An open letter


By Jo Kamal / 13 April 2020


Illustration by Eloise Stringer

TW/ CW: Sexual Assault / Rape

To Man number 1: (because you expected me to mother you).

To Man number 2: (because you didn’t understand you were not entitled to my care).

To Man number 3: (because you didn’t understand you were not entitled to my pussy).

To Man number 4: (because you raped me).

To Man number 5: (because you would huff, turn away and toss yourself off after I changed my mind about having sex).

To Man number 6: (because you kept touching my tits after I kept asking you to stop).

To Man number 7: (because you told me we could no longer be friends if I didn’t want to follow through after kissing you. Because you got angry at me when I still didn’t want to).

To Man number 8:  (because in the middle of our relationship, you manipulated me into sending sexual videos. You told me I would do it if I wasn’t selfish and if I loved you enough).

To Man number 9: (because you fucked me like I was a flesh-light to come into).

To Man number 10: (because you choked me on a one-night stand without asking if I wanted you to).

To the numerous and unnamed men who have ever groped me in clubs, tried it on with me during meetings, made me feel unsafe, been unable to recognise my quiet discomfort, or been unwilling to listen to my verbalised discomfort:

I slept with the light on for the first time in three years last night. I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew (man number 6, actually). I told him he had to leave. And after crying, feeling disempowered, feeling guilty, feeling like an attention-seeker, I got angry. I thought of every single one of you and I got angry.

Am I unusually unlucky? Am I asking for it? Or might this be something entrenched in the day-to-day reality of our culture?

There is no coincidence in the numerous violations I have experienced. They are symptomatic of a well-oiled patriarchal machine – a machine which works to subdue me.

I am expected to mother you. I am expected to look after you to the detriment of myself. I am made to feel guilty when I don’t want to have sex with you. I am made to feel uncomfortable saying no. I am expected to say no to men who do not listen to me saying it. I am expected to have more emotional intelligence than all of you combined. I am expected to see the good in you. I am expected to navigate a world in which you are constantly telling me that I am not important. My opinions are less important than yours. My emotions are less important than yours. My sexual agency is less important than your sense of power over me. The crux of it all? – regularly and incessantly, you knock the message into me: I am not as important as you.

I have had enough. Your subtle (and not-so-subtle) forms of violence are a tool of the state. You do not need to rape me in order to uphold the patriarchy. You uphold it in the way you talk about your issues, expect me to support you, and discard me when you’re sated. You uphold it in the way you do not consider my feelings. You uphold it in the way you talk to me and the way you talk to your friends about me. You uphold it in the way you do not listen to me. Are you listening to me now?

You do not know that by hurting me, you also hurt yourselves: you neglect to remember our inherent interconnectedness and you sink deeper into your conditioned state, alienated from your authentic self.

You do not know that by hurting me, you continue to buttress the system which keeps us both locked in our exhausting and endless societal power struggle.

Your violence serves to disempower me. Your violence serves to silence me. I have become heavy with the weight of your entitlement.

But I have learnt that you are afraid of my anger because it is a catalyst for change. You seek to silence me because my voice, raised, will encourage riots and deafen you. You seek to weaken me because the recognition of my power will disrupt the status quo.

This letter will not stop your violence against me. Your behaviour has taught me to expect it throughout my life. But it is nevertheless a small revolution. It is a revolution because your behaviour serves to weaken me and I will not let it. It is a revolution because your behaviour serves to silence me and it will only make me louder. I am angrier and louder than I have ever been before.

I have a duty to you, as I have to all living beings. My duty is to love you, and I do. I love all of you. I see you as the products of a patriarchal system, with good at your core. But I do not need to humour you. I no longer need to make time for you. I have had enough.

Art by

Words by
jo Kamal

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