This summer, I gained a new perspective on relationships and women’s empowerment. There are two main reasons for the feminist thoughts in my head – a teacher and the internet.
In the beginning of summer, I was talking to a teacher about relationships and the term “whipped.” (I had told her stories about friends who had let their partners control their every move because they felt that they were “too in love to care.”) Being the amazing teacher she is, she said:
“You have the vagina in this relationship. A man needs you. Regardless if it is for sex, love, or procreation.”
As raunchy as it may be, it’s true: it takes two to have a successful relationship (or more, depending on your own style). There must always be a division of power in order to have a relationship, and when your partner begins controlling every move, it’s more of an imprisonment. When people respect each other, the foundation is set for a strong partnership.
Later on this summer, I stumbled on a lot of photos by my female friends on Facebook with captions like “I was so drunk I don’t know why I did it,” “Last night was so much fun, I can’t remember a thing,” or “it’s okay- I only do this when I am drunk.” I found this slightly worrisome. I have done some things that I would never do unless I was intoxicated, but I try not to blame it on the alcohol. The situation, and how uncomfortable reading comments like those was, really got me thinking about how partying, sex, and victim-blaming centered on alcohol consumption have created a dangerous culture for sex, one in which many people may be using alcohol as an excuse for seeking out the sex they want (and, similarly, a culture in which drinking disqualifies many of our experiences as survivors of sexual assault). Why were women doing this online? What were they trying to express about their decisions? A part of me felt that they were ashamed and using alcohol as an alibi or a cover-up, so that they didn’t have to be responsible for the decisions they may have made. But why? If they were seeking pleasure, they don’t need to be ashamed.
As summer ends, I am still thinking about these big ideas and what they mean for my own life. I took the opportunity to formulate a Bill of Rights for women this September. Whether you’re in the classroom or the boardroom this fall, I hope you’re interested in living a life full of pleasure, independence, and support. My guidelines?
- As women, we have the right to have fun.
- As women, we will not feel embarrassed about or ashamed of what makes us happy.
- As women, we do not need the attention or ‘approval’ of others to be confident.
- As women, we will love ourselves inside and out, regardless of the size of our skinny jeans.
- As women, we will communicate our opinions with confidence and enthusiasm.
- As women, we will love our history and embrace the fight to empower all women.
- As women, we will always try our hardest to reinforce the fact that we are capable of anything.