Girls Don’t Owe You Shit, Dude: a polite reply to a post which inadvertently blames girls for distrusting the affections of a guy friend
when i was five, and romance didn’t exist for boys, it did exist for me. “she’s going to break hearts one day,” people said, speaking about me over my head. i smiled, because that is something little girls are supposed to be pleased to hear.
when i was six i was supposed to kiss my best friend because he was a boy, and when i wouldn’t, he pushed me down hard enough that my palms bled. he said if i told a teacher, he’d tell everyone i kissed him and i was bad at it. i washed off in the school’s bathroom sink and cried about it all through recess.
at eight, i stopped wearing dresses because i couldn’t turn cartwheels in them. “a tomboy,” somebody said about me, over my head, as if i couldn’t hear them. i said, “i don’t want to be a boy,” and they laughed. “we know, sweetness.” i said, “i’m not sweet, i’m serious,” and they laughed again. “you’re cute,” they said. i smiled at that, because that’s something little girls are supposed to be pleased to hear.
at nine, i had too many friends that were boys. “i don’t like it,” my father said, standing in the kitchen. i didn’t understand it. “your body is going to start changing soon, and i don’t want those boys looking at you. i don’t like it,” he’d repeat. we moved away that summer. i lost everybody.
when i was eleven, my teacher took me out of the classroom and asked me to put on another layer because even though it was hot in there, all of the boys were staring at the little forming bumps on my chest. i remember embarrassment spiking down my spine like lightning. i begged my mother to take me bra shopping. it was terrible there, in those bright stores with bright lights and beautiful women with tight thighs. it was terrible and embarrassing to touch or look at or even think about these things.
at thirteen, my best guy friend wrestled me to the ground and covered me in kisses no matter how much i asked him to stop it. “it’s supposed to be like this,” he kept repeating, “just stop struggling.” he told me i was pretty and lovely and that boys and girls can’t be friends. he told me to stop being so mad at him, that little girls are supposed to be pleased about these things.
the same winter, i was catcalled for the first time in my whole life. i jumped when the car pulled up by my side. they said “baby” over my head as if i wasn’t who they were discussing. i didn’t smile about it. i had to sit down to stop myself from vomiting.
when i was fifteen, half of my friends were boys. my best friend was in love with me. he told me i was breaking his heart. he said that if i didn’t love him back, he’d have nothing to live for anymore. the story with the rest of them is all the same. either they left me or they thought they fell in love with the idea of somebody i wasn’t.
that summer when i was sad – and i was sad categorically, always – i tried reaching out. when i turned to the boys, all i heard was, “don’t cut, you’re beautiful,” “don’t kill yourself, you’re so pretty,” “think of the scars, sweetie,” “when you cut yourself, i’m the one who starts bleeding.” i didn’t smile, although i think girls are supposed to be pleased to hear these things. i didn’t know how to say: i don’t feel beautiful, and even if i did, what i’m doing to myself has nothing to do with you, or what i look like, or how fuckable i am to you. instead i told them i was fine, and fixed, and nothing bad was happening.
when he broke my heart, it was because i told him no. when he left, i cried because it hurt to watch my best friend go. when he left, he said that he’d never liked me for my soul: only for my curves, the only real way to measure worth in a girl.
at sixteen, i had only girl friends. they were gentle, and different, and walked me through things. they held my hand when classes got too loud for me, and it meant friendship. they kissed me on the cheeks when i was crying, and it meant friendship. they slept next to me and it was friendship in the way i wasn’t used to. i was used to “stop being a tease,” to “why are you doing this to me.” it was just friendship, and it was excellent.
i was called a dyke, a lesbian, a man-hater. i thought of the men who had hurt me, who had spoken over my head, who had given me their full opinion even though i never asked for it. i was hated by basically everyone. i was sad and lonely so often that i often thought i’d never feel happy again.
at nineteen, in college, i had friends who were boys again, because college boys are supposed to be old enough to see you as a person. they all called me Steve, short for Steven. at first i thought it was some kind of inside joke, that it was cute, that it meant they loved me the way i loved them all. one day while we were both drunk, i asked one of them why they wouldn’t just say my name. he laughed. he said, “god, you’re going to hate me when i explain.” he said that they’d all formed an agreement behind my back that none of them would fuck me, that if i was going to be one of the bros, i couldn’t be a girl to them. i could only be seen as a boy if i wanted to be their friend. he said this all while staring at a point over my head, and tried to kiss me at the end. when i pushed him away, he said, “sorry, steve,” took a breath, “but if i start seeing you as a girl, i’m gonna try to kiss you again.”
i said, “i don’t want to be a boy, though,” and he laughed again.
he said, “i know, sweetie.”
at twenty-two, i am sick of boys who are “nice,” who are “not like other boys,” who are offended when i don’t immediately trust their intentions. i have been hurt over and over and over again. i only talk to about three of my boy friends and the rest i lost because i dared not to fuck them.
at the same time, i kept most of my girl friends. i have had crushes on most of them. it never impacted our relationships. even girls who are gay like i am know that being friends doesn’t mean i owe them. they hold my eyes when i talk to them.
i’m sorry, i’m sorry, i’m sorry. i love so many people, and many boys are wonderful and charming and excellent. i’m sorry i flinch away from a friendship. i’m sorry i will be cold and unaffectionate and scared of getting too close
it’s just that, since i was five, i was told i break hearts
By Raquel Isabelle de Alderete