The Divided States of America

I sat on a bench that ran along the north side of Ohio State’s legendary oval while I sipped my coffee and stared out across the green. It was a beautiful morning which was sure to turn into an idyllic spring day. But then suddenly something caught my eye. It was a sign, and after further concentration I noticed that there were more. Big, with blaring reds and pinks. I strained my eyes to see what they were displaying and then it hit me. The antiabortion crusaders had found their way back to our cheery campus to spread their hellfire and blame. They come every year to swarm the paths we women use to walk to class. Glaring and staring they shove their brutally vicious signs in our faces. Signs which carry grotesque images of aborted fetuses, as if that’s anyway to respect the dead. I wanted to scream loud enough for them to hear me. I wanted to run over to them and kick down their signs and make them see that I was right there and they wouldn’t scare me away. But I didn’t, instead I just watched. I let the blood boil up inside me and the tears well up in my eyes, and I sat.

I fumed silently the whole way home. I pressed my face to the Cota Bus window and closed my eyes. What are they still protesting against? Aren’t they winning? My inbox is constantly flooded with news about the attack on women’s health. Email after email telling me that my rights are slipping from my grasp. They scream at me and I scream back in protest, furiously signing every petition I can then throwing it out to a community that doesn’t care.

I got home and threw my keys on the counter. Digging frantically through my cupboard I found my tea and put the kettle on the stove. My phone buzzed from within my jacket pocket, “God, now what?” I read the received message and my mouth fell open. The Ethnic Studies building, Hale hall, had been defaced. This morning had brought with it more than a cool spring chill, it brought the realization of racism on our campus. At some point early this morning it was discovered that someone had spray painted “Long Live Zimmerman” on the side of the building.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Trayvon Martin case, get familiar, because it is quickly dividing our nation. Martin was a 17 year old black male who was shot and killed on his return to a gated community in Sanford FL, by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman described Trayvon as being “suspicious” because he was wearing a hoodie. Well, and he was black. After all there are no black families living in gated communities in this country. It’s a tragic case of racial profiling, a case that in this day and age shouldn’t be tolerated.

All politics and arguments aside, there was wrongful death. A young boy died because of his race and unfortunately that’s the reality of the situation. His grieving family, friends, and community must carry on his name as they strive for justice. I do not believe that George Zimmerman is an evil man, nor do I believe that his rash decision was completely his fault. Our society is a racist institution that sets both parties up for failure. Zimmerman was conditioned by the media and perpetual racist notions to believe that all young black men are criminals. This has got to stop. This separation of human beings based on their gender, race, and class. We are all people deserving of a community which loves, connects, and protects us, and quite frankly The United States isn’t it.

These battles being fought against marginalized races and ethnic groups as well as the ones being fought against women are tearing this country apart. Everyone has a side, or an agenda. We’re all seeking the benefit of one, but what ever happened to one for all? In this constant uphill march for equality and social justice are we losing our footing? When I stared at the picture of the defaced Hale hall I found myself lost in fear and confusion. In the same way I would respond to an adult bullying another, I want to step away from America and ask “Aren’t we too old for this?”

I’m sick of my own government attacking my rights as a woman, and even sicker of my brothers not standing up with me. I am sick racism and profiling, and overall ignorant behavior. No one loses in a society that is built upon equality. This is my country and I want it to be a safe place for everyone in it. I refuse to let oppression run my life and rip my community apart, I am standing up and demanding justice. It’s time for the Divided States of America to once again become United.

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It’s About to Be a…Wait, What?

They’re a mother’s worst fear and many a man’s fantasy. Hair pulling, eye poking, catty slaps and scratches, are all part of the horrific display of female on female aggression known as a girl fight. Girl on girl crime is nothing new, but it seems that in recent years it has escalated from bullying and back stabbing to a full on battle royal. I’m constantly hearing news stories about young girls who have actually video taped themselves brutally attacking their peers. This causes my jaw to drop and to ask myself, what the fuck? Could it be that these girls are getting ideas from watching sleazy gossip based shows like Basketball Wives or Bad Girl’s Club?  It seems pretty obvious that this is the case. American media is filled to the brim with reality television stars solving petty arguments with unnecessary ass beatings. It’s down right sick, and it’s influence on girls is just beginning.

I was in a girl fight once. Yep that’s right, I wasn’t always the passive non-confrontational girl that I am today. Back in ’07 I was known as a loud mouthed little punk who wasn’t afraid to prove how “tough” I was by talking shit to bigger girls. I’m not really sure how it started, and it doesn’t matter because it was probably really stupid. What I am for sure about however, is that, that girl was a good foot taller than me. I pulled her hair, I punched her in the left boob which was the only thing I could reach, and she gave me a fat lip. When they tore us apart I was still slapping and scratching wildly, only hitting the people who were trying to save my life. Her name was Blanca, she was sixteen and she beat my ass. Of course, as soon as I knew I was safe and away from her brick-like fists I began to puff up my chest. Screaming at the top of my lungs calling her every name in the book until she peeled down the street and away from the party. When I finally got home I cried, because I’m a lover not a fighter. The next morning I sat hunched over in my chair, smelling like sparks and camel lights, across the table from my mom at our favorite restaurant. Unholy and ashamed I tried to gum my brunch. I was dressed in a fancy holiday dress and heals all ready to see the matinee production of The Nutcracker . But my hair was slicked back into a greasy pony tail and my lip was huge and crusty with dried blood. It was the perfect time for my mom to say something supportive and motherly but instead she said, “Well Elizabeth, they’re all going to think that I beat you. I hope you’re happy with yourself.” I had never felt less like a lady or more aware of my brutish behavior.

Looking back on it, the clearest part of that whole experience was how much it hurt to get punched in the face. Not even two sparks and a natty ice can numb you completely. I think women are getting the wrong message. For some reason we believe that we have to be tough and assert dominance over our one another. We feel as though we have to demand respect and if it’s not given to us then we have to take it. This is all wrong. Women, by nature are tough. Let’s be serious here, we’re the tougher sex. I would love to see a man struggle through menstrual cramps or even child birth! We need to assert ourselves by speaking truthfully and honestly in a calm and grounded manner.

There is nothing more disgusting than violence and hate, these are what war and crime are created from. These poisons destroy community and togetherness, which in many societies are the very things that women are responsible for building. Anger is a weak emotion to have, it’s easy to fight in order to not feel. Acceptance and understanding are a lot harder to obtain. It takes a hell of a lot more strength to walk away rather than to fly off the handle and hit someone. The same goes for verbal disputes. It’s so animalistic and basic of us to assume the worst of someone rather than to stop and try to understand their side. Heartless rumors and statuses about why “you hate sluts” is immature and sick. Before you call another woman a slut remember how it felt when you were called one, before you call another woman a bitch think about how gross and degrading that term really is. We get kicked around enough by this world, we don’t need to kick each other too. When we hurt each other we’re destroying a supportive community of women that we all, even men, so desperately need. Uplift every woman and you, yourself will be uplifted.