It’s something that has left me afraid to walk home at night without a phone in hand and a steady finger on speed dial. Without an escape route planned. Just in case. Something that’s changed my way of thinking.
Now when I’m out alone, I almost expect something to go wrong, to feel off, from being cat-called by men to someone winding up hurt. It’s led me to believe I deserved a certain kind of attention if I dressed a certain way.
We’ve all heard that before, “she was asking for it”. You see, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it is.
We’re still fighting (and losing) cases of ‘he said’, ‘she said’.
We’re still watching women suffer at the hands of men who we’re told “would never do something like that”; who get off because they are “good swimmers”, with “bright futures”. And really, Brock Turner is just one of them.
So here it is. An open letter to any man, past and present, who attempted to diminish me to nothing but an object, nothing but a body, to be desired, not listened to, to be fucked, to disrespect.
An open letter to all those men, and a warning for ones to come, who left me feeling callous, broken and alone. Mistrusting and afraid. Ashamed and unloved.
This is a letter to the man that forced me on him despite my tears, despite my protests, my shouting “no”, despite the begging, the pleading.
To the man that threatened me with rape if I did not have ‘consensual’ sex with him.
This is a letter to the man who slurred his speech, who grabbed my hair, who bruised my lips and slapped my cheeks, only to whisper seconds later, how much he loved me.
This is a letter to the stranger on the beach who squeezed my ass and despite being old enough to be my father, asked if he could see me naked.
This is a letter to any man who has used my body as a scratching post for their sexual yearnings. Their desires that “deserve” to be satisfied.
To the man who used my face as a punching bag, taking out his pure, animal rage hit by bit, punch by punch. To the one who continued to do so even after I begged, “please, stop”.
To the men that whistle, yell, call out to me on the street, to the men who press their bodies against mine in clubs, bars; the places where they think they can get away with it.
To the men who smack my ass like it’s their right as I walk by, who squeeze my tits, who grab my hips, simply because, well, as a society we’ve told them, they can.
This is a letter to any man who in any moment has taken not just my body and my right to its ownership, but my very being.
To any man who made me feel less than human. Who made me feel I was something – not someone – who didn’t deserve a say, whose feelings didn’t matter, whose wants, needs, respect, didn’t matter.
To any man who has looked at me and saw not another living, breathing, heart-beating human being, but breasts he could suckle, hair he could pull, a vagina he could fuck – who only saw the things he could take, the things he could do.
So here is an announcement to these men: I am reclaiming my body. The one that you stole from me, that you harmed, defiled, abused. The one that you deemed I had no say over, that belonged to society, to you, and never to me. I am reclaiming my body.
The one that you treated as disposable, as expendable and replaceable. The one that you treated with little respect, no respect. I am re-claiming my body. The body you thought was created for your pleasure, your enjoyment and your viewing, not my being.
I am reclaiming my body. I am reinstating its worth. I am declaring my unconditional love for it, now and always, not in spite of what it’s endured- and probably will still- but because of it. My body is more than your small mind.
My body is more than your sexual depravity. My body is more than your objectification, your abuse, your inhumanity. You see, my body is my home. It’s mine to love, to honour, and mine to own. Mine to respect and mine to share IF and when I please.
My body is an honour, a testament; a reflection of strength, of will and determination. Of the beauty of the human form, of the beauty of myself. I am re-claiming my body.
I am re-instating its worth. I am declaring my unconditional love for it, now and always, and never will my body be yours again.