Yes, All Women
Because reading all of the #YesAllWomen stories on Twitter and beyond made me realize how many experiences I've had that I've written off as being normal or "just the way it is", and that I'm not alone in that realization.
Because once I hit puberty, I learned that the best way to feel valued by guys is to be pretty and have a nice body, and 95% of the experiences I've had with males since then have reaffirmed that idea; it got so that I started to value comments about the "perfection" of my body parts to such an extent that when I started getting creases in my stomach and cellulite on my thighs a few years ago, I had a minor existential crisis because I genuinely believed that my worth as a human being was decreasing, and it's something I still struggle with from time to time.
Because I know that going places alone, even if it's just walking down the street, means I'll be subjected to unwanted advances, prolonged stares, or men parking and getting out of their car for the sake of walking up to me and asking if I want to go out with them.
Because most of the time the only way to get those guys to go away is to tell them I have a boyfriend (whether or not I actually do), because the only surefire way to be left alone is to belong to another guy. (The amount of times I have seen this exact same thing expressed by other ladies in the past couple of weeks is ridiculous.)
Because my discomfort of unwanted attention has become so great that instead of doing my hair and wearing pretty clothes like I'd prefer to, I've started dulling down my appearance on a daily basis as a shield against any men noticing me whenever I walk out the door, even though it usually doesn't make a difference.
Because a few weeks ago some men sat on a couch outside the apartment building next to mine for over an hour, catcalling women as they walked and drove by and holding up numbers written out on pieces of paper, rating their hotness.
Because those men rated me a 9.5 and a 10 and my initial reaction was to be proud rather than disgusted.
Because when I was a young teenager on vacation in Mexico, a middle-aged male stranger asked me if I knew where the bathroom was in the lobby, and I said no, so he asked if he could use my bathroom, and I didn't want to be rude so I said yes, and I brought him up to the room, and then freaked out and asked him to leave, but before he did he asked me my name, shook my hand and said, "You know Rachel, you're very pretty".
Because I've barely told anyone that last story (not even my parents) because I was so ashamed of how stupid I was for risking my safety for the sake of being polite, but then I remembered that a man should not think it's his right to ask an obviously young and naive girl to bring him up to her hotel room, and if we lived in a culture where that wasn't even an option that passed through his mind, I would have never been in that situation to begin with.
Because I have so many more examples and stories that I'm leaving out so that this doesn't get unbearably long, and that fact saddens me.
Because I put this post off for so long for fear of seeming too preachy or controversial, but fuck that, because none of this should even be an issue in the first place.