By Sadiyah Tariq

“All women are crazy, you can never tell whatever they’re thinking about in their pretty little heads,” he bellowed, swiping his hand at the air as if to swipe the topical fly away.

How could he think like that, when he has a daughter and a wife?

“Probably about the latest sale, and what color next to get their nails done,” the other replied, snickering as he took a swig.

And that’s why you can’t hold a girlfriend for more than a few weeks, before they realize how you truly are.

“How’s your boy doing?”

“He’s a real lady killer!” my dad replied, admiring my nine-year-old little brother.

“Isn’t Emily around that age– you know, when the boys start knocking on your door?” my uncle asked, nodding in my direction.

“Any of them try and come my way, and I’ll shoot them dead on my property,” my dad grunted back, huffing in his seat.

I wonder how many fathers will be saying that about your son in just a couple of years.

“Well, you best be careful now, because with that dress she’s wearing, some boys going to think she’s trying to grab their attention…”

Maybe those boys should be taught to mind their own business.

My father gives me a disapproving look, sneering as he paid his attention back to his beer. A man’s drink. “Not my baby girl. The other girls are too loose, nowadays. Flaunting their stuff. Practically asking for it.”

No girl asks for it, that’s just how men perceive it.

“It’s the books, filling their heads with dumb thoughts.”

I certainly didn’t ask for it. But that didn’t stop him from taking what he thought was his. As if I was some object that needed to be possessed. As if I was ripe for the picking.

“And all that #MeToo whatever bullshit. They’re just bringing down respectable men–”

I had to start blacking out what they were talking about, if I was able to keep any of my sanity intact. How could they just…? I don’t have the words, but one circled my mind constantly while I sat there with them.

Disgusting.

How could a man that smiled proudly at my accomplishments, laughed alongside me, comforted me when I was in pain or hurt, and looked down at me with eyes full of unconditional and everlasting love — have the gaul to talk about these kinds of things?

And what kind of eyes would he looked at me if he knew what I had been through? That I was turned into one of the kinds of women they were all ranting about? That I’m like this, because of men like them?

It wasn’t my fault.

And I can’t change what happened to me any more then I can change their minds about their perceptions of women. All I could do was bottle it all up, and move on. Because it wasn’t my place to speak my mind — because to them, I didn’t have one.

I just wanted to disappear. But instead, I did the next best thing. I got up, and walked away from them.

“Get me another, Em,” my dad ordered with a snap of his fingers.

You can shove it up yours.

And I walked out the door. And kept walking. And didn’t look back.

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