Me Too.

Me Too.

Every #MeToo has its own story.

#Metoo is one of the most powerful, bold and courageous movements on the internet today, and every time I see those five letters, with that beautiful hashtag, I feel like real change is finally happening.
But then, I hear things.
I hear people dismissing it as a cry for attention or another way to bring up a non-issue.
I hear people saying that it's just another way for women to hate men.
Is that really what it is about? Is that what we as a society take away from courageous, fearless people, being open and honest about their stories of sexual assault? Why do we always, always manage to take people who are fighting hard as hell to stay above the surface of the water and push them back down? Why are we continuing to victimize the victim?

Why can't we see that people have broken barriers, fought years, maybe a lifetime's worth of crippling PTSD, and still have the strength to speak up about what happened to them?
Why is it so hard for us as a society to know what we need to support, and what not to? Ethical lines may be blurry, and social norms might be constantly reforming, but does that ever make it okay to violate someone's body or mind, without their consent?

#MeToo is powerful because for once, we can address sexual assault without thinking of "why" it happened, or "who" provoked it.
We can look at people and understand, that they too, have been through something, without labeling them, or shaming them. Because in entirety, after all the dust settles, all that really remains in the rubble. All that we are left with, are the scars left behind, the scars that give us the courage to say "MeToo."
It's simple, carries no baggage, yet it has a voice, a meaning, and a hidden story.

It happened.
End of story.
No questions asked.
Wikipedia defines sexual assault as "a sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will or non-consensual sexual touching of a person. " But I think it is much, much more.

It is a form of violence, a tragic, pathetic, excuse of being a human being, and there's nothing in this world that could possibly validate it. I think its especially eye-opening because we all have different ideas of what sexual assault means. Every time I get catcalled from men in a moving car, I stop & freeze because I'm scared. Is that not sexual harassment? Whenever my male friends are denied access to a frat party, is that not sexual discrimination?

So where do we draw a line? There are so many shades and forms of sexual assault that happen to people every day, and we can't define it, or give it a title. It is unfair to say that sexual assault is only relevant when there is a knife involved. What about the hundreds of people in relationships that are emotionally abusive? What about the 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be abused by an intimate partner. Abused by people they trust, love and are vulnerable to? What about all the underreported cases in the LGBT community because of the fear of homophobia, transphobia or sexism?

The underlying problem of one person assuming power over the other still remains, but by saying #metoo, you are fighting it. You are fighting all the people who say that it's not a big deal. You are fighting everyone that said that you were asking for it. You are telling everyone who has ever sexually assaulted you to leave you alone, without having to explain yourself. You are saying that nobody has a right to your body or your mind except for yourself, and that is the most powerful thing in the world.

Cover Image Credit: Kuer

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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