Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Go Fish

If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get five percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card." - Donald Trump

Let's play.

The King: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "It's not women's liberation. It's women's and men's liberation."

The Queen: Hillary Clinton, "I have always believed women are not victims; we are agents of change, we are drivers of progress, we are makers of peace- all we need is a fighting chance."

The Jack: Wendy Davis, "Women all over the country deserve leaders that care, that listen, and that work to protect their interests."

The Ace: Gloria Steinem, "Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon."

The 2: Cecile Richards, "If [women] aren't at the table, we're on the menu."

The 3: Madeline Albright, "People everywhere, including the United States, are still prone to accept stereotypes, eager to believe what we want to believe, anxious to believe while others take the lead, seeking to avoid both responsibility and risk."

The 4: Elizabeth Warren, "Do you have any idea what year it is? Did you fall down, hit your head, and woke up in the 1950's? Or the 1890's? Should we call for a doctor?"

The 5: Kirsten Gillibrand, "We need more consensus-builders, we need people who will listen more, who are less ego-driven and partisan."

The 6: Nancy Pelosi, "Women are leaders everywhere you look- from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes."

The 7: Loretta Lynch, "It's the choices you make and the things you're willing to accept and not accept that define who you are."

The 8: Claire McCaskill, "It’s important to me to encourage more women to run for office…But equally important is encouraging more men to sometimes just shut the hell up. It’s not that women don’t value your thoughts, it’s just that we don’t value all of them."

The 9: Rachel Maddow, "I can't be frustrated with you because you're stupid but I can be mad at you because you're evil."

Go Fish, Donald.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Qualifications

Yesterday, I wrote about the relationship between women advocating for their own pleasure and advocating for their own power. Last month, I wrote about the underlying sexism directed at women, Hillary supporters in particular, who are active in the political sphere.

Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders laid out reasons he disagreed with Secretary Clinton at a rally in Philadelphia. But that's not all he did. He said she is unqualified to be President of the United States.

This morning, I posted the following on Facebook:  "Sexism: When a Wellsley and Yale Law graduate who served in the Senate and as Secretary of State and has both more delegates and more total votes than a man does is called unqualified."

My sentiment was posted in solidarity with many other women who support Hillary Clinton and even some women who support Bernie Sanders. The reactions many of us have gotten after expressing ourselves on this matter: "What he said wasn't sexist."

Let's say I go to a club with one of my girlfriends. We're having a good time when a guy comes up behind us and puts his hands on both of our rear ends. My friend doesn't mind. I turn around and tell the guy off. He says, "She didn't mind, so you shouldn't mind."

Many would be quick to defend my decision to treat his behavior as sexist because it was overt. But when the sexism is more subtle, it suddenly becomes okay to dismiss a woman expressing that an action or behavior has made her feel disempowered. And when these sentiments are expressed in the political arena, further attempts to disempower a woman by devaluing her feelings are defended as a mere difference of opinion.

When we tell you how we feel you don't believe us unless you agree with us.

Now please continue to mansplain to me how rape culture isn't connected to our politics and talk about how unqualified I am to make my own decisions about my own body, attempting to shame me when I don't make decisions you like.

Also, for those who didn't like my choice of Beyoncé yesterday:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Body Politic

From panties that allow you to bleed on the faces of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, to increasing awareness of the tampon tax, to a coordinated effort on behalf of women to inform Indiana Governor Mike Pence about what's happening during our menstrual cycles, periods are on-trend for Spring in the political arena.

Just about every girl in health class or in sex education, even in abstinence only sex ed, learns about menstruation. Do you know what girls aren't learning? They aren't learning that the way to tell if a guy likes you or not isn't whether he still wants to talk to you after you give him a blow job.

In the absence of any real connection to female empowerment, yet another generation of women is starting to have sexual experiences that are focused solely on men. While we need to continue to take action to improve outcomes for future generations through comprehensive sex education that encourages women to advocate for their own pleasure, we also need to take action to improve outcomes through civics education that encourages women to advocate for their own power. When a girl answers a question about her first sexual experience with, "I think my body looked okay, he seemed to enjoy it," that's not just a reflection of our prudity when it comes to women's bodies. It's a reflection of our politics.

When women turn down a man's advances because we don't like their actions, we get blamed and told we have a bitchy attitude. When we show up at the Governor's Mansion to demonstrate for our reproductive rights, we're given a plate of cookies and told, "God bless you." We shouldn't dress too provocatively because if we do we're both "asking for it" and undesirable at the same time. We shouldn't shout when we're giving a stump speech because that makes us unelectable but we shouldn't speak too softly because then we're not powerful enough to lead. When we have the audacity to expect those we choose to be intimate with to be intimate with us, we're dirty whores. When we have the audacity to expect those who are elected to represent us to protect our rights and access to services, we're dirty whores.

When young women are confused about whether or not to send a picture when a guy asks for it, when they don't enjoy sex at all but feel like "getting sex out of the way quickly" is the only way to get their boyfriends to watch a movie, when they pinkie promise their fathers that they'll remain virgins until marriage instead of deciding for themselves what they want, they relinquish power. When young men turn to pornography for sex education, when they base their identities on what they can take from women, when they label and value women based on what they will or won't do in the bedroom, they learn that objectifying and coercing is the way to attempt to obtain pleasure and power. If more women start to truly respect and value ourselves, we'll expect men to do it too. If more men start to truly value and respect women, they'll expect other men to do it too. This is on the top 10 list of what Conservatives are most afraid of. If the patriarchy breaks down, if rape culture breaks down, and if equality advances, they will be the ones relinquishing their power.

I'm thrilled period politics are on-trend for Spring. Those of us women who get it need to continue to demonstrate that we're not ashamed to not only talk about our bodies but are also not afraid to demand our legislators listen to us talk about it. Talking about periods, something young women regularly experience, are informed about, and therefore can relate to, and directly relating this with the laws that are designed to regulate our bodies and the lawmakers who attempt to enact them is a powerful demonstration that young women won't get in their Civics 101 textbooks. And maybe, just maybe, if we can continue to demonstrate to young women that we're capable of demanding that our lawmakers respect us through deeds not words, it can help them to be more confident in demanding respect through deeds in their personal relationships too.

Our society should not be working based on a system of coercion, control, and relinquished power, but more like this:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Destinations

It feels only right to start this post here on my little blog. This started because of an attack on the LGBTQ+ community that forced me to not only pay attention to what was going on around me, but to find my place in the issues and decide how I, at barely twelve years old, fit into those issues and could take action. Almost three years later, my journey has taken me places I never could have imagined back then. My destination point today is my state passing one of the worst pieces of discrimination legislation

This is not a total shock to me. I knew a month ago we were in danger. Let me explain why I, as a straight cisgender woman, am using the term "we" here. I listened as much as I could to the proceedings on HB2. While listening to the public testimony before the judiciary committee, a girl my age said this as transcribed by Indy Week:

"'Changing in front of my girl peers is already stressful enough due to societal standards from Hollywood etc. Now the possibility of males changing alongside of me makes me even more self conscious.' Girls should never be forced to undress in front of boys. She says being a teenage girl is as confusing as being confused about your gender orientation, and that she has rights not be forced to change next to boys. 'You shouldn't change laws to punish and single out most of us.' This is a threat to her safety. Knowing a man could easily walk into a bathroom is completely frightening. There is no stopping what people may do. Charlotte is the first city and if lawmakers don't fix this more would follow. I am not the only girl who is scared, we deserve protection."

Over the last three years, my journey has involved many destinations. After starting to get involved standing up against LGBTQ+ discrimination, some of the first issues I found my place in were a woman's right to a safe abortion and rape culture. I've written a little on the inherent sexism often involved in the stereotyping of teen dating and how it negatively impacts both men and women. I've written a lot about slut shaming and the ridiculous dress codes that treat female bodies as impediments to the education of boys. I've written about equal pay, undergarments, and Conservative women trying to impose their life choices on other women and about the Equal Rights Amendment. I've written about the adult war on teen sexuality and how we are being failed by not being provided with adequate, comprehensive sex education. Of course, I've written a lot about voting rights, the regressive actions of the North Carolina state legislature, and the failure of Pat McCrory to exemplify the qualities of leadership our young people deserve after he called me a prop at the age of 12. I've also written a lot about the importance of young people getting involved in creating the future in which we will lead by getting involved in the political process.

The public testimony made by that teenage girl in support of the bullying and discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community brought home why it's so important to continue to speak out on all of these issues. Her testimony highlights why the work feminists do is important not only to continue to expand rights and opportunities for women, but to expand rights and opportunities for all.

The reason that girl is so stressed out over the "societal standards" she perceives as coming from Hollywood that she feels uncomfortable changing in front of her peers is because she has been taught to judge her body against others based on what men are supposedly supposed to want and has been given no alternative. Yeah honey, that's not just Hollywood, that's patriarchy, and it is ingrained in many elements of society, not just the entertainment industry. It's also why she can't see gender in any other way than through the most simplistic definitions of girls and boys. She can't understand that a trans woman is not a man and is just as much a woman as she is because she's been taught gender is based on genitalia. She doesn't understand how she is contributing to rape culture by disempowering not only women with her assertion the mere act of being a teenage girl is confusing just because she's confused, but she's also disempowering men by her assertion that everyone in possession of a penis is a threat and we should all fear all penises. She also doesn't understand that when a transgender woman enters a woman's bathroom or locker room, it's not because she is confused about her gender orientation. It's because that woman has determined her gender identity and feels safer and more comfortable peeing and changing around others who share her gender identity.

I'm not ashamed of my body. I'm not uncomfortable changing in front of anyone. I'm not uncomfortable in a bathroom stall when others are in the bathroom. I'm not threatened as a teenage girl by the idea of sharing a bathroom or changing in front of someone who might or might not have different body parts than I do. I'm threatened by my lawmakers.

I understand that the answer to combating rape culture is not fear culture. There is nothing legislating bigotry will do to prevent sex offenders from sex offending. When a woman, or a man, is sexually assaulted or raped, the person is responsible is the assailant or rapist. Sexual assault and rape occurs in every setting imaginable. There are laws against sexual assault and rape, whether it occurs in a bathroom, changing room, school, church, home, wherever. I know we will never prevent all rapes or assaults, but the way to prevent more of them is to strengthen these laws and to make sure that victims have equal standing in court, regardless of gender. We should be investing in testing rape kits instead of in special legislative sessions for the sole purpose of passing discrimination laws that only contribute to making it more dangerous for the LGBTQ+ community, who is at increased risk for sexual assault, especially in light of the fact passing non-discrimination ordinances that guarantee access to bathrooms have not resulted in increased cases in sexual assault. I'm aware that a lack of sex education, and the fact that even when sex education is offered it is often extremely lacking and reflects inequality in terms of what young men and young women are respectively taught, contributes to negative outcomes.

It took around 12 hours yesterday to move HB2 from committee, through the House and Senate, and to be signed by Governor Pat McCrory. The fight ahead of us, not just in terms of having this law overturned by the courts, but also in fighting against the attitudes and ignorance that creates unacceptable outcomes for not just the LGBTQ+ community, but for all of us.

It was discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community that started me on my journey, and the latest actions of NC Republicans have awoken many citizens not just around the state but around the nation who, some for the very first time, are asking what they can do to stop the assault on our rights. My hope is that many of these people will start journeys of their own. I hope that as they realize how long the path is, they do not get so wary they permanently drop by the wayside. That's what the legislators who continue to attack our rights are counting on.

It's not good enough to express your outrage today and quit. Constant vigilance and regular action is required. Even if you're not eligible to vote, you can volunteer. You can contact lawmakers. You can inform your friends, family, and neighbors and hold them accountable. You can donate. I've been doing all of these things since the age of 12 and I have continued to do them along with school, a continuous string of theatre productions and other extracurricular activities, a public speaking schedule, my writing, and a social life. You have zero excuses.

We can't get so wrapped up in what we're fighting against and who we're fighting against that we lose sight of what we're fighting for. The things I and other feminists fight for are things that can help generations to come grow up in a more equal and inclusive society. Young people like the one who, through her public testimony, demonstrate that bigoted attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community are intertwined with attitudes shaped by policies that are anti-equality not just towards the LGBTQ+ community but towards all men and women, deserve better. They deserve better education, stronger laws and the equality under the law necessary to fight discrimination, the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, and a culture that empowers them.

Start today. Start a journey. Find yourself in an issue. Don't quit. Stay woke.

I end a lot of these posts with music videos. As I thought about my own journey leading up to today, I pulled up a Spotify playlist I made back in my early days as a writer. Since this is a marathon, not a sprint: here you go.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Multiple Choice

It's a lazy Saturday morning, cold outside, raining, and I happened to click on a friend's link to a site full of online quizzes. We've all taken them. Sometimes it's fun to share them with our friends. Seeing some of the ones that were created on this site though and knowing that many of them were created by young people made me weep a little for humanity. So, I've decided to provide some answers on the topics, no multiple choice needed.

How much sleep do you need? Infinite amounts I will never obtain.

What kind of woman are you? One who doesn't need a quiz to figure this out.

How big is your banana? Cannot even.

What reactions should your profile pic trigger? Currently: votes.

How far would you go for love? The refrigerator is about 15 feet away.

Are you easy? Easy to piss off with this misogynistic bullshit, yes.

Of 229 people, how many are willing to go out with you? 538 and the answer is no.

What Barack Obama thinks about you? He seemed to like me okay.

What's the best part about kissing you? I kiss like I organize.

Who dreams of being spanked by you? I like to think I haunt the nightmares of at least one elected official.

What is your warning message to others? If more people don't stand up for comprehensive sex education, the number of these ridiculous quiz topics is going to continue to grow.

What is your market value according to the opposite sex? Currently about 79 cents for each dollar a man earns and as much as 2 million dollars less over the course of my career.





Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mysogyny Isn't Your Color BTW

I wear black a lot. I like red lipstick. I don't answer texts and messages right away always. And I support Hillary Clinton for President.

Those things I listed there are just a few of the things men have recently taken it upon themselves to mansplain what they feel is wrong with me. Most people would agree that a man trying to dictate how a woman behaves or what she does with or how she displays her own body is sexism. Many men are quick to jump on the bros when this overt sexism occurs. But when men attempt to belittle the political opinions of women and badger their way into our spaces and conversations, many of you guys are not so quick to holler at your boys. And you are especially slow on the trigger to holler at your boys when they come at us girls who support Hillary.

Let me break this down for you unwoke males out there. Not sexist = "I prefer my candidate's position over your candidate's position for reasons." Sexist = "I can't believe you support your candidate." Not sexist = "Did you see this good thing my candidate said about a position I know you support?" Sexist = "I'm posting/tweeting the latest meme/article/video that slams your candidate directly to you."

The reason the sexist things are sexist is because they imply that we, as women, are not capable of considering information for ourselves and making an informed choice. They imply that we don't interact with a wide variety of information. The men who engage in these actions are implying that they know better than we do and if they just question, mansplain, or yell at us enough we'll obey change our minds.

And it gets worse. Take a moment to ask a Hillary supporting woman in your life who is active online to tell you about the names she's been called, disgusting things she's seen, and even threats she's gotten. And it's going to get even worse if Hillary gets the nomination as we move into the general election.

Women don't need you to speak up because we're weak and can't speak up for ourselves. We need you to do it because if the guys engaging in these behaviors cared about women's voices, they wouldn't be engaging in them in the first place. I really don't think it's too much to ask of those of you who have benefited from the male privilege bestowed upon you by a patriarchal culture to when you see something, say something. Also don't make the mistake of ignoring that some of the behavior directed towards male Hillary supporters is a result of the fact they are betraying the patriarchy by supporting a woman. Feminism is for the benefit of both men and women.

You don't have to support Hillary Clinton to call yourself a feminist. But if you don't support women who support Hillary Clinton and call yourself a feminist, you're a hypocrite.

I am perfectly capable of making my own informed choices, and I look fabulous in black.

Holler at your boys.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Note to the Undecided

Even though I'm too young to vote, I feel it's part of my civic responsibility to use my voice to help build the kind of future I want, not just for myself, but for my country. Maybe you are undecided about who you'll vote for in your upcoming primary. Maybe you're not just thinking about yourself, but about the young people in our country and what we want. I can't speak for all young people, but I can tell you a little about the things that are important to me in this important election.

I'm going to be going to college after three more years. That's exciting. It's also scary.  College admissions are very competitive. I have to work hard in my classes so I can have a chance at even being considered by some of the schools I'd like to attend. I also have to work hard so that I can pay for my education. I overheard my parents talking the other day. They were proud of me because I got straight A's. They were talking about how maybe some of these dream schools I have on my list might not be just a dream for me. They know that the students applying to these schools often have a lot of advantages. My parents were talking about what they could afford to do to help me and talking about how they wished they could afford to do more. I'm lucky that I have parents who are willing and able to help me achieve my goals. Many kids don't have that.

I only have three years before I start college and I can't afford to wait for $70 billion per year promises to give "free" tuition to kids from families who can already afford expensive summer programs, tutoring for the SAT, and can contribute to college tuition. Many of the schools I want to get into will offer me aid based on my need and I can get merit aid and scholarships if I work hard. I want to build on what we already have that works and make it better and stronger so that it works for even more students at even more schools. I need a President who will fight to get results, who will celebrate each incremental result beside me, then get up the next day and fight for more. Hillary Clinton will be that President and has a college plan that is strong, sensible, and will help more students not only get an affordable education, but a quality education.

I know Hillary Clinton will fight for me and get results because she's been doing that even before I was born. When I was little, I had health insurance because of the CHIP program Hillary fought for. That's why when I hear my grandparents talking about paying for their medicine under their Medicare plans, I trust that Hillary Clinton is the person that can help lower those drug costs. In her speech to the UN conference in Beijing that's included in a book of important speeches in American history I got when I was a little girl, Hillary Clinton declared that "women's rights are human rights," and I trust her to take on the attacks that threaten to limit my access to things like equal pay and healthcare and work to protect my rights and expand my opportunities.

I want America's young people to have the kind of leadership that inspires us and values us. A lot of candidates and representatives say they care about us and want our involvement, but often they mean they just want us to help them. Hillary Clinton has been consistent in making it clear that she values the involvement of young people in any way. Even if they are not fighting for her, she is going to fight for them. I and other young people I talk to who have been honored to meet and speak with her agree that when she answers our questions, she gives us honest answers instead of just telling us what we want to hear to get our support. She not only focuses on the big issues that affect young people, but on the small details. She knows, for example, that my state of North Carolina eliminated a voter pre-registration program for 16 and 17 year olds and voter education programs in our high schools. She took the time to find out about it, look at the motives behind it, speak out for the young people in my state, and advocate a plan for automatic voter registration. It means a lot to me that Hillary Clinton shows through both words and deeds that she values the involvement of all our nation's young people and is showing us that even if we don't agree, all of our voices have value in our democracy. There is no candidate who better exemplifies the kind of leadership our young people deserve.

It's because of Hillary Clinton paving the way that I can, it is because of her example that I am, and it's because of the policies she's advocating that I will. I'm asking you today for your vote for Hillary Clinton, but know that no matter how you vote, I appreciate you using your voice in the way you feel will best help me and other young people of our country. I might be too young to vote right now, but I promise that if you stand with me today and help elect Hillary Clinton to the office of President of the United States, I will join you at the ballot in 2020 to reelect her to her second term.