A woman has to be polite in her rejection, lest she gets harmed or even killed for saying no.
A woman has to say she has a boyfriend for a man to back off. Whether or not she’s lying doesn’t matter, what matters is the presence of a man, imaginary or not, is more valid than the woman presently standing in front of them.
A woman has to change train cars when she’s on a subway if she feels threatened, if she’s being followed, if a man shows himself to her inappropriately, or touches her inappropriately.
A woman has to cross the street, go in a different direction, hide in stores or completely change her normal route if she is being followed, watched or assaulted.
A woman has to carry pepper spray, mace, carry keys in her hand, not walk alone at night, not wear headphones, not walk in certain areas or on certain streets just to keep safe. And that is often still not enough.
A woman has to watch her drinks, her friend’s drinks, take friends to the bathroom with her, not take public transportation back alone or anything else for what is supposed to be a “fun night.”
A woman cannot just say fuck off to a man harassing her lest she get hurt in the process.
A woman only thinking of a man as a friend is apparently worse than a man only thinking of a woman as a sexual conquer or girlfriend. He is girlfriendzoning her.
A woman needs a reason every time to say no. She’s not interested in this man, she’s not interested in men at all, she doesn’t want to get hit on at the moment is not enough. Sometimes even those reasons will get her hurt or killed.
I’m tired of being polite to men who catcall and say vulgar things to me because I’m afraid of what they’ll do otherwise. I’m tired of having to talk about my boyfriend in order to have men leave me alone. I’m tired of having to purposely put in headphones and have resting bitch face walking down the street to scare off any unwanted harassment. I’m tired of not having ownership of my own body. I’m tired of being objectified. I’m tired of not being able to wear certain things or go certain places because of the men around me.
I’m tired of women getting killed for saying no.Charlene Haparimwi is a 20 year old DePaul University student studying Public Relations and Advertising, with two minors in Creative Writing and Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies. She has been published in Slant News, Hooligan Mag, Literary Juice, Femsplain, The Coffeelicious, and more. She is passionate about intersectional feminism, black rights, LGBT rights, and restorative justice. She is originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, lived in St. Louis for 13 years and currently resides in Chicago. Her Twitter and Instagram are @queencharlene95.(Cover photo courtesy of: Mashable’s Bob Al-Green)