110.

Hush now, they say, I see someone in the store. Oh, it’s just a mannequin left unattended. Who cares, we’ll just put her back into the closet where she belongs. Wait, woah! Why is she lashing out? Perhaps she is a robot instead of a mannequin, but they’re all the same.

Women are walking catalogues, don’t feel personally harassed if eyes are watching every moment. If you are wearing white, you’re challenging the rain to make it translucent. Don’t wear skirts that are too short, you know people are waiting for that gust of wind to blow a little too strong. Walk in an alleyway if you dare, pray for it to be empty or else be prepared to be drugged. Girl, don’t be too friendly at the party or you’re flirting with trouble.

When people pinch your bra strap or steal your hair ties, let them get away. It’s a small matter, and as they always say, boys will be boys. Boys tease the girls they like. Feel the sting on the cheek and whisper that it’s okay, sometimes people get mad. The partner always buy roses the next day. Kiss and make up, no?

Keep your mouth shut, it’s not proper for a lady to speak unless they are spoken to. Did I ask you, asks an authority figure angrily. I don’t think, perhaps you will begin to say, but the Mad Hatter says, if you don’t think, then you shouldn’t talk at all.

Pretty one, you should remain a flower on the wall. Walls can’t talk.

You play with gold glitter as a child, scrapbooks messy but grow up with pepper spray simply for wanting to go out alone to watch the midnight dance of a thousand stars. Sometimes it’s beside your pillow as you sleep, for even home is not the safe place you hoped for. Picked locks and rummaged belongings, does privacy even exist anymore. They say that being in a crowd will keep you from harm’s way, such as family reunions and shopping malls. But can you say no to that older relative who insists that you sit on their knee? There are hands that brush too close.

Yet, this is the cry of the lighthouse: you, fellow women, are oceans and stardust, no one can quite grasp the idea of you. No matter what filth and grime have etched itself into your skin, biology tells that the shedding of a few years will leave you completely renewed. You are not who you used to be, and those who try to keep you down are chasing in vain for who can break a woman’s resilience? The law of physics recognise that the harder you fall, the higher you’ll bounce. Just like the universe, the constellations on your body are ever expanding in momentous discovery.

Don’t you see? The moon, it smiles at one like you. Message in a bottle, seed quietly sprouting, you are sunshine and rain, fire and hurricane. And while there are a lot of hurts in this world, you turn such things into a depth of loving.

This is what I hope you’ll say: that I am equally a woman, whether I am a housewife or a surgeon or a teacher or simply a girl not knowing where to go. More than pretty, I am intelligent, witty, devoted, ambitious, compassionate, practical, and every other good thing that one can describe.

I won’t sell myself short, in fact, I’m not for sale. I’m no mannequin bought to sport the clothes and thoughts that people think I should be seen in. No stereotypes please!

I am a strong and independent woman, and if I hold your hand, it’s because I want to, not because I need to. So don’t be startled now… if I let go of yours to catch dreams bigger than you and I.

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