Black Holes of Davida: Michael BloombergPosted on the 18 February 2013 by Starofdavida
Since Michael Bloomberg has been mayor of New York City, my hometown and current city of residence, since I was seven years old, he’s the only mayor I can really remember. Ever since I was able to form an opinion on Bloomberg, I’ve felt pretty neutrally about him; I had never heard of anything he’d done that made me squee in delight or gasp in horror.
As a result, I was really taken aback when I read that Bloomberg had said “I know for a fact that any self-respecting woman who walks past a construction site and doesn’t get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.” It was recorded by Bloomberg LP employees in The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg, a 1990 book dedicated to record the mayor’s more memorable comments.
I had to read the quotation twice for its actual meaning to set in. At first, I was confused; is he trying to say that women will purposely walk past construction sites, even multiple times, to garner attention from the workers there? No, that can’t be, I must have read that incorrectly. Everyone knows that women don’t like that, that women will cross the street to avoid construction sites and the unwanted comments that often come with them. Then I read the quotation a second time and realized that my eyes hadn’t deceived me.
It’s so upsetting to find out that the man who has led my hometown for the past decade is so insensitive to street harassment, an issue so close to my heart. Bloomberg made it seem like women want and even vie for the chance to be catcalled. In reality, the polar opposite is true: women feel unsafe and humiliated and just plain grossed out when they are harassed on the street. I daresay that few people would go out of their way to have such an experience.
Upon doing research on Bloomberg’s history with sex discrimination, his track record is far from clean. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a class-action lawsuit against Bloomberg LP for 72 women who suffered from pregnancy-related discrimination. Another statement in The Portable Bloomberg is “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.” He also told NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn “Do you pay a lot to make your hair be two colors? Because now it’s three with the gray.” (Considering his own hair is gray, he’s got a lot of chutzpah to say this.) Had I known all this, I wouldn’t have been so surprised that Bloomberg was so insensitive towards street harassment.
Well, Bloomberg’s final term will be up in November, and the mayoral position will be up for grabs. I certainly hope that his replacement will be more understanding of street harassment, and recognize the fact that it’s not just a catcall. It’s a women’s rights issue.
For now, I dub Bloomberg an inductee to the Black Holes of Davida - people who let us feminists down by advocating misogyny, sexism, abuse, and other anti-woman thoughts and actions.
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