- I’m wearing too much makeup
- I’m not wearing enough makeup
- It’s Sunday
- It’s Tuesday
- I’m walking too quickly
- I’m walking too slowly
- I’m too pretty to not let you enjoy a piece of it
- I’m not pretty enough to occupy the space marked “female”
- I’m wearing boots
- I’m wearing flip flops
- I haven’t let you have sex with me before
- I’m not letting you have sex with me right now
- I won’t be letting you have sex with me in the future
- I’m in a public place after dark
- I’m in a public place before dark
- I’m looking at you
- I’m not looking at you
- I’m with a friend
- I’m alone
- I’m talking on my phone
- I’m listening to my ipod
- I’m holding a green bag
- I’m holding a purple bag
- I’m in a new neighborhood
- I’m near my home
- I’m a virgin and you can tell
- I’m not a virgin and you can tell
- I’m dressed up
- I’m dressed down
- I’m wearing an engagement or wedding ring
- I’m not wearing an engagement or wedding ring
- I’ve seen you before
- I haven’t seen you before
- I’m smiling
- I’m not smiling
- I’m frowning
- I’m not frowning
- I’m feeling something that I’m not expressing on my face and you don’t have any way of knowing what it is
- I’m lost
- I’m not lost
Or more likely, you just believe that you own me.
That you are entitled to my attention. You believe that you have a right to my body. You believe that as a woman, I owe you whatever you want whenever you want it. You are insecure in this belief, and so you feel the need to assert it. To assert your power and privilege over me in a space that belongs to men and in which I have no right to be unless it is on your terms. You believe that you are superior to me, and that I do not have the right to choose when and where and how and on what terms we will engage.
You believe that you have little to no control over yourself and your body, and ergo any behavior in which you engage is the direct result of my manipulation of you. That if I want to maintain my privacy and my control over my own body and my own life, then it is up to me and me alone to defend it. Because I should expect to be bothered, interrupted, attacked, or violated. It is not about me and whether or not I am a woman and whether or not a woman is a person, entitled to the rights of other people. It is about the world and how the world is – how you created it, for yourself and for your fellow mankind. And since it is neither my space nor my place, I should expect no rights, no privacy, and no respect once I am in it.
And if, as a man, you find yourself uncomfortable or not in full agreement with any of the statements above, then mind your own business. Do not ask me how I like that book, just to entrap me in a conversation with you. Do not leer at me, tell me to smile, ask me why my boyfriend doesn’t travel with me, or whistle honk and yell at me.
In short, leave me alone. I’m on my way somewhere, I’m thinking about something, I’m engaged in my own world and my own life. And it has nothing – nothing – to do with you.
This post is originally published on Left Standing Up. It is cross-posted with permission.