On Tuesday night of March 7, 2017, you could find me huddled over a desk, painstakingly painting every word onto a t-shirt I was making for March 8, International Women’s Day. I was extremely excited about the celebration. I was going to be participating in ‘A Day Without Women’. Since my parents weren’t allowing me to skip school, my sister and I decided to make our own shirts in solidarity. I worked hard on my shirt and I was extremely proud of it. However, my father didn’t want me to wear it. This was because on the back of my shirt I had painted the phrase ‘VAGINA WARRIOR’. My father forbade me to wear my shirt to school since he feared that I would get into trouble, he feared that there would be animosity between myself and another who found my shirt offensive. After much arguing, I finally consented and wore another shirt. Despite being angry at my father, I had respected his wishes. However, that experience led me to think about some things, it made me think about that despite the fact that many people are “fighting the good fight” there is still great resistance when it comes the removing the stigma on females’ bodies and their reproductive rights.

I have great respect for my father, however when it comes to these things he never wants me to be overtly expressive of my beliefs. He fears that by expressing my opinions wholeheartedly that I will experience hate, animosity, and discrimination from those around me. Though, he is not alone in telling me these things. A few of my friends also have the same idea, one of my friends even goes to the extent to always tell me the “If you want to keep your friends, you never talk about race, religion, or politics.” However, I don’t agree with those sentiments. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that we should rampantly go around bellowing our beliefs with closed minds. Though, I do believe that we should be open about our opinions and thoughts so as to better understand one another.

To me, the phrase “VAGINA WARRIOR” is empowering. When I think of that phrase or refer to myself as a “Vagina Warrior,” it brings me great confidence. For much of my life, I have been very self-conscious. I’ve been experiencing cat-calling and other forms of sexual harassment since I was in sixth grade. This caused me to become very withdrawn in my clothing choices and self-conscious of how I looked and how others perceived me. I lacked any confidence, however when I first heard the phrase “VAGINA WARRIOR” something sparked inside of me. Those words to me symbolized all the powerful women who came before me, and who fought for their rights and mine. To me, that phrase gave me the confidence to embrace my femininity. That’s why that phrase was so important to me. I didn’t write it on my shirt to rile anybody up, I wore it to express myself as a woman to show the beauty that it is in being female. My experiences have taught me that we shouldn’t shield young girls from expressing themselves in order to “protect them,” but that we should foster their bright ideas, to help them change the status quo, to make our society an inclusive one. We ourselves should challenge societal norms that say that the female body is shameful and should be hidden. We should show the world that the female body is beautiful, that females are beautiful, that females are strong!

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