Me Too, Ladies

Me Too, Ladies

Hashtag revealiung prevalence of sexual harassment in America
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Sexual harassment is one of the most uncomfortable topics to discuss, first because it has to do with two things that are already uncomfortable to talk about—sex and the misuse of sex. But today, women around the world are choosing not to ignore this elephant in the room, mainly in light of the Harvey Weinstein incident, much like the Bill Cosby incident, much like the Bill O' Reilly incident, much like the Roger Ailes incident. And the saddest thing is that this list of males taking advantage of females goes on, and on.

In defining sexual harassment, it is important to understand that it is not only physical sexual aggression, to the magnitude of rape, that is involved. Any unwanted sexual advance toward another unwilling party is sexual harassment. This includes things like unwanted, inappropriate touching, grabbing, kissing, etc. on another person, unwanted explicit images sent by phone, email, or other means, flashing a person with nudity, vulgar gestures and comments that allude to sexual acts, and requests for sexual favors.

The military includes in its definition some effects of sexual harassment that help identify acts that may be included in the range. Acts of sexual harassment may interfere with a person's ability to keep or acquire a certain job, position or amount of pay. It may interfere with a person's individual performance and create an intimidating, uncomfortable or hostile environment for the victim.

From youth, most girls are faced with unwanted sexual advances. According to the Huffington Post, one in three women in America between the age of 18 and 34 has been sexually harassed at work. In college, that number is one in five, according to the National Sexual Violence Research Center.

The intensity and prevalence of sexual harassment may be even more potent depending on the country in which you live. In some countries, like Saudi Arabia and Libya, victims of sexual harassment are not protected by the law, so these girls and women have no means of combating these disheartening acts.

But even in America, where there are definitely laws against these evils, why does so much of it still happen? Because women are afraid to speak up. For some it is the fear of losing your livelihood, losing the job that feeds your family, fear of people not believing your story, fear of opening up about it, fear of reliving it, fear of feeling more vulnerable, fear of nothing being done about it even after you do make yourself vulnerable, fear of feeling weak, fear of being told you are being dramatic, fear that you "let it happen," fear of being laughed at, fear that this is just the way life goes, fear that yours is a hopeless case.

I have seen so many "me too"s this week scrolling down my timeline and it is so heartbreaking because—well—me too. My first encounter happened in middle school at the (literal) hands of boys who—I'm just going to assume—did not know any better due to immaturity. Other instances happened in high school and even with a boyfriend.

I think many people fail to realize that just being in a relationship with someone does not automatically entitle your partner to any part of your body that you are not willing or simply ready to give. Even pressuring a person to have sex while in a relationship when they have clearly said no and are not ready, is sexual harassment.

Sometimes it is only in retrospect that you realize some of the things that have been done to you. I did not realize I had been a victim until my freshman year in college because before then I did not understand the full scope of the term. There are women who have been victims since single-digit ages, others since their teens or twenties. These incidents happen at school, work, in public, in the home, and even at church.

I sympathize with anyone who has ever experienced any level of sexual harassment, and I am glad this issue is no longer being swept under the rug. There are people truly hurting or messed up because of the actions of other despicable individuals.

Elie Wiesel—a holocaust survivor once said in a speech: "The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference." When people turn a blind eye to things that cause hurt, it makes the world worse. Instead of being indifferent about all these "me too"s floating around the internet, we need to make a conscious effort to change these statistics. I believe a lot has to do with education—educating boys and girls from a young age about keeping their hands to themselves and how to approach each other in a respectful manner.

Ladies, one thing we can do is look out for each other and call people out on wrongs when they occur. Be a listening ear and help other women relay their story to officials so that justice can be served. We cannot be silent because that silence is a choice that works against women who may be afraid to go to work and girls who may be afraid to go home because of the horrible experiences they are facing. Let us not let our indifference be the difference between a just society and one full of injustice.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Is How We Got Extremist Abortion Bans

This is a pressing issue that is often swept under the rug.

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Several states have recently passed legislation restricting a mother's access to abortion, and several others are projected to do the same. Alabama has passed the most severe legislation by banning the majority of abortions, including cases of rape and incest, and abortion providers now face up to 99 years in prison for noncompliance. Georgia's governor has signed legislation banning most abortions after six weeks, with mother's facing prosecution for terminating their pregnancies after this date. A few other states, including Missouri and Louisiana, are in the process of approving similar legislation.

Nationwide outrage over this legislation has taken over many social media platforms, prompting political discourse across the aisle. Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator well-known for her outspoken nature, even tweeted her disdain for the legislation:

"I will be attacked by fellow conservatives for saying this but so be it, this Alabama abortion ban is too restrictive. It doesn't save life, it simply forces women into more dangerous methods, other states or countries. You don't encourage life via blanket government mandate!" — Tomi Lahren

I side with the many men and women who are horrified at this decision for many reasons. Apart from Governor Kay Ivey's blurred understanding of what separation of church and state really mean when invoking God as a reason for her approval of the country's most restrictive abortion legislation, there are many reasons states have successfully passed such controversial legislation. One such reason is gerrymandering.

As someone who has grown up in the most gerrymandered state in the country, North Carolina, I have witnessed through much of my life the effects gerrymandering has on legislation. Gerrymandering describes the act of redrawing district lines to establish a political advantage for a party. This is a practice done by both Democrats and Republicans and through two primary methods, packing and cracking.

Packing attempts to condense members of an opposing party into few districts in order for the opposing party to dominate in the remaining districts. On the other end, cracking attempts to break apart an opposing party amongst districts in order to dilute the vote of their members by becoming outnumbered by members of the governing party.

Georgia's district lines are a perfect example of packing. Following the 2010 census, Republicans were able to redraw district lines and packed Democrats into as few districts as possible. This decision has led to extremely uncompetitive elections, with many candidates running unopposed because of the district's voter makeup. The impacts of gerrymandering in Georgia were evident during the last gubernatorial election between Brian Kemp (R) and Stacey Abrams (D).

Kemp won barely the election by around 55,000, at 50.8% of the popular vote, yet Republicans hold over sixty percent of the state's legislative seats. This demonstrates how districts can be determined to favor a political party in terms of representation, though not reflect the constituency of the state. This has allowed Republicans to hold the majority of state seats, which contributed to the approval of the abortion bill.

Voter suppression is a serious issue that is often swept under the rug because it allows those who have been in power to remain in power. While it is unfortunate it took this long for many to understand its implications, it is important that the same energy aimed at fighting this legislation is aimed at remedying the long-standing problem of gerrymandering that allows such unsavory legislation to pass.

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It's Time To Take More 'Me Time'

Did you ever stop and think about how important "me time" is?

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I know it's not everyone's first priority to think about just hanging out by themselves for a day, but why isn't it? Self-care is so important and some people don't do enough of it. Here are some way you can get some me time in, while still having a productive day.

Me time doesn't just mean relaxing

Yes, sometimes we all need a break, maybe it's just taking a long shower, laying in bed for an extra hour, or treating yourself to a yummy dessert. But, having me time doesn't necessarily mean you can't be productive. Have yourself a day and learn to enjoy your own company. Being around family and friends is certainly nice, but sometimes taking some time to yourself and collecting your own thoughts is good for your health.

It's okay to say no

No thanks. It's something that some people don't realize that it's okay to say no, just let them know beforehand. Such a cleshay, but it's not going to change anything if you say no to hanging out with your friends for one night. Take a night off and put on a movie or your favorite tv show and chill in bed with some of your favorite snacks.

Schedule it

We schedule classes and dentist appointments in our daily lives, but why don't we schedule me time? Sometimes just telling yourself that you're going to give yourself 20 minutes before your next task gives you a time dedicated to relax and collect your thoughts. It may seem funny to think about, but this is how you will be able to fully remind yourself, and hold yourself accountable, to giving yourself some alone time.

Treat yourself

Do it. Buy it. Now. Second guessing is first nature, but who needs a second opinion when your gut is telling you one thing? Once in awhile it's good to get yourself a sweet dessert or the new pair or shoes you've been eyeing.

Reflecting

Journaling is something that I spent a lot of time doing in High School, but once I entered College I never really had the time or motivation to do any reflecting. Reflecting on your life doesn't even mean writing it down in documentation, but even just taking 5 minutes before you fall asleep, let your thoughts sink in and evaluate certain things in your life you want to change, and cherish the moments that you will think about for the rest of your life.

Never feel guilty for taking time to yourself. Others will understand, but in the end, they're not you! Remember that taking me time is important for your overall health and encourage everyone around you to do it. Keep in mind that carving out some time for yourself is vital for the long run. Laugh and smile more.

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