March 8, 2017
For Whom do you Protest?
I truly wanted to find some profound way to commemorate Women's Day today. I thought about heading to Columbus Circle and photographing the protest there. But then life took over and I had to run some errands here in Brooklyn.
On my way on Patchen Avenue, I noticed a man pushing a woman in her wheelchair. He helped her up out of the crosswalk and onto the sidewalk; there she sat quietly, she did not move.
I walked up to her and asked if she was ok. She said she just needed to catch her breath. I asked her if she was in a shelter or heading to one, and she responded with such contempt. "All they do there is suck each other. I do not want to be raped."
"So how long have you been on the street?" I asked.
"Four years," she answered.
It was then I noticed the bottle of gin or vodka clasped tightly inside the same hands that were adorned with hospital bracelets. I started to snap images.
First her hands, then as I moved backwards to recompose, she raised the bottle to her lips with lightening quickness. It was as if she felt threatened by my camera. She consumed the contents of the bottle as if she wanted to bury the last statement she made, the exhausting morning, last night tribulations on the street, or her troubled life.
She swallowed the entire bottle in one gulp.
I did not even have time to respond. I lifted the camera halfway and squeezed.
I sat in my car after, listening to NPR and their coverage of Women's Day. The story was about feminism. It was there I heard the phrase, "Feminism does not speak for all women." -- and those words made me think.
Huge protests happening all over the world today, but who speaks for Barbara Vaughan.
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