Tuesday, June 10, 2014

To Those Who Feel Entitled to Comment on or Legislate People's Lives

Photo: SFWheelchair
Used under Creative Commons
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If you're not sure this letter is to you, let me be more specific. If you...

  • have ever commented on a stranger's weight (either to say they were too thin or too fat),
  • have ever supported government intrusion into a woman's reproductive health decisions,
  • have ever suggested what a rape victim was wearing contributed to her victimisation,
  • have ever proposed that a person's consensual sexual behaviour should limit their human rights,
  • have ever stated that a bullying victim's behaviour led to their being bullied,
  • have ever compared being transgender to when you were five and decided for about a week that you wanted to be a cat,
  • have ever opined a woman owes a man sex if they have dated for a long time or he has spent a lot of money on her,
  • have ever slut-shamed a woman for having had more than one sexual partner or having had sex outside of marriage,
  • have ever wimp-shamed a man for being a virgin,
  • have ever acted offended when someone asked you not to touch them,
  • have ever given unsolicited advice to a pregnant woman,
  • have ever touched a pregnant woman's belly without her permission,
  • have ever told a breast-feeding mom to cover up,
  • have ever told a bottle-feeding mom that she should be breast-feeding,
  • have ever yelled at a person for parking in the disabled section when they did not look disabled,
  • have ever found stories, pictures, or videos of non-disabled people showing basic human decency to disabled people "inspirational",
  • have ever done the above "inspirational" tactic, but for non-LGBT/LGBT, non-POC/POC, young/old, etc.,
  • have ever negatively commented on someone's piercings, tattoos, haircut, hair colour, or makeup or lack thereof,
  • have told a stranger they should smile so they'd look nicer,
  • have ever told a woman in a bikini she should be more modest,
  • have ever told a woman in a burkha, hijab, chador, or other Muslim head covering that she shouldn't wear it,
  • have ever refused service to a person because of their apparent race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation, or
  • have ever supported political candidates or causes that stood for the limiting of rights to women, minorities, or LGBT people,
... then, yes, this letter is to you. This letter isn't just from me, but represents all those who have found themselves the victims of the above situations.

Hi. This is my body. I own it. In fact, it is the only thing I 100% without-a-doubt own. It is me. It houses my very thoughts, it carries me through the world, it brings to me through my senses all the information I know.

You do not own it. You are not entitled to control it, either through physical, legal, or social means. You are not entitled to tell me what to do with my genitalia, reproductive organs, face, hair, eating, and so on.

You are not entitled to have sex with me. Even if I am dressed immodestly, even if I am drunk, even if I am out alone after dark, even if I have a sexual history with multiple men, even if I have had sex with you before. Nor can you earn entitlement to sex with me. Yes, even if you are a gentleman, even if you spend a lot of money on a date with me, even if we are in a long-term relationship. I choose to whom I give that gift, because my body is mine.

You are not entitled to tell me I cannot have sex with another consenting adult. Yes, even if that adult is the same gender as me, even if we are having non-vaginal sex, even if it involves gags and handcuffs and whips, even if it involves more than two adults. I choose to whom I give that gift, because my body is mine.

Unless you are my doctor, you don't get to decide if I am disabled enough to qualify as disabled. You are not entitled to demand I explain my disability.

You are not entitled to touch my hair or any part of my body or clothing without my permission. My body is not here to decorate your world. It doesn't exist to inspire or please you. You are not entitled to demand I smile or wear make-up or pretty clothing or certain shoes or certain hairstyles.

You are not entitled to tell me what to wear because you cannot control your own sexual thoughts. You are not entitled to tell me who I can and cannot marry because seeing two men or two women together makes you uncomfortable or because you are obsessed with thoughts of gay sex.

The only exception to all this is if I use my body to control or harm someone else, because I am not entitled to anyone else's body.

Willingly giving of ourselves to others-- whether that's mowing a neighbour's lawn, preparing our families' dinners, making love, or even running into a burning building to rescue someone-- is the basis for all expressions of love.

Taking what is not given, claiming what is not yours, is the basis of all human evil. At its heart, this is what oppression is-- a sense of ownership of someone else's body, a belief that you are entitled to control someone else's very physical self.

It is of this sense of entitlement that we need to rid ourselves. In this way, we can learn to appreciate a smile, a friendship, or a task willingly done for what it is-- a gift.


  1. wonderful stuff :) Thank you for stating this so perfectly.

    1. You're welcome! Thank you for the encouraging comment.