An Open Letter to the Pro-Life Protesters At GW

An Open Letter To The Pro-Life Protesters At GW

Your protest was the epitome of white male arrogance.

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About a week ago, my class had just finished and I was walking to the Starbucks in Gelman Library (affectionally known as Gelbucks and a place that has my whole heart). As I walked towards Kogan Plaza, I saw a strange sight- there was a group of white men dressed in some uniform with a red sash and holding up red banners and signs condemning abortion. It looked eerily similar to a scene from the Handmaid's Tale.

As I walked past them, one of the men tried to hand me a flyer but I refused. I was shocked that this protest was even occurring and right outside our library. Later I learned that these men were members of a right-wing Catholic organization called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, which is known for being not only anti-abortion but also anti-gay.

So to the men of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property:

I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and even though I completely disagree with banning abortion, I will defend your right to protest. As I've said earlier, the right answer to hateful/bigoted/problematic speech isn't censorship- it's more speech and that's why I was glad to see the emergence of counter-protesters.

However, there were several reasons why this protest, while certainly making a statement, probably did little to sway anyone and may have even hurt your cause. First, you came to a fairly liberal college campus and such a strange, military-like display surely wasn't going to win any converts.

Second, the sight of a group of straight white men protesting against abortion is somewhat laughable and ridiculous. I mean seriously, did no one think about the optics? You, as cisgender men, will never have to deal with the issue of unwanted pregnancy and it seems incredibly arrogant for you to tell women in a difficult situation what they're choice should be.

That's really the main problem with the pro-life political argument. I concede that abortion is a very difficult moral and ethical issue, and reasonable people can legitimately disagree about whether a fetus is a person or whether abortion is murder. And I am sympathetic to those like you who believe that abortion is wrong. I think this is a moral view that comes from a place of compassion for the weakest among us and a strong belief in the dignity of human life, which is completely rational and understandable.

These arguments make sense to me. In fact, during my freshman year of high school, I considered myself pro-life. I thought abortion was murder and that the state should protect the lives of the unborn. As an amateur animal rights activist as well, I saw the situation of a fetus as similar to the situation of animals, who are regularly killed but denied the moral status of personhood by most people. At the time, I saw nothing contradictory between being pro-life and being a feminist; so I called myself a pro-life feminist.

But over time, I've realized how incongruent this position is and I've since abandoned it. It is one thing to believe that abortion is morally wrong (as I did then and still do). But it is another thing to believe that the government should criminalize abortion. It took a YouTube video of a woman describing how difficult her pregnancy was for her to really open my eyes to how horrible it would be for the government to force women with unwanted pregnancies to carry their pregnancy to term.

The government would be controlling women's bodies and robbing them of the fundamental freedom to make their own health care choices. If that isn't big government, I don't know what is. Banning abortion would be downright authoritarian, essentially subjecting women to second-class status. Such a political position is incompatible with feminism.

Also, you call yourselves pro-life but it seems inconsistent to me that you are only concerned with the life of a fetus. What about the lives of black people who get killed by the police? What about the lives of the brown-skinned refugee children fleeing violence? What about the lives of the civilians in Pakistan killed by drone strikes? What about the lives of the innocent people on death row? Your group hasn't protested about any of those issues. Clearly, you don't give a damn about those lives. So in reality, you just care about telling women what to do with their bodies. And that's a message that deserves to be met with an eye-roll.

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6 Things I Didn't Really Need in My Freshman Dorm, And 6 Things I Wish I Brought Instead

I promise you, being Pinterest-worthy just doesn't make sense in a dorm.
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As I packed up my dorm room and unpacked it all once I got home, I kinda felt stupid. I moved in with 2 cars full of stuff (yes, I know how extra that sounds and yes, it was indeed that extra) and I didn't end up needing half of it. Now, I'm swimming in stuff I need to get rid of while holding on to the stuff I didn't realize I would need and ended up buying mid-year. No matter how much you think you know everything, first-time dorm residents, please listen.

6 things I DIDN'T need but swore I did

1. All my personal books

I mean, I'm an English major and I love to read, but no one, and I mean no one, A) has free time and B) uses that free time to read in college.

2. Keurig

There's a coffee shop I can use my cafe credits at on my way to class. I never woke up early enough to brew my own coffee, and I never craved it bad enough in the afternoon to feel like I needed to make my own immediately. It was nice to make tea with though.

3. Dishes and Silverware/Excessive Mugs

All you need is 1 mug and a couple of water bottles. I promise you paper plates and plastic silverware are all you need.

4. An overabundance of office supplies

I didn't use all those fancy office supplies in high school, so as much as I love them, I have yet to reach for them in college.

5. T.V.

The T.V. I had was only slightly bigger than my laptop screen and the wifi at my dorm wasn't good enough for streaming. I hardly used it, but I know others used theirs a lot. Just a personal preference!

6. Tons of wall art

I totally believe wall art has the power to make a dorm room feel less institutional, but I wish I had brought more pictures from home to make my room personal. Pinterest dorm rooms just aren't real, and they aren't what you want when you're homesick.

6 things I wish I had bought before school started

1. ID Lanyard

I personally love these ones from Vera Bradley , but honestly, any way you can carry your ID, money, and keys all in one is a life changer.

2. Earplugs / Eye Mask

Dorms are loud even during quiet hours and sometimes your roommate stays up later or gets up earlier than you do. Amazon couldn't ship these to me fast enough.

3. Wireless Headphones/Earbuds

Personally, I'm an earbuds girl, but either one does the trick. It's nice to not have to deal with cords and to be able to connect to any of your devices without an adapter.

4. Laptop Shell/Stickers

Almost everyone ends up ordering stickers to put on their laptop to express themselves to those around them. On a practical level though, you're probably going to have the same laptop as 5+ other students in your lecture and you will probably throw your laptop in a bag and run at some point. A shell and some stickers will provide more protection than you realize. Check out RedBubble for some great options.

5. Small vacuum

This is especially important if you get a rug. Sweeping is not pleasant, and the vacuums at your dorm are probably older than you are.

6. Pictures from home

Like I said before, wall art isn't going to comfort you when you want to go home. A picture of your dog or best friend sure will though.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Gherna

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College Made Me Feel Like I Can't Have Free Time

Every second that I do have free, I feel like I need to be working on some type of homework.

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There's no doubt that college is taxing on most student's mental health. You get to the point where you feel stressed about even breathing. I have hit the point where I feel like I'm permanently affected by the stress that I've dealt with this semester.

I used to have so much free time. Even in my other semesters, I had time to hang out with my friends, work, and even be lazy when I wanted to be.

I was still a good student, I got all my assignments done on time and I worked hard on them, but I never really had an overwhelming workload.

That is, until this semester. I got to a point where work was overwhelming, I was working longer hours than I was used to, and having to spend every second that I wasn't in class or at work doing homework, whether it was just lengthy math problems or writing multiple essays or scripts.

After months of being in this habit, when my workload from both work and school died down and I actually had free time, I didn't know what to do with myself.

When my friends were busy and I just wanted a relaxing day at home, since I felt like I deserved it, I would try to just lay down and rest, either reading a good book or catching up on all the shows that my stress had caused me to miss.

But there was always a voice in the back of my head reminding me of every upcoming assignment. I would start thinking about the essay due the next week, or a test that I could be studying for ahead of time.

That voice kept telling me I was being unproductive and wasting my time if I wasn't getting ahead on school work when I finally had the time.

And so I'm still in a position, at the end of the semester, where I feel like I'm wasting my time every time I lay down and just want to take a nap because I'm exhausted from running between work and school. I'm trying to fight myself and tell myself that I am allowed to be lazy for at least a little bit, and I don't need to be constantly working.

Hopefully, that voice wins over, especially with summer coming up. With all of the free time, I'll have since I won't have to stress about school, hopefully, I'll be able to better balance my busy days with my lazy days.

I know this is probably an issue for many college students who are overwhelmed with everything that they have to do. Hopefully, summer break is a nice break for all of us and it gives us the chance to get the free time that we all deserve for surviving this semester, and the school year overall.

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