Rebekah Kramer, Contributing Writer
To the boy yelling “Whore!” at me from the window in Huntington Hall,
I will refer to you as boy because even though you are my peer on this campus, no man would ever disrespect another human being the way you did.
I was startled to hear you yelling from a window as I know very few people who live in Huntington. “Hey! Hey you!”—A familiar gesture, nonthreatening, as friends sometimes make jokes about forgetting each others’ names. But then you continued: “You’re a whore and you know it!”
Clearly you couldn’t be referring to me? But nobody else was around, so you must have been. I don’t think I am a whore though and therefore I did not know what you are talking about. “Yeah, keep walking you whore, you know it’s true!” But as I just stated, I had no inkling of what you could be referring to and I only continued towards my own room because you were making me uncomfortable.
I am fairly certain that you and your buddies had a nice laugh over my embarrassment. I am even more certain that you went on with your day as content as you had started it, not realizing the imprint you left on me.
I have told many people about our encounter in hope that one could positively identify you. Yet no one could. Because you, boy yelling at me from the window, stood cowardly behind the screen and shadows. You hid in safety, inhibiting my ability to respond to your remarks. Had you respected me enough to at least address my presence in your life as another human being, face-to-face, this is what I would have said:
I grew up believing that I was a lesser person because of what your penis symbolizes in my culture. No matter how big or small, impotent or fertile yours might be, it still counts as a marker of power; as an “inherent” right to abuse, subordinate, derogate, torture, and dehumanize me. I am the daughter of a single mother, a woman who raised four beautiful children with little help from a male partner. Her story is that of strength and courage, as is generations of my mothers and sisters, but you don’t know that. Women, my sisters of the world, have been raped, beaten, brutally murdered, but ultimately forgotten about because of what your dick “grants” you to do to us.
We endure the ache of your abuse but it is you who are weak. You have succumbed to the idiocy of patriarchal power dynamics which allow you to disrespect me and my sisters this way. While you hide in the darkness of anonymity, we survive the misery of your offenses publicly. It is us women who should be high-fiving each other after your assaults because we are the ones who survived it; we withstood and persevered through the suffering you brought upon us. We know the sting of your tongue as it tries to whip us into submission and yet I am still here, calling you out for the pain you have caused us.
You, boy from the window, are an executioner, as you swiftly slipped the noose of silence around my neck; you screamed “whore” at me as if you knew my story, as if your words were appropriate, as if you had the right to infer my sexual acts as deviant and thus my identity to reflect them. Your crime was one against humanity for not allowing me the liberty of a response to the derision you had just displayed. You assumed that I would be a receptacle of your hatred, your misogyny. But I will not. So I hope you don’t mind that I took it upon myself to write back.
If you would like to get to know the real me, I’ll be waiting in Macduff 217B for your knock on the door. But since conversations behind windows seem more like your thing, I walk past everyday at three; just give me the yell of your now familiar, “Hey! Hey you!” I will turn to you this time, so that maybe I can educate you about who I am and my experiences as a woman and so that you can explain to me how you know me well enough to call me a whore. We will have a conversation, hopefully, of mutual reverence as we can both participate in a dialogue this time.
As a fellow human being, I hope this letter finds you in both good health and happiness.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The woman you’ve already forgotten