Letters to Men who have made me afraid, and why the truth is terrifying

Dear creepy man, 

Hello. You are unabashedly staring at me while I am on the train. You don’t look away when I make eye contact. It isn’t an accident, because its been happening for thirty minutes. I am wearing a winter coat and a scarf, and no makeup, so I look young. It shouldn’t matter what I am wearing but it always does, apparently, because clothes can mean you are asking for it. It’s eleven o’ clock, and the way you are looking at me makes me uncomfortable. It’s aggressive. I shrink a bit. I am glad the train is packed and you are not sitting beside me. I am glad my coat covers me up. 

Dear aggressive man,

Its the end of a night out and you linger around my friend and me, making lewed remarks. We are sober, and when we get angry you call us sluts, and look me up and down like I am a piece of meat. I am wearing a short dress, and it matters. I know it shouldn’t mater but when I go home I throw the dress into the back of the closet. I felt good when I put it on. Now I feel dirty. You are wearing a wedding ring and you are proud of it. 

Dear Scary Man, 

I am walking home and you follow me. You shout at me, letting me know that you are going to find out where I live. You laugh when I start to walk faster. My brain feels like its melted in fear. Nobody would care if you did something. It would be my fault, I am wearing heels and a dress. People won’t admit it, but its true. it matters what you wear. You don’t stop following me until I ask a bouncer can I stand outside their club with them, until you loose interest and I hail a taxi to take me home. 

Dear men, 

The number one cause of death for men is heart disease. The number one cause of death for women is men. We live in constant fear. We don’t walk alone, we don’t wear short dresses, we grow up being felt up and shouted at and told that it is our fault. Not all men harass women, but all women get harassed. I can talk about equality all I want, but I still have to walk home with my keys laced between my fingers, headphones in with no music ‘just in case’. I am not paranoid. Every day women get attacked. Every day women feel inferior, even though its so engrained in us we don’t notice. 

We don’t want to admit it, because the truth is terrifying. We are second class citizens in every part of this world. I don’t know how to change that. I don’t know how to change it so my little sister does not have to grow up in a world where she feels like, as a 15 year old, she is valued soley on her sexuality, and is demeaned because of that. I want her to grow up telling the men who try to follow her to fuck off, not being afraid of the consequences. Of being called a slut and being called hot for wearing the same dress, for getting mixed messages of needing to be hyper sexualised and being blamed for it. 

I don’t have any of the answers for this. But I am tired of being afraid to ask the questions, of being afraid to even think them. I am tired of being afraid. 

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