I'm A Woman, Proud And Strong

I'm A Woman, Proud And Strong

I like the color pink, and I still like to win.

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I'm a female. No matter how big the mountain, how rough the terrain, how difficult the task, I am fearless. I am a warrior. I am a woman.

I've spent most of adolescent life sitting back and watching society turn into something so cruel and mean, full of intense hate and slander toward anything that is considered even the slightest bit different. Growing up, I was tossed into this world of constant masculinity and lack of vulnerability where I was told what I could and couldn't do and what I wanted and didn't want for my life. My entire life was created for me, and the same was true for my close friends and family members who had fallen victim to this ugly place we call home.

And yes, being a child, obviously, you have to have some kind of guidance from teachers and parents, those who are supposed to help you grow instead of pinpointing every single detail of how your life should run. However, there comes a time when each and every person, no matter gender or sexuality, should be able to choose their own path.

I was never liked in my time in public school, and now that I reflect on my time there, I realize that it wasn't because I was an unlikable person. It was because not a single person understood WHY I was the way I was: I stayed to myself, I learned to have a backbone, and I sure as hell DID NOT let any man, or any person for that matter, create a path for me to walk. Women are not doormats. We are strong individuals who have just as much a brain as any other gender in the world. I don't do laundry, I don't clean, and I don't cook. Am I still a woman? Absolutely.

We are underestimated and have been throughout all of history. Our voices have been silenced since the beginning of time, but now we're considered butthurt because we want equality?

I've believed in God as long as I have been born, but I have never once thought that He loved me any less because I decided to stand up for myself instead of bowing to another person. Yes, He created woman from man. But, is that why He gave us the strength of childbirth? Why we are considered the nurturing figure? Why are we as women, mothers, and queens of our time, capable of loving everything with our entire being and still considered the weaker sex?

I am a product of a small town; I am a product straight from a molding masculine household where there are jobs for a woman and jobs for a man. However, I am also the product of a poor education system. I am a product of hatred and sexism. I am a product of a society that has been against my gender since the beginning of time, not just in modern times.

But, even through all of this, I also know for a fact just what women can do when put in a room together for a large amount of time. I've watched nothing turn into something great in the hands of women. I've watched women fail but use failure as encouragement to move forward. I have been a woman who has had doubts but has used her fears to create and empower others. So, don't look at me and tell me that you can't be "feminist" because the Bible tells you that you can't be.

God made us strong.

He made us caring.

He made us amazing.

He made us female.

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What Easter Is Like As A Wiccan

For the majority of people, Easter is the celebration of Christ rising from the dead. But for witches, it's about something very different.
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One thing that can be quite irksome about being a part of the American school/college system is the fact that, for the most part, we are only given time off for holidays recognized by one religion, that being Christianity. I'm not saying these holidays are bad or that Christianity is overrated; far from it. But when you think about the holidays celebrated by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or, in this case, Pagans, it makes you wonder how everyone else chooses to celebrate their own holidays in the midst of the all-mighty Hallmark-centric holidays.

Before I converted to Wicca, I never quite understood why the majority of Americans chose to celebrate the gory death and alleged resurrection of someone during the spring, much like how we choose to celebrate Christmas in December even though many historians believe Jesus Christ was born around June. Although anyone can celebrate their own holidays for their own reasons, I think its also important to understand where these holidays may have really come from and how other religious holidays can be represented during this Easter weekend.

Instead of celebrating Easter, myself and millions of other people who identify as Pagans celebrate the holiday Ostara. This holiday is mostly celebrated around March 21, but fell on March 20 this year. During this time, Pagans celebrate the Spring Equinox, when winter ends and the bright colors of spring are allowed to come forward for the year -- when "Night and day stand equal, The Sun grows in power and the land begins to bloom and the powers of the gathering year are equal to the darkness of winter and death."

Ostara is one of the eight Pagan Sabbats marked by the Wheel of the Year. Each Sabbat marks a new season, equinox or solstice, which are used to signify the cycle of life, love, death and rebirth between the Mother Goddess (Gaia) and the Father God (also known as the Horned God). With Ostara in particular, it represents a new age of fertility, as the cycle of life and death of the Horned God starts up again.

There are many ways witches and warlocks from the multiple branches of Paganism choose to celebrate Ostara, but the majority of them choose to celebrate the Sabbat of rebirth by basking in the fresh spring flowers. For many, they can choose to have a ritual in their hard garden or simply enjoy the world around them.

You may be wondering, well what does some holiday about spring have to do with Easter? I'm glad you asked! As it turns out, like many other pagan traditions, the Christian religion got a few inspirations from the Pagans, one of them being the beloved Easter Egg.

What the rabbit represents for Ostara is fertility, magic and sexual energy, seeing as the main theme in the Spring Equinox is fertility and sowing seeds. Many believe that both of the holidays' names come from the goddess Eostre, who is sometimes associated with fertility and is loosely connected to both eggs and rabbits. There are also many sources, such as Jacob Grimm (one half of the Brothers Grimm), who believe that the egg is one of the symbols of early Paganism.

So how exactly do Pagans celebrate Easter, considering it's usually a week after Ostara? Well, for many, they just use the holiday to reconnect with family and celebrate some much-needed time off. For me, I just celebrate with food.

Lots and lots of food.

Happy Easter and Merry Ostara everyone!

Cover Image Credit: Lucid Source

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The Problem With Men

The damage of toxic masculinity.

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Toxic masculinity is deeply rooted in stereotypes held for the male population. It's characteristics are a constant outward appearance of being strong mentally and physically, a suppression of emotion, and a violent behavior to assume a presence of power. The problem with men isn't men themselves, but societies reinforcement of these qualities defined as toxic masculinity. Nevertheless, men are still responsible for their actions and should hold themselves accountable.

Toxic masculinity causes problems for everyone, but it is particularly harmful to women. It is a contributing cause to domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape. The United States has begun to recognize these issues and people have come together to fight them. What becomes overlooked, is the damage toxic masculinity has on men. The constant need to be strong and conceal emotion is extremely harmful to mental health. We cannot all be strong all the time, but that is the societal standard for men. This can be a contributing factor of increased suicide rates and decreased mental health in the male population. The need to prove power through violence could also be a reason for the overwhelming amount of men to women in the prison population. Some examples of the lesser effects of toxic masculinity are the assumptions that boys cannot play with dolls or like princesses, that men cannot wear dresses or skirts, and that men cannot be interested in makeup or clothing. This greatly limits individuality and outer expression for men. Girls have gained the acceptance to play with trucks or like superheroes, women can wear pants, and can be interested in cars or tools. There is still a long way to go for women, but for men, the battle for these simple things has not even been won.

Toxic masculinity stems from the fact that men are still held as superior to women. To show emotion, or to be 'weak', or to do anything that makes them akin to women will undermine their societal superiority. Inequality of the sexes has led to the issue of toxic masculinity and it all comes from prejudice and discrimination against women. To fix toxic masculinity we have to address the issue of perceived inferiority of women. Men cannot get completely better until the problem that births all the rest, is solved.

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