I am My Own Woman – Open Letter in Solidarity of #Metoo

Dear Men,

I am not your eye candy.

My efforts to enhance my appearance are not clawing attempts to garner your validation or attempts to find a suitor.

Your assessment of me should be infinitesimal in weight and significance. Your approval is unnecessary.

I don’t need you pointing out perceived flaws surrounding my weight, height, features, and attire. I don’t need to change myself to better suit your tastes or needs.

I can be muscular, willowy, skinny, fat, etc., and I don’t need you gratuitously telling me that I have the wrong body type.

I can wear sweatpants and have my hair in a ponytail all week or don a form-fitting dress and wear my hair tousled cascades, in styled ringlets, or shorn to the scalp – whatever – and still be the same person worthy of respectful regard.

What I wear shouldn’t change your behavior toward me and if it does, that’s not my fault at all. The onus is on you to be a decent human and not a despicable piece of shit.

I am my own woman and I am not your plaything, distraction, or trophy.

You think that I – that we – don’t notice when your hands slide to our waists when getting our picture taken together, or when you grab our shoulders or casually touch our knees and elsewhere when we are inebriated?

We all know. But we were raised in a society that encourages this behavior so we accepted it, against our own safety and wishes.

While we as a society have come far, we still live in a culture so entrenched in predatory patriarchy – one that restricts the range of male emotion between anger and lust, that reinforces the every-man-for-himself serrated machismo, and one that encourages straight cis-men to pursue women like coveted prey – a dangerous combination that leads to the victimization of women.

While I understand that men are also victims of this culture, I will not sit down in oppressed silence or complicity in the face of unequal treatment of women by men.

In cases involving myself or other women, I will call you out. I will not hesitate to jump in to defend someone. I am an empowered woman and martial artist and I will definitely never hesitate to fight if I ever need to. I will use these skills to protect myself and others, empower other women, and teach predatory people a powerful lesson they need to learn.

Here’s my stance: we matter. Women’s lives matter.

We are not here for you to ogle, catcall, and to abuse. Our privacy, safety, and elevation matter just as much as yours.

We have the right to feel safe and empowered. We have the right to walk on the streets without being told to smile (the tamest example of street harassment), without having to politely refuse your unwanted advances. Why politely, you ask? I guess you don’t know what it’s like to simply say no to a self-entitled man, only to have him react in anger and even violence, and having to assuage his fury by apologizing. Apologize for what? It’s almost like we have to apologize for existing.

Women don’t owe you attention and we certainly don’t need to reciprocate your advances. We have the right to say no and to not like you back without being subjected to ridicule, criticism, and violence. Women don’t need to dress for your approval. Women don’t need to smile for you or change themselves just to suit you.

We are not property. We are not here for you.

We are our own women.