With every breath I take, and if I’m able even when my lungs deflate, I will stand between her & the shame the world tries to cast on her.
Let me share some of the shame I’ve carried thus far.
I am 6 years old. While walking home from kindergarten I am followed by a classmate who repeatedly yells “Nikki has a big butt, Nikki has a big butt.” For multiple reasons this statement brings a sting I do not recall feeling before. Shame.
I am 7 years old. I want to be a professional baseball player in MLB. My own designated pitch coach tells me “unfortunately, you are a girl.” Shame.
I am 8 years old. I am sexually assaulted. I tell no one. Everything about it feels wrong, but I am just a little girl, so what do I know. Shame.
I am 10 years old. I witness the hands of my step-father bruise and batter my mother. When I stand up for her, I am burned with cigarettes. I am told by the women in my life “you should have kept quiet and stayed out of his way.” Shame.
I am 11 years old. I finally tell about my previous sexual assault. No one seems to believe me. The response to me is “we should not fuss with what’s in the past and divide the family.” Shame.
I am 13 years old. I get my period on Halloween night. I do all that I can to hide the evidence but the blood spots on my pants are quickly noticed and mocked. Shame.
I am 14 years old. A boy I had a crush on rubs his hands all over me in the swimming pool. I tell him to stop, he laughs at me and says “you know you like it.” I leave and never say a word. Shame.
I am 15 years old. I finally grow breasts. Despite my efforts to “cover up”, everyone at school notices and begins to suggest my bra size. Shame.
I am 16 years old. I wear a shirt to school that has words across my breasts. My principal tells me that I need to go home and change because “the boys are noticing”. Shame.
I am 17 years old. I decide to participate in the Junior Miss competition. I’m laughed at by my classmates because I am not pretty enough. Shame.
I am 19 years old. I go to a college event with some friends. A guy asks me if I want to “smoke weed and fuck.” I turn down his charming offer. He calls me a prude and a bitch. Shame.
I am 20 years old. I express my distaste with the idea that women cannot be church leaders according to the bible. I am accusing of “being on my period”. Shame.
I am 21 years old. I am engaged to get married. I am told by members of the evangelical christian community that because of my previous sexual encounters that I am not “pure” and I am like a “used car” for my husband. Shame.
I am 23 years old. I am frustrated with patriarchy. I begin to share my thoughts and feelings. I am told that I am “too emotional” and “too sensitive”. Shame.
I am 24 years old. I am bleeding excessively from a painful miscarriage. I am ignored by many. I am asked if I did something wrong. I am told that it’s probably a good thing. I am told that it could have been much worse. Shame.
I am 25 years old. I am 8 months pregnant. I am told that I would look disgusting in a swimsuit. Shame.
I am 25 years old. I am in labor with my daughter. I do not want my cervix checked. I am told I am hindering the process. Shame.
I am 26 years old. I am breastfeeding my daughter in bathrooms, in the car and in the closet because I am told that I am making others uncomfortable. Shame.
I am 28 years old. I am asked when I will have another child. I am asked again. I am reminded of my “age”. Shame.
I am 29 years old. I am having a home birth. I am told of how selfish my choices are. Shame.
I am 29 years old. I have postpartum depression and postpartum OCD. I suffer in silence. What will people think of me? Will they think I am a bad mom? Shame.
I am almost 31 years old. I am asked why I want a career. I am asked why I want to be with my kids. I am asked how I can do it all. Shame.
These are only some of my tales. And I am only one woman.
Shame has been used to quiet us down. Shame has been used to make us sit. Shame has been used to abuse us. Shame has been used to rape us. Shame. Shame. Shame.
Too short, too tall. Too fat, too skinny. Too smart, too dumb. Too pretty, too ugly. Too loud, too quiet. Too many kids, not enough kids. Too much sex, too prude. Too big of breasts, too small of breasts. Too flat of an ass, too round of an ass. Too emotional, too cold.
The world does not have an ideal woman in mind. It has NO woman in mind. Misogyny wants to shame women. Shame us for our curves and our bones. Shame us for our ability to carry life and our choice not to. Shame us for our beauty and our brains. Shame us for our mothering and for our career.
Shame is the tool used to keep our powerful and strong bodies as a product they can use, abuse, critique and control.
Shame is the tool used to keep our intuition quieted so that only those who favor the “rational” can be worthy to be heard.
So I say “I’m with her.” Her = my daughter, my mother, my sisters, my grandmother, myself.
For the sake of my daughter, I will stand against this shame. She will know that whoever she is…whomever she loves…whatever her religion…whatever her IQ…whatever her breast size or waistline…I am with her.
I will vote in November in support of womanhood. I will vote not in “support” of abortion, but in support of the woman…whose situations we cannot predict. I will vote in support of paid maternity leave. I will vote in support of equal pay. I will vote for representation. I will vote for my daughter.
And by doing this I will also be voting for my son.
It’s all connected, in my opinion. In order for true masculinity to be discovered and affirmed, we must affirm the feminine.
We are all born of a woman.
We spend our first months on Earth wrapped in her womb.
The connection we foster, as male and female, with our mother has the ability to shape our future in drastic ways.
We can fight addiction and all forms of violence in the simple act of truly affirming the feminine and therefore supporting women as they journey into motherhood.
We can limit the use of abortion by affirming the pregnant woman, supporting her in the unique place she is at, empowering her to make choices during her birth and supporting physical/mental/emotional well-being after she has birthed.
Why do we want to shame this powerful, beautiful form that breathed for us, birthed us and has the potential to nourish us?
Why would we not want to do what we can to take steps towards a world that affirms and respects all aspects of womanhood?
Because then the tables turn.
The shame is placed elsewhere.
Shame on you rapists. Shame on you abusers. Shame on you men who blame us for your “impure thoughts”. Shame on you who act disgusted at our bodies. Shame on you who tell us what to do with our breasts and our vaginas. Shame on you Donald Trump. Shame on you patriarchy. Shame on you history.
I’m with her.