Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Never Again

"What if our politicians weren't the bitch of the NRA?"

The first time I saw it, I cringed. The 100th time I saw it shared, my heart sank. Just now, I saw a young man post his own March for Our Lives video and copy this phrasing word for word. I cried.

What if we could express our opinions and advocate for our causes without degrading women?

See, I'm a bitch. I'm a bitch when I tell a man no. I'm a bitch for being ambitious. I'm a bitch for wanting equal rights. I'm a bitch for standing up for what I believe in. I hear from a lot of other bitches too. Some of these bitches are in elementary and middle school. They get called bitches and worse for standing up for themselves and standing for what they believe in.

I watched little girls in elementary school, some as young as kindergarten age, walk out of school for gun reform. A few days later, I woke up to breaking news, another school shooting. This time a boy shot his ex girlfriend and another student was wounded in the process.

I was here for #YesAllWomen. Remember that? That started after a mass shooting in California. "I don’t know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it," the shooter said. I've been here to see women leaders in the fight for gun reform face sexist attacks over and over and over again.

Over and over and over again there has been a commonality among perpetrators of gun violence - toxic masculinity and violence toward women. The Parkland shooter was abusive toward women.

It's 2018 and some women are choosing to take the word bitch and reclaim it as a term of empowerment. I am one of those women. Some women don't like the word at all. That is our choice as women.

But still, in 2018, what terms are so often used to insult someone? The worst thing you can call a woman is a woman and the worst thing you can call a man is a woman. I didn't come up with that one; I heard it somewhere. Welcome to the patriarchy. Do I think all men who use words in this way intend to contribute to toxic masculinity and the disempowerment of and violence against women? No, and that's exactly the point. That's the problem. This stuff is so ingrained in our culture it often passes without a second thought.

When we have young children watching the big kids, it's up to the big kids to set the right example. I don't want young boys learning that using the word bitch in a derogatory way is a cool way to get attention and applause and I don't want young girls learning that it's acceptable. I don't think it belongs in a movement for gun reform sparked by a mass shooting when between 2009 and 2014, women made up 51% of the victims of mass shootings. I don't think it belongs anywhere in our political discourse. I especially don't think that it belongs in our political discourse when women don't have equal representation in Congress nor equal rights under the Constitution.

I'll be marching this weekend with the same principles I had when I marched in the Women's March in January. I'll be speaking this weekend and doing what I always do, looking out in the crowd for little girls because maybe one of them will say, "hey, I can do that too." I'll keep fighting so that the next generation of women doesn't consider being called a bitch like it's a bad thing normal and acceptable ever again. 

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