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What if Women Controlled Our Own Bodies?

The lives of women

What If girls and women all over this planet were safe? And possibly even respected? I mean this in the simplest concrete sense-nothing fancy. If families everywhere were as happy to have a new baby who was female as male. If these girls were told in words and in every other way how precious they are instead of how they have to restrain themselves, walk and talk differently, lower their eyes, hide their bodies and faces in order not to stimulate their men. If they were never raised to serve men. If they were safe from violence and attack, especially in their own homes.

What If girls and women did not have to think about the dangers of going out alone, after dark or even walking down the street in pure daylight. If we could just walk down the street without having to be ready for unwanted comments, approaches and touching. If women were not considered the battlefield of wars, if one way to attack a man were not by raping a woman connected to him. If intimate partner violence did not occur and did not lead to more public violence. If girls and women did not have to fear being molested by a family member, stepfather, father or grandfather. If they were never trafficked, sold by their families for a few dollars or a TV set.

What If women controlled our own bodies. If no man could brag about grabbing a woman's genitals because it was something to be ashamed of and shunned for rather than a good locker room story.

I have yet to meet a woman who has had to travel on a subway or other crowded public conveyance from Tokyo to New York to London, who has not felt the pressure of a penis against her body or seen one performing for her. What if women could go out for a drink without having to keep that drink in sight in order not to be drugged and raped. What if girls in so many lands did not have their genitals mutilated or were never stoned to death for being raped or definitely never murdered by their own brothers for being seen with a boy in public. And what if women were not shamed and ridiculed for complaining about any of these experiences.

I am one of the luckier and more privileged of women and still I have suffered most of these indignities repeatedly. Sometimes I have been believed, others not. Sometimes I have kept silent. Now I do not.

I do not mean to paint the entire human race with a broad brush. I mean instead to point out that girls are born into and live in a different world than do boys. We are born to families who are disappointed. We are aborted, murdered, left on church steps. If we survive all that, we can then be sold, trafficked or enslaved.

And finally, What If it were safe for me to write this blog and expect only praise or agreement or intelligent disagreement rather than ridicule or threats. What If...

More from Ellyn Kaschak Ph.D.
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