I have started this letter one hundred times. I have referred to you as my friend, my "cousin", my love. No term seems more right than brother, as you have grown with me, and we have lived our parallel lives. I have known you since the day I was born, and I will know you until the day I die. I have long since memorized each freckle on your face, each vein in your hand, each scar on your hip. I am saying this in the hopes that you will understand why it hurt so much when you looked me in the eye and told me to calm down.
As we skipped rocks in the river that runs past my house, you complained to me about the cousin with the crazy feminist ideals. I laughed it off, and tried to reason with you, trying to teach my dear brother a valuable lesson. That's when you stared at me, with those gorgeous, piercing eyes, and you said, "I know women think they don't have rights, but like...just calm down, okay?"
Not okay. It will never be okay. It can't be okay until boys like you stop ignoring our pain. Stop writing off our suffering as hormones and gossip. Stop telling us that our feelings are invalid.
You have always said that I was your little sister. As children, you were the first to teach me how to throw a punch, so I could take care of myself. You were the first to grab me by the hand and whisper, "I will never let anything happen to you."
If you wanted to protect me, if you wanted to love me, if you wanted me to have what you have, you would not ignore the hardships of myself and my sisters. You would not tell me I'm making it up. You would not tell me to calm down. You would not stop until everything really was okay.
I wonder how much you actually know about feminism, and how much you actually know about me. Once I thought you had memorized each piece I have given you, the way I have memorized every curve in your body, and every corner of your brain. I suppose, looking back, you never were the best listener.
The day before you came to me, angry about the unfairness of your parents. I would never say to you, "I know you think it's not fair but like...just calm down, okay?" When you came to me about your anxiety, I would never say, "I know you think it's hard, but like...just calm down, okay?" I would never ignore your words, would never patronize your pain, would never tell you to calm down.
Something inside of me has been broken ever since that day. The day that I realized that my big brother wasn't always the good guy. Some days, he's the villain. Most days, he's part of the problem.
I will always love you. You have been with me since my first breathe, and I'll be ****** if you're not there for my last. I will always listen, always hold you, always love you, always be here for you. But the one thing I refuse to do is dilute my anger for you. I will not sugarcoat my oppression, will not sweep away my sadness. I will not calm down.
And maybe, with you by my side, we could make things be okay.