To the men who do not catcall me from alleyway caves
as I walk home from my ten hour shift alone.
To the men who tell me I work harder than anyone they’ve seen.
Not “harder than any man,” not “for a woman, your work is pristine.”
To the men who give me a raise because I earned it,
not because they want to sleep with me.
To the boys in high school who invited me to their parties
To eat junk food and play video games on “Guys Night.”
Because girls were never aloud,
but I think the same way they do,
So this time it’s alright.
To my father,
when I told him I was gay.
When he wrapped me in a bear hug of understanding and said
“You know, this doesn’t change anything?”
We still have the same eyes and the same sense of humor,
And any secret I had he’d want to know sooner, rather than later.
He knows people kill themselves over this.
He says his heart is too full of love for me,
To care about such a little thing.
To A when he hugs me after another girl has broken my heart,
says, “Dude, we’ve all been there before”
and asks if I want to go play paintball.
Confused I ask why.
Because that’s what he does when he’s sad.
He knows that when your heart hurts like this,
Getting shot in the unguarded parts of your body doesn’t feel as bad.
To the men I live with.
Who switch over my laundry and do not bat an eye
over bras, tampons in our shared bathroom,
a stray hair that is too long to be theirs, so it has to be mine.
Who ask me why their girlfriends are mad, and laugh
as we analyze texts but soon give up.
Even being a part of the “female club”
doesn’t mean I know anything.
To the men who are unfazed when I am not beautiful
in the morning.
To the men who do not try to change my mind,
Because they know I have been told a thousand times over
By my grandmother, my religious friends,
That I shouldn’t be like this
The men who know I should.
This is for you.
Because I have met men who would serve me on a dinner plate,
The feminine aspects of my body, their breakfast,
A full course meal for their hungry eyes,
Sprinkled with a little salt and self hatred.
Because my mother has called me every other day since I moved out
With stories of girls who said no to men like that,
And at the witness stand,
their own mother’s cries amounted to nothing.
So to the men who do not ask me to love them,
Sydney Bivens is a full-time microbiologist, and part-time student studying literature. She broke into the writing world with her self published blog “Read My Dreams.” Sydney was born in the small town of Alexandria in northern Indiana, and spent most of her teen years in Maine. After graduating from high school she moved back to her home state and now works and writes in Indianapolis. Connect with her online and on Twitter: @SydneyBivens