Greensboro: 1175 Revolution Mill Drive,

Lower Studio 29-3

Raleigh: 1042 Washington Street

Maria Paredes, PhD, LPCS, CEDS-S

Three Birds

Counseling and Clinical Supervision, PLLC

Tel: 336-430-6694

Email: threebirdscounseling@gmail.com

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I Voted For Myself


I wrote this piece 2 days before the 2016 election. I first shared it in a private facebook group and with family members but have hesitated for the past year to include it here on the Body Politics blog. Mostly because, if you are reading this as someone who didn't vote for her, I want you to still feel welcome and affirmed in this space.

But the personal is political. And the political is personal. And the work of liberating individuals from body oppression and helping them access body autonomy and peace is political work.

Yes, I'm still with her. With all the hers. With all the women who marched and who continue to *march* (literally and figuratively). With all the women who shared their Me Toos. And with all the women who have Me Toos but didn't feel safe enough to share (or who just didn't want to share). With all the women who can't keep quiet any longer. And the women who have been made to keep quiet. And with the women who have found their voice and the women who don't even know yet that they have a voice.

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I voted for myself.

My Nasty Woman self.

I voted for my 3 daughters who I hope will grow up to be Nasty Women.

I voted for my Bad Hombre Mexican husband. Who was undocumented when he first arrived to this country. For his Nasty Woman mother who raised her children far away from her family so that they could have a better life. Who walked her 2 children miles in Los Angeles to bring them to the doctor when they had fevers.

I voted for my Nasty Italian grandmother who left her family as a 12 year old to go work hours from home to bring back money. Who left her family again at 20 years old, only to see her mother one more time in her lifetime, traveling across the ocean with her 18 month old son to a country where she didn't speak the language. Who raised her children out of poverty, who sold her breastmilk, cleaned apartments, churches. Who developed COPD because she lived over a coal furnace, cleaning up coal ash every morning.

I voted for my Nasty mother who, while raising 5 children, went back to school at night to become a nurse, in large part because she wanted her daughter to see a woman was capable of having a job and earning money. Who worked long night shifts and still made it to games, recitals, scout meetings, etc.

I voted for my 3 Asian sister-in-laws, strong, capable, beautiful, complex women who are lumped by society into one group even though their heritages are beautifully and complexly unique--Chinese, Korean, and Filipino.

I voted for my clients with eating disorders who learned that their bodies were not okay. That their needs, wants, fears, hopes were not valid and needed to be restricted. For every client who was raped, abused, neglected. Every client whose story was not heard, not believed, not valued. For my Fat clients who avoid going to certain public places because strangers regularly take photos of them without permission to post on social media, who avoid participating as fully in their lives because they are told their bodies are less valuable simply because they look different.

I voted for women who haven't ever experienced the full body shimmy

Whose joy has been muted, or shamed, or blocked all together.

I voted for my friends who are afraid to bring their Black sons to the playground after there's been another shooting of an unarmed Black person. For my Black friend who accidentally left something at my house and didn't feel safe retrieving it from my front porch when I was not there, for fear neighbors might think she was stealing (even though as a White woman, I regularly participate in porch-pickup Micit sales). For Muslim friends and clients who are told to their face "you should go home and get out of our country."

I voted for Black colleagues who are told "you don't look like a professor." Who were told by a white, male professor "social justice is just a fad."

I voted for Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Simone De Beauvoir, Clara Fraser, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai, Aung San Suu Kyi, Frida Kahlo, Carol Gilligan, Jean Baker Miller, Judith Jordan, Sylvia Rivera, Kate Bornstein, Crystal Eastman, Laverne Cox, and SO many other important female voices whose names few know.

I voted for Hillary. Not because it's the "lesser of 2 evils." Not because "at least it's not Trump." Not because of fear. Not because Bernie didn't win the nomination. Not because I believe in every single thing she stands for. Not because she's perfect. Not because she's nice.

I voted for Hillary because I believe she's the most qualified, most ready, most fit candidate we've ever had. Because she's fought her entire career for progress and equality. Because she's strategic and knows how to "play the game," a necessity in our political world. Because she's bold and strong and powerful and persistent and determined and bossy and nasty and complex and flawed and all the other words that have been used against women with the assumption that women should not be these things.

I voted for Hillary because the personal is political and the political is personal.

I voted for Hillary because I believe in our country, in our humanity, in our social connections to one another, in our common purpose.

I voted for Hillary because I believe women's lives matter, Black lives matter, Trans lives matter, Immigrant/Refugee/Asylee Lives Matter, Muslim Lives Matter.

I voted for myself because, even though women are taught "goodness" is "selflessness," I've learned that my voice is important. That my "self" is valuable. That it's okay to speak up. Okay to be imperfect. Okay to need. Okay to want. Okay to dream. Okay to shimmy.

I voted for Hillary.

#Politics #Activism #SocialJustice