To the man who made me sick with regret for going to that concert—for dancing.
To the man who held my hand in the street, after telling me he was married and after I asked him not to, warned that there were other men looking at me and he was there to protect me. I never asked for his protection.
To the man who made me know for the first time that marriage wasn’t something that meant a promise.
To the man who cursed at me when I didn’t say thank you.
To the men who think I’m rude because I don’t appreciate their compliments.
To the men who ask me to smile.
To the man who made me afraid to sleep in my own bed.
To the man, when we were both in middle school, who told everyone we had kissed (even though we hadn’t) and spent months aggressively spreading rumors so that we would “just do it already, I mean, they all think you already did.”
To the man who told me I was ugly so I would need him to feel beautiful.
To the man who touched himself on the Manhattan bound D train while staring at me.
To the men who mistook kindness for an invitation.
To the men, underground, who made me fear the subway for a full year.
To the man in college, who smelled like whiskey, and was stronger than he looked.
To the man who used his tongue when I didn’t ask.
To the man who spent an entire train ride, packed like sardines, grinding himself against my back to intermittent mumbled “I’m sorry”s. But who didn’t stop; no matter how I tried to move away.
To the man in fifth grade who promised me an ‘A’ in art. Whose job had been to teach me.
To the 43 year old man who asked me on a date, when I was still nineteen, and did not like to be rejected.
To the man in high school who gave me detention because he said he liked to see me cry.
To the man in the supermarket who asked me if I needed help. “Oh, no thank you” and then followed me around the store, anyway.
To the men who make comments about the way I look in pants.
To the man who posted memes of anime characters kissing and told me that “could be us.”
To the man who thought I was something to be gotten.
To the man that one time I still won’t talk about.
To the man who came into the women’s bathroom, when I was alone in there.
To the men who stopped their cars and asked me to get in.
To the men who honk.
To the men who roll their windows down and yell like I am a ball game and they think their screams will score the final basket.
To the man who chased me—and the diner I hid in; to the man in the diner who sat with me until the stranger outside was gone.
To the men who think they are being kind, by disregarding my feelings.
To the man who walked me home, expecting something in return.
To the man who put his hand under my skirt.
To the men I have worked hard to forget.
To the man who made me wish the door was still open.
To the men who make me cross the street because they’re walking too quickly and their hands are in the wrong places.
To the man married to my mom’s friend who spoke of men like he was one (thank you, mom for believing me).
To the man who called me “innocent” and said he could “do something about that,” like it was a problem that needed fixing.
To the men who force me to speak vaguely. Who shame me by their actions. This is not the worst of anything. This is one piece of a narrative that is so engrained in our history, it is unclear where to begin; how to teach girls and boys both what they are worth and how to treat one another. I take no pride in being part of “me too.”
AND to the men who were respectful. Who asked and listened. Who kept their distance, until it was appropriate. Who were gentle, who knew better. Who did not think they were gods. Who knew I, too, was a person.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal. Married to my best friend and planning a lifetime of adventure!