I am tired of being scared to walk home in the dark-
to step outside once the sun has faded and yellow lights are barely bright enough to
light the way.
I am tired of being scared that every time I look
down or away
it will be the last time.
That every rustle in the bushes is a predator stalking their prey-
that every set of footsteps behind me is bigger sounding,
louder with every intake of breath,
and it will be the last thing I hear.
I am tired of having to carry myself with less dignity than I have,
of being stared at with less respect than I deserve,
because a man has decided that
because I have
it is my duty to be objectified and sexualized
like I am less than
I am tired of holding my breath until I am behind my locked door,
of being afraid to take the bus when there is only one other human on it besides the bus driver and
he stares at me
the whole time, gets off at the same stop I do, tries to
walk into my building behind me,
until I tell him
with steel in my voice and iron in my spine,
"you need to leave. I haven't seen you before".
And when he looks startled,
like a deer caught in my headlights,
I get angry
because he was expecting a
scared little girl
but instead he got a
strong, resilient woman.
Because I am nothing if not
When you're a size
and the other girls laugh at you
when they think you
when they whisper about you in the bathroom when they don't know you're there-
when you're a little girl, all of
and crying because you'll never be a
and those other girls,
the ones you played with on the playground not a year before
have turned against you,
because you hit puberty before any of them and you have
that they don't-
you have to learn to build yourself a backbone.
To build yourself a
spine of iron
a mouth of steel.
When the entire world has bet
and the house has the game rigged,
you must stand for yourself because no one else will.
You must walk in the night
you must keep your chin held high
and your mouth set with
You were not built like other girls.
You were never
Because you were forced to forge your own path to succeed.
You do not have the luxury of being built
to fit the mold.
When they made you into what you are,
when they shaped your confidence with their
sharper than scalpels and hurting
just as much,
they tried to
we are not easily broken.
Because we have a
mouth made of steel
and a backbone made of iron
and though their words still sting,
their words still hurt,
you have built yourself an armor
It is coated in wax so their words slide right off,
it is made of titanium so their weapons will never hit their marks.
my heart races when I walk alone at night,
my mind whirls and my world tilts when I see
walking towards me in the dark.
It does not matter, in this moment, that I was
through trial by fire,
It does not matter that I
against all odds.
That fear sits like a stone in my stomach,
weighing me down and freezing my muscles.
It does not stop when he walks by and nothing happens.
It is the fear that keeps me rooted to the spot.
I should not be
by this irrational fear.
This fear, with such a wicked face-
not born by experience,
but born by
and the fact that I am a
Why is it that we are trained to
against each other?
Why is it that even as
we feel a primal desire to shove one another down
and hold each other by the throat,
as if we are
poised to attack?
We are the only thing standing between the world we live in now,
It is only if we stop stabbing each other in the
that anything will happen.
It is only when we truly
in each other that the world will
in us too.
And maybe, if we do that?
Our little girls will not feel
when they walk alone in the dark.
Maybe our little girls will never be
when a man walks past them on a dimly lit sidewalk.
Maybe our little girls will not need to build such extreme
armors to keep the
Maybe our little girls
will have a chance that they do not need to
to be given.
I wrote this in response to the fear I feel whenever I walk outside and the ****-shaming I was partial to simply because I am a woman.