On January 20, 2018 the second women's march took place in New York City. If you remember from last year, this occurred the day after the inauguration and coincidentally this year again on the 20th after Trump's anniversary and government shutdown.
Before we begin, please read and understand the following statement from the Women's March website about their mission:
"The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect."
You may agree or disagree with the idea of rallying for women's rights, or really anything, but you cannot deny someone their rights to do so. This particular instance falls under the First Amendment, which is not limited to, but also includes freedom of speech.
The reason I bring this up is that many speeches and spoken words are given during these rallies. Some are recorded to be quite graphic and others are very PG-13. A particular poem that has stirred the emotional pot is the one performed and written by alternative pop star, Halsey.
I don't think that I need to define anything that she said. However, I would like to dissect some of the items, wording, implications, and reactions to her poems beginning with the first stanza in 2009.
Halsey writes about her friend Sam who walked into Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test after being raped by an after-school assistant. From the buzz around the internet, no one is disturbed by what is taking place until the phrase, 'came inside her.' It's interesting to me that nothing triggered anyone as strongly like the fact that this was at school, by an assistant (someone who is trusted and accountable), with her textbooks next to her, and her mouth covered.
What bothers me is the tangible discomfort both the girls feel (as they should), but also the extreme guilt and shame and sadness they display because of something completely out of their control.
In 2013, Michigan passed a bill requiring women to purchase a separate rider for their insurance to cover abortions caused by rape making it 100x more difficult for women like Sam to cope with the cards they've been dealt.
So what are her options?
A. Tell her parents
B. Keep the child and still tell her parents
C. Manage to find funding and support for the abortion
D. Cause harm to herself because the above options are near impossible.
I am not here to argue about whether abortion is right or wrong because this isn't the time, but how trapped is this young girl? Think about it.
The next two stanzas of Halsey's poem talk about the sexual abuse she encountered from a young boy and a man whom she considered her 'boyfriend'. In these two stanzas, I want to highlight how strong the power-play in the second relationship is. This is a daily occurrence that doesn't really cross our mind. We accept it as normal behavior. This leads to her Chicago concert after realizing she had a miscarriage.
Halsey is so blatant, transparent, and bold with her words and sharing that many of us are stunned to read and hear what she is actually saying. For a brief moment, she highlights that those awful things that happened to her, she should be okay with because that's what the world has taught her. This part of her poem resonated with me strongly.
As a woman, I have dealt with so many issues of body image, confidence, sexuality, presence, career choice, self-doubt, and so much more. I am beyond blessed to have never been touched by a man in a way that I didn't deem acceptable. I would like to believe that most of us are this fortunate, but I worry that we are not.
You see, if a man didn't come inside us without our permission like Sam, he still has (please note I am using he as a figurative character). He hasn't done so physically, but the man has come inside us mentally and prohibited the natural ability to develop confidence and make daily decisions freely. We see this every day and until we unite as a community and with ourselves, we cannot really understand how to grow past this.
"So love your neighbor, please treat her kindly
Ask her story and then shut up and listen
Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian
Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues
For the people who had to grow up way too young
There is work to be done
There are songs to be sung
Lord knows there's a war to be won"
Please, speak out, but most of all listen. Those with silenced tongues decide to remain so because of the repercussions of speaking out. If these words are uncomfortable or you disagree that's fine. However, imagine the discomfort victims feel everyday.
Don't decide to be a good person because of your sister, mother, aunt, cousin, or whatever. Be a good person because the recipient is also a person. Do onto others as you would yourself.