At 5 AM on Tuesday morning I woke up to the sound of my blinds tapping against each other. I jumped up and looked over to my window and didn’t see anything but a part of me had to check if there was something there. I stayed quiet, grabbed what I needed and approached the window. At this point I still didn’t really think there was anything to worry about so I hit the blinds expecting that they would just swing back and forth. Instead the hit was met with a man’s face, an arm reaching in and grabbing onto my window sill, a bunch of profanity, and then the words “I’m just trying to get to know you”.
I hate to keep people on the edge of their seats but let’s talk perspective for a minute. Pretend you’re a 4 foot 11, 110 lb girl alone in the dark with a larger than you, strange, and now angry grown man with enough of an agenda to make it up to your third floor balcony and break off your window screen. If you’ve never been a woman before, the natural reaction to that scenario is he’s going to rape, kidnap, or kill me. That’s exactly what ran through my mind and somehow in a split second I made my peace with it. That probably sounds really dark to some of you and maybe even a bit extreme. However, how many days at a time do you go without seeing or hearing that another woman was raped, that there was a murder in your city, or a new missing person sign was posted in a grocery store or on your twitter timeline? My answer to that is zero. There has not been a day since I was a child that I haven’t heard yet another too scary to be true story of a man doing the most evil thing he could probably think of and more often than not, getting away with it.
With all that in mind I was standing there facing what could potentially be the worst moment of my life. He reached out to grab me and I screamed. Suddenly I had rage filled word-vomit and I barely remember what was said but by the end of it he backed off, I pulled my window shut and ran out to call whoever I could. Not quite how I wanted my Tuesday morning to go but definitely could have been worse. A friend of mine came by to make sure I was alright and he said something women have heard a million times before but after the morning I had it really got me thinking. He said “I want to apologize on behalf of all men”. Of course he’s never done anything bad to me and so I never expected to hear that from him nor did I need to, but I accepted it and forgave him.
The thing is I don’t hate all men, I fear them. I know it’s 2021 and I’m supposed to be a strong, confident woman holding her own, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t fear the men I see looking at me as I walk down the street or while I’m carrying groceries to my car. My fear increases at the men who say something or cat-call because it’s when they do those things that you realize some of them take action. You could only imagine where my head goes when they make contact or try to crawl through my bedroom window to do who knows what. So I’ve come to the conclusion that this issue of men doing and taking what they want is the fault of a collaborative effort of all men. Of course you have to acknowledge the good ones and I do, however, I’m realizing that the men who perpetuate the “boys will be boys” attitudes or mistreatment of women and stand by and ignore the actions or abusers are just as responsible for the state of society today, and that greatly decreases that number of good ones. Therefore, if any man, even the best man I know, wants to apologize for the fact that they’re a part of the community that has left me too scared to sleep in my own bedroom alone at night, I’m going to assume its sincerity because I’ve decided that I (along with all other women) have earned the right to hold them all responsible.
I don’t think I’m weak, quite the opposite actually. I fear a system that was built to hurt me and until people really know how commonplace it is for women to fear for their life, no one will bother to take it down. I can’t express how happy I am to be okay and how grateful I am for all the family and friends who continue to show up for me and cheer me on when I need them most. But if we’re going to celebrate anything, let it be all the women who were stronger than the situations they faced and on behalf of all women:
Boys, do better.