There are things they never tell you in middle school.

Boys walk around afraid, all the time. Boys learn that the world will judge them by how big they are, how buff and cut and how big their dicks are. All these factors add up to their ability to hurt girls, which is supposed to be a good thing. Boys make jokes about tearing up her pussy and girls laugh along and agree that being big, being big enough to hurt, being strong enough to hold a girl down, being bulky enough to intimidate, these are good things.

Girls walk around afraid, all the time. Girls learn that the world will judge us by how small we are. We learn to skip meals. We stop exercising because we are too big watching boys or because we are afraid we will develop big calf and bicep muscles and no boy will want to date us. We learn that makeup is not about glitter or fun or bright colors, makeup is about boys. Makeup is about whether boys want to fuck us, which is a good thing even though we are still too young to fuck. We learn it is flattering if a boy wants to fuck us but bad if we actually do it and much, much worse if we want him to. We learn we are at our most valuable if we are wanted but incapable of wanting. Because we are starving, that is not hard to do. Because we are starving, it is easy to sound stupid, and ignorant, and uncertain. Because we are starving, we are weak, and then boys can do things for us and that feeds their ego.

Boys and girls learn that boys like us when we feed their egos. That boys do not like to be challenged, or told they are wrong, or told what to do. That boys find girls disgusting and despicable when we are overly competent, or too smart, or intuitive unless it is about them and their emotions. Boys like to be the center of our attention. Boys like it when we sort out their feelings for them. Boys like us when we know them better than they know themselves. Gender is a game, and we win by thinking more about what boys want than we think about what we do.

Girls learn that boys will hurt us. That even boys who say they will never hurt us, will hurt us. That if a boy flirts with us, it’s our fault. That if a boy grabs us or kisses us without our consent, it’s our fault. That if any boy anywhere near us is sexually attracted to us, that’s our fault too. And anything he does in response to that attraction, that’s our job to predict and manage and develop effective counter-moves. Girls learn that boys will assault us, that boys will intrude into our space, that boys will behave aggressively. That there is nothing we can do to prevent that. All we can do is try to survive it.

Boys learn this world is terrifying. Boys learn to try to survive this. Boys learn to give up any allegiance to their emotions because otherwise this world is too painful. Boys learn the only time they are allowed to show emotion is with a girlfriend, but even then she had better be under control. She had better not force him to feel anything before he is ready. She had better not ask him what he is feeling, she had better just use that feminine intuition and magically ‘know’ and respond without ever confronting him with what she knows. She had better give up any idea of being assertive about her own wants or needs or feelings. He is trying too hard to just get through the day. He has all he can do with repressing his feelings. He cannot handle the fact of her emotions too.

Girls learn this world is terrifying. It is filled with boys who will become men who will expect us to know exactly what they are thinking and feeling, even if they do not know themselves. It is filled with men who expect us to not only look but also to behave like models, to be cute and flirtatious and empty inside. Men who expect us to be like Barbie dolls, as though our cunts magically emerge when they want to and disappear the moment they decide they are not ready or interested or sex would be too vulnerable. Men want girls whose sexuality turns on and off with a switch. Men want women who will rewire our psychology and reroute our entire lives to make them feel good about themselves. So they can feel big and strong.

Men think women want to be the small ones, weak and pathetic and little like children. But really women grew out of this in second wave feminism and now we are older and wiser and exploding from the center of the boxes the generations before tried to trap us in. Now men feel all alone because they are still playing by middle school rules. But women have outgrown these rules. Women have left. Women made our bodies into our enemies, but lately we have made peace and now we are not afraid anymore. Now, we are angry.

Men are afraid to get angry. Men would rather stay afraid. So they know the women they love will be safe from their anger.

Men are so busy trying to save women from the fact of their emotions that they are literally destroying the world.

If you do not express the thing in a healthy way, eventually you will express the thing in a way that destroys everything you hold most dear.

This is the most important thing they never taught us in middle school.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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