I’m Tired Of Men Trying To Convince Us Rape Culture Does Not Exist

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A man follows me for six blocks.
I do not notice for the first two.
I am busy reading a poetry book,
trying to – for one moment – forget the world
around me.

But when I finally do notice,
the guilt is what comes first.
I wonder if it was my fault
for not paying attention
to my surroundings.

He calls me sugar.
Asks why I look so sweet.
I do not have an answer.
Just a hand in my purse,
ready to use my keys
if need be.

This is what we teach our girls,
to look both ways
and once more just to be sure.
To carry pepper spray
or something sharp,
to leave their nails pointy.
When the body becomes a weapon
if need be.

We tell them to not look down at their phones when alone.
To stay vigilant,
be hyper-aware.
To think of the parking lot as enemy ground
and see every looming figure as a potential
“could be.”

All this time teaching our girls.
All this time telling them

it is their job

to prevent these things. TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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