Hello

Men often ask: “Why can’t women take a compliment?
Why the glares, the flinches, the dismissive attitude?
Why not smiles, grace, or gratitude?
Why do they make themselves look pretty
If they don’t want us to do a double take?
Why should I feel so spurned and scorned
As if saying “Hi” was a mistake!?”

Oh please.

Saying “Hi” is not the problem,
Saying “Hi” is what we wished you’d do,
But you don’t see yourself the way we see you
The way you lie and deceive us:
The nice platitudes
The thinly veiled deserving attitudes
They quickly turn to taunts and hits
Proclaiming: IT DIDN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS
But still they come out swinging
Carrying “slut,” “whore,” “bitch,” in their holster
A shriveled up, tiny ego to bolster
And a figurehead femme to tear down.

Say “hello,” say “how are you?”
But not “hey bitch” or “can I do you?”
And don’t follow a safe “hello” with a tirade of invitations
Don’t treat each conversation as an end of life scenario
Where I’m the last of my kind and you’re living off of rations
And don’t think that my “NO” will be the period to the millions.
A woman is afraid to take a compliment
Because we don’t yet live in a world of clear consent.
A smile, eye contact, or simply a reply,
Will be understood as a yes
As if words are undefined.
But yes means yes
And no means no
And “I think we should be lovers”
Is not the same thing as “hello.”

-Melisa Im

[Image: “Couple in a sunshine” protected by a Creative Commons license belonging to Pavlina Jane]