For one of my classes, I am writing a paper about rape culture and sexual assault in America. As a part of that paper, I wrote this poem based on stories of my friends, personal experience, and the general experiences of women in this society. TRIGGER WARNING: while this poem is primarily a letter to cat-calling men, it does discuss fear and sexual harassment that could be very upsetting for some people. Please do not read if it would be damaging to your mental health. It also includes some foul language which I normally do not use, but deemed necessary to get my message across, so if that offends you please be prepared.
To The Men Lurking On The Street
“Hey honey why don’t you smile?”
“Damn the things I’d do to that body”
“Girl you look fine”
“Baby why don’t you come over here?”
Ever think that I’m not smiling because I am afraid?
Do you even realize I am a person?
This pair of breasts,
They are attached to a human being.
I have a brain
And a heart
And a personality.
Oh, but it’s just a compliment, right?
But I don’t remember telling you that you had the right
To comment on my body.
I don’t care what you want to do to me
Because I don’t want to do any of those things with you.
Don’t call me an ugly bitch when I walk away.
“You’d look prettier if you’d smile”
“Daaaammmmmnnnnn girl why you so stuck up?”
Well I have news for you,
I am more than a pretty object that you want to give you some attention.
Have you ever had someone grab your leg and try to touch you?
Have you ever had something think they were entitled to see your body,
To grope your chest because you were nice to them?
Have you been followed on the street?
Have you been afraid to walk alone?
This is what women experience.
Your “innocent” cat-calling can leave us trembling.
We cross the street when we see a group of men.
We speed up when you are behind us.
We carry our keys like weapons
Because 1 in 4 of us will become victims.
I am lucky enough not to be
1 in 4.
But 14 people I love were not that lucky.
You need to understand that
Your words are not compliments
They are threats.
Keep your mouth shut next time you see me.
I am not some "pussy" you can grab.
I do not exist for your pleasure;
I deserve respect
And from now on I will demand it.
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