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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Don’t Be Scared Kids, It’s Just Feminism!

Now I know most of you must be thinking that this is not what a feminist looks like, but you’re wrong. Not all feminists are butch, bra burning tyrants. In fact, not even mostradical feminists could be described this way. I’ve received a lot of feed back from friends and family who have assumed that feminism and man-hating are one in the same. They thought this because this is what pop culture and stereotyping have taught them. This is why I’ve decided to write this piece on the humanistic idea that I live my life by. I’m going to clear the air and set the record straight for my generation.

Since I can remember I’ve been aware of the mistreatment of women and girls. I paid attention to history and listened to the news. I knew sexism was happening in third world countries and decades ago in the states but it took me sometime to understand that it is still present in our country. I understood feminism as something I could stand behind because it involved me. However I now know that is issue involves all of us. Feminism by definition is, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Now this doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Feminism isn’t about tearing men down, it’s about building women up.

So why is it that when we say that big scary “F” word at least half the room decides to roll their eyes? It’s because the images of the radical bra burning women of the 1960’s are still imprinted in our minds. Radicalism, violence, domineering women who are sexually liberated are all things that make us worry. We shake our heads because we’re afraid that these things can destroy our society. So we pass on the stereotypes. We hand them down to our children and share them with our friends, but it has to stop. When I was 16 my U.S. history teacher was giving a lecture on the women’s movement of the 1960’s. He explained in ignorance that Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique and huge advocate for women’s rights, was only a feminist because she was too “ugly” to get a man. My mouth hung open in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that he could stand there in front of young girls and preach that feminism was only used by homely sex starved women. But everyone laughed, they laughed at the struggles of the women who had come before them. They disregarded their blood, sweat, and tears all because it didn’t seem fashionable to praise them for their accomplishments.

It’s society that must be changed. It’s what boxes us all in and keep us separate from one another. Men feel it to, certain expectations of how to live and who to be simply for being born with an XY chromosome. Men and women are different but that doesn’t mean we can’t be equal. If you’re not a racist, can you really be a sexist? If you believe in equality for some then why can’t you believe in equality for all? It’s humanism, the belief that all humans regardless of sex, race, and sexual preference deserve equal opportunity and equal treatment. Do you believe in unity and collective power – in treating one another with love and respect? Well if you do, than congratulations because you my friend are a feminist.