An Open Letter to Dudes Who Never Knew “This” Was Happening

A couple of weeks ago, in a coffee shop, at 7am, a dude I didn’t know saw me re-reading Men Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit, and tried to explain to me why women are mad right now.


And I said, I’m pretty sure I know why I am mad, and I’m woman, but thanks, and tried to go back to my book, BUT HE KEPT TALKING.


And kept talking… and I was sort of physically trapped between him and and exiting, and every time I tried to escape by reading my book or writing, he would KEEP TALKING. As this guy was telling me about the imbalance of power between men and women, he was literally using it to make me listen to him go the fuck on and on and on…


So then I told him about the kid who tried to force me to jerk him off in a closet in the band room in one of the five high schools I attended, and how he is a cop now. (Short story shorter, he pulled me over a couple of weeks after my son was born, and I had to sit alone with him in a tiny sheriff’s department while I waited for someone to bring up bail money– $25US BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE MY FATHER IN LAW’S PROOF OF INSURANCE. Yep. That was a real thing. I was just hoping he wouldn’t remember me very well and try to pick up where he left off a few years prior. If he did I was resigned to the fact I held no recourse and would just have to deal with whatever happened because his professional power was greater than mine on every level.)

Most men, in some way, have more power than me, and ALL OTHER WOMEN. So when my therapist asked me, after I told her about this man who wanted to tell me about women’s feelings,  if I feel as if my resentment of men in general has been creeping up, yes, yes it has, you bet your ass it has. I understand why some people of color are like fuck all these white people, I am done, leave me alone. I understand why friends and other members of the LGTBQIA community do not want to deal with straight, cis folks. Because sometimes I just do not want to be in situations where there will be men. Honestly, who the hell wants to spend all their time being around people who unquestionably have more power and privilege, and even if they mean well, cannot transfer that power or privilege, and also can I get a show of hands from everyone who is tired as fuck of having to explain that yes, this* has always been happening, no, it’s not better or worse than it was before, and ok, great, you’re outraged now, but maybe you can take that rage over to the people that do this shit, instead of making me go through it AD FUCKING NAUSEAM?

And to every single one of y’all who have asked if I a) could lighten up a bit, b) know that I am losing male readers by being so feminist, c) understand, pragmatically, that not all men do this, I have exactly one final response for you:

I am not here for you and I don’t care what you want.

Go do some work, Not All Men. Go talk to some dudes about their shitty ass behavior, and leave me alone if you’re so damn enlightened. Take some load off the rest of us, bruh. You want to know what I think? I think if I were raped again, the perpetrator would get away with it, again. You want to know why I’m angry, nervous, and not interested in what you think about how women have been treated? Feel free to start listening to any one of us who are trying to tell you, or those who have always been telling you that all of this is garbage, and always has been. And while you’re contorting yourselves trying to show that you’re listening to celebrity white ladies, you especially need to shut the hell up and go listen to women of color talk. And I genuinely mean listen. STOP TALKING. I don’t want you to apologize. Just. Shut. Up. And. Listen. And then get to work. We don’t need you to check in and take up our space telling us about the work you are doing– it is your responsibility to fix this shit.

If every woman I know, and almost certainly every woman you know, is telling you they are have been harassed, assaulted, discriminated against, then buddy, I guarantee you have friends, colleagues, family, that behave badly. Maybe it’s because they think it’s okay, maybe they know they shouldn’t, but they can get away with it, but there’s plenty there for you to unpack, and start talking about. Here is a resource. It’s written by a woman. Try to take it seriously.

*rape, sexual harassment, gender harassment, catcalling, unwanted advances, manipulation, being followed in the dark, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Al Franken, “nice guys”, being followed in daylight, being treated like children, benevolent sexism, not having true autonomy, Bernie Bros who harass you for not hating Hillary Clinton, and so on, since the beginning of time

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