Fighting the Good Fight

*Warning: Topics of sexual assault and violence discussed*

Alright folks, today’s post is brought to you by sugar, spice, and everything nice. This is, coincidentally, the ingredients to make the PowerPuff girls, sans chemical X, and they are a great segue into what today’s post is all about: Why I love being a lady. Before I dive into that, though, some housekeeping must be done. First, on March 8th it was International Women’s Day(IWD) and that is what prompted me to write this (that and my instagram poll). Next, it is important to note that not all ladies have a uterus. I happen to identify as a lady and have a uterus, it just worked out that way. To be honest, I’m don’t always identify as a lady, but I most certainly am a woman.

People’s ideas of what a woman is can get a little confusing. For example, Donald Trump thinks women are grab bags for his personal pleasure. *I watched copious amounts of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee last night and this post is also brought to you by her influence.* Other people’s definition of ‘woman’ means I dress in dresses and wear makeup and shriek at spiders. I mean sure I do those things, but that is not what makes me a woman. To me being a woman is something I know in my core. It is just as clear to me as the way I love. I can’t tell you how I know, I just know. Isn’t that exactly what love is? This imaginary feeling that comes over us and we can’t pinpoint its origin, but we feel it all the time.

That is how it feels to be a women. Possibly how it feels to be a man as well, but that is definitely not my area of expertise. So, when I got challenged with the task of writing down why I love being a woman, I felt a little overwhelmed. At first I thought, “my goodness… there are so many reasons”, but the more I looked at those reasons the more I realized those are just reasons I love being me. They had nothing to do with being a woman. That’s when it hit me.

The thing I love most about identifying as a woman is getting to identify as myself. It is the best way I know how to celebrate me. My gender pronouns are she/her/hers. Not to brag, but I have the same gender pronouns as Malala Yousafzai, Oprah, Laverne Cox, and Kesha. All women who have had battles I can’t even begin to imagine and that I feel proud to share even the tiniest amount of commonality. See, they have all worked hard to identify as themselves and now they are some of the most celebrated people. As a woman, I love to surround myself with other women who are just out there being who they are.

Of course, it is not always easy or safe to identify as a female. Girls around the world continue to be denied access to learning. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for defying the Taliban and demanding education. Tonya Harvey was shot and murdered for identifying as a transgender woman. According to GLAAD, almost 27 transgender females of color were murdered in 2017, just for being who they are. RAINN reports that college women are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than to be robbed. These are not things I love about being a woman; these are things I need to be aware of if I want to identify as a woman.

These hardships birth a new meaning to my identity; I am an ally above all else. To me, my identity as a woman is linked to my ability to fight the good fight. Malala was shot in the head and doesn’t stop fighting. Oprah had repeated sexual abuse from a young age and doesn’t stop fighting. Laverne Cox suffered from bullies and tried to end her life and doesn’t stop fighting. Kesha was sexually assaulted and went on to write the song “Praying” (which gives me chills very time I hear it) and doesn’t stop fighting.

That is the final reason I love being a woman. We never stop fighting. Day after day we continue to put on our boxing gloves and get in the ring. We call out the rapists and murderers. We march for our lives, whether it is on the streets of Washington or in our own backyards. I will continue to fight for women everyday I am lucky enough to do so.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,

They say they still can’t see.

I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
-Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. 

 

Finding Your Cheerleader

Hello all! I hope you are having a fantastic weekend and if you are not that is okay too. Sh*t happens, amiright?

In fact, I am right. That was a rhetorical question in case you didn’t know. I know I am right because as I type this the news is playing in the background… It is dark and depressing and sometimes makes me want to throw my television out the window. Except, I can’t because I am currently living in a furnished apartment, so the TV is technically not mine.

I am often asked why in the world I even watch the news? Most people have stopped, I know this. Heck, I stopped for a long while. Partially because I didn’t have cable in New York and partially because I knew if I watched it, it would only deepen my depression. For those of you that still can’t turn it on, don’t. Be selfish. That may sound like I am being mean and calling you out, but I am being 100% genuine here. The word selfish gets a totally bad rap, but I think it is something that needs to be discussed. When people think of the word selfish they often think of that episode of Friends where “JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD.” Neither do I… but I am talking about a different kind of selfish. The kind where your happiness comes first. It has to come first. If you don’t put your happiness ahead of others you won’t be able to give the world the best parts of you. So, technically it is a disservice to those your truly want to help. Don’t keep up with the world if you feel like you can’t. Sure, I like people to be informed, and more than that, I like people to feel as safe and in control as they can. This idea is proving to be difficult, because even when we turn off the TV we hop onto social media and see things like #icantbreathe #metoo and #shitholecountries trending.

Something we can control though, is how we decide to navigate this scary world. I try to navigate this world with laughter, “aww” moments, and deep deep breathing on a regular basis. I cry, often. No dry eyes over here! I love to cry. It is this sense of relief that is unlike any other. Sometimes I go for a run. Yesterday, I went for a run and ended up skipping/dancing down the street because my playlist was bumping. Most days I talk and I talk and I talk. On Sundays, I write. The important thing I would like to note with all of these activities is that none of them dismiss the bad. None of them let me hide from what is going on, I can’t push it under the rug. All of them help me to live in unison with the bad.

And while it does seem like I am very fixated on the bad stuff going on, I want to stress the importance of finding the good as well. As Timon and Pumbaa once said “ya gotta put your past behind ya… Hakuna Matata.” Of course they were escaping, not living with the bad. They tried to push it under the rug and we all know how that ended up. In world of Simba’s.. be a Nala. That was a weird Lion King tangent… anyways… All I am saying is that when I watch the news I also see things like penguins being weighed at the zoo and a town rallying to help a flood victim in need. There is good all around us, we just have to keep an eye out for it, and if we don’t see the good, the good can be us.

I often think back to the day after the election where I couldn’t move, paralyzed in fear. It was the same exact feeling I got when I took self defense. At the end of the class, the only way to graduate was to fight a man in a huge protective suit. As soon as my fight started he grabbed my legs and I fell to the ground. I definitely blacked out for 5 seconds. The class actually tried to prepare us for that moment, but somehow I was still in pure shock. I couldn’t move. When I came to, all I could hear was my coaches yelling “FIGHT BACK, SARAH! FIGHT BACK!” Through my fear I pushed him off of me, wailed on his head just long enough to escape. I was the last one to fight and naturally I spent our graduation party crying, but it was the most freeing moment of my life. Through the tears and the anxiety I fought back.

It isn’t easy to fight back. Some days the bed calls my name and I want to lift the sheets over my head. Some days depression whispers my name and I don’t want to shower, or brush my teeth, or move. Some days are the days I know I have to fight back. It wouldn’t be possible without the cheerleaders though. My family and friends who are always encouraging me to get back up. We all need a cheerleader in our life when we black out for those 5 seconds to wake us up and tell us to fight back. If you don’t have a cheerleader currently, that is what I am here for.

My dear reader, if you are paralyzed on the ground right now “FIGHT BACK! FIGHT BACK!” and if you can’t fight back right now, I’ll be here to keep cheering you on until you are ready.