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‘I Refuse to Remain Silent’

‘I Refuse to Remain Silent’

“I support Planned Parenthood because I refuse to be placed in a box.

“At a young age, I began to recognize the difference in how boys and girls were treated. I felt confident speaking in class in elementary school, so I frequently volunteered to read and often raised my hand to answer questions. I made sure that others who participated less had the opportunity to speak before I did, but for some reason, my classmates said to each other and to me that I ‘talked too much.’ This confused me — plenty of boys in my class spoke as often as I did, and with far less consideration of others. Did being a girl who had the same confidence as the boys make me a know-it-all?

“In middle school, I was told that my body was a distraction. As a heat-sensitive Oregonian, I wore a tank top to school as summer approached and temperatures peaked. Plenty of boys did, too. I felt that same confusion, then shame, as a teacher approached me in the hallway and informed me that my exposed shoulders broke dress code, and that I needed to go home or change into a shirt from our gym uniform.

“In high school, I became very interested in politics. My parents and I discussed issues such as marriage equality, immigration and reproductive rights over dinner. As I learned more every day, I began vocalizing my opinions because I felt strongly about issues that concerned others’ personhood. I cannot count the amount of times that adults and peers explicitly told me to stop talking about politics because I was just a young girl who didn’t know anything.

“In college, I am now conscious every day of the culture that helps misogyny thrive. I am aware that men who do not know me are constantly waging war on my bodily autonomy, and I refuse to remain silent. Planned Parenthood empowers the girl who wants to participate in class, dress comfortably, voice her opinions and control her own body — without being shamed. Planned Parenthood stands for an apparently radical and controversial philosophy: Women can be trusted to make our own decisions.”

A student at UCLA, Mellissa B. Meisels serves as a Grassroots Organizing Fellow for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

Posted on August 1, 2016 in News.
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