This volcano of words about the patriarchy, rape culture, male entitlement, sexual abuse and harassment has left me enraged and inspired.

Every woman has a story. All too many so much worse than mine.

This is what I remember, so far:

I have been verbally and sexually harassed, talked down and mansplained to, yelled at, interrupted, insulted, silenced, followed too many times to count, told I’d like to rape you three times, leered at, belittled, debased and physically grabbed and groped by men my entire, conscious life. This includes two teenagers and one man, who, on separate occasions, lunged and shoved their tongues into my mouth without my consent, and three complete strangers who jumped out of nowhere to jerk their furious pricks in my face. The first time when I was eleven. Do you know what this is, little girl?

Don’t get me started on how having protruding breasts and a vagina has held me back in my work. Or the double-standard in my family and at school.

It is a rare man in my life who has not made me cringe in some related way, nor who has really talked to me about rape culture and complicity. So, here’s what I want to say to you honest, conscious men who are prepared to take a long, hard look in the mirror and who care deeply enough to ask as our stories explode in your face: What can I do?

Start by telling us how you have participated in the patriarchy. Then, if you want to help us heal and can find it in your hearts, apologize.

Brenda Keesal

Photo by Norman Keesal

I would be happy to hear your feelings and thoughts, with all respect.

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