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Being Female (Volume 30, March 25, 1989 - June 27, 1989)

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

There seems to be an element of synchronicity to my Journal Project. The way I choose a journal volume to select an entry from is totally random. But over and over I happen upon a passage that has special relevance to something going on in my current life or in the culture at large. Like the one below. Sexual Harassment has never been in the news the way it is right now. Every time I see #MeToo I think, wouldn't it just be a lot easier to have those few women who have never been sexually harassed tell their miraculous stories at #NotMe?

Friday, June 23, 1989

It’s 5:24 a.m. I’ve been awake for hours. Summer has hit - 93 degrees, humid as all get out. I feel like shit and right now I hate this place and I feel like, once I’m back in Seattle, I will never even come back for a visit. Ever. I will go to Lake Geneva but I’ll never enter the city of Chicago.

I’ve been composing letters to the editor of the Tribune in my head for about the last hour.

Unsent Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune:


What is wrong with the men in this city?

I know I am not ugly. Neither am I exceptionally beautiful. I do not dress to draw attention to myself. I do not have a suggestive walk.

Yet every time I walk anywhere I am honked at, hissed at, leered at, jeered at, appraised, commented upon and dissected by “men” of all ages, races, nationalities and walks of life to such an extent that I am dumbfounded.

One day I made the terrible mistake of wearing Nike running shorts and a t-shirt when I went out. I was made so uncomfortable by rude, obnoxious men that I cut my plans for the day short and hid in my friend’s apartment.

The next day I wore a mid-calf length sleeveless summer dress. I still did not escape this kind of unwanted attention. (One gem of a man purposely almost hit me when I was crossing the intersection he was stopped at; when I jumped he honked and smiled gleefully.)

Do I have to wear a total shroud in 95 degree weather?

When I came here two weeks ago from Seattle I was debating whether or not I should move back here. I had an easy, open smile and a friendly manner. Now I have developed the bitch-face, the stony countenance, and I hide behind dark sunglasses. I avoid passing men whenever possible. I meet no one’s eyes. I cannot wait to get back to the Northwest.

I will no longer defend this dirty, ugly city, which doesn’t even have a recycling program, to people who have never been here but have a negative impression of Chicago anyway.

Yes, this city has great cultural things going on; the art scene is wonderful, the music scene is great. What good does that do if you’re female and can’t go anywhere without being utterly harassed and demoralized?

CHICAGO - not my kind of town any longer.

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