For all the times my friends and I signaled to each other that a dude was getting too close in a club, that we needed help at a party or an out in a bar.
For the necessity of the late night check in to make sure that everyone made it home safe and with the right people (or without the wrong ones). For the mornings after, making sure that everyone was still OK with the previous night’s happenings (because it’s OK to not be OK, even if you thought you were in the moment).
For all of the unwanted comments about my body in all kinds of situations. For having to harden up and play deaf in order to run in my neighborhood in the clothing in which I felt comfortable.
For the unwanted exposure. For the furtive grope. Both addressed in strong enough terms that they never happened again.
For all the sex I had, in relationships and out of them, where I didn’t want to go along with it but didn’t know how to get out of it.
For the med student who didn’t do anything inappropriate, but whose specific phrasing made me want to stop doing the best job I’ve ever had. I went home and cried in a very hot bath and emailed my boss because our job was primarily to teach the students technique and secondarily how to treat patients with respect and compassion, and this one did well at the former but not the latter.
For every single fucking comment that has ever been made about my breasts. Yes, I have them. Yes, they are big, or at least they were. They serve a purpose. Right now, that’s feeding my child. Feeding my child is not about you or my breasts or my body. It’s about feeding my child.
For the relationships in which my body and my sexuality were treated as performative and property. Where I felt I had to be a specific kind of physical and sexual creature to be valued. And for the harm that caused to people I care about.
For the jerks driving by on Western Ave when my heart was full after a late night walk with someone new. My skirt may have been short, but that’s no excuse for honking and hollering. My body is not for you.
For having spent years clawing back my self image and hating to feel like covering up was necessary. Fuck you for making me feel like I am worth anything less than I am because my body is or isn’t what you think it should be.
Listen to women when they tell you these stories. Believe them. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem.