Submitted Date 03/14/2021

I have taken the longer route.
I have pretended to talk on the phone.
I have debated whether to smile back.
I have debated the road with less people
or the road with more lights.
I have decided to wait until morning.
I have put on an extra sweater.
I have gotten off the train early.
I have blended into the crowd.
I have listened to broken headphones.
I have ignored honks from friends,
because I haven't learned to tell the difference.
I have been told just act like you're crazy.
I have gone into bars though I don't drink.
I have told them extensively about my boyfriend.
I have kept my head down while pushing a stroller.
I have cried and cried and cried.
I have held my beauty like a ticking time bomb.
I have held my womanhood like a guilty pleasure.
I have rushed home to watch self-defense videos.
I have practiced my last resort speech.
I have given my number in exchange for my dignity.
I have crossed a river fully dressed.

I remember sitting on a bus in Portland, Oregon, looking down at my outfit. "Do I look okay?" I heard a voice in my head ask. I immediately felt ashamed of the question. I had visited for almost a week, walking around the city, taking public transportation, and getting lost. It was the first week in my adult life that I could recall being in public and not getting followed or catcalled.

A few months later, I moved there.

*For those who need to hear it, there is a difference between paying a woman a compliment and harassment. If you're not sure of the difference, ask your partners, your coworkers, your daughters. If you're not sure of the difference, how can you expect us to be?

#ripsaraheverard #notallmenbutallwomen


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