A Man's World

I never really understood what they meant. 
“A man’s world.”

I kept hearing it like a plea, a wish spoken by a million voices into one single whisper - a loud, unrelenting whisper. 
I believed it only applied to things like success and home values. 
Oh, how very wrong I was. 

I didn’t understand it when I walked and they watched, calling after me as if I could give them what they wanted. No one could. They were always hungry. 

I didn’t understand it when I was 15, approached by men I knew - grabbing my waist and shoving compliments through my ears like daggers, while their eyes trailed up-and-down my stiff body.
They’re just being nice,
I thought. 

But no amount of self-reassurance could get rid of the uncomfortable weight in my bones. I started understanding when I realized sometimes “no” isn’t enough. 
I understood when he grabbed my breast unapologetically. I understood when men with an emptiness disguised as power did nothing.