I’m very honored to have been included in this short film about the representation of women by The Handmaid’s Tale. While only a handful of my words were included, the segment conveys my sentiments that representation matters.
Did you know that there are only five statues honoring real women in New York City, with 145 of men? I didn’t. When asked, I couldn’t recall any statues of real women. This isn’t only an issue in New York. Throughout the U.S., less than 8% of all the statues honoring real people depict women.
Until visiting this art installation in Madison Square Park, I hadn’t thought about the lack of visual representation of women and its effects, especially on youth. This thought-provoking experience made a profound impact on me and thousands of women, men, and children who visited the one-day pop-up exhibit.
When I was growing up, I expected equal rights — for all — to be a done deal in the near future. I expected women to be paid fairly and have the same opportunities as men, based on their accomplishments and skills. I expected the law of the land to equally protect everyone’s quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It boggles my mind to consider that we’re not there yet.
At first, I was hesitant to be interviewed on camera because, like so many of us, I usually curate my thoughts before sharing them with the world. While I speak publicly and have participated in media interviews, I’m cautious about which topics I choose to discuss. Everyone has an agenda, and promoting cyberbullying prevention has been important enough to me that I often hold back from participating in other discussions, even when they’re important. Maybe this is part of our challenge today as a society. When we don’t lend our voice to what matters, we may be sending the wrong message that less people care or support the positive change we’d like to see in the world.
The Shape of History exhibit changed the way I view the visual representation of women and has challenged me to consider how I share my voice with issues that matter. It’s important to recognize women, as well as diverse populations, in New York and around the country to acknowledge historic contributions and to inspire future generations.
While we cannot change history, we can create a brighter future.