She’s a 7.8
They were silent. I felt strong.
I was waiting in line for a bagel, my hair standing on the back of my neck and my blood boiling. Two boys next to me had, with a laidback cockiness, just scanned my body with their eyes.
“She’s a 7.8.”
They knew they were good looking.
“I’d tap that.”
It didn’t matter to me.
“You should bang her, dude.”
He should bang me. He should tap me. I’m a 7.8.
I’ve always been shy. I lacked the ability to speak up for myself. I let boys at school talk about the things that they wanted to do to my body. And I wouldn’t say anything.
I’m too much of a pacifist. Or too weak. Either works. But this time, my fists were clenched and I was ready to punch. Maybe if I give them black eyes, I thought, they won’t ever talk about a woman like that again.
I kept my fists held to my sides and I turned. They looked at me with sheepish smirks. I glared even harder.
“Chill. We were paying you a compliment.”
He should tap that. I should chill. I’m a 7.8.
“What you said was disgusting. I’m a human being, not an object to fulfill your sexual desires.”
I laughed. They stopped smiling. But I wasn’t done yet.
I launched into a spiel. “Feminism” happened more than once. Also, “Misogyny” and “The over-sexualization of women.” I took my time. I got it out. I was soon out of breath but I was satisfied. I crossed my arms and gave them the same arrogant smirk they had given me. Here was the moment. What would they say?
“We didn’t know.”
Like hell you didn’t.
It wasn’t much, but it was enough. For me, at least. They may have already forgotten that I answered back. But I haven’t. And I won’t.
I’ve changed. I always knew that men can say or do almost anything they want to a woman without repercussions. So, it makes sense that they have no problem with the president grabbing at any woman he desires, Congress deciding who gets to decide, rating me.
These thoughts cloud my mind. A year ago, I was on the brink of losing hope. I thought feminism was a lost cause and that the only choice I had was to tolerate the way boys at my school spoke about my body. About me.
What changed? I found Girls Write Now. Suddenly, I had a community of loving, supportive women. They were strong. They made me want to be strong.
A year ago, I probably would’ve pretended not to hear my score on the bagel line. Not anymore. Women need to speak up. For one another and ourselves.
The cashier smiled at me warmly as she handed me my bagel. I thanked her as I walked past the two boys and to the door. They were silent. I felt strong.
Sarah Kearns is a Class of 2018 mentee alum from Staten Island, NY.