Today’s chat is going to be a little more than just bullet pointed highlights of my week thus far. I know how much you all thrive off of knowing what I’m doing every day…or not. Today I want to talk about something I’ve had on my mind for a few days after seeing this little picture pop up on my instagram feed.
First off, forgive the language; obviously, it’s a bit extravagant for the message this person is trying to convey, and yes, I use this language from time to time (too many times), but I digress.
This picture fills me with rage, too much rage for me to even describe, but I somehow managed to put some magic spell on my lips, and I haven’t said a word about it. I have some deep part of my mind where my opinions stay; it’s definitely not a pretty side of me, but I do it for a number of reasons. First being, everyone has their own opinions, and I run with the school of thought that says “don’t go around telling other people they’re wrong just because their opinion differs from your own”. I’m not really sure what school of thought that is, but I’m pretty sure Gandhi would have agreed.
The second reason that I seem to keep this all in is, simple enough, I don’t want people to pass judgement on me. My opinions differ WIDELY from those of some of my closest friends (of whom know my opinions already, so they can judge all they want), but my opinions would be straight out shunned by some of my family members; you know, those people who are supposed to love me unconditionally. Now that I have those points out there, let’s head back to that image above.
I will bet you ten dollars that the person who made that new, super-cool “meme” has never, will never, and could never even try to speak and personally know Marilyn Monroe. Straight up, she has been dead for how long now? 52 years? Yeah. Pretty sure this person is not over the age of 50, as most 50-year-old people have no frigging clue what a meme is. My dad just thinks they are funny pictures. If I asked him what his favorite meme was, he would give me a blank stare. Why would someone feel the need to pass judgement on somebody who they have never, not even in their wildest dreams, met? What would make them think they know enough personal , private information about this person that they could have the right to pass judgement on her? I just cannot fathom the response that this person could have, and yet I just want to shake the answer out of them.
This person is one reason why this world is so screwy, so wonky, that people feel the need to hide their own actions and decisions. My teacher in middle school once had a poster in her classroom that read: “If you wouldn’t do it in front of your parents, you shouldn’t do it”.
I mean really, what?! Who in their right mind would teach this kind of response to middle school children? Children who are going through the most difficult transitioning period in their life? This way of inadvertently shaming people who should have the right to do whatever they damn well please is killing individuality. It is killing respect, opinions, and safety in people who should feel safe having sex with their partner without repeating in their minds “I wouldn’t do this in front of my parents; am I a horrible person?”
I won’t lie to you and say this thought has not passed through my head in my adult life; instead, I’ll explain how the only person I feel safe talking to about my sex life is my partner. I know I can talk to my best friend about it because, hell, she’s my best friend! But I could never even say the “s” word around my parents, let alone allude to the fact that I like the “s” word. For two whole weeks last January, I was a nervous wreck; Zach and I had talked about moving in together, and we both decided that it was a pretty good time to do so. I was in transition between houses, I was a grown woman, and in a year, I would be out of college. However, I just knew it wouldn’t be happening, not yet anyways. My parents are strict as is, but even the idea of me living with my long-term boyfriend was a big ol’ red “x”. There was no chance in hell, and they made sure to tell me that straight up, even after I rehearsed the conversation in my head, making sure to be adult, clear minded, and to give them many (three notebook pages) reasons why it was practical, OK, and a good idea.
They said I could do what I wanted, but I would have zero financial help from them, and they would not visit my house until I had a ring on that special finger. So, like any child who fears their parents disappointment and shame, I chose to live with them instead. I gave up my one adult decision in order to please someone else.
While I now understand that this was probably a damn good idea (Zach and I had some growing up to do, and a lot more to learn about each other), I also now understand that, no matter the age, and no matter the years I have spent with my partner, my parents will never be OK with us living together until we have signed a marriage license.
This whole topic of shame – slut-shaming, religious-shaming, body-shaming, and the tens of thousands of other kinds of shame – is going beyond the limits of humanity. We, as a society, cannot impose our thoughts and choices on the lives of others. Everyone has a different mind, different choices, a different body, a different sex life. No matter what choices they make, they are still human, and they still deserve respect.
The magazines I read (Cosmo in particular) cover shame topics constantly, and I truly appreciate them for bringing light to the subject and the harm that it can bring to people around us. One story in this month’s issue highlighted one woman in particular, a woman who made the choice to be a stay at home wife. I can only imagine the responses that this young woman received when she told them her choice; her husband made enough money for them to live comfortably, and with both of them working, they never got to have any quality time together, and they would both just be drained at the end of the day. After reading her story, I completely understood her decision, and I completely respect it! Each person needs to make decisions for themselves, not for the approval of others, but if we don’t stop the shame now, when will it ever get better? When will people feel comfortable enough to talk to their friends about their sex life? When will children feel comfortable enough to discuss their relationships with their parents? When will women feel comfortable enough to wear the clothes they want to wear without having a stranger on the street call them out? When will men feel comfortable enough to show emotion around their best friends?
It’s time for everyone to stand up and stop imposing their lifestyles on others. Every human being is a different person from the next, and if we try to change that, what will come of us?