Open letter to the guys who crossed the street when you saw me

Dear guys who crossed the street when you saw me walking my two yippy dogs at 11 PM,

Thank you. No, honestly: thank you.

I don’t know why you decided to cross the empty street when you saw me standing there waiting for my two dogs to do their business. Maybe you didn’t want to deal with them. Maybe you decided there wasn’t enough space on the sidewalk for all three of us humans and two large-cat-sized dogs. You were towing a large bag on a bicycle, after all. Maybe you didn’t want to have to say hello or acknowledge me in any way.

I don’t know why you crossed the street, but thank you. It made me feel safer when you did.

You see, I have to be aware of every man who walks past me in public, especially at night, because unfortunately I cannot tell if you’re a good person just by looking at you. I have to be careful.

You both saw me almost a block away and decided—for whatever reason—to give me space. You nonchalantly crossed the street and continued on your way as if nothing had ever happened. As someone who has to worry about her interactions with men so that she doesn’t “give the wrong idea” or “send mixed signals” and as someone who often has to deal with and “accept” harassment based on my perceived gender, I appreciate men who go out of their way to make me feel safe, especially in public spaces.

You probably thought nothing of your actions. You never even got close enough to see me very well, though my shape and figure make it obvious to most people that I’m a woman, no matter what I’m wearing. Well, I want to let you know that it really meant something to me. It was a relief. It meant that I could breathe easier, even if it was for just a moment.

Thank you.

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