“my name is BABY and you lean out of your car and spit at my feet it lands in a puddle in front of me and i am thirteen and in a suburban neighborhood on the way home from school and i gag and run with my backpack banging like the echo of your words against my back like you are chasing me all the way home
my name is SWEETIE and i am fifteen in the city with my friends for the first time and we get a little lost and you follow us for a full block you name my friends HONEY and DARLING and WHY THE FUCK WON’T YOU TALK TO ME
my name is NICE ASS and it’s two in the afternoon and i still feel my heart slam against my ribs because i am under a hundred and fifty pounds and i have weak lungs and weaker fists and while you saunter down the steps, swinging the beer bottle in your fist, my father who is walking behind me shouts, “she’s seventeen, you dipshit” and maybe i’m near my family but i don’t feel safe until we’re home again
my name is JAILBAIT and my friend is laughing and we just graduated high school and we feel like we are on the brink of something beautiful and terrifying and she is in heels and about to throw up and you name her DRUNK ENOUGH and i have to physically drag you off and when we go home she cries for four hours because a night that should have been just teenage fun almost resulted in the end of her trust of humans
my name is LOOK AT THOSE TITS and we are on a college campus and the boy i am with holds onto my waist just a little tighter while you drive up next to me. you name him THUG and throw a bottle at his forehead. i can’t stop shaking until long after it’s over. he says “it happens,” and i say, “it shouldn’t.”
my name is DAMN GIRL and we are walking down the street. there are ten of you and two of us and you snap a picture when you think we’re not looking. you tell us to either come inside or you’ll fuck us on the street. you all laugh like this is funny. this is compliment. this is just something boys do to get ladies.
my name is LITTLE LADY, my name is FINE MISS, my name is FUCK YOU AND FUCK YOUR FRIENDS, my name is LOOK ME IN THE FACE, my name is STOP FROWNING, my name is SMILE, my name is WHY DID YOU EVEN GLANCE AT HIM YOU WERE ASKING FOR IT, my name is THIS IS A COMPLIMENT so i looked it up according to Oxford that’s “a polite expression of praise or admiration” i think you’ve got the definitions mixed up
my name is PRETTY THING, my name takes nice words and make them into bullet wounds my name is NICE BODY and no girl i know has dated a man who catcalled her, my name is GREAT RACK and it turns out that if you shout things at a stranger, they sound like knives more than flowers, my name is WOMEN LIKE YOU NEVER KNOW THEIR PLACE and every single “nice” thing you say to a woman is something you’d never utter to another man because you know that it’s derogatory, my name is PRINCESS and A REASON TO GET PUT IN PRISON and if another man spoke to your mother sister girlfriend like that, you’d kill him
my name is SEXY and every time i hear someone raising their voice i am thirteen again and i don’t know who you are and i’m running home with a weight on my shoulders and your words like a slap to my spine and your laughter like a hanging, i am scared and alone and suddenly so small,
and compliments are supposed to make me feel good not afraid for my life, compliments are a way of saying “i care and i appreciate you and i thought you should know it,” and if you really meant it as a compliment, you’d care about how i would take it – but you don’t mean it like that, you mean it to show off, you mean it to make us object, you mean it to shove our names into your back pocket so you can tell your friends “i saw the HOTTEST LITTLE THING yesterday” and they can be groan about how we just walked away because you don’t see us go home with keys in our fists and all the lights on and we keep 911 dialed just in case and we triple-check our locks and we don’t fall asleep at all because your compliment knocked us over and took who we are
if we are all saying “it doesn’t sound like a compliment, it sounds like a threat,” if you really wanted to make us feel good – wouldn’t you stop doing it?