Dear Republicans, Define “Pro-Life”

Source: Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash

Middle-aged white men love to tell women what to do.

Sure, that statement sounds like an exaggeration, but when you consider the age and race of your average Republican official, it’s not unfounded or untrue—especially when the U.S. House passes legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy mere days after 58 concertgoers were gunned down during the country’s largest mass shooting in history.

Despite the fact that most Republicans run for office atop their pro-life soapbox, their post-election actions toward anyone existing outside some woman’s womb convey an entirely different narrative.

From healthcare and disaster relief, to immigration and gun control, Republican policy only seems to prioritize white, male lives (and the lives of those who have yet to pass through the birth canal, of course). Skin color and circumstance don’t matter until you’re born. After that? The law can’t (read: probably won’t) save you. Lawmakers will dictate what you can or cannot do, but they will not enact measures that serve anyone but themselves.

Since Donald Trump took office, for instance, Republicans have made multiple, albeit futile, attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act—the ultimate pipe dream in the GOP’s ongoing war against everyone. Authors of the bill have made it their primary mission to ensure that each version eliminates mandatory coverage for preventative care, including prenatal care, which contradicts every pro-life speech they’ve ever spewed throughout their careers.

Caring for the fetus must mean you care about the mother, too, right? Apparently not.

(A Hippocratic oath for the hypocrites might be in order.)

Source: Tim Bish/Unsplash

But, dear child, if you do emerge with your health intact, your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will likely perish the moment you crown, especially if you’re not male, white, or wealthy.

Because black lives don’t matter unless you can distort their peaceful protests into fodder for the white nationalist pyromaniacs among us. Immigrant lives don’t matter, either, unless you can ship their children off to homes unknown and pretend it’s for the economic benefit of those who are descendants of immigrants themselves. And Puerto Rican lives certainly don’t matter unless you can tweet insults at their capitol’s mayor while she wades through waist-deep waters to save the people of her city.

Judging from GOP rationale, women are nothing more than vessels for future life. Despite the progress we’ve made toward achieving gender equality, we are still treated like second-class citizens in the eyes of lawmakers who think they can control our medical decisions even though none of the lives involved are their own. Perhaps they don’t understand that being part of this governing body does not mean they have the authority to govern bodies.

But you cannot force us to bear children when you won’t protect them from the unstable psychopaths that steal their innocence and their lives as they learn the ABCs.

You cannot tell us what to do with our bodies as those of our fellow brothers and sisters fall lifeless at the venue where they were once living life to its fullest.

You cannot make us adhere to your religious justifications while you dole out “thoughts and prayers” in lieu of laws that could save countless lives.

When domestic terrorists can amass an arsenal without raising eyebrows, but innocent citizens cannot access life-saving medical treatment, you can’t help but wonder where the root of this “pure evil” lies. Perhaps it lies in Republicans’ continued refusal to label Stephen Paddock—and Adam Lanza, and Dylann Roof, etc.—as terrorists. Perhaps it lies within the inherent “white privilege” these killers maintain even in the aftermath. Or maybe it lies in the simple fact that GOP leaders consistently fail to admit that white men, themselves included, represent the greatest threat to our nation’s safety to date.

Source: Antonio Grosz/Unsplash

Data from Mother Jones demonstrates that, since 1982, white men were responsible for 54 percent of the mass shootings on record. Couple that with the seemingly white nationalist measures enacted or proposed since Trump’s inauguration and you have a nation in crisis.

While there are exceptions to every rule, most modern Republicans appear to have little to no regard for life whatsoever. The fact that people are probably nodding in agreement as they read that sentence should embarrass the GOP to no end. But instead of proving the public wrong, those at fault will continue to transfer the blame to the helpless and hopeless.

After all, it’s increasingly difficult to believe that any member of the GOP operates with their constituents’ best interests at heart. Not when they sit idly by while the antagonizer-in-chief pokes and prods North Korea to the brink of nuclear war.

Sticks and stones might break some bones, but words could lead to mass destruction.

Yet Republicans do nothing.

Democrats—and late-night talk show hosts—condemn the wrongs of the world at every turn, but only Republicans have the majority power make change happen. However, it’s in their inaction that they reiterate what their actions have already expressed: aside from their pro-life stance with regard to reproduction, American lives are the least of the concerns.

Advertisements

Trump’s War on Women Includes Mother Nature

Women’s bodies are always under public scrutiny. We’re on display from the moment we’re born. Why do you think so many of the naked babies featured in films and advertisements are clearly girls? Even before we learn to command our own bodily functions, our bodies are not our own.

And ever since Trump and his cohorts came to town, it seems almost illegal to inhabit the female form.

Sexual assault victims, as it stands, will soon be treated as accomplices of their own attack if the GOP has anything to say. Under Trumpcare, victims will no longer have access to safe abortion services, should the need arise, leading them to take matters into their own hands or carry the child to term—an alternative to the traditional life sentence. Because rape will soon count as a pre-existing condition, victims likely won’t be able to afford maternity care and mental health services either, forcing them to pay—both monetarily and emotionally—for the sins trespassed against them.

Of course, while women are nothing more than “second-class” citizens whose only crime was being born, Trump has chosen to tackle an even greater foe of the female variety—Mother Nature. By pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump has stripped Mother Nature of her rights. And she will not remain silent.

Source: kellybdc/Flickr

While women continue to speak out against the injustices we face, it’s easy for the predominantly white, male Republican Party to brush us off as nothing more than noise. But Mother Nature? No, she will never go quietly into the night. No matter how deep their denial flows, lawmakers cannot and will not put an end to climate change by pretending it doesn’t exist.

Because it does exist. Anyone with common sense and an eighth grade education will agree. We’ve failed our planet and, in response, our planet has begun to fail us. Why do you think the massive crack in Antarctica’s ice shelf grew 11 miles in only six days? Why do you think the once-vibrant Great Barrier Reef now suffers from coral bleaching and imminent death? Why do you think koalas, polar bears and countless other animal species are struggling to survive in their evolving habitats?

It’s downright preposterous that the political party that so closely associates with the pro-life movement continues to pursue policies that imperil the lives of those who are and those who will be. They might not live to experience the repercussions of their decisions, but their children and grandchildren certainly will. Even great wealth won’t save them from what’s to come.

Remember when Cal, played by Billy Zane, tries to bribe his way onto a lifeboat in Titanic? While Mr. Murdoch takes the money initially, he ultimately throws the stack back in Cal’s face as he says, “Your money can’t save you anymore than it can save me.” No amount of money will ever be able to reverse the damage Trump’s decision will inflict.

We are all in the same boat and everyone’s the captain—if the U.S. proves to be the iceberg that destroys the world’s environmental efforts, we’re all going to go down with the ship.

Government officials and their law enforcement lackeys can continue to treat women like one collective menace to society, but they cannot punish Mother Nature without being punished in return. Climate change will persist no matter how fervently the GOP resists. We might not be able to leave this planet in a better state than it was when we arrived, but we can do everything within our power to make the future brighter for those who don’t yet have a say.

In this instance, Trump shouldn’t be concerned with the people of Pittsburgh or Paris. When it comes to Mother Nature, he should focus solely on the children of tomorrow. He has an 11-year-old son, after all. Such disregard for science should be considered some form of negligence, if you think about it. In fact, it’s downright criminal.

 

****

(This post originally appeared on the Ms. Magazine Blog.)

5 Women Who Deserve People’s ‘Most Beautiful’ Title More Than Julia Roberts

People Magazine probably thought it was doing something noble when it named Julia Roberts as its “Most Beautiful” woman of 2017. After all, she’s nearly 50—practically prehistoric in Hollywood terms, especially compared to the first time she graced the issue’s cover in 1991 at the ripe old age of 23. But when you’ve chosen the same actress a record five times, the tradition starts to seem stale. Society’s perception of beauty continues to evolve, but People’s formula remains the same. Maybe it’s time to shake things up? Here are just five women who’ve redefined beauty on their own terms, earning them the right to the title (even if they didn’t make the list in the first place).

Betty White

One quick glance at the “Most Beautiful” list reveals that Oprah Winfrey’s the oldest person on this year’s roster. (She’s 63.) But why must People perpetuate the notion that youth equals beauty? If age truly isn’t an issue for those doling out the title, White surely deserves the honor. (They could’ve included her, at least.) She’s America’s sweetheart. She’s devoted literal decades to the entertainment world and, at 95, she’s still as spry, feisty, and funny as ever. Honestly, she’s beautiful in ways that these younger women can only aspire to achieve one day.

Hillary Clinton

When it comes to Clinton, the term “nasty woman” comes to mind. But after the impact she’s had on the women’s movement in recent months, her legacy will be one of the most beautiful things to emerge from our tumultuous political situation. Though she might’ve lost the 2016 election, Clinton’s attempt to break the glass ceiling has inspired 11,000 women to seek office, while encouraging countless others to fight for their human rights. She embodies the adversity women face every day, yet she still persists. If that sort of resilience and tenacity isn’t beautiful, then this world’s uglier than we thought.

Laverne Cox

Despite the fact that many people claim they’re inclusive, the transgender community has yet to gain complete acceptance throughout society. Cox, however, has been working diligently to fight for both transgender rights and women’s rights ever since she broke into the business. She represents the beauty America has to offer, if only we’d take the time to listen and understand, and such an honor could be instrumental in sparking critical conversations. Yes, it’d likely create controversy, but that’s precisely why we need to increase transgender visibility. Cox not only deserves the title, but naming her “Most Beautiful” might also help young people struggling with their own transition recognize that they’re not alone.

Michelle Obama

Our former First Lady has always been the embodiment of class and dignity. She’s beautiful on the outside thanks to her love of physical fitness, and she’s beautiful on the inside because she stands up for what she believes in no matter the obstacles. Beyond all else, Mrs. Obama has always been a champion for young girls. She’s taught this generation that education and intellectual pursuits are far more important than fixating on your outward appearance. She inspires females of all ages to pursue their passions and ignore the haters. In this instance, beauty isn’t just visual—it’s mental, too.

Melissa McCarthy

Jerry Lewis once claimed women cannot be funny. But anyone who’s witnessed McCarthy’s scathing impression of Press Secretary Sean Spicer on SNL knows that assertion couldn’t be further from the truth. McCarthy has emerged as one of the leading comedians of our time. While she might’ve initially won our hearts as Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls, she has since become one of the most in-demand actresses in the industry (all without some stick-thin figure, mind you). From the looks of things, Chrissy Metz and Adele appear to be the only full figure gals on the list, perpetuating the notion that bigger isn’t always considered beautiful. But when “big” applies to the laughs you get from the live studio audience, dress size doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter.

****

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

For Feminist Fashionistas, Has Modesty Become the Best Policy?

Source: Unsplash

When it comes to gender politics within the fashion industry, equality is only as deep as the pockets on your average pair of skinny jeans. Designers continue to break down barriers dictated by the gender binary. However, the persistent pocket disparity — men’s apparel features many spacious compartments, while most women’s styles don’t have any at all — demonstrates that when creating women’s clothing, form still outweighs function, highlighting the latent sexism that remains.

However, as the decade wears on, one specific trend has begun to emerge, indicating that women might be hoping to reclaim comfort and promote feminism simultaneously.

According to The New York Times’ recent feature, modesty has made its triumphant return. Vanessa Friedman writes that long sleeves and ankle-length hemlines now dominate the industry because, as we move into the last years of this decade, fashion now serves as the surrogate for our social and political discontent. Friedman explains that “clothes are an integral part of the debate over the freedom to make your own choices — whether about what you do with your body or who touches your body or what you put on your body.” Clothing still acts as an alternative mouthpiece, much like it has throughout history, except its message has changed dramatically thanks to the current state of affairs.

Source: Getty Images

Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the innovation group at J. Walter Thompson, tells Friedman that the emerging trends exist in an effort to “reject the strictures of the male gaze.” While women once saw plunging necklines and transparent fabrics as vessels for embracing their sexuality, they’ve come to recognize that such styles ultimately put them on display in ways that contradict their underlying intentions.

“They are not about what men want anymore, but about what women want,” Greene adds. After years of embracing styles spawned by the male libido, women are opting for clothes that cater to comfort and security. Because, while comfort supports increased confidence, security provides strength in an era where women are still perceived as weak and inferior.

By gravitating toward modest styles, women are taking their bodies back. From Hillary Clinton’s symbolic suffragette white pantsuits, to the pussycat hats of the Women’s March on Washington, women’s clothing needs no comment for these choices speak for themselves. Fashion statements abound, but not in the ways we’ve come to expect. Instead of waiting for the next red carpet blunder or wardrobe malfunction, women now feel both fashionable and comfortable as they trade their crop tops for button downs.

Source: Getty Images

As Michael Kors, the esteemed designer, told The New York Times, he’s “convinced that there is something far more alluring about women wearing things that give them confidence, that don’t make them feel as if they have to tug at their hemlines or yank at their straps.”

While some women dress to impress men, and others dress to impress their female peers, many now focus solely on dressing for their own benefit. They’ve replaced their high heels with ballet flats because they regain balance both literally and figuratively when they’re on solid ground. They’ve traded their mini dresses for pencil skirts because they no longer feel they must flaunt their sexuality in order to command their femininity. Of course, while no woman should feel compelled to conceal her body because she fears the advances of predatory men, modest styles promise to empower women to be who they are, not who others wish them to be.

****

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

When Empowering Young Girls, Actions Speak Louder Than T-Shirts

“Girl Power” isn’t some new concept—just ask the Spice Girls. But it’s certainly gained new momentum since the 2016 presidential election, as Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss to Donald Trump stunned the nation. In an era where unqualified misogynists can still gain the upper hand, it’s become increasingly important to teach young girls to go high even when “the man” tries to drag them low.

Yet, while our overall efforts are commendable, we need to take things to the next level. We need to stop talking and start doing.

Source: The Children’s Place

Source: The Children’s Place

Recently, The Children’s Place made an admirable attempt to bring girl power to the elementary set with an empowering line of feminist tees and tanks. Each piece features words and images that aim to bridge the otherwise glittery gender gap. They encourage girls to pursue male-dominated professions and forge their own path to success. Much like the inspirational quotes that litter Instagram, however, reciting such mantras and living their truth are two entirely different animals.

We can dress our daughters and nieces in pantsuits from the minute they’re born, and shout daily affirmations into the void the second they learn to speak, but our behavior will mean nothing if we don’t occupy these positions of power ourselves. Like those of minority races and religions, seeing yourself in the eyes of someone else helps you envision your own potential. We need to present young girls with role models that bring these ambitions to life. We need to be the women they look up to when they seek guidance.

Shirts may boost their confidence, but they’ll only learn to lead if they have worthwhile examples to follow.

Just as Hillary Clinton emphasized during her speech last week, change will only come if we get involved now—resist, insist, persist, enlist.

****

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

What If I Don’t Want to Be a Woman Anymore?

Does anyone else remember the F.A.O. Schwarz Friendship Tree? He’d always say, “Thanks for coming to play with me!” (I’ve tried to Google the rest of his spiel on numerous occasions, but I just can’t seem to fill in the blanks.)

However, I do recall how he’d entice children with claims that there were “things to touch and feel and more.” Yet, for any woman suffering through this election cycle, that seemingly innocent invitation from an old mechanical centerpiece may cause an involuntary twitch. In fact, it sounds vaguely familiar…

Oh, that’s right. It sounds like “locker room talk.” You know, something that might’ve come straight from the 2016 Republican presidential nominee’s mouth.

Women! We’re nothing more than objects for men to grope and fondle.

After all, he’s Donald J. Trump. He’s a star.

(Stars can do whatever they want.)

Welcome to his world of toys.

For women, the 2016 election truly marks both the best of times and worst of times. While Hillary Clinton promises to hold our collective hand and lead us on the path to progress, Trump wants to grab us all ‘by the p—y’ and drag us down the path to destruction. To harken back to First Lady Michelle Obama’s iconic speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, Trump wants to pull us low, while Clinton strives to lift us high.

But, unfortunately, no matter which candidate leads the electoral majority, misogyny has already won the popular vote.

If Trump wins, men who wish to exploit his view on women will see this moment as their opportunity to justify any lewd and crude behaviors they’ve suppressed until now. If Clinton wins, every single move she makes will be analyzed and scrutinized until the end of time. (I’d say the end of her term, but we know any and all problems impacting our country will be attributed to her time in office for at least the next 50 years or so. At least.)

Despite the fact that her historic win would shatter the glass ceiling, women, in general, will be forced to wade through the shards that fall on Clinton’s behalf. All women will be held accountable for her actions because, while men exist and operate independently, women are often seen as one collective unit. Thus, her success will be our success. Her mistakes will be our mistakes. Her failures will be our failures.

confused-girl

Even if Hillary Clinton wins the election, we cannot write this off as some epic victory for women overall. This one battle will not end the war. In fact, it will likely fuel the fight. We like to pretend our country has moved beyond its humiliating past. Many honestly thought that electing our first black president would end racism, but we can clearly see that race relations are as volatile as ever. Many believe that electing the first female president will eliminate sexism and misogyny, too, but this agonizing campaign indicates otherwise. We’ve peeled back the bandage and exposed wounds that haven’t healed. Based on Trump’s rhetoric alone, it’s hard to imagine they ever will.

Like Full Frontal host Samantha Bee—notorious breaker of glass ceilings herself—recently said, Clinton’s presidency would unleash a ‘tsunami of misogyny’ upon the American people. Still, Clinton has yet to win, and we’re already drowning in vitriolic sentiment. We’re about to reach the breaking point even though we haven’t yet approached the starting line.

Well, what if I don’t want to be a woman anymore? What if I’d prefer to live as some androgynous being who’s respected for their brain, not judged by their genitals? What if I want to shirk the assumption that I’m some plaything created for men’s visual and physical pleasure, nothing more?

Over the last year—the past few months, particularly—we have been forced to call into question not only how people perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves. It’s both disconcerting and discouraging, exasperating and exhausting. We bear the daunting and perpetual burden of trying to prove our power and our worth time and time again.

But if we don’t, who will?

It’s tempting to throw in the towel. The hatred and oppression emanating from Trump’s followers alone could inspire any woman to crawl under their blanket and remain hidden for the next decade. But if we refuse to embrace our womanhood and fight for equality, we will never gain the respect we deserve. We must carry on the legacy of those women before us—those whose sacrifices brought us to where we are today. We owe it to past, present, and future women in our country and across the world to continue this fight, as misogyny will not cease without effort. Sexism will likely exist in some form for lifetimes to come, but we have the opportunity to be the generation that makes great strides toward gender equality once and for all.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

 

 

How About We Build That Border Wall Around Donald Trump Instead?

sticker375x360-u4For the last year, Donald J. Trump has used his platform to both humiliate and denigrate Mexicans and those of Latino heritage. He’s called them “murderers” and “rapists” in his attempt to gain support for the border wall he hopes to build if elected president. But, after the whirlwind reveal of his supposed “locker room talk” last month, all eyes are on the culture of abuse right here at home.

Before The Washington Post unleashed Trump’s 2005 Access Hollywood recording, it was already hard to deny the Republican nominee’s lack of respect for women. From Alicia Machado to Rosie O’Donnell, his prior verbal attacks were far less than presidential. Yet, once the video was made public, it became impossible for even his most staunch supporters to refute his lack of respect for both the mental and physical well being of women across the spectrum. His exchange with Billy Bush exposed his inclination to sexually assault any woman he deemed physically attractive—those most likely deemed “9” or “10” on his notorious rating scale—by instinctively kissing them or grabbing them “by the p—y.”

Since the reveal, Trump has repeatedly claimed that his remarks were nothing more than typical banter one would expect from the average male. But it’s in this justification that society must recognize that the overall normalization of objectification and abuse has permeated the surface layer of our culture, deeply rooting itself in our collective conscience and threatening to poison the mindset of our youth. If Donald Trump were to take office, the young boys and girls of this country would pay the ultimate price.

In recent months, we’ve seen numerous accounts of alleged sexual assault and rape that led to trials, but no convictions. As with the Brock Turner rape case, it appears that judges prefer to put the future of the man ahead of the well being of the woman, resulting in nothing more than a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Such cases perpetuate the idea that, even when caught, men will face little to no repercussions for their actions, thereby confirming that they can help themselves to any woman’s body if they so choose.img_8781-768x491

We are essentially teaching children that such actions are not only normal, but also accepted. Each time another alleged rapist or attacker evades jail, we are teaching boys that their actions will have few consequences. Each time we send another girl home from school for “inappropriate” attire, we are teaching the next generation that women must be on guard at all times because men cannot control their sexual urges. And if we elect Donald Trump, we will teach the boys of this nation that they can abuse women for decades and still hold the highest, most respected office in the world. We cannot allow this to become reality and we cannot allow these young boys and girls to grow up in an atmosphere that only widens the gender gap even further.

As it stands, even Trump’s attempt to deflect his controversies by focusing on Bill Clinton’s indiscretions further perpetuates the concept that women are responsible for men’s actions. Remember: Bill Clinton isn’t running for president, yet Hillary Clinton continues to face persecution for his sins. He’s not on the ballot and she should not be put on trial for his past actions. After all, Melania Trump hasn’t been forced to answer for her husband’s lewd behaviors.

Should we be happy that the Republican nominee for president continues to try and justify his remarks?

Of course not.

Should we be grateful that this tape has sparked a national discussion about how society treats women?

Absolutely.

Beyond all else, we need men to support our fight for gender equality, not rally against our efforts. Much like Emma Watson’s “HeForShe” initiative, we need the men and boys in our lives to be advocates for change. We need them to view women and girls as dignified human beings, not objects of visual and physical pleasure. We need to counter the damage Trump’s harmful rhetoric has caused by turning his atrocious behavior into an example of what not to do.

We have an exceptional, teachable moment on our hands and we have an obligation to further establish the sort of future we’d always envisioned for the children of our world.

Like First Lady Michelle Obama once said, “When they go low, we go high.” Let’s continue on the path toward creating a world that encourages every child to reach for the stars, instead of electing someone that thrives on fear and oppression, for his term will surely cause a negative ripple effect for generations to come.

 

(Images via Redbubble and Democratic Underground)