Written anonymously by a Leeds Beckett Student
Trigger Warning: Sexual assault
To all the men…
To all the men who have “innocently” wolf-whistled at me passing by, it was not flattering that you found me attractive. You reduced me to an object, worth nothing more than a decoration to look at.
To all the men I have politely declined date invitations to “sorry, I have a boyfriend” and to those I have accepted out of intimidation and felt obligation, I take it back, I am not sorry, I owe you no apology, no explanation, no time of mine to boost your ego, to preserve your dignity or feelings.
To all the men who have groped my arse, did you think it was playful? You disgusted me but I was too afraid to stand up to you. You got no reaction so you repeated, I laughed it off, but you saw that as encouragement but perhaps I did lead you on with my tight jeans, maybe it was my fault. Now I know, I was not yours to touch.
To all the men who have commented about the size of my breasts, one day they will serve their purpose, for my children and my breasts will be more than adequate for them and perhaps in that beautiful moment, when I am a stronger woman, I will remember your comments and laugh at how you ever thought my breasts had any purpose for you.
To all the men who have made comments about my choice in underwear “well, it’s not sexy is it?” or my occasional lack of underwear. After realising how comfortable “men’s” underwear is, I stopped wearing mine and switched, no they were not an ex boyfriends, they’re mine. I did not expect you to be wearing a sexy thong for me, nor did I ask you to wear French knickers for me. I give you a free choice in all of your clothes be it for comfort or style, you dress for yourself, why cannot I, for myself?
To all the men who have asked me to shave my legs, my armpits, my pubic hair, I had no expectations from your body, I have never asked you to change, I did not ask you to get a Mohican, a six-pack or expect you to have a hairless prepubescent body.
To all the men that have entered me without my permission, perhaps you assumed me going out for a drink with you meant sex too? and perhaps you took my silence as a “yes”. Perhaps I felt obligated and just let it happen, I guess that is my fault. Maybe I was asking for it because I smiled at you, flirted, or dress provocatively.
To all these men. You objectified me, made me feel violated, disgusting, worthless. Thank you. You made me strong. Strong enough to stand up to you and realise I am more than a body, more than a shag, more than the organ between my legs!
To all the decent men who have girlfriends, I am sorry. It was not you that violated her, broke her trust, made her feel obligated. I am sorry if she ever feels obligated, is ever insecure. I am sorry if you find it hard to understand why catcalls are unflattering. I am sorry if her past experiences have broken her. It was not you, and it is not your fault.
I ask you to remember that she is not yours any more than she is he who wolf whistles, he who looks at her, who gropes her. I ask you that you teach your sons to also be decent and respectful and to stand up against those who are not. I ask you that you teach your daughters to be strong and to know that they do not owe anything to anyone. They own their bodies.
To all the women… Stop.
Stop feeling obligated. You were given lips so that you could say “no”.
Stop feeling ugly. Hair or no hair, your legs still serve their purpose! If you are asked to change what life gave you, than he does not deserve you!
Stop feeling guilty. You owe yourself free choice and self-worth, not your body to anyone.
Our mothers had it harder, but our daughters will still struggle.
Don’t let them feel as you do.
Let them walk freely, top or no top, hair or no hair without stares and comments and without fear. Let them know there are no assumptions, no obligations and no ideal.
Let them just be, just as men do.
If you feel affected by anything you read in this article and would like to talk to someone about it then you can contact the student well-being service at 0113 812 8507 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.