Current Issue: Home 

From the beginning, I've stressed that home is something internal, invisible, portable, especially for those of us with roots in many physical places; we have to root ourselves in our passions, our values, and our deepest friends. - Pico Iyer 

We want to know what home means to you. Send submissions to caytebosler@gmail.com or mauramcdanel09@gmail.com

I Don't Owe You by Victoria Melo

I Don't Owe You by Victoria Melo

This story happens way too frequently. It’s girl’s night out we’re ready to have fun and see where the night takes us. We’re drinking, minding our OWN business when a man (a stranger) comes up to us and offers to buy us a round of drinks. “All five of us?” We ask. “Of course ladies” he replies. We politely decline his offer yet he still lingers, seeking what? I’m not too sure. You can never be too sure. You either give him the benefit of the doubt or label him a lonely sex crazed man aiming to get in your pants. Too often it is the latter. Despite these thoughts, it seems as though we’ve all given him the benefit of the doubt and engage him in conversation, mostly small talk. He asks each of us where we’re from, if we’re in school, and if so what we are concentrating on. As this unbearable conversation persists I decide to order us another round of drinks to alleviate his imperious presence. When the check comes he insists on paying for it and none of us object. Immediately I regret taking him up on his offer because he, as they often do, took this as an invitation to get closer and more intimate. 

 Suddenly, he was caressing my shoulder and placing one hand on my waist the other hand on my roommate’s waist. How can you perceive my body as so monetary? You buy me a drink and assume that means you can touch me? I did not ask you to buy me a drink, I did not ask you to come and talk to us and I certainly did not give you permission to touch me. I am not a commodity. I acknowledge this by removing his hands from my side and saying “I have a boyfriend.” In retrospect I regret not cursing him out and being as physically invasive as he was to me. I regret not letting my voice be heard and channeling the voice of millions of women who have and who will experience this exact situation. I regret relying on the “I have a boyfriend” excuse. I do in fact have a boyfriend but that is beside the point. To my pleasant surprise he backed off after I told him I had a boyfriend, which revealed his intentions. But after he backed off he was reluctant to pay our tab. 

I speak for myself and all of my friends when I say “I am a strong independent woman and I do NOT need a strange man to pay my tab.” But the fact that he was so reluctant after I turned him down simply confirms that his thought process was if -I buy them drinks I can touch them, perhaps the more drinks I buy them the more I can touch them. That logic or lack thereof is appalling and degrading. It is saddening because this false notion of  “you owe me” penetrates the minds of young men and women and often times results in them believing that women do owe men for such things. But the fact of the matter is that we do not owe men anything. The least of which being our bodies. You would think that of all things our bodies would be what we have most control over but that is a deceptive misconception. In the case of women; the private is political, the personal is political. Our bodies are policed, shamed, objectified, and violated. Our families, the media, our history, school policies, work policies, and government policies all reconfirm the lack of power we have over our bodies. How is it that policies involving women’s bodies are so pervasive that they are embedded into institutions?

From such a young age girls are taught that the body they are born into will be governed for the rest of their lives. Girls in school are getting scorned and taken out of class for wearing leggings or spaghetti strapped shirts because it is “distracting to male faculty and students.” They sexualize young girl’s bodies and then the girl’s have to pay the price. It’s a form of victim blaming and one of the many ways girls are taught that agency over their own bodies is illusory. Similar policies exist in the workplace and the consequences can be more devastating than getting pulled out of class. Worst and most devastating of all are the policies put in place by our government to control our bodies. 

The notorious Donald Trump was sworn in as the United States 45th president. By January 23rd Trump resuscitated and reinstated the “Global Gag rule," which bans federal funding for international non-governmental organizations that offer abortions or advocate for the right to an abortion. It isn’t enough to repeal Obamacare and leave millions of women without access to affordable (or any) birth control. Controlling the bodies of American women wasn’t enough so Trump and his administration decided controlling the bodies of women around the world would suffice. This particularly affects women of color from low-income families who cannot afford to have abortions. And the thing is that this will not stop abortions it will only increase coat hanger abortions. This is what happens when society does not allow women to control their own bodies. This is not only sexism this is capitalism, classism, racism, imperialism, and xenophobia at it’s finest. 

A day after the executive order was signed there was a picture circulating of trump signing the executive order surrounded by his administration (all men) with the caption “As long as you live you'll never see a photograph of 7 women signing legislation about what men can do with their reproductive organs.” That revelation was saddening but honest. This patriarchal and sexist society in which we live is how men get the idea that they can control women’s bodies. But we’ve proven that when we, women, inclusive to trans-women, collectivize, our bodies together we prove that we are not a force to be reckoned with. That is exactly what my roommates and I did as we left the bar and evaded that strange man who did in fact end up paying our tab. We gathered our things, reminded the man that women do not owe him anything, and happily left the bar. 

Photo on 11-17-15 at 9.22 PM.jpg

 

 I am currently a senior at the University at Albany, in Albany New York. I am double majoring in Psychology and Women's Studies with a minor in Latin American Studies. I have hopes of attending the University at Albany in the fall to pursue my masters in Women's Studies. I am indecisive about what I want to do after grad school but I know I want to help make the world a better place. I love to read, spread love, and empower women. My favorite book is Just Kids by Patti Smith. 

When Skin Isn't Safe by Gemma Fleming

When Skin Isn't Safe by Gemma Fleming

It's Okay, You Can Stare by Mia Ross

It's Okay, You Can Stare by Mia Ross