Because all women have walked to their car in the dark, keys clutched tight in hand, one poking out between two fingers.
Because when I go out to bars or clubs, I have to think about whether what I’m wearing is too suggestive, instead of putting on whatever I please.
Because I feel the need to apologize when I’m not wearing makeup or my hair hasn’t been washed, or when I’m generally looking anything other than flawless.
Because there was nothing I could do about the man who touched me inappropriately in the middle of Gillette Stadium as I waited for my then-boyfriend to come out of the bathroom. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STADIUM.
Because there was also nothing I could do when a man touched me inappropriately in the middle of a crowded street, his arm around his girlfriend. Because retaliating in the way I wanted to would have let to assault charges and jail – for me, not for him.
Because my then-boyfriend laughed when two men came up to me in a bar, asking, “Can we just look at your girlfriend for a second?” as if I was his property, something to be admired, not even a human being with thoughts and feelings.
Because I have to worry about low-cut tops or too-short dresses that aren’t “work appropriate,” and men don’t.
Because at family get-togethers, women are asked about weddings or babies far more often than they’re asked about career goals or major life achievements.
Because “thigh gaps,” thinspo blogs, airbrushing, plastic surgery, tabloid magazines, porn, Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues and breastaurants.
Because “She’s someone’s sister, mother, daughter, aunt, cousin, wife, girlfriend, lover, friend,” isn’t the right answer. “She’s a human being” is.
Because we get asked, “Why not?” and told, “You’ll change your mind,” if we say we don’t want to have children.
Because getting cat-called at while walking down the street at 8 a.m. is not a rare occurrence.
Because women are taught how to avoid being assaulted or harassed, rather than men being taught how to treat others with respect.
Because my ex-boyfriend described me as “the only smart girl he’d ever met” – and that’s why he had decided to date me, instead of just sleeping with me and tossing me aside with the other girls. Because he was surprised that I am smart.
Because we say, “I’m sorry” before saying we’re not interested.
Because “I have a boyfriend” is more effective than “I’m not interested.”
Because we are taught to keep an eye on our drink so no one drugs it.
Because we are so often not taken seriously when we choose to speak out, so millions of sexual assaults go unreported.
Because “feminism” is a dirty word.
Because when a woman is in an abusive relationship, people ask, “Why did you stay with him?”
Because a woman’s right to choose whether or not to be a mother is debated in courtrooms across the country, but a man can walk away from fatherhood anytime he chooses.
Because a smile is not an invitation.
Because buying me a drink does not create an obligation for me to sleep with you, or even talk to you beyond a polite “Thank you.”
Because my “no” should not result in a murderous rampage.
Because every single woman you have ever met – yes, every single woman – has been sexually harassed or abused.
Because you are not entitled to my body. Because my worth has nothing to do with how much I am physically desired by men.
Because not all men harass, abuse and mistreat women – but because of the ones that do, we live in fear.
Because I was afraid of writing this.