I promise not to tell you that it’s because they like you.
when the teachers call home to tell me that
you pushed them to the ground after you
I’ll take you out of school early and buy
you your favorite ice cream.
when you get older and the boys
try to touch you when you don’t want to be touched
I’ll look at you like the sun when you come home
with anger in your fists.
they all tell you not to fight fire with fire
but that is only because they are afraid of your flames.
when the boys yell after you like hyenas
you yell back, baby.
I will not teach you to be afraid of your anger
so that you look for it in others.
I will not make you be the better person
because you already are.
you wanna fight ‘em? fight ‘em.
don’t you dare apologize for the fierce love
you have for yourself
and the lengths you go to preserve it.
when the boys try to tell you to soften up
I hope you make them bleed with your edges.
I hope you remember that you are not theirs
that their disappointment in you is not yours.
when the boys come to your door with pretty words and
I hope you show them the anger in yours.
I hope you show them just how strong your mommy
thinks you are.
I hope you show them the animal they can’t always
see in their own reflection.
when the boys come with the intention of hurting you
my advice will always stay the same, my darling:
give ‘em hell.
When you grow up as a girl, the world tells you the things that you are supposed to be: emotional, loving, beautiful, wanted. And then when you are those things, the world tells you they are inferior: illogical, weak, vain, empty. The world teaches you that the way you exist in it is disgusting — you watch boys cringe backward in your dorm room when you talk about your period, blue water pretending to be blood in a maxi pad commercial. It is little things, and it is constant. In a food court in a mall, after you go to the gynecologist for the first time, you and your friend talk about how much it hurts, and over her shoulder you watch two boys your age turn to look at you and wrinkle their noses: the reality of your life is impolite to talk about. The world says that you don’t have a right to the space you occupy, any place with men in it is not yours, you and your body exist only as far as what men want to do with it. At fifteen, you find fifteen-year-old boys you have never met somehow believe you should bend your body to their will. At almost thirty, you find fifteen-year-old boys you have never met still somehow believe you should bend your body to their will. They are children. They are children.