Finally! An app for men to track my period! What a fun and not-at-all invasive way for men I work with to stay the fuck away from me when I’m a raging, fire-breathing, bleeding bitch!
If you’re a man with a smart phone, I highly recommend this totally handy and appropriate app, uPMS, to track my period! If you’re a woman with a vagina that bleeds, tell your guy friends and male coworkers about this app! It’s easy to use, just like women, and sends you fun, friendly alerts to stay the fuck away from me, dismiss anything I say or do as irrational estrogen-charged temporary insanity, and for sure not try to fuck me for at least the next few days, unless you’re freaky and like it like that.
This app can really ease the tension in cases where men are put in the unfortunate position of having to coexist with women. Go ahead and do the whole office a favor and report upcoming women to avoid in weekly memos. Integrate your tracking calendar into the weekly schedule. Auction days off to the highest bidder when you know the boss lady is bleeding. The advantages of uPMS are almost as vast as your intrusion of her privacy!
Track my menstrual cycle now! Download the app today! It’s free! And fun and easy, just like me… unless I’m on my period!
If I had to guess how I’ll die, it will probably be at the hands of a jealous ex-lover, or a man who I’ve denied. A man who will not take no for an answer.
I wouldn’t be the first to go this way.
Which is why I’m writing this now (July 2016), while I’m still safely overseas, oceans away from my ex-lovers and their vindictive impulses. Just in case.
Why do I suppose? Because, already twice in eighteen months, two different men have shown up uninvited at my door, intoxicated and distraught, because I told them that I didn’t want to see them.
But they still needed to see me.
Which is why twice, in the last eighteen months, I’ve locked and blocked my door with furniture and fortified myself (and my roommate) inside, stayed up all night, wide-eyed and silent… watching, listening and waiting… wondering if my intruder might return, if so, for what… forming escape plans, just in case the door I’ve fortified should fail… or prevail, therefore, trapping me inside, should he decide to start a fire, forcing me to find an alternate way out, say, through my only window… casing the place for any object that could double as a weapon if need be, or a shield, and which shield could deflect a bullet, should he exercise his right to bear a firearm. Knowing all too well what he is capable of, sweating bullets wondering of what he’s willing.
Twice in the last year and a half, I’ve felt unsafe in my own home. Feared for my life. (And my roommate’s. I’m honestly surprised she’s stuck around.)
But surely it’s my own fault. I brought these men into my life. I brought this fate upon myself. I was asking for it, I guess you could say. I went out fishing for a beast to take the bait, cast my line into a sea of hungry fish and caught myself a few too many, with appetites too great for me to satisfy. I did that.
But the truth is, these men aren’t monsters, just guys. And I didn’t bait them; I just dated them. And when I meet them, they’re respectful, reasonable men. People change. The sense they speak when we first meet, the respect they show me as they get to know me, the trust they earn from me, the love I learn to give them—go away. And in that order.
In my limited experience so far “playing the field,” I’ve seen these same patterns repeat in many men (not all, but most), to varying degrees (not typically to this extreme). The same patterns that could potentially result in my defeat, if they had played out any further.
Insecurity. Obsession. Possessiveness. Entitlement.
I’ve been web searched, phone stalked, and physically followed. Sometimes by men that I’m still seeing. Sometimes long after I’m through seeing them, but they’re not finished seeing me.
One threatened me with suicide if I left him. Men beg me and blame me. They tell me they need me, they cannot go on without me, that their well being, happiness, security, sobriety—depend on me.
Grown fucking men.
I’ve had to reassess my expectations of what is “normal” conduct for these men. The men I date. The men I don’t. The men I work with. Men that I serve coffee to. And, frankly, men in general. So if I seem “too slow to trust” you, fucking sue me. I am not withholding anything from you that I am due to give. And just in case you’re still not clear, I’ve composed this handy, comprehensive list of all the things I owe you:
I’ve also composed a list of things that you might think I owe you, but I definitely don’t, to avoid any further confusion, including but not limited to:
I think the average man probably knows I don’t owe him these things, going in. I think it all becomes unclear once I’ve dared to share these things with him, because it’s not until I “fail to deliver” them when they’re demanded of me that their “rightful owner” then comes into question. So let me clarify, again:
Just because I gave it to you once—or any number of times—doesn’t mean it’s yours to keep. I am not taking anything away from you, as it was never yours. I was, still am, and always will be the only rightful owner of my privacy, time, space, attention, body and consent. My love is only ever mine to give. Just because I was willing to give it to you then doesn’t mean that I am now, or will be tomorrow. I, the barista, the woman, reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. At any time. For any reason.
And, again, I’m not the only one who’s fallen victim to this ugly pattern. The same is true of many of my friends, who I won’t name. Same story, different target. Boy meets girl. Boy thinks God or some other higher power put her here, on this earth, to cross his path, for him to love. That she was fated to be loved by him. Belong to him. Be saved by him. Her purity preserved, by him. To be his, and only his. The angel Heaven sent him. At his command. “Yes, Master, as you wish.”
But we are not your angels. We were never “meant to be” with you. We were not put here on this earth to serve you. We’re not damsels, or dogs, for you to rescue. We’re not instruments of your agenda. We’re not property for you to own. We’re not trophies for you to win.
And for the record, this way of thinking is by no means confined to the male mind. Anyone, of any sex or gender, can act possessively of anyone, of any sex or any gender. My experience only reflects one tiny slice of a vast and intricately layered cake.
I myself have had my feet in either shoe. I’ve been on both sides of this story.
I’ve been the beggar. I’ve been the desperate, possessive one. I’ve been the one who wanted someone more than someone wanted me. I’ve been the one not willing to let go when my first love wanted to leave. I’ve been the one who thought my life could not go on without him in it. I’ve been the one who threatened him that I would die if he would leave me. Which I didn’t.
If I had, it would have been at my own hands. Not his. Just like the man who threatened me with suicide is still alive and kicking eighteen long months later. Which I know because he texts me, to this day.
Anyway, I’ve been there. That’s how I know, that isn’t love.
The thing I was trying to hold so tight was already long gone. If I would rather have him stay with me whether or not he wanted to, against his will, that wasn’t love. Keeping someone somewhere they don’t want to be—that isn’t love. That’s just captivity.
Love isn’t something you convince someone to give. Love isn’t something that you can extract by force, if you just squeeze a person hard enough. Humans are not tubes of toothpaste. Love can only be given if—and only as long as—a person is willing to give it. It’s theirs to share with you, if and when they want to, and you to accept, if and when you want it.
Nobody is obligated to take your love just because you’re willing to offer it. That’s why love is such a risk. That’s why it’s scary. It’s not always reciprocated. And even if it is, right now, it might not be forever. You have to know that going in.
I had to find that out the hard way. So do you.
And sure, when Romeo shows up uninvited at Juliet’s balcony, it’s “romantic.” Just like Alladin swooping Jasmine off of hers to ride his magic carpet to a whole new world. But when my ex or current shows up at my door, unwanted at that time and uninvited, it’s just threatening and scary. Because Shakespeare and Disney failed to make a critical distinction: that their men were only so “romantic” under the particular condition that the women who received them actually wanted and trusted them to be there. I did not.
The same two suitors that Shakespeare and Disney deem “romantic” could have shown up at the same two balconies, and with the same, most romantic intentions, but if it had been my balcony, the story would have ended differently. Because in a thing called #reallife, the woman decides if the man on her balcony is a harmless romantic or, more likely, a total creep. But despite my calculated lack of balcony, Romeo still won’t leave me alone. Just bust right in through my door like they own the place, to claim the happily ever after I denied them.
Cause Disney said so.
But it’s no wonder we’ve all fostered this possessive sense of love. Just look at Valentine’s Day… “Be my Valentine.”
The love they’re selling you is selfish love. Just listen to any love song. “I Won’t Share You” by The Smiths. “All of Me“ by Billie Holiday. “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes. Some of my favorite songs, and written with love, no doubt. But the notion that anyone should give you ALL their love is fucking ludicrous. Nobody owes you all their love. Nobody owes you any, for that matter.
So to the men who wanted All of Me,
You want too much. I only have exactly what I have to give. If I can’t give you every moment of my life, if I don’t want to be your wife, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. Let me love, but let me live. If you dignify me my freedom, my space, my time, my privacy—maybe I’ll be more willing to share them with you, and trust you with them.
Next time you open the door to your heart to let somebody in, don’t slam it shut and deadbolt it behind them. Never lock your lover in. Love is an ever open door. If you love someone enough to let them in, love them enough to let them go.
And when you tell me you’ll give me everything I need, don’t tell me what I need. Because all I really need is you to let me be the one to make that call.
To me, the truest way for me to love is knowing you’re not mine, but showing you I love you anyway. Unconditional love is undemanding. It’s selfless. It’s not a stamp of ownership. It’s not a binding contract. It’s not a ball and chain. It’s not an anchor. It’s not a claim for you to stake. Unconditional love remains there, just the same, whether or not it is returned.
I had to learn to love selfishly before I could learn to love sincerely. Maybe you disagree. So let’s agree to disagree. If selfish love is what you have to sell me, I’m not buying.
Not Yours, Truly,
We all bleed. All of us. But only women bleed from our vaginas. Naturally. As we’re the only ones who have them. And whereas men bleed to death, women bleed for life.
Our [women’s] lives are punctuated by a roughly-every-monthly period, a week of hiding. The customary lengths we go to conceal any and all evidence of this completely natural cycle—risking ruining the plumbing just to flush our bloody tampons somewhere safely out of sight, wrapping our pads in toilet paper so the men who share that bathroom can maintain the very false illusion that blood is not currently gushing from our nether regions. Because, somebody else’s eyes might see our blood as shameful and disgusting.
But all Allison Felt (known here as Allie-G) sees in her blood is ink to paint with. A new medium to create with. Art. And while I’m here hiding my vagina acting like it doesn’t bleed, Allison is painting and publicizing dozens of vaginas, with her own menstrual blood. Because fuck hiding who you are. We should be proud to be living, breathing, bleeding women with working bodies. Allie fearlessly shows a woman’s cycle for what it really is, which is something beautiful, something to be admired, something to be proud of. Period.
Behold, the vagina, universal and unique to every woman, painted below by Allie-G, in her own blood.
“I created this vagina compilation by collecting my menstrual blood in a diva cup and using it to paint a series of vaginas, each entirely unique. I photographed them and arranged them into one composition, on Photoshop. To each their own interpretation, but to me it’s about reclaiming the vagina as a symbol of pride and strength.
By using menstrual blood, the medium becomes part of the message, expressing that women’s blood should not be a source of shame or embarrassment, but rather a celebration of its life-giving power.
Vaginas are natural, beautiful, and complex beings, just like the women they belong to. They are not simply sexual objects or delicate flowers. Through this piece I aim to show vaginas in a raw bold light, displaying their unique beauty and individuality in a way that is quirky and simple, yet has an underlying important message. This design is about encouraging women to love their vagina just the way it is and acknowledge the power and control that it gives them. Vaginas are ours to own.”
I want to start by thanking you for flooding my Facebook news feed with ads asking me if my car qualifies for Uber. It doesn’t. Nor does my cell phone, being as it is an ancient relic from a time when GPS and Uber apps didn’t exist. So no, I won’t be making thousands of dollars a month driving for you any time soon. But even if my car did qualify, and even if I did have GPS, I still wouldn’t apply.
You’re probably wondering why.
A friend of mine started driving for Uber. The first few rides were everything a nervous new driver could hope for—polite passengers, friendly conversation, respect from total strangers. But her third ride is precisely why women nationwide are not driving for you.
My friend, a fine-looking young woman, accepted ride number three. The man sat in the back of her car. She started driving. He started playing with her hair. She told him to stop, which he ignored. He told her he was drunk and on drugs. He whispered in her ear, “Show me your tits. Give me your pussy.” He kissed her neck. She told him to stop. He didn’t. When they arrived at his destination, he did not exit the car. She opened her door, hoping he would do the same. He did. When he got out, she slipped back in, locked all her doors and fuckin dipped.
He gave her a zero-star rating. She reported the incident in an email, since you have no phone number to call, and asked to have the man’s rating removed, which you refused. This lowered her rating from five stars to three, due to her denying a strange, intoxicated man her tits and pussy. But her job isn’t to give her tits and pussy. That’s not the service you provide. Unless maybe I’ve been misinterpreting your use of the word “rides.”
So no, I won’t be signing up to confine myself alone in a vehicle with a stranger any time soon. My safety is not for sale, and no monthly sum of money is enough to justify that constant risk. Although an article on fastcompany.com points out that, “App-based services allow drivers to carry a lot less money, diminishing the potential for theft,” (Greenfield), the potential for assault remains all too real. Women are targeted regardless of the cash they carry. Women’s bodies are a currency of their own, and pursued as such.
In my friend’s case, it could have been much worse. What if he had been armed? Weapons aren’t always used to kill. Weapons force victims to submit to someone’s will, against their own. Most people would choose “Give me your money” or “Give me your pussy” over “Give me your life.” And, voila, another sexual assault. It’s that easy, guys! All you need is a gun.
Uber, I’m not blaming you for the society you were born into. Women have been sexually targeted by (some, not all) men since the dawn of civilization. It’s not your fault women face a disproportionate risk, but it is your responsibility to accommodate for it. The service you provide puts women in a more unsafe position, and you owe it to those women to take any measure you can to prevent such an assault. Perhaps you could install audio recorders, video cameras, and/or some kind of Life-Alert device in vehicles to notify somebody when a driver is at risk, and track their location. If you want more women, offer them an equal opportunity as men, to safely earn an income without having to wonder if their next passenger will be their next attacker. Until then, do me a favor and don’t ask me to drive for you again.
And it pains me to say this, because I so love being barefoot. Wearing shoes just doesn’t feel… the same. I want to feel every speck of gravel, sand and broken glass beneath the raw skin of my feet. I want to experience the wetness of the earth, and splash my naked feet in every passing shore or puddle. I want to squish the mud between my toes. I want to feel the heat of the pavement penetrate directly into my feet, burning them with stimulation.
But the truth is, the same beautiful earth I yearn to feel licking and burning my bare feet is also the host of many hazards, to which my naked feet are highly vulnerable. I learned this the hard way. Everyone’s had the occasional careless encounter with a splinter or a shard of broken glass. Uncomfortable, but no big deal. No harm done, on the long run. Some occasional, minor irritation is inevitably fated for your feet, considering how frequently you use them.
But the real danger lies in the great outdoors, which is full or foreign substances and objects, unbeknownst to you and your delicate and unsuspecting feet, but which your feet are sure to find, if you forget to wear your shoes.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go outdoors, don’t get me wrong. Nature exists for you to explore, discover and experience, that’s why evolution gave you feet to, to walk with, but Mother Nature is a temple shared by many, and there’s no telling who’s tread the path you walk before you, or what they’ve left behind. So go, immerse yourself in nature, but be responsible. Wear shoes. Protect yourself.
And you can be as free and naked as you please, everywhere except your point of impact. So strip down, by all means, but keep your boots on. Being naked in nature is a basic human right. But whatever you do, don’t get naked and barefoot at the ruins of a demolished dump in Albany and blindly step on something invisibly embedded in some ivy that penetrates your foot with all the force of your entire body weight, which hurts a lot on impact, and continues hurting well over a week, immobilizing you and forcing you to finally apply for health insurance and seek legitimate medical care, or risk losing your foot forever.
And trust me, I’m the last person to encourage doing any of these things. I avoid both shoes and hospitals at almost any cost. I’ve spent the first 23 years of my life avidly neglecting these responsibilities. That’s how I figured out they’re so important. So take it from me, the girl who impaled her foot on a what I can only hope wasn’t a used needle or rusty nail that almost cost me my ability to venture out into nature ever again.
In the past, I’ve stubbornly always relied on the pull-out method, which can seem like a sound alternative to the barefoot-enthusiast still in denial of the very real risks attached. Which you’d think I would have learned the first time I treked barefoot through the same abandoned dump, through sand, debris and dirty water, predictably resulting in a gnarly gash at the base of my left heal. I remember thinking, “I should be more careful next time… maybe keep my shoes on.
Which I did not, predictably resulting in the stab wound to the same spot on the opposite foot. And whereas the pull-out slash soak-in-baking-soda slash minor-home-surgery-reopening-with-needle-to-remove-debris-still-trapped-in-wound method was effective on the minor surface scrape, the same method would have failed my potentially-tetanus-infested possibly-fatal-if-left-untreated-accidental-right-foot-piercing. Because although the object did, indeed, pull out, I shudder to think what it might have left behind, and who else’s feet it may have penetrated prior to penetrating mine.
So if you must go traipsing naked in the woods, or overgrown abandoned dump, or any other pointy-object riddled territory, aka anywhere outside your house, make sure you keep your shoes on. Immerse yourself in the ecstasy of the great outdoors, but know that space is shared by filthy, disease-infested strangers.
And don’t forget your socks.
If you are capable of speaking but remain incapable of being heard, it is because you are doing one or more of the following things wrong. If you want to overcome your #TalkBlock, check all boxes that apply and correct yourself accordingly.
- Are You a Woman? Are you visibly, identifiably, physically female?
The first thing you probably did wrong was being born a girl. This was one of the first and wrongest choices that you’ve ever made. Typical. Women are always wrong. At least you got that right.
But don’t fret. This condition can be corrected. The more female you sound and appear, the less likely people are to hear you. Try looking a little bit less feminine, and lowering your voice. Or try composing a written message instead, using one of those revolutionary BIC “For Her” pens. Speaking verbally in person can be distracting because your female physical presence will inevitably steal the show, leaving your message, as usual, ignored. Surely ink on paper poses less of a distraction. Although, without the tits and ass attached, your message may go entirely unnoticed.
- Are You Speaking To A Man?
This was undoubtedly your next biggest mistake. Men are statistically the least likely to hear you, whoever you may be. Try presenting your message in the form of an ESPN report or sports commentary. Or booty call.
Most men don’t hear these words. The more entitled the man, the more immunity he’s built to your denial, and the more his ears have adapted to filter out these words. Don’t even bother.
- Are You Saying What You Think or How You Feel?
Unless you are a man, what you think and how you feel mean nothing, and no one wants to hear. Just stop. If you are a woman, opinions are for men to have, and you to live with.
- Do The Words You’re Saying Simply Have No Value?
Did you answer yes to the first question (Are you a woman)? If you are a woman, most people can safely assume the words you’re saying are a) wrong, b) stupid or c) otherwise completely valueless. Try saying the same words, as a man, or finding a man to say them for you, so that your words will not only be audible, but also indisputably true and correct, wise, and undeniably profound.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to share / ask. EspressYourself is owned and operated by a woman, so she’ll be sure to actually hear you.
I recently read about a lioness with the roar and mane of a male lion. The belief is that she, and a few other known female lions, have adopted these male attributes because they give them an evolutionary advantage. These ladies look and sound like males, making them more of a threat, and therefore better able to protect their young. It’s nice to know other species adhere to the same patriarchy we do. In any case, it made me wonder what male attributes I have adopted that might give me some societal advantage. (When I say “male attributes,” I don’t necessarily mean innately male traits. I sometimes refer to attributes society prescribes to and associated with men. Let the stereotypes ensue.)
TALK LIKE A MAN
PLAY LIKE A MAN
Player. Not slut. Not whore. Note the distinction. I’m also known to be a real “gentleman.” I hold doors open for anyone, regardless of their gender. It’s called common courtesy.
MY FLAT CHEST
It’s no secret that I have small breasts. I spent years in denial, waiting for my boobs to bloom. Following years were spent despising women with big breasts. Which seemed to be most women. However, recent years have been spent loving my breasts just as they are. And whereas some women are barely seen or heard behind their breasts, my flat chest makes the rest of me more visible. If small breasts mean people take me more seriously, then yes, they give me an advantage. Sadly, we live in a world where big breasts tend to distract us from the women they’re attached to.
MY HULK HANDS
Don’t be fooled by my spaghetti arms, because they carry hands of steel. As a 9-month-old baby I was known by my parents to lift large, heavy objects. True story. I can shred chicken with my bare fingers, fresh out of the oven. As a barista, my fingertips are no longer affected by temperature. My nails are long, thick, and hard, not unlike the perfect cock. I am a hazard to touch-screen technology. My hands are tough, cracked, callused, muscular and meaty. Manly hands, one might say, but nonetheless, a woman’s touch. Whatever that means.
MY HOBBIT FEET
Similarly to my hulk hands, my hobbit feet are fortified beneath impenetrable calluses, extending clear across the bottom of each foot, rendering shoes unnecessary. Whereas women may be known to wear their hearts on their sleeves, I wear my soles on my bare feet. Whether my refusal to wear shoes resulted in the subsequent toughness of my feet, or the toughness of my feet predisposed me to prefer not to wear shoes remains unknown. I drive, climb boulders and walk my dog barefoot. Born in the year of the monkey, my hobbit feet have also been deemed monkey feet on behalf of their extraordinary grip. I wear size ten. You know what they say about a woman with big feet? …Nothing. Because the men get all the press.
Dear Drunk Boy Lying Next to Me on Couch,
I drank too much tonight. You did too. This is a party. That’s what we were supposed to do. You tried to kiss me after my last shot, but I said no. I told you it was wrong to come onto me just because I’m fucked up. I’ve been sober with you dozens of times, and you’ve never made a move. So why tonight?
Is it because I needed to lay down? Is lying down a universal cue for any man to lay with me? Did you interpret my intoxicated state as an open invitation? It isn’t. You assumed, and you were wrong. And when I told you no, you didn’t stop. And I lay here, pretending to be sleeping, just to see how far you’ll go with a girl that you believe to be unconscious. I guess I should count myself “lucky” I’m lucid enough to stop you, if I need to.
But “luckily” for me, you don’t go that far. You keep your dick in your pants. But your hands… You hold me like I’m yours to hold. You pet me, like an animal. Except, unlike an animal, my coat isn’t attached. You take it off. You feel me up. You touch my skin against my will. Without consent. Without permission. And unlike all the women who are too drunk to say no, I said no, and you still did.
So why am I surprised? Maybe I’m surprised because you seem like a nice boy. Because you seem respectful when you’re sober. Because you don’t act sexist. Because you don’t act like a player. Because on the spectrum of men, you seem better-than-average. A gentleman, even. So to think that you, a respectful, better-than-average boy, who I thought I could trust, still feels entitled to touch me against my will, unsettles me.
It scares me.
But that isn’t what surprises me the most. You touching me without consent — to be expected. You, a man, taking advantage of a woman at a party when she’s drunk — standard procedure. Keeping your hands off my body is my responsibility, not yours. I guess I should thank you for reminding me. I guess this is what I get for being female. Why should your persistence come as a surprise? Who am I to deny you permission?
So that isn’t what surprises me the most. You holding me, caressing me and petting me, kissing my neck. You, the nice boy, violating me. What surprised me most was when you held my hand. Because it was so sweet. Because it was so innocent. Because it didn’t seem malicious. Because it seemed less like aggression or possession and more like loneliness. It confused me because, for a second, it felt like you were just as vulnerable as me.
Maybe you’re not a monster. Maybe you just want somebody to be close with. Maybe you don’t know how else to be close with me. Maybe you are a nice boy, after all, just lonely. If you are, the physical closeness you’re forcing isn’t what you’re looking for, and forcing it won’t help you find it. You want somebody who wants you too.
Maybe you’re scared to ask permission because you’re scared that I’ll say no. Scared I don’t want you. Scared that I’ll deny you. But I can say no either way, and you not asking me won’t stop me, just like me saying no didn’t stop you. And even if I didn’t say it, the absence of a no is not a yes. The yes is not implied. Implied consent does not exist. Sleeping is not implied consent. Being single is not implied consent. Being available is not implied consent. Me being drunk is not implied consent. Me looking nice tonight is not implied consent. Me being female is not implied consent. You being drunk is no excuse.
Just because you want it doesn’t mean it’s yours to take. Maybe your chances would be better if you asked.
PS. Joke’s on you. I’m covered in scabies.
This fall, Bill Nye spoke up about abortion. A lot of people have extremely different things to say about it. Although, until recently, most of the people speaking up, or at least the ones shouting the loudest, have been rich white men, naturally, who possess the most power and influence. So it’s always reassuring to me when somebody of influence (say, Bernie Sanders or Bill Nye) speaks up for the ones who are not dignified a voice. In this case, women.
But if an influential rich white man, of the highest social standing, like Bill Nye, can say that it’s okay for women to have abortions, why can’t I? Am I any less entitled to that opinion because I’m a woman? Because I have a womb? Because I’m the one who’s body is in question? Because I’m the one who has to decide if I can or I can’t or I should or I shouldn’t or will or I won’t have this child that I can’t afford to support, that I’m not prepared to nurture in the way a child needs and deserves? So why should I have anything to say about it… right? The fate of my life as women is for rich white men to decide, and me to live with.
In Public Speaking, my professor, a profound and deeply inspirational woman, (bear with me on this tangent) emphasized the importance of persuasive rhetoric—broken down into pathos, logos, and ethos—ethos being the credibility we bring to our argument, as speakers. For our final, we presented a persuasive speech on any topic of our choice. Two students spoke in favor of the illegalization of abortion. One was a wealthy white male, conservative. The other was a young Latina woman, single mother of one. Between the two of them, the latter had all the ethos. She had all the credibility because she spoke from personal experience, unlike the other, who spoke from ignorance.
But this year, women are finally speaking up, and so am I, even though this news will come as a surprise to some, and an unwelcome one to many. I had an abortion. A year and a half ago, at the end of a bad relationship. My boyfriend had already left me. I hadn’t known that I was pregnant, and it was not a healthy pregnancy. I was underweight. I had been smoking and drinking during. I had continued taking birth control, not knowing I was pregnant. In all likeliness, I would have miscarried, but I didn’t want to leave that fate to chance. I couldn’t care for a baby. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to be tied to my ex, and nothing anchors you to someone like a child.
My ex begged me to keep it. He told me he’d take care of it. Even after leaving me, he wanted me to carry his child inside me for nine months just to hand it over to him and let him raise—or rather, neglect and verbally abuse the kid, like he did me. If I had kept it, I would never want my ex in contact with my child, or in my child’s life in any way. But who am I—a woman—to deny my child’s father custody? Keeping it would have meant condemning myself and an unborn child to a life I wanted to protect us from.
I know my relatives eventually will see this. Some of them will be disgusted and ashamed. Maybe some of them will have something to say to me about it. Or maybe they’ll just call my mom or dad. Maybe they’ll tell them that they’ve failed as a parents, or I’ve failed as a daughter and deserve to be disowned. Maybe they’ll just unfriend me on Facebook, or cut me out of their lives, or stop including my name in Christmas cards addressed to the rest of my family. Maybe some of them will be confronted by a reality they never thought they’d face. Maybe some of them will question their beliefs. Maybe some of them won’t give a fuck. Maybe some of them will be proud of me for doing the right thing. To each their own.
But to whoever’s reading this, and whatever you believe, this is just to say that I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry I didn’t have a kid I couldn’t raise. I’m not sorry I didn’t bear the baby of a bad man. I’m not sorry I decided not to fight an unfit father for custody of a kid I didn’t want him to have. I’m not sorry I ended a pregnancy that was threatening my health. I’m not sorry I chose my life, and I’m not sorry for how my choice makes you feel. It wasn’t your choice to make, and I’m not sorry you didn’t make it for me.
As far as cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, one might want to consider how many more abortions the clinic prevents by providing contraception than the number of abortions they perform. Shutting down Planned Parenthood would only result in more unplanned pregnancies.
As a friend and loyal customer Michael Vargo so eloquently put it, we “all have points of view that come from personal experience. And that [we] feel strongly about them shows how much [we] care. Let’s all make that assumption about the other “side”. They are not villains and we are not saints. We all just people.” Many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are the same ones defending guns, and they raise a valid point about gun laws, that restricting our legal rights to possessing guns will do nothing to stop people who want guns from getting them. The same goes for abortions. Criminalizing abortions won’t prevent women who need them from getting them, it will only increase their risk of getting sick or infected from an operation performed improperly (which many will be if women are forced to resort to their own means of aborting pregnancies without the services provided by PP).
If Planned Parenthood had not been available to me when I discovered I was pregnant, I would have still sought an alternative. Without Planned Parenthood, I would have had to resort to a) somehow self-inducing or b) illegally obtaining a pill or operation from some other source. If abortions were illegal, I would be a criminal, assuming I was able to survive.
Criminalizing abortions will only result in more criminals, more babies abandoned at their birth, more under-privileged children whose mothers lack the means to support them, more mothers who would otherwise have been able to provide for themselves but no longer can due to the financial burden of their child, and more women dead or injured from improper, unsafe abortions.
Before I found out I was pregnant, I never thought I would have an abortion. I never thought that I would be in that position. I never expected to have to make that decision. Being in that position, being faced with that decision changed my mind. And nobody can claim to know from the outside, but I know now, my choice was right, and I’m not sorry for it.
When you say #ProLife, consider the quality of life. The quality of the child’s life. The quality of the mother’s. Nobody’s forcing women who don’t believe it’s right to have abortions to have abortions. But who are you to deny others their right to make that choice?
— Grad Girl Problems (@gradgirlprobs) August 4, 2015
— FemBot3000 (@queenfembot) December 1, 2015
Abortion is not a bad word. #ShoutYourAbortion
— Macleod Sawyer (@mxsawyer) December 7, 2015