Erika Sjule

Chavisa Woods's 100 Times: A Memoir of Sexism chronicles 100 instances of sexual assault, harassment, rape, and attempted rape perpetrated on the author from age five to her mid-30s.

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There were men who groped her breasts after she told them not to touch her, who kissed her after she rejected them (often several times), or who otherwise did some sexist shit.

They included classmates, teachers, bosses, landlords, mentors, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, close friends, friends of friends, friends she's still friends with, strangers, strange groups of men, groups of boys (with bats!), roommates, bodega men, straight couples cruising lesbian bars for a third, and dancers on a dance floor.

These things happened in parks and bars, in classrooms and subways, in Seattle and Missouri and New York City, at the workplace and at the Occupy Wall Street camp, on the street and in her own damn apartment.

The fascinating, horrific but also sometimes hilarious story that emerges from the list is of a pacifist queer from rural Illinois transforming into "an extremely assaultive 'feminazi'" and then transforming again into a slightly less assaultive feminazi.

Woods starts going on the offensive in response to sexual assaults in her 20s. When men pull some shit, she bonks them over the head with a trusty plastic bottle, yells at them, or otherwise just beats their asses. This hero's journey—told in straightforward, unadorned prose—struck a thrilling revenge chord within me.

Though Woods details some repugnant stuff, one of the more infuriating aspects of the book is her need to demonstrate that she understands what normal behavior is. She contextualizes almost every story by saying something like, "Look, there's nothing wrong with crushes," or "Look, I'm really not offended by dirty jokes" before showing how one or another instance crossed the line.

She knows she must hedge in this way to gain credibility in a culture where people will automatically write her off as "overly sensitive." A culture where people accuse women of not seeing "gray areas." A culture where, maddeningly enough, people accuse women of not knowing the difference between Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. and Al Franken and Mario Batali and Aziz Ansari and R. Kelly and Les Moonves and Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose and Brett Kavanaugh and Roy Moore and Donald Trump and and and—as if every public discussion of sexual harassment wasn't an invitation to find some justice in a system that offers virtually none in these situations, but rather a direct demand to hang the accused.

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Woods describes the problem better than I can: "That's the double-edged sword of sexism," she writes. "If I respond to this sort of repeated behavior and draw a line, I am seen as making a big deal out of nothing. If I don't respond to it and something worse happens to me, I should've known better."

She uses pseudonyms in all cases because her point isn't to call out the particular men she's met, but to show how common and widespread her experiences are. She hopes to find solidarity with other women who have similar lists, and hopes men "come away with a greater understanding of how sexism shapes women." She certainly achieves that goal, times 10.

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