Content warning: sexual assault
Dear [Insert Predator’s Name Here],
You and I have never met, but I have met men like you before. I have met men like you before, and I will meet them in the future, just like many, many other women will too. My sisters, my friends, my coworkers, the countless women I pass on the street, the women I shuffle past in public bathrooms, and the women I sit beside in lecture halls. We will all meet men like you. And those men, like you, will manipulate, and pursue, and victimize, and harm, and force themselves onto our unwilling bodies. I know this, because I have met men like you.
These men are the ones who whistle at women on their walks home from work and school, who leer at women on public transportation, whose eyes linger a little too long on the place our crossed arms try to cover. These are the men who corner women at clubs and bars. I’ve met these men, and I know this man. The man who – upon a woman’s cautious rejection of his aggressive advances – is perplexed, and quickly angered at her unwillingness to grant him that place between her legs, a place that he believes so deeply to be entitled to that this belief has hardened in his mind like an ill-informed fact when in reality, it is ill-informed fiction. An alternative fact. What is a fact – a cold, hard fact – is that I have met men like you before.
These men are the same men who, when light is shed on their darkest desires and their sickest fantasies, have a fictitious “aha” moment. I know these men, and I know this man. This man has a euphoric eureka, with all the pomp and circumstance of someone returning from a mind, body and soul-searching retreat. He apologizes for – and of course, when this man apologizes, he does so not because he got caught, but because he regrets his “lapses in judgment” – the consequences of his actions. Not his actions, obviously, just their consequences! He regrets the harm he may (or may not) have inflicted on that obscure, unnamed group of individuals whom he may (or may not) have traumatized during those even more obscure “events” or “occurrences” he happened to be a part of.
But all that stuff is in the past. Now he knows that no really does mean no. After some internal reflection and a brief yet stern deliberation with various colleagues (who frown upon what he has done, by the way), he knows much better now not to touch a woman without consent. He now knows that no isn’t a coy yes, and that stop doesn’t mean go. I haven’t met you, but I’ve met men like you.
Although I have not met you, I do know one more thing about men like you. They, like you, will lie to the women they’ve hurt and they, like you, will lie to themselves. They preface their non-apology apology with buzzwords and buts. They will say they didn’t know better, that they’re so very sorry and – if they could just handle these matters privately and quietly, without the prying eyes of rightfully concerned onlookers – they promise they’ve learned their lesson. But these men – while they hide behind a facade of ignorance, lamenting that they didn’t understand consent, or that they thought no was code for foreplay, or that they truthfully didn’t think to just back off when someone wanted them to back off – they are the ones who have to sleep with themselves every night, and wake up with themselves every morning. These men, and their lies to themselves and their victims, won’t save them from having to live the ultimate, gut-wrenching truth: that they are the cowards they are proving themselves to be. Until they admit that the monstrous, horrific, despicable, reprehensible and illegal acts they felt entitled to commit were their doing and their doing alone, they will forever live with the heartbreaking reality that they are someone who hurts others with conviction and lies about it with intention.
The most devastating thing about these men – these predators – is that they seek to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions when, in reality, it is every single woman – the woman you know, and the woman you don’t – who should be seeking protection from them.
So no, I have not met you, but I have met men like you, and I know exactly who you are.
Images obtained from Pinterest