Choosing To Be Woman

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I’ve never described myself as a “feminist” because of the negative connotations chained to the word, however there was no more hiding my feminism when I became an advocate for the efforts of the Free The Nipple movement, a movement aimed at decriminalizing the (female) nipple in the 37 states where it is still illegal to be topless. Free The Nipple is a film-in-progress by Lina Esco aimed to “end this insane war on women’s boobs.” I personally think this step towards increasing gender equality and decreasing gender stereotypes is impressive and long overdue.

I always see posts on Facebook and other social media outlets regarding the idea of redefining the “perfect body”  and changing how women are portrayed in mass media. Many people post inspiring stories or confident pictures of so called “plus size” women posing comfortably in their own skin, and I for one am all about it.

I would like to see more images of women of all sizes portrayed in the media because “female” is not a cookie cutter image confined to a USPS “it fits, it ships” box, but rather female comes in all shapes, sizes, proportions, dimensions, lengths, widths and heights.

However, to redefine the “ideal” female image isn’t my goal. I want to strip naked the gender stereotypes that go along with being woman and the way we see and allow our body to be seen is just one stop on my journey to gender equality.

We promote the idea of pride and discourage the idea of shame when it comes to loving your body, yet when we go to show off our inherited masterpieces sculpted to perfection, perfection of our own accord, we are restricted by the gender stereotypes cast upon us by the shadow of The Man. The Man who says we can either show off our bodies or maintain our respect, but not both. The Man who determined what lies on the female chest must be sheltered and hidden while what lies on his is allowed to golden in the light of the sun. The same Man who encourages slut-shaming for a woman’s actions and then turns around and high-fives the man who partakes in the same activities.

Some women work hard for the body they find suitable,  others are just blessed with a fortunate set of genes and others take pride in what they have no matter what anybody else thinks. This sense of pride deserves more than just a Facebook status. It deserves to be shown off without the connotation that the person showing it off is a sleaze, slut or whore. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean that she’s trading in her right to be respected for a greater sense of self-pride. It simply means she’s satisfied with what she has and she’s not going to mask it under clothes and ancient social norms.

You can either wear a mini skirt or be a CEO, rock a bikini on the beach or be a part of the PTO, sport a mid-drift or have a family, I’m calling bullshit on these ultimatums. It’s time to exterminate the idea that shedding our clothes means shedding our dignity. It’s time to put an end to slut-shaming. It’s time to disregard the idea that trading in our flats for stilettos means trading in our respect for degradation.

I can’t put it any better than these four lovely ladies from the Brave New Voices Grand Slam competition did when they said, “…but no matter what garments we wrap ourselves in a woman’s status as trick, treat or geek is not up for discussion. A woman dressing, acting, or being should be her choice, if a woman wants to wear a skimpy outfit, let it be her choice. If a woman wants to cover up, let it be her choice, and if I want to be a mother fucking monster, let it be, my choice.”

So if you got it, think you got it, know you got it, or don’t care if you have it – flaunt it, shake what your momma gave ya and #FreeTheNipple …or don’t, as long as it’s your choice.

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MIZ-SAM

As I’m sure everyone’s heard by now, Michael Sam, a DE for Missouri and an NFL prospect, announced he was gay making him the first openly gay player in the NFL (assuming of course that he isn’t deemed a distraction in the locker room and does in fact get drafted).

This post isn’t to talk about Sam’s announcement or what it means for his draft selection, because quite frankly I have no idea.

Okay fine, you caught me, I can’t go on without first saying that I am proud of Sam. I am proud of Sam but ashamed for our society that in 2014, Sam’s news is still considered news.

Okay but seriously, this post isn’t about Sam’s announcement.

It’s about the pride I felt and witnessed in the student body of my school today.

Westboro Baptist Church -I know what you’re thinking, “This outta be good” – came to protest at Mizzou today. I’m not even sure if they were just protesting at Mizzou, against Mizzou, for the termination of the NFL, against Sam or because somebody put pickles on their burger when they clearly asked for no pickles. Their signs were very clear: “God Hates Fags.” I mean its a logical and rational argument spelled out plain as day in the bible:

Leviticus 18: “The Lord said to Moses,  “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your GOD. You must not do as they do in Egypt, wHere you used to live, And you musT not do as thEy do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practiceS. You must obey my laws and be careful to Follow my decrees. I Am the Lord your God.  Keep my decreeS and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.”

See, clear as day.

Anywho, when the Mizzou student body got ahold of the information regarding Westboro’s plans to protest at our university, we began planning a counter-protest, Stand With Sam. In a matter of a few short hours of the Facebook page being created, the numbers of those planning to attend skyrocketed to hundreds and eventually thousands of students planning to come out and support Sam and tigers of all stripes.

Like promised, Westboro Baptist showed up today with their signs and a plan to save us from the fiery depths of hell, and as promised countless numbers of tigers, former tigers and Columbia patrons came out and formed a wall of support for our fellow Tiger.

As I drove past my fellow tigers standing in the cold temperature and bitter wind on my way home from work, I couldn’t stop the goosebumps from forming on my skin.

I parked my car and proudly joined the wall and smiled proudly as we swayed back and forth singing the alma mater and of course shouting a couple M-I-Z, Z-O-Us.

I’ve always loved my school but now I love my school for new reasons. I love my school for their support, courage and bravery. I love my school for sticking up for what they believe in. I love my school for proving that even though life’s hardships come with its fair share of people just waiting to tear you down, there is an even bigger amount of people waiting there to lift you back up. I love my school and fellow tigers for giving up their Saturday afternoon to stand in the freezing cold to prove their love and support.

It is with the utmost pride that I say: M-I-Z.

Language Doesn’t Define Beauty

I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday as most people do, and as I ate the many dips sprawled out on the coffee table I talked more with my friends who were over rather than watching the awful Seahawks scrimmage that was playing on the television. The game didn’t have my attention and the commercials weren’t even that funny.

Then a commercial came on that stole my attention. It was an ad for Coca-Cola that started out with a man riding a horse through an open field and a voice singing in the background, “Oh beautiful for spacious skies…” The singing in the background then changed to Spanish, and as the commercial progressed the song continued in different languages throughout to form a cohesive, beautiful piece.

After the commercial had ended all my friends had the same comments:

“That was really good.”

“I liked that one.”

“Very powerful.”

…Then I got on Twitter.

“This is America, speak English.”

“That commercial was a disgrace to America.”

“Hey Coke, get your shit together. This is Merica, we sing in English. Get right or get out.”

I should have known better than to get on twitter after such a commercial, because now the pride and patriotism that the commercial had me feeling was replaced by rage and frustration from the rude and ignorant tweets I came across on my timeline.

Am I the only one that missed the memo that English as a first language is a requirement for being deemed a true American? America doesn’t have an official language, so why are English-speakers pretentious enough to claim it as the one and only language of America and if you can’t speak it, well, then quite frankly we don’t have the means, time or patience to accommodate you.

I was unaware that assimilation was still a thing or that we decided to adopt the premise of Russia’s Russification idea and make every non-white, non-English-speaking “American” rid themselves of their cultural identity and first-language and then, and only then, may they free themselves of the quotation marks chained to their status as an American.

But what’s beautiful about that?

America’s beauty lies within its people, not their ability to speak English.

America’s beauty can be seen in the eyes of the farmer who wakes up at the crack of dawn to tend to his fields. America’s beauty comes from the mom who left familiarity behind in her home country with hopes to give her kids a better life. America’s beauty lies within the hearts of those chasing their idea of the American Dream, no matter their socio-economic status, language of choice, or place of birth.

Why some people believe that America closed its doors to immigrants after the 17th century is beyond me. As if America is no longer a melting pot of cultures, races, ethnicities and languages.

Whether your skies are spacious, espacioso, or spacieux, whether your waves of grain are amber, bursztyn, or kehribar, and whether your mountains are purple, porffor or purpuran, this country is beautiful and so are you.

Writing about writing

Whether you have wound up here accidentally from a Google search gone horribly wrong, are being held against your will and forced to read my blog or are genuinely interested in what I have to say, welcome.

I hope despite whatever act of God has brought you to my page that you take interest in at least something I have to say.

I was the nerd in high school who got giddy when handed essay prompts, and my biggest accomplishment remains to be the 99 percent I received on my critical analysis senior year (ask anyone, they’ll confirm this sad and embarrassing truth.) But personally, I have always found the hardest part about writing to be the beginning – racking your brain for a catchy hook, formulating that perfect thesis, or if provided enough artistic freedom, picking a topic.

However, I love to write, and I write all the time… if you call formulating a million different thoughts in your head to the sound of Kristen Bell’s voice reading a Gossip Girl post writing. That’s my issue. I have a million different trains of thought traveling around in my brain that I think would make for a cool poem, short story or blog post, but being the indecisive person that I am, I just can’t decide which of those thought trains to hop aboard.

And then I justify my actions, or lack there of, by telling myself that my thoughts are best kept squared away within the filing cabinet of my brain safe from judgement, criticism, challenge or dare I say it: change.

But screw that! I hope what I decide to write in future blog posts evokes enough emotion in you that it becomes the topic of discussion at your next family dinner. That would be cool.

“Hey mom, did you read that new blog post from Gabry… or maybe it’s Gary, I don’t really know about [insert blog post topic]. Can you honestly believe she thinks that [insert my opinion]. God, what an idiot.”

After all, some of the best writers are the ones that have caused the most controversy.

 

Oh and I believe I was threatened by my sister Emily Tyson to give her a shout out for helping me pimp out my blog. So thanks woman.