My name is ‘BABY’. You lean over and spit at my feet. It lands in a puddle in front of me. I am thirteen and on my way home from school. I 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’. I am fifteen and I’m out with my friends for the first time. We get a little lost and you follow us for a full block. You name my friends ‘HONEY’ and ‘DARLING’.
My name is ‘FINE MISS’. It’s two in the afternoon and I feel my heart slam against my ribs. I forget the fact that I’m eighteen and want to run to my mommy and cry because I’m scared.
My name is ‘DAMN GIRL’. We are walking down the street. There are ten of you and two of us. You snap a picture when you think we’re not looking. You give us dirty howls and laugh like this is funny.
‘This is compliment. This is just something boys do to get ladies.’
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 ‘PRETTY THING’. My name takes nice words and turns them into bullet wounds. My name is ‘NICE BODY’ and it turns out that if you shout things at a stranger, they sound like knives more than flowers. My name is ‘GIRLS 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 ‘A REASON TO GET PUT IN JAIL’ and if another man spoke to your mother, sister or 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 but I’m running home with a weight on my shoulders because your words are like a slap to my spine and all of a sudden I am scared and alone.
My name is ‘hey! this is a COMPLIMENT!’. So I looked it up in the dictionary and it said, ‘A polite expression of praise or admiration’. Hence, I think you’ve got the definitions mixed up. Compliments are supposed to make me feel good not afraid for my life. Compliments are a way of saying ‘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 groan about how we just walked away because you don’t see us go home with a lump in our throat and all the lights on and we triple-check our locks and we don’t fall asleep at all because your compliments knocked us over and took away who we are.
In reality, it doesn’t sound like a compliment, it sounds like a threat. And if you really wanted to make us feel good – would you stop doing it? Please.