This Is For You
To the mover who called me a lying bitch because I told him I wasn’t interested.
To the artist who thought having a conversation meant I wanted to sleep with him.
To the cable guy who asked for my number to discuss work then called me to invite me to his lake house alone for quality time.
To the smoker who followed me to my car and asked if he could touch my breasts.
To the accountant who left me at a gas station at midnight when I wouldn’t sleep with him in his car.
To the police officer who pulled me over and asked if I was into being handcuffed and dominated and wanted to do illegal porn.
To the self-proclaimed kind and caring acquaintance who proceeded to have sex with me when I wasn’t coherent and asked him to stop.
This is for you.
I wish I were alone in these incidents. I wish no one else had to find themselves in situations like this. I wish these were my stories, and my stories alone. But unfortunately, every woman I know has a story that could slide neatly on the shelf next to any one of mine.
I’ve always just assumed it was my fault. Maybe he meant well. He isn’t normally that way. I was too nice. I must have been flirting. I probably said something that encouraged that behavior. Maybe my face is too nice, I smile too often, I listen too intently, I care too much.
Situations like this imprint themselves on your mind in indelible ways. I start believing that my only worth is my sexuality. That no one is interested in me unless I’m willing to put out, to smile and take it, to play coy when every inch of my insides is writhing in disgust.
“But why didn’t you say something?”
“Why did you let that happen?”
“You were flirting and dressed like that, so what did you expect?”
What about that times I did say something? When I tried to stop it? When I wasn’t wearing makeup, had baggy clothes on, and had headphones in?
When there’s a power imbalance, it’s scary.
You feel small. You feel insignificant. You think of what could happen that could be worse. You replay the messages you’ve heard all your life that this is normal, it’s how men are, they don’t mean any harm, this happens to all women.
But it shouldn’t.
It doesn’t matter if I smiled. It doesn’t matter if I was nice. It doesn’t matter if I was dressed provocatively. It doesn’t matter if we are in the middle of sex. Respect is respect. As a fucking human being, it’s the least I deserve. It’s the least we all deserve. My kindness is not an invitation. It’s basic human decency. So treat me with some.
To those that have made it scary to exist in my world, this is for you.