No, You Don't Own Her

No, You Don't Own Her

I thought I was living in the 21st century, not the 12th.
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Recently, I have seen an influx of articles which tell women to cover up in order to be respectable. What's even more alarming is that these articles were written by people of my own age, most of them being authored by women. What is disheartening to me is that we have a textbook example of internalized misogyny: women repeating the garbage that men spew out about women's bodies to other women, turning them into an object to be judged rather than a human being.

In the medieval era, women had little to no rights at all: they were simply the property of either their fathers or their husbands, being referred to as so-and-so's husband/daughter, not by their own names. They even judged a woman's worth on her sexual activity: if she was a virgin, she was at the top of the heap, while wives were considered the lowest since they've had multiple children. What's disturbing to me is that we still have the ghosts of these ideas still haunting the collective consciousness of the 21st century. We still police women's bodies, their clothing, their sexual activity, and even their hair in order to keep them confined to the archaic ideals of what femininity is.

You do not own a woman's body.

You do not have the right to tell her what she should and should not wear. You do not have the right to call her a "slut" for engaging in sexual activity. You do not have the right to chastise her over the choice to cut her hair short. As a human being, she has complete and utter control over her own body and that is final.

In American politics, abortion is one of the most talked about issues regarding women's bodies. What I don't understand is why this should even be an issue, why should the government even be policing a woman's body? A woman has the right to abort an unwanted pregnancy, it is her body after all. Unfortunately, right-wing ultra-conservative bible-thumping red neck politicians believe that the life of a single unborn fetus is more important than that of the woman who is carrying it. However, when that fetus is finally born and the mother is hoping for some sort of government assistance, the same people who demanded that she carry it to term turn their backs on her. Talk about a double standard.

I do not understand why it is so difficult to explain to others why women have rights as human beings. They act as if women were some alien species from beyond the galaxy, a mystery to all who encounter them. All I am asking is this: let women have fun. Let them wear what they want. Let them do what they want with their bodies. You are not their owner and they are not your possession.

The female human body is not a possession, end of story.

Cover Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/Enwul37eKqw

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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There's More To Political Change Than Just Voting

We've got a long way to go, and casting your vote on Election Day is just one stop on the way.

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I told myself that I would write on something else this week. Perhaps on a more lighthearted topic, I thought, but my heart is telling me otherwise.

We celebrated a small victory with the guilty verdict of Jason Van Dyke in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Hours later, we suffered a great loss with the confirmed nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court Justice.

I have to say, I was surprised and delighted by the guilty verdict of Van Dyke. It gave me hope that perhaps this one black man out of so many that get slaughtered daily, did not die in vain. I was not surprised by the Kavanaugh decision.

Despite its unpredictability, it still made my stomach churn.

It made me wonder how long we will continue taking one step forward and ten steps back as a country. It made me overwhelmed, thinking of how much we have yet to fix in this country. It made me sad, knowing I am only one voice that feels so small against the many greedy, sexist, and racist pigs that run our country.

One thing to remember, however, is that although one voice may be small, 125.9 million female voices are not. 37.1 million black voices are not. 52 million Hispanic and Latino voices are not. 313.9 LGBT voices are not.

So, why are we letting such a small number of prejudiced and privileged voices make the decisions for us?

They let us believe that we have no voice. They have tried to make us believe that they have silenced Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, as they have countless other women, women of color, men of color, and LGBT folks. But they haven't.

Being a woman in America right now, as it has been for centuries, is scary. More than that, being a person of color or LGBT is and has been terrifying, more notably recently. We think we have moved forward, but something always seems to slap us right in the face with the reality that we may have moved forward, but we have a long, long journey awaiting us.

How do we shorten that journey? How do we make it more bearable?

The easiest option is, of course, to vote. I'm sure your newsfeeds have been flooded with articles and posts begging you to register, and to get out there and vote.

If only it were that easy.

More than voting, the most important thing you can do with your voice is using it for those who can't. Volunteer at shelters. Advocate for issues that matter to you. Call your local and state representatives. Campaign. Read up on different candidates, and find ways to best support them in the upcoming election. And most important of all – educate yourself. Fact check. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet – especially when reading opinionated pieces, like this one.

Your vote matters. But more than that, you matter. Your power as a United States citizen is vastly understated. It's time that we understand just how powerful we can be when we choose to take action.

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