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On Being A Woman and Afraid

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September 24, 2013

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.  Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Margaret Atwood

I’m pro-choice. I believe in a woman’s right to choose all kinds of things, things like:

  • what she wants in a partner
  • what she wears
  • what she studies (or if she wants to study at all)
  • what she does for a living
  • whether or not to have children and with whom
  • where to live
  • how to live
  • what to eat
  • who to love
  • how to present herself
  • what strangers she wants to talk to
  • how much alcohol she wants to drink
  • what she values
  • who to sleep with and when and how and why
  • where to be and at what time

I believe in her right to these choices without obstruction at the hands of oppression in the form of shame, violence, or laws that affect her because of her sex or her gender, not to mention her sexuality, her beliefs, her race, her ethnicity, her body, her choices, her history, her location, her performed femininity or lack thereof.

I especially believe in her right to these choices without facing the oppression rooted in fear that dominates the lives of so many women and girls I know, invading our days and diminishing our choices and our freedom. When I am afraid, I am not free. When women are afraid to leave the house at night or wear a certain outfit or leave a certain partner or report a certain assault or talk to certain people then: We. Are. Not. Free.

Women all over the world are locked up; we are locked up by social norms, violent partners, violent media and the internalized misogyny pushed upon us every day.  We are locked up because we are afraid of the world that wants to belittle us, starve us, assault us, rape us, and kill us.  This fear is not unmerited.

Between 85 and 90% of those suffering from eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, are women.

One out of every five women in the United States has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

One in four American women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.  An average of three American women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.

I could go on.

The fact is we all know women who have starved themselves, who have been assaulted, who have been beaten.

Being born a woman is a dangerous business.  Being born a woman of color or a woman living in poverty is especially dangerous.  The feminist social justice movement isn’t about swooping in and saving low-income women, women of color, or young women. It’s about giving all women freedom from fear, access to choices.

When me or you or our sisters or our mothers or our friends are afraid we are not free.  Women deserve freedom.  Women deserve better.

I am pro-choice and I hope that someday women will have the choice to set themselves free.

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One Response to “On Being A Woman and Afraid”

  1. Michelle

    This is profound and so true. We do deserve better. Thank you for being the kind of young woman who is working to help make that possible.