Chavisa Woods’ 100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism is a book that, as our British friends say, does exactly what it says on the tin—chronicling 100 separate incidents of sexist behavior that Woods has faced in her lifetime, a pattern of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse (including sexual assault) that starts when she’s five years old and continues to the present day. It’s a patten that, I speculated, just about any woman should find instantly recognizable, to which Woods replied:
“I keep saying a lot of memoirs are written because the author thinks it’s an exceptional story. I actually felt like I needed to write this memoir because my story is not exceptional at all, and I wanted to show how pervasive sexism is in multiple spheres of society… I just wanted to show how pervasive it is everywhere and how it affects us constantly throughout our lives.”
We cover a lot of territory in this conversation, including how Woods used to adopt a violent response to sexual harassment—and the mental and emotional toll that response took. Misogyny becomes like a hazing ritual, an ordeal women are supposed to endure for the privilege of being allowed to participate in society at all. As I said, every woman reading 100 Times will find it instantly familiar… but every man who reads it and doesn’t recognize the world it describes has to come to a hard reckoning with things he may have done and has almost certainly condoned through inattention, inaction, and silence.
Listen to Life Stories #107: Chavisa Woods (MP3 file); or download this file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). Or subscribe to Life Stories in Apple Podcasts, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (If you’re already an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)
photo: Itziar Barrio