Dear Good Men

Grandfathers, fathers, brothers, cousins, best friends: I have been blessed with so many good men in my life. You have raised me and loved me and protected me and cared for me. Now I need you to hear me.

You and I don't live in the same world.

When I walk to my car, I carry my keys between my fingers, check my backseat, and lock the door as soon as I get in. Even during the day in "safe" areas, every single time.  


You and I don't live in the same world.

You might have worried about being falsely accused of rape in college, but I worried about being raped in college. (And when I was it took years before I accepted that I hadn't brought it upon myself because it was committed by someone I trusted.)

The first time a man hung his head out of a truck window and yelled at me, that he wished I was riding him like I was riding my little horse, I was 12 years old. Then, I was confused and wondered if I had done something to instigate it. Now, it happens to me so often I don't even give it a second thought.

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When you envision men wolf whistling at me or grabbing me like my body exists solely for their entertainment, I need you to know it's not just late at night in sketchy areas. Sometimes it's a well-dressed young man in a suit on a Manhattan street grabbing my ass, "Damn I would like to see you out of that skirt!" as he passes me on the sidewalk. Sometimes it is three guys surrounding me on the beach during a walk at 10 AM and calling me a bitch when I won't agree to party with them.

My world is less safe simply because I am a woman.

But, like all women, I have learned how to function to keep myself safe. I know that while men might not respect me enough to leave me alone when I decline their advances, they will respect other men. So when I was 16 and a man in one of my classes wouldn't stop sitting too close or following me to my car, I started wearing a fake engagement ring and loudly mentioning my imaginary fiancé. He moved seats across the room and I never had another problem. The most dangerous thing I can do is engage with a man when he is sexually aggressive, so I am well-practiced in ignoring men who are harassing me even when I just want to yell -- especially when I just want to yell.


My world is less safe simply because I am a woman.

"The older I get, the more I see how women are described as having gone mad, when what they've actually become is knowledgeable and powerful and fucking furious." -- Sophie Haewood

Someday I am going to have to teach my daughter how to be strong and confident and also how to stay safe by ignoring men who don't see her as anything but a hot piece of ass. (Because sometimes standing up for yourself puts you in more danger and I know that doesn't make sense to you but you're just going to have to trust me.) That is frustrating and heart breaking and infuriating.

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For the last several weeks I have been having this conversation with the handful of men I am closest too: my husband, my best friend, my cousin, my dad. When I explained how often men yell sexual innuendos at me or touch me without provocation they were incredulous. They all said some variation of, "We believe you, but we have never seen it, help us understand."

Here is the thing, loves: I didn't know you didn't know. I didn't know I needed to be helping you understand. What I do know is if you are reading this you are one of the good guys. You don't yell at women on the street or follow them to their car or grab their bodies without permission. I am not blaming you for the men who do. It's not your fault. But I do need you to know it happens. It happens regularly. I need you to know when women talk about sexual assault, whether they are your friends talking about an ex-boyfriend or a sister talking about a boss, or a woman you don't know accusing a presidential candidate, or celebrity, or past president, they aren't being irrational or dramatic.

Talking about this and acknowledging this and explaining this is exhausting. But it's more exhausting to continue staying silent. We have a serious issue in our society and we can't ignore it anymore. I don't know what the solution is. (I really wish I did.) All I know is that the first step towards identifying a solution is acknowledging we have a problem.

This is your opportunity to take that first step with me. But women can't be the only ones who are fucking furious. So I need you to hear me.