Ownership Of The Body A The American Dream
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Politics and Activism

Ownership Of The Body A The American Dream

And making decisions that affect it in Western Culture

Ownership Of The Body A The American Dream

The human body is, by definition the physical structure of a human being. If nothing else, one’s own body is the one thing that they own. It is the one thing we should be guaranteed in this life. It only makes sense that we would make decisions to protect our life, our body. History has shown, however, that time and time again that decisions are being made that affect another’s body.

Connotative meanings of political phrasing such as “pro-life” is meant to put the opposing, yet parallel phrase, “pro-death” in your mind. Already, there are two sides to the coin, and one must be better, for who would naturally be “pro-death?” Even Ronald Reagan so ignorantly stated, “I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” It is as if we must feel a sense of guilt, not only for being alive, but for even discussing abortion as an option. While pregnancy takes place in the female body, suddenly men are the most vocal about it. And that only makes sense, does it not? Females have never had full, autonomous ownership of their own bodies. In the past, they have served men and reared children. Consumer culture and advertisements of the 20th century classically illustrated women doing things for men, not for themselves. Abortion, rape, and abuse are so frequently discussed by men, choosing the correct rules and responses as they apply to women, removing female ownership of her own body. Rather than teach our youth about this ownership, we instead tell them not to do certain things, or give them a little 6-month slap on the wrist if they do it anyway.

The "American Dream" has done this to us, I believe. It goes back as far as colonial America. A Dream of getting away from European rule, a Dream of Manifest Destiny, a Dream of upward mobility, a Dream of consumer and leisure culture. What all these Dreams have in common is a mindset of seeking out what we think we deserve. We deserved the land west of the colonies, though it was inhabited by another race. We deserved to have the entire Northern continent, as our living space. The American Dream, as conjured up by novelists of American realism encouraged Americans to seek it out, fortifying the lie of earning something better, at the expense of the bodies of others, namely of blacks and women. From industrialization to baby boomers, white Americans sought something better by further controlling black bodies that stood in their way.

The fight to wake up the Dreamers is still going on. Activists and writers are still moving towards racial justice and freedom of gender, and trying to get the Dreamers to move with them. There is no concrete answer to racial injustice and attaining equality for all. One can not simply state what should be and expect to awaken all those who have disagreed before. It is and will continue to be a struggle to feel no fear for losing the rights to your own body as a minority or a women in this world.

The importance of this movement is not just in participating in it as struggle, but in precisely challenging ourselves and others to wrestle with the questions at hand. The questions do not have concrete answers. We must all try to come to terms with the Dream as it stands before us and continue to try and understand it, understand ourselves, understand others, and understand our world in motion.

Inspired by:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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