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I Rise to Reclaim Myself

Today's blog is brought to you by Vagina Monologues Cast Member, Carissa Daniels.  We hope you'll join us to Rise on Feb 14th.

I rise because there have been times when I have celebrated my womanhood and embraced the sexuality that goes with it but also times when I have not. Why? Why because our society allows girls to grow up feeling constantly insecure, because magazines and shows and everything seems so focused on a beauty that is so narrowly defined and so very physical that we cannot see ourselves in it, see our individuality in it. And you forget to ask yourself, what is my definition of beauty and what are the facets of it? Do I want to be defined this way? And this unconsciously brings you to a place where you are defined by others' expectations of you and your woman-ness. Both by other women but also by men. You are worried always about how you look, you forget to nurture your own soul, your very character becomes a shell. You are constantly judged and, in turn, you judge constantly.

This is violence, this is the very mundane but real and constant violence we perpetrate and allow to be perpetrated against women. And then it grows. It grows into women who quietly accept. It grows into men who objectify women, who grab and touch and leer, on the street, in a bar, in class, at work. It festers, becomes uglier- rape but victims who are too afraid to speak up, to speak out and predators who do not spend one single day in jail. It gets larger, becomes institutions that protect the men who rape and ostracize the women who report it; a government that spends four hundred billion dollars a year on defense but does not defend the women who defend our country.

I rise to reclaim my self. I rise because it has taken me 28 years to begin to find my own skin comfortable enough to see the beauty that is beneath it which makes me beautiful. I rise with the women who lead the way in honoring their womanhood, who do not and will not accept objectification and constant sexual-ization. I rise with the women who stand in defiance of rape culture, who will not tolerate passivity, who raise boys who will become men who will rise with us. This is why I rise.

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