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.

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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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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The Path To Self Love

It's a beautiful and hard journey but the reward is so worth it


Like many of us, I tend to rely on other people and their opinions way more than my own. Stopping that? It's easier said than done but it's possible. You'll never fully be able to stop caring about what other people think but you can care a little less. How?

Building up your self-worth and confidence. That task is probably one of the hardest ones that I've ever had to tackle and am still figuring out.

Loving yourself can mean so many different things but at the end of the day it really means just being able to be your own happiness. So many people rely on others for happiness instead of themselves. That's just not it. We do this to ourselves but what happens when that person or group of people leave us? Then our happiness that was revolved around being with them is all gone. I've learned this life lesson the hard way and while it hurt like hell, I needed that. I had to learn that if I can't be happy by myself then I'll never fully be happy.

Sydney Mergler

Now, I know body positivity is becoming a thing right now but that doesn't change the fact that people still don't always feel one-hundred percent confident in their body. I personally have been struggling with my body image for years and finally have started to work on it for me. Not because I hate my body now, but because I want to get fit for me. It's been a struggle figuring this out and it's taken me years but I finally know what my end goal is and am working towards that. I know it's going to take me a while to reach it but at least I'm working towards a goal now and loving it at the same time. In fact, I feel so much more confident because of it.

Toxic friendships? Just break them. Do yourself a favor and don't dread on it, just drop them. You don't need the extra headache or drama. Life is hard enough as it is but having friends who are negative, disrespectful or just only look out for themselves makes it ten times harder. I'm not sorry for the friends I've dropped because if they really had wanted to keep the friendship, they would've treated me better.

Sydney Mergler

Over-apologizing? Just no. Let's not do that. For what? If you don't mean it, don't say it. There is no reason to apologize for something you either don't think needs to be apologized or you don't feel bad for. In the past, I used to apologize for every little thing and it drove me crazy.

On my path to self love, I've learned so much about myself already and I can't wait to learn more. I've learned I missed music, missed writing, enjoy yoga and other forms of exercise and so many other things. I've stopped holding on to things and people that aren't good for me and have started to let go of the past. Loving yourself can be a real challenge but at the end of the day it's the best thing you can do for yourself. You can't ever expect anyone to love you either in a romantic way or friend way without loving yourself. If you can't see the beauty in yourself how can you expect others to?

Sydney Mergler

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