Disclaimer: This is an open letter to men, because I think all men should hear my words and understand the struggles I (and many others) have faced. I am not accusing ALL men of being perpetrators, but I do believe we need ALL men to stand up against the culture of assault and violence that leaves people victimized and afraid.
Hey, you, guy.
Yeah, you might not remember me. I walked passed you in a bar once. You brushed it off, immediately. Right after, you brushed your fingers against the back of my thigh.
Then, there was this other time, way back. When you looked directly at me with your cold, blue eyes. “I’m gonna rape you,” you threatened. I was ten years old. And I believed you.
A few years later, you showed up again, more subtly this time around. You would casually grab or touch my butt as you stood in line behind me at the water fountain, or the pencil sharpener.
Puberty began to morph my body, and there you were again. You fixated your eyes on all the wrong parts of my body. And you allowed those creepy, wrinkled eyes of yours to linger.
We crossed paths, several times, you and me. You nonchalantly reached out to unsnap my bra strap multiple times. All of them, disregarding my wishes. Each one, leaving me exposed and laughed at.
Women don’t owe you anything just because you like our eyelashes, or asked to spend time with us. We do not owe you gratitude for objectifying us. Our bodies are not for the taking.
Once, you walked right over to me, then you bit my neck until it bruised and swelled. As a result, I skipped two days of school. Partly, out of pain. Mostly, out of humiliation.
In another occurrence, you cornered me behind my work station. You got in my face. I remember you muttering something about my eyelashes. You refused to back away until I expressed gratitude for your “compliments.”
Endlessly, you assumed that an invite to watch a movie automatically meant more than what was clearly specified.
There is not a single woman or girl on this planet whose body is for you, unless she 100 percent wants it to be.
Additionally, you cast cat calls at me. I have heard whoops and hollers from your car window, your work site, your apartment window, and more. You have shouted at me at a variety of ages, when I’ve been in a group, and when I’ve been alone walking down the street.
Lastly, you gained my trust as a friend. Then you coerced me into your truck. You locked the doors behind me. Then, you proceeded to pin your body against mine. You kissed my face and told me, “We had to do this.” Meanwhile, I writhed and wiggled to get away from you. In frustration, you slammed your fists into your dashboard. I took off running.
Men, you have victimized me. You have made me a statistic of assault and harassment. I have been viewed as an object through your warped perception of women, power, and strength. For the longest time, I have accepted your behavior as normal. Boys will be boys, right?
Well, enough is enough.
I am tired. Sick and tired. Of living with the fear, the guilt, and the shame. I am fed up about you getting off, in all the disgusting and pathetic ways you do. Both in your shorts, and in the courtroom. Gone are the days of brushing it off. The door trapping my silence has come unhinged. My voice and my stories will be heard, because your actions are not okay.
Did you ever stop to think?
My body is NOT for you. It is not for your pleasure or gain. My body is not for you to gawk at. There is not a single woman or girl on this planet whose body is for you, unless she 100 percent wants it to be. Our bodies are not for you to grab and our mouths are not for you to kiss. Let me be perfectly clear here, our bodies are not for you. At all. In any way, shape, or form. Whether you like it or not. Women don’t owe you anything just because you like our eyelashes, or asked to spend time with us. We do not owe you gratitude for objectifying us. Our bodies are not for the taking. Neither are our daughters’, our friends’, our sisters’, or anyone’s. And on behalf of every female in this world, it is about time you knew.
1 in 4.