Feminism’s Body Count
How Western women are using their bodies to amplify the feminist agenda
It should come as no surprise that the need for femininity is more important than ever. With the attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal of other forms of health care, to Trump’s ambiguity about maternity leave, to leniency on campus rapes, to blatant sexism and racism being spewed by the 45th POTUS and his administration. As a woman, I can say that I am tired of this congressional circus. But I am not the only one. This patriotic exhaustion is felt by many women, and because of it, our cries for change demand urgency. As a collective and feminine group, we are so much more than tired. Finally, Western women might be catching on to the magnitude and importance of their bodies in protest.
We are Tired
We are tired of having our reproductive rights controlled by men. The #ReadMyLips campaign was a project started in response to the frustration women around the world felt towards Trump and his regime. People who had at the very least had formal bodily autonomy within the law now heard the voice of our 45th POTUS telling them their reproductive rights were, like other things, up for grabs. There has been a lot of controversy revolving around the #ReadMyLips campaign, which is arguably what makes it such a brilliant strategy. In the words of Phineas T. Barnum, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
We are Shocked
We are shocked that Handmaid’s Tale, a classic novel written in 1985, is eerily relatable to our current Western politics. In a Texas Senate meeting, reproductive right’s protectors showed up to the chambers in historical clothing to highlight the similarities between our current political discussions and the book’s totalitarian message. Risking their safety and face in their communities, these fearless activists reminded politicians that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Again, these Texans were not the first to protest with their femininity at the forefront. As politicians move to abolish women’s rights and regress our country back to the 1950’s, activists continue to remind them that we are one step behind them- watching, waiting…
We are Reclaiming Ourselves
Campus rapes continue to be a product of gendered violence. As the new administration has come forward to speak about such attacks, it is repulsing to know that some members of congress believe that if women were stronger, rapes on campuses would not exist. Not only are survivors of campus assaults left to feel isolated within their own communities, but they are being shamed by those who are supposed to speak for the country that women so happen to make up 50.8% of. Women like Karmenife Paulino are reclaiming their bodies that were once treated as somebody else’s property… And she’s not the first. As a visual representation of the vulgarity committed onto their bodies, these women are showing the impact that sexual assault does to them both physically and emotionally- Paulino flips the script and illustrates how extreme it is to treat men (specifically frat boys) as they did her; nameless and powerless. Emma Sulkowicz on the other hand, who carried a mattress around Columbia University her entire senior year, reclaims her agony and uses her body to represent the survivor’s burden. This example of bodies in protest shows that strength is not something she necessarily demands, but strength is what she needs to survive.
We are Ready
This idea of women using their bodies to protest echoes the historical triumphs of women around the world. The message is clear: Discounting women of their feminine power is the most powerful way tool in gendered oppression. Telling women their bodies are not strong, that they are not theirs and that they do not matter has proven in this country to keep women in repressive boxes. Gone are the days where women are forced to believe their bodies are commodities and their emotions are irrelevant. In the years that follow, I hope the world is paying attention to the strongest women this country has.
May our bodies be our tools to the abolition of inferiority.
Vive las mujeres.