We Shouldn't Live In A World Where A Woman's Worth Is Determined By Sexual Behavior

We Shouldn't Live In A World Where A Woman's Worth Is Determined By Sexual Behavior

If you love your body and like showing it off, you should be able to do that.
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In high school, people thought I was a ho. And not just a regular ho. A major ho. I'm talking about Supahead, Celina Powell, Meredith from "The Office," "New Supreme" level of ho. People thought I was handing out my giblets like Ellen hands out scholarships — and the whole thing was comical (I mean, it's comical now, not so much at the time when I would come home crying from school), considering I was one of the least sexually active girls at that school.

(Truth be told, it was always the quiet ones that did the most dirt, but I'll save that tea for another day.)

The worst part about the whole ordeal was that I earned that reputation based off of wardrobe choices and lies from prepubescent boys who failed all of their language arts classes, but were grand storytellers when it came to their made up sexual escapades. Perhaps if my jeans weren't so tight and my shirts so cropped, people would've believed me when I denied all the rumors, and instead have realized that the geeky (but somehow still popular) video production assistant was the one sampling sausage at any and every party while her friends watched.

I hope no one from my high school reads this...

OK, OK. Sorry, I'm being petty. I say all of this because the topic of sexual freedom and expression has been on my mind heavily lately. During my freshman year of high school, when all of these rumors were swirling, it wasn't as accepted and celebrated to be what many people deem a "ho." While I view a ho or slut as someone (male and female because I'm not into double standards) who has absolutely zero standards when it comes to who they have sex with, many others perceive them as someone who just looks the part. Women's bodies were and are still being policed, and your value and level of respect for yourself are commonly discerned by what you wear.

It's pretty stupid, especially when you think about how dangerous the consequences can be (I mean, it's the same stupid logic that ignorant people use to suggest that a Black man looks "suspicious" because he's wearing a hoodie).

While my life was a living hell back then, now it seems like it's trendy to wear revealing clothing and even admit that you're a ho. Literally, women are calling themselves thots and hoes and they think it's cute or funny.

Terms like "dick appointment" are now common phrases, memes have emerged left and right about the daily struggles of being a ho (I'm so serious, look it up), while celebrities like Cardi B and Cupcakke can't go a second without mentioning how much sex they have. Ho-ing is even a source of comedy now.

WTF is this and WHY??

It was always cool and edgy for female entertainers to be sexy and promiscuous, but now it's cool and edgy for common folk to be, too. Of course, slut-shaming still exists and women are meant to feel as though their worth is defined by how many sexual partners they have, but the casual and nonchalant attitude in which we view sex, our bodies, and intimacy has definitely increased within the past few years. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

I want people, especially women, to be able to express themselves however they want. If you love your body and like showing it off, you should be able to do that. Lord knows I used to only own crop tops (but now I can't stand them, ironically). Talking about sex should be allowed, it should feel normal, but I fear that we're going from a sex-positive society to a hyper-sexualized society.

When I was growing up, my role models were all Disney Channel stars: Raven Symone, Hilary Duff, and Selena Gomez (but now I can't stand her, ironically). I was exposed to a few raunchy celebrities, like Lil Kim (and even Miley Cyrus during her "I want to rebel because I hated being on Disney for so long" phase), but for the most part, I don't remember having sex and promiscuity shoved down my throat. Hell, all the Disney stars wore purity rings.

Now, I'm afraid that the only role models little girls have are self-proclaimed hoes. Perhaps I'm out of touch because I'm not young anymore and there are some good role models left, but when I see 5-year-olds singing along to rap songs and twerking, I can't help but cringe. There isn't anything wrong with being promiscuous as long as you're protecting yourself, but I am concerned that young, impressionable girls are only being exposed to one way of expressing your sexuality.

Truthfully, I think society believes there is only one way to express your sexuality: openly and brazenly. When a young girl sees their older sisters, their favorite pop stars, hell — even their mom sometimes — acting and dressing a certain way in order to express their femininity and sexuality, they start to believe that that's how they should carry themselves as women, instead of the multiple other ways you can carry yourself as a woman.

The standards for women then become skewed and sexual expression becomes sexual pressure. What about the young women that feel sexy with more clothes on? Our society is so sex-driven and obsessed with "sexual freedom" that covering yourself is seen as oppression (look at how many feminists treat Muslim women who wear hijabs or niqabs).

What about women who view sex as a spiritual and emotional experience, rather than something that is purely physical and a fun pastime? They feel left out, they feel weird. They wonder if something is wrong with them. Why is it that so many other women can hop from situationship to situationship with little to no effect on their emotional and mental health? I don't want young girls — and even young boys, hyper-masculinity and hyper-sexualization is rampant in male communities — to become indoctrinated.

We are replacing the narrative that women should be prim, proper, and pure with the narrative that we should be promiscuous, potty-mouthed, and polyamorous. The problem with the way our society views sex is that we can never have a balance. There always needs to be an extreme at any given moment. I just want both types of expression, modesty and brazenness, to be celebrated and accepted.

Now mind you, I'm not here to judge women and men or make baseless claims about how people should carry and conduct themselves. I'm only here to encourage people to feel comfortable. I'm here to ensure that people aren't ruined by toxic mindsets and false narratives. I used to be that girl who wore short-shorts (and still do on $2 Tuesdays), so I'm not about preaching purity or prudishness. I'm just sick of only one type of woman being glorified and seen as "the standard." I want young girls to feel just as cool and in-touch with the times when they're wearing turtlenecks and being celibate, as they would if they were wearing crotchless panties and scheduling "dick appointments."

As women, we should feel cool all the time because we're pretty bad-ass. We don't need to be validated by our bodies or by sexual attention.

Oh, and one last thing: please, women, stop calling yourselves and each other bitches and hoes.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Fiction: Whitewashed

In a world where racial roles are reversed, a white girl experiences what it's like to be a person of color.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

This piece is inspired by photographer Chris Buck's "Let's Talk About Race" photo essay in O, The Oprah Magazine's May 2017 issue.

The white girl woke up to the sunlight streaming from her window and the distant noises of the television in the background. As she got ready for the long day ahead of her, she reached for her makeup and found her favorite concealer — but discovered, to her dismay, that the container of pale, eggshell-colored liquid was empty. Sighing, she added a mental note to buy more concealer this evening, if she could find the right shade.

As the girl headed down the stairs, the distant noises of the TV became louder and clearer. "Shooting Of White, Unarmed Man By Black Police Officer," blasted the headline. As the newscaster detailed the events of the shooting, the girl felt angry and frustrated. How long would it take, how many shootings before everyone realized that these were not coincidences or mistakes, and that these shootings were a result of preconceived notions about race?

The girl felt a sudden wave of sickness. Without eating breakfast, she headed straight for her car. The radio was on and was describing the shooting of the white male in extreme detail. The girl, her light-colored fingers gripping the steering wheel so that they appeared even whiter, could barely summon the energy to switch the radio knob off.

The girl barely managed the one-hour drive it took to get to her day job at a nail salon. As she entered the shop, she could see the beginnings of a long day — groups of Asian women, clutching their phones to their ears or gossiping to other Asian women in Vietnamese, cluttered the salon and waited for their nails to be done.

The owner of the nail salon, a short, middle-aged white man, greeted the girl. His eyes seemed sad, as if he had also heard the news about the police shooting. He directed her towards her first customer, a Chinese woman who looked like she drove an SUV and had three all-star athletic children. As the girl approached, the woman didn't even acknowledge her; instead, she seemed to be arguing in Cantonese on her phone.

The girl cycled through five customers before her lunch break. She moved to the back corner and opened her lunch box, which contained potato salad and half of a broccoli casserole. As she was digging into her food, she noticed a Vietnamese woman sniffing the air. The woman wrinkled her nose, leaned over to her friend and asked in a loud whisper, "What is that smell?"

The girl was embarrassed, but this wasn't the first time this had happened. She had brought some meatloaf a few weeks ago, and all the customers had stared at her until she moved into the back room of the salon.

After her lunch break, the girl went back to the endless stream of women needing their nails done. Finally, the clock chimed nine o'clock, the final few customers left and the girl was free to leave.

Remembering her promise earlier to buy some more concealer, the girl decided a quick stop to the local drugstore was necessary. She browsed through the aisles, but she couldn't seem to find her perfect shade. Instead, there were rows and rows of brown, yellow and black foundation, but almost no white or lighter-colored makeup. The ones that were closer to white were still too tan and dark for the girl's pale, creamy skin.

As the girl was reminiscing on her bad fortune, she caught ear of an argument a few aisles next to her. "Why are you speaking English? We're in America. There's no official language."

The girl peered over and saw a Hispanic man confronting a white man. The Hispanic man continued on: "Why did your ancestors come over here, two hundred years ago? I mean, you weren't welcome, and you aren't now either. The native Americans should have built a wall to keep you criminals and scoundrels out." With that said, the Hispanic man left the white man in the dust, gaping.

As the white girl drove home, she couldn't stop thinking about the unfairness of the world. Why did she have to live in a world where her every action, her every thought was dictated by the color of her skin? Why did she have to live in a world where preconceived notions of race played the biggest part in determining the future of an individual? Why did she have to live in a world where the phrase "equality and justice for all" were merely words every schoolchild said every morning and then promptly forgot? Why did she live in a world where her status in life and how others perceived her were all based on something that she couldn't control?

In no way is this fiction piece meant to offend or anger anyone. This piece was written solely to open the eyes and minds of everyone, white and non-white, to the struggles people of color face every day, because only through open minds and hearts can we progress as a society.


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