When I wrote my column “Catcalls and harassment: the antithesis of charming and funny,” the only person I thought I might offend was the man I described as making an offensive comment to me after I took a spill on some ice.
I attempted to accurately depict my emotions and the events that occurred in my piece as descriptively as possible. I elaborated on my clothes, what I was carrying and how I was feeling to place emphasis on the way a negative comment from someone affected me, and in the process I learned an important truth.
Despite some of our differing views, Alyssa Long taught me a very valuable lesson in her well thought-out letter to the editor. I was trying to set a scene for my main point, but in the process I distracted readers from my true intention of emphasizing the dangers that can occur for women victims of sexual harassment. Although I never would have thought of it myself, Long makes the strong point that my indulgence in describing my material possessions portrays an image of a classist mindset. It never occurred to me that someone would take that idea away from my editorial, and that is exactly the problem.
We might not always realize the implications of our words, which is why we must make a conscious effort in monitoring them and taking precautions that they do not misconstrue our true meaning. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you offend someone despite your innocent intentions, but it is also a learning opportunity not to be taken for granted. The realization of potential arguments that our words can inspire is a crucial development in conditioning our writing technique, and I appreciate Long’s perspective and her courage to speak on an issue I was ignorant to ignore.