Dear men:

Women are strong. Women are powerful. Women have ideas. Women are intelligent. We are at school to get an education and become something for ourselves.

We are far away from the “Yes, dear” housewife days. Not that I have anything against housewives. Being a stay-at-home mom is a dream of mine. Regardless, it has recently come to my attention that some men still think women are just waiting around to become a wife, that we are nothing more than pretty little ladies in aprons with sandwich ingredients in our arms. Here’s a thought: There are brains in these little heads of ours.

In one of my Instagram posts, I wrote a note to girls: “Girls — you have more to do than to be weighed down by ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful.’ Remember that, first and foremost, you have a fiery heart and a wicked brain. You are intelligent and brave. You are resilient and extraordinary. You are so much more than pretty. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell.”

If you are trying to convince girls of anything else, you are not doing yourself a favor. You want a significant other who is your equal. You want her to be intelligent and brave with a fiery heart and a wicked brain.

If you’ve watched Lion King, you undoubtedly remember the scene in the beginning when Scar plays with his food. Zazu scolds him, and the mouse gets away (much to my childhood heart’s relief). A man I knew early last semester reminded me of Scar the lion. He was an acquaintance who was good looking, and I saw him often enough for him to playfully flirt with me. It was fun at first, and I played along until it came to my realization that this man was playing with me like Scar played with the mouse — like a predator with his prey. In his mind, he was stringing me along and manipulating me. This infuriated me for two reasons:

1. I am clever. I knew exactly what he was doing. Yes, I realized that he was flirting, but I also knew his ego was the size of Pride Rock. He thought I was in some trance around him and that I obliviously worshipped the ground he walked on.

What was perhaps the worst was that, to him, I was just a pretty face and a potential victim. He had no respect for me as an actual human being.

2. Many girls aren’t aware. They aren’t playing the lion right back, but they are being played with. One of my dearest friends just played the lion’s game. She fell pray to him, and Zazu stepped in much too late. She was left broken and untrusting. There is no excuse for damaging a person like that.

In either circumstance, you are simply failing to recognize that the girl you are prowling after is a work of art. She is intelligent and brilliant. She does not need you. She has a brain and a heart that you have not even begun to understand. Her pretty face is a mask, perhaps. It is so simple and lovely. Little do you know, underneath it is a fierce lioness.

So respect her, Scar. Fall in love with her but not with the idea of the pretty little conforming and shallow mouse. Get to know her. Know that she is strong and opinionated and intelligent. Fall in love with the lioness in all her wisdom and power. I promise, you’ll prefer the outcome.