangers to me at the start of the day. But now, they each play a crucial role in this story of which I have constantly tried to make sense throughout the past few weeks. Understandably so, I often find myself feeling frustrated and discouraged when faced with these kinds of subtle put-downs from men. However, after discussing it so freely and honestly with two women from other parts of the world, I felt more hopeful. I realized that these kinds of likeminded females exist in every imaginable corner of this planet, all just as ready to discuss these topics as openly as I do. Although we are likely to become strangers again in the future, we will always be connected through our advocacy for the fair and just treatment of women across the world.


Claire Bruns is a 20 year old writer from the United States. She's into writing, reading, discovering new music, and traveling and loves hearing stories both about and by women.


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