Let’s Not Forget, Access to Abortion is Actually a Matter of Life and Death

It’s an election year so discussions about abortion and Roe v. Wade are abundant. Republican candidates promise to repeal Roe v. Wade, making abortion illegal again. Most recently, when cornered in an interview Trump said he believes women receiving abortions should be punished. He quickly backpedaled the statement after public outcry, but the damage is done. His statement shows that regardless of his personal beliefs, a Republican candidate for President has to be vehemently anti-abortion.

The issue of legal abortion has also been active in the Supreme Court in the recent weeks. Texas’ continued efforts to make abortion less accessible forced a decision from the Supreme Court on what constitutes as an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions. This language comes out of a 1992 SCOTUS decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that stated that restrictions could be placed on access to abortion if “undue burden” was not placed on the woman seeking the abortion. The language “undue burden” is, of course, maddeningly vague. Many of the cases regarding abortion around the country today hinge on whether or not placing further restrictions on access to abortions constitutes an undue burden. Advocates of a woman’s right to choose understandably argue that requiring a woman to cross state lines for an abortion is an undue burden. Critics of abortion say that this is not unreasonable.

Appallingly, anti-abortion advocates have started to adapt their arguments for placing restrictions on abortions by saying that their number one concern is the health of the mother. They claim that the additional requirements they are asking for clinics to meet are necessary to ensure the safety of women receiving abortions. Of course, the Internet has seen through this sparking #stopthesham, which calls out the fact that this argument is obviously ridiculous.

With all this controversy swirling around abortions I started to think about the Constitutional Law course that I took in my last semester of college. The text for the class was called “Constitutional Law Stories” and instead of just dryly explaining the details of the SCOTUS case and the players involved, the text took a narrative approach and told the actual stories surrounding the decision. This had the effect of humanizing the case as well as explaining in personal detail why the case was so important. It was a powerful approach to explaining Constitutional Law and the stories of each case made an impact. This is especially true of the stories told about Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

I had never really thought much about these SCOTUS decisions. I knew that they made abortion legal and protected the right to abortion, respectively, and I knew that I supported a woman’s right to choose what she wanted to do with her own body. As a young woman in the 21st century this just seemed like a given. I never imagined what women had to go through to get these decisions passed through the Court. As I reflect on the current debates about abortion I realize that this aspect is what’s missing. Sure, it’s really important to discuss how access to abortion is essential to women’s equality, because it is. And it’s really important to talk about how women’s right to control their own bodies should be undebatable. This is also true. But I think that a lot of women of my generation, who grew up in a world where abortion was always legal, are too far removed from the stories of women who actually fought to legalize abortion and the pain and suffering they had to experience. We need to be reminded that access to abortion is actually an issue of life and death.

If you can get your hands on the book “Constitutional Law Stories” (if you’re local I’ll lend you my copy!) or find the chapter on Roe v. Wade somewhere online I encourage you to read it to truly understand what life was like for pregnant women before abortion was legal. I’ll summarize here, but I can’t do the stories justice the way that book does. The essential message is that before abortion was legal women died, in large numbers, trying to exercise their fundamental right to control their bodies.

Women who want abortions are going to get them regardless of the legal status of the procedure. The reasons they choose abortion are none of my business. They’re none of anyone’s business. Women will always have reasons to terminate a pregnancy and they will always seek out this procedure. Before abortion was legal the only way to do this was to seek an illegal procedure. Some of the people performing this procedure were doctors operating out of safe facilities, but these doctors risked losing their licenses for performing abortions and the hospitals they performed them at risked losing their accreditations. Some doctors branched out and performed abortions in less than ideal facilities, including their own homes where it was virtually impossible to ensure a sterile environment. In the worst cases the people performing the abortions were not doctors at all. Since the procedure was illegal anyway it was easy to lie about credentials and make a quick buck by performing abortions with little experience. These procedures were almost always performed in non-sterile environments.

As you can probably guess, women who underwent these illegal procedures experienced a horrifying amount of suffering. The ones who were lucky enough to have their procedure performed by a licensed doctor in an adequate facility often experienced infection and were unable to seek follow up treatment because the doctors were too scared to see them again after the procedure. Because the procedure was not subjected to any sort of safety regulations it was often botched and women experienced permanent infertility and chronic health problems. These are of course minor outcomes when compared to the number of women who died during the procedure, or from complications after the procedure. Planned Parenthood estimates that 17% of women seeking abortions before they were legal died from the procedure, and of course this number is probably low because many were unwilling to have the death of a loved one attributed to an illegal procedure. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of women were irreparably damaged or lost their lives because of illegal abortions.

It may seem overly dramatic to say that access to abortions is a matter of life and death, but for the women seeking abortions this is a reality. If this country succeeds in overturning Roe v. Wade women will die. Please, please consider this the next time you think about this controversial topic, and please consider this when conservatives say they are “trying to protect the health of women”. If they actually gave a damn about women’s health they would never consider limiting access to abortion.

 

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My Days as a Mean Girl

This is an unintended follow up to yesterday’s post. I meant what I said; every word, but on subsequent reads I think that it came off as preachy and self righteous. I’m committed to not taking any posts down because it’s part of the process to discover my voice, even when my voice is not its best. Everything I write here is part of the journey and I refuse to self censor, even if the inner critic says people are judging. What I will do is add context from my personal experience. So, I give you the tale of my days as a mean girl.

In middle school I was a teacher’s pet and an oblivious nerd. I’d rather read Shakespeare than talk to you and my grades were more important than my popularity. In 7th grade, the worst year of any girl’s life, (seriously, ask any girl and they’ll tell you their life took a nosedive in the 7th grade) I decided that I desperately wanted to be cool. Unfortunately, I was not cool material and I went through the painful process of realizing that I was not cool material, including vicious emotional bullying at the hands of “mean girls”. Rather than realizing that the behavior of the mean girls was unacceptable, I vowed that one day I would be a mean girl. They seemed so aloof, so unaffected by the world around them. Their meanness seemed to protect them from everything that hurt in the world, and I hurt. A lot. I vowed that one day I would learn to be a cool mean girl.

In high school my pursuit of cool mean girl status failed for one major reason: I was fat. I always thought my eating disorder surfaced Senior year of high school when I stopped eating, but I know now that it started much earlier with eating my feelings. Since the traumatic 7th grade year, I had done a lot of emotional binge eating and now my pain showed on the outside. I was the fat girl. I tried to own this and had marginal success at being the “fat friend” of the cool mean girls, but this rarely lasted for long. I was always left behind for a cooler, thinner girl. Eventually I accepted my status and found the Theater program at my school. I blended in with this band of misfits and for a while I was happy with my tribe. Late in my Junior year I decided to go on a diet. Someone told me that if I didn’t like being fat I didn’t have to be and I believed it with my whole heart. I set out to be thin and hopefully by proxy be cool. My journey to being a cool mean girl began.

I do not mean to imply that I had never been a mean girl before I started to lose weight. I think a sad reality of our society is that all girls are horribly mean to each other. Girls are taught that female friendships are temporary alliances at best and that we must always be on our guard around other women. This is especially true in middle school and high school when girls start to have crushes on boys. Now other girls represent tools for comparison of our desirability to boys, and even worse, competition for said boys. This all results in a heartbreaking amount of cruelty. Girls talk about each other constantly. Alliances shift daily. Punishment is rendered for the smallest infractions. I have cried over female friendships more in my life than I ever have over romantic relationships. I was involved in all of this activity, just as involved as any other girl, but like so many others I was mean because I was caught in the crossfire of a lot of meanness. Very rarely was I intentionally a mean girl. When I started to lose weight, I started to become an intentional mean girl.

Between the end of my Junior year and the middle of my Senior year I lost approximately a third of my body weight. For the first time in my adolescent life I was a thin girl. I was a beautiful girl. The compliments were overwhelming. Boys were interested in me in a way they never had been before. Girls were jealous of me and even more alluring, they admired me. Girls who had spent most of our school years ignoring me talked to me, asked me what diet I was on and how often I went to the gym. It didn’t take me long to understand the full impact of body privilege. My thin body afforded me power I had never before possessed. It protected me from vicious emotional bullying. It allowed me access to groups that had always ignored me. It gave me control over the men in my life. My thin body made me feel invincible. It was intoxicating, and I went power mad.

I started wearing skirts and makeup every day. I started spending time on my hair. I started wearing pink and heels. I spent more time talking about other girls. I started turning down plans with old friends. I started flirting with other girls’ boyfriends and crushes. I started taking part in cruel jokes at the expense of other girls, some of whom used to be my friends. Not coincidentally, the movie “Mean Girls” came out that year and I idolized Regina George, which I’ve figured out since was not the goal of the movie. My transformation in to a cool mean girl was complete, and I owned it unapologetically. I was proud to be a mean girl, unabashed at my own bad behavior.

This mean girl persona followed me to college, where I started to finally experience the consequences of my mean girl ways. I won’t go in to gory details, but I will tell you that I only speak to two people I met during my Freshman year of college. The rest would likely not respond if I contacted them, with good reasons.

I say all this in order to make the point that I know the cost of being a mean girl. I know the cost of tearing down other women and ruining friendships that could have been life long. This is why I’m so adamant that it’s time for us to stop talking about each other and shaming each other. I have spent literally years of my life shaming other women for their life choices. I have been the victim of other people’s shaming of my life decisions. I have spent most of my life shaming myself for my life choices.  I know how awful it feels to be a mean girl and to be the victim of mean girls. I know that every woman who is reading this post knows how it feels too.

I’m saying that we have the power to stop the mean girl phenomenon. It starts with each one of us not being mean. It continues with us shutting down other women who are mean. It continues with us refusing to participate when other women are being mean. It continues with us teaching our daughters, nieces, and mentees not to be mean. It continues with us making daily choices to be kind to other women. It continues with us complimenting other women for their strength and intelligence rather than their bodies or their clothes. It continues with us truly supporting other women going through hard times rather than talking to other women about how sad you are for them. It continues with us trusting each other enough to be vulnerable. It continues with us building deep and intimate friendships with other women. It ends with a kinder, more truthful world where women aren’t afraid of other women. Make the choice not to be a mean girl, one day at a time.

An Open Letter to Women, Especially on the Internet

Dear Women Everywhere,

It’s time to stop talking about each other. I know, this is a bold statement. Some of you are probably scoffing and saying “I don’t talk about other women”, while trying to mask the guilty look on your face. Others may be thinking “What’s the harm as long as she doesn’t hear about it?” Others may be saying “I’m just bashing some female celebrity who’s acting like a (fill in the blank). It’s not like I’m gossiping about my friends.” Stop. Just stop. Be honest. We all talk about each other. We talk about our girlfriends with our boyfriends. We talk about our girlfriends with our other girlfriends. We talk about female celebrities to anyone who will listen. We say mean things under the illusion that it won’t hurt anyone because they’ll never find out. I’m here to tell you that even if they don’t find out, talking about other women is still harmful, and it’s time for it to stop.

We’re raised to distrust and compete with each other. I don’t think anyone can deny that. When we see other women we’re much more likely to think of them as an enemy than a friend. Or worse, a frenemy. We’re raised to tear each other down instead of build each other up. We’re raised to take power away from other women rather than empowering them. This serves a purpose in a patriarchal society. It keeps us apart. It keeps us from gathering together and finding out how intelligent and powerful we are as a group. It keeps us from upsetting the status quo.

This is even true when you’re judging female celebrities on the Internet. When you slut shame Kim Kardashian for her nude selfie you’re telling other women that you don’t believe our bodies are beautiful or worth flaunting. You’re telling other women that being empowered by their bodies or their sexuality is wrong. You’re telling other women how to live their lives. I don’t care if you “have more self respect than to post a nude selfie online”. Keep that shit to yourself and stop telling others how to live their lives. Every time you slam Kelly Clarkson for gaining weight you’re telling other women that only skinny bodies are valuable. You’re telling other women that their bodies are shameful. You’re telling other women that the natural size of their body is wrong. I don’t care if you “think she’s really let herself go and she used to be so much prettier”. Keep that shit to yourself and stop trying to tell women what bodies are acceptable.

Every time you say a critical, judgemental, or unkind thing about a woman you do or do not know you are contributing to systemic misogyny. More importantly, you’re teaching women younger than you that this is how they should treat women. You are indoctrinating the next generation with the same misogyny you were raised with.

Be a part of the solution, not the problem. The next time you want to comment on another woman’s body, sex life, career choice, parenting choice, or pretty much anything, just keep it to yourself.

Sincerely,

Feminism

The False Promises of Fitness Magazines

I used to have a problem with Fitness magazines. Whenever I walked through a checkout line I couldn’t help but grab one and toss it on the belt. I never intended to buy one, but the headlines beckoned me: “Lose 10 Pounds Before Beach Season”, “The 15 Minute Routine for Perfect Abs”, “Eat This Not This and Watch Your Waistline Disappear”. I was always enchanted by the promises on the covers. In her book “The Beauty Myth” Naomi Wolf says that  “…the aspirational promise of women’s [fitness] magazine that they can do it all on their own is appealing to women who until recently were told they could do nothing on their own.” In other words, women, like me, are so drawn to these magazines because they give them a sense of control over their worlds; a sense that they have the power to fix their own problems.

Being a woman in a patriarchal culture means being constantly told that you can’t accomplish something or that you don’t have the power to change something. This can lead to a sense of hopelessness for women. They look around their lives grasping for things they have the power to control and change and they find little. During this mad search they run in to fitness magazines that promise them that they do have control over their bodies. They may not be able to change the fact that they have been passed up for a promotion multiple times, or that their husband refuses to contribute to childcare or housework, but they can control their bodies. When handed this message women often breathe a sigh of relief. They think, “Finally, something I can do something about!” Fitness magazines thrive because women feel so powerless over their own lives because so many decisions about their lives have been taken out of their hands.

It’s not by mistake that women are given the message that their bodies are the only thing they can control. Keeping women continually occupied with fixing their bodies keeps them out of the more important pursuits of life. Limiting the things women believe they have control over keeps them confined to small spaces within the world, literally and figuratively. The truth that the fitness magazines won’t tell women is that they have control over much more of their worlds than they believe. The promise that women can control their bodies is a lie, covering up the truth that women are actually incredibly powerful beings. Stop letting the glossy paper lie to you. Go find out how powerful you really are.

Being a Feminist Means Doing Whatever the F you Want!

Now don’t take the title too literally. I don’t mean to imply that being a feminist gives you permission to vandalize public property to crush the patriarchy or punch the next man that catcalls you on your way home from work. Let’s be reasonable here and try to keep things legal. What I do mean is that being a feminist means you should be allowed to turn your life in to whatever you want. You should be able to choose the path you want to follow and you should be able to achieve your goals along said path.
Right off the bat there are issues with this. There are still life and career paths from which women are largely discouraged, intentionally or unintentionally. For example the media still discourages women from pursuing careers in national politics by trivializing their efforts in every way possible. See: any interview with Hilary Clinton where they ask more about her hair, her outfit, or her husband than her politics. See also: any news story about Elizabeth Warren where they label her as a liberal loony or “abrasive”. Some career paths are not so directly discouraged, but their culture makes it hard for women to succeed because it is so male dominated. See: construction work, engineering, and many science careers. So, there are still a plethora of systematic barriers to women pursuing the careers and lives they want. This is one of the reasons feminism exists.

However, there is a more insidious barrier to some women pursuing the careers and lives they want and this barrier is within the feminist movement itself. I’m talking about fem-shaming. I don’t know if that’s a real term. If not I’ll claim I invented it. If it is I guess I’ll just pretend I knew all along. What I mean by fem-shaming is the phenomenon of feminists deriding other feminists about the career or life paths they’ve chosen. The classic example is the feminist lawyer shaming the stay at home mom for supporting the patriarchy by pursuing her family life instead of a career. I don’t know if this is still a thing within the movement, but I do know that there’s a perception that this happens all the time. I know from my own experience and the experiences of other women I love.

The other day my younger sister texted me “can I tell you something that doesn’t sound very feminist?” She’s been on the receiving end of many of my femrants as I have tried to instill my newfound feminist values in her. I told her sure and waited expectantly. She responded: “sometimes I just want to marry a rich guy and donate all his money to charity so my official job title can be philanthropist.” Let me tell you about my sister for a bit of context. She is an incredibly aware young woman with a keen sense of social justice. She’s worked with kids and adults on the autism spectrum. She’s worked in homeless shelters. She currently interns at a nonprofit fighting hunger. She’s applying for Americorps. When it comes to social responsibility she outstrips me by a lot. She’s kind of my hero. So when she says she wants her job title to be philanthropist, it comes from a place of wanting to help those less fortunate, not from a place of wanting to wear pretty dresses and attend charity balls. Though I’m sure she wouldn’t mind that either.

Back to the story. I immediately responded that I didn’t think that was unfeminist at all. If that’s what she really wanted for her life she should be able to do that since feminism is really about giving women the power to choose their own destinies. Then I flashed back to a time when I didn’t believe I qualified to be a feminist because I wanted to be a stay at home mom when I finally have my own kids. I truly believed that in order to be a feminist I would have to abandon my family for a career that would prove I could hack it as well as any man. Back then I also misunderstood the true goal of feminism and I realized it was because I heard stories about women being shamed for their choice of family over career. I had heard stories about women being shamed for choosing to be financially dependent on a man. I don’t know if these stories were told by non-feminists to discourage women from joining the movement, but it really doesn’t matter. The idea that got stuck in my head, and apparently my sister’s, was that we weren’t allowed to be feminists if we wanted to stay at home and let a man financially support our lives.

Now that I understand that feminism is really about giving women the power to shape their own destinies I understand that this means any destiny they want. For me that means that I quit the high powered career to become a nanny, a pink collar job. When I have kids I will stay at home with them until they are preschool aged. Both of these paths mean that I need my husband’s financially support. I contribute to our finances, of course, because I was raised to believe that I should financially contribute as much as I could, even if it’s not a lot. But my husband covers the majority of our bills and household expenses. I had to let go of a lot of pride in order to accept this arrangement, but it allows me to spend my days doing something I love and it will allow me to raise my children the way I’ve always wanted.

Guess what? I’m still a feminist. So is my sister, even if she does decide to marry a foreign prince or self made millionaire and become a philanthropist. We’re feminists because we have taken our power back from those who would dictate our destinies and chosen destinies that will make us happy. Our futures our wide open and our ambitions may change, but we will be feminists regardless of what our futures hold.

Speaking with my Body

In her book “Unbearable Weight”, Susan Bordo suggests that women who have been stripped of their voices by society use their bodies to say what they’re kept from saying. Women’s voices are silenced so regularly that they often feel like they are never heard, but their bodies cannot be ignored, so they literally embody their voices. Women are told so often that their bodies are an expression of who they are and what they value that they begin to believe that their bodies actually represent them. So the body becomes the means of communication between the woman and the world.

I remember tearing up when I read this because I understood on a soul level what she was saying. In my constant quest to be thin I had been using my body to make a statement. It wasn’t just about being physically thin, it was about what being thin said about me. The thinness of my body would communicate to the world that I was disciplined and hardworking, that I was superior, that I was worthy and valuable. The angles of my jutting bones and the hardness of my muscles would communicate that I was tough, strong, and independent. Through making my body the right shape I would communicate to the world that I was the right things, that I believed the right things, thus transcending judgement.

As I gained weight in recovery, I remember standing in front of the mirror one day thinking that my stomach looked soft. That I looked too round, too curvy. I began to wonder why I had such an aversion to softness, roundness. My mind immediately went to all the cultural programming I was beginning to be able to identify thanks to the feminist literature I was reading. I thought about being surrounded by “ideal bodies” in the media. I thought about the “beauty myth” as Naomi Wolf calls it, which demanded that I adhere to the mercurial beauty rules society had developed. I thought about the diet industry and weight loss culture in which women are trapped. I knew that all these things contributed to my judgement of my soft, round body, but I also knew that there was a deeper level to my aversion.

It dawned on me that my hatred for being “soft” was not about my body at all; it was about being vulnerable. I thought about how hard I’d worked to make my body tough, strong, and angular, and I realized that what I’d actually wanted was to be emotionally tough and strong. I wanted to be invincible. I wanted to be emotionally untouchable. I was sculpting my body to be armor against vulnerability and judgement.

As I gained weight I was unable to see my new curves as sensual or beautiful. I was only able to see my armor giving way to to vulnerability. I was afraid of what the softness of my body was communicating to the world. Was it saying that I was no longer tough or strong? Was it saying that I was lazy and undisciplined? Was it saying that I was unworthy? Was it saying that I didn’t care about myself or my appearance? Was it saying that I didn’t care what others thought? Was I taking up too much space? Being larger seemed to say a lot more about me than being thin did, at least in my own mind.

For years I have been allowing my body to speak for me. I have been trying to communicate with the world about who I am and what I believe through the shape of my body. More importantly I have believed that the world get its messages about who I am and what I value from my body instead of from my voice. The truth is that I have a voice I am learning to use. I don’t need my body to tell you about me anymore. Let me tell you about me.

You’re not Crazy, You Just Have Feelings

In the nineteenth century there was an “epidemic” of a condition called hysteria. The patients diagnosed with hysteria were almost exclusively female. In fact, it was largely considered a “female illness”. The symptoms included anxiety, loss of appetite, sexual frigidity or excessive sexual desire, irritability, excessive displays of emotion, and in extreme cases aphasia, the inability to speak. Women who were diagnosed were told that they needed absolute rest and virtual isolation in order to recover. They shouldn’t “bother themselves” with daily life and they shouldn’t be exposed to “too much excitement” lest their condition get worse. Many women diagnosed with hysteria were sent away to summer homes or even institutions in order to recover. 

The saddest part about hysteria is that it wasn’t even real. It was a fabricated psychiatric disease that allowed men to dismiss female emotions and voices. Today hysteria is viewed as a mistake of the nineteenth century. We look back and say “the patriarchy had such an awful grip on society back then!” We lament at how awful it is that a disease was fabricated to convince women that their normal human emotions made them crazy. 

In the chilling short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story of a young woman who has been diagnosed with hysteria and sent to a summer home to recuperate. The main character is confined to a room that used to be a nursery with bars on the windows. She is repeatedly told that she must not have company and must sleep most of the day in order to recover. She tries over and over to tell her husband she is feeling better and that she is lonely. She begs him to spend more time with her and to allow her to visit with friends and family but he refuses. Eventually she begins to believe that there are women trapped in the yellow wallpaper of the room to which she is confined. She begins to hallucinate the trapped women trying to escape the walls. In the end she has come to believe that she is in fact one of the women who was trapped in the wallpaper and tears all the wallpaper off the walls in order to escape. Read the story here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1952/1952-h/1952-h.htm. It is a powerful and chilling tale about the ways in which the treatment of women and the dismissal of their feelings can literally drive them insane. I cried when I reread it a few weeks ago. 

Though we no longer live in a society where female emotions are given psychiatric diagnoses, we still live in a society that trivializes and demonizes women’s emotions. How many of us have ever been called crazy by the men in our lives? How prominent is the stereotype of the crazy girlfriend or ex girlfriend in the media? The answer to these questions should be proof enough that female emotionality is still despised by the patriarchy. Men are conditioned to dismiss female emotion as “too much”. They are taught that they are allowed to trivialize women’s feelings because women are so mercurial by nature. Men are taught to assume that valid emotions are the result of our menstrual cycles and that offerings of chocolate or pretty jewelry will solve the problem. They are taught to believe that any reaction other than a quiet and measured response is an overreaction. They are taught that women who display emotion are crazy and therefore not to be taken seriously. 

Women are actually taught the the same lessons. Girls learn at a young age that only positive emotions are acceptable emotions. They learn that yelling is unattractive. They learn to carefully measure their responses so as to not upset others. They learn that not upsetting others is more important than having their feelings expressed and heard. As these girls grow in to women they carefully watch the reactions of others to their emotions in order to learn if they have reacted properly. When they snap at a boyfriend for bailing on a date they are called crazy. Or worse they are compared to a previous “crazy girlfriend” which carries the insidious undertone of being dumped for their emotionality. When a woman gets so frustrated with being ignored at work that she does the unthinkable and cries she is labeled as unable to handle the “tough situations”. 

Women walk through this world hearing that they are crazy so often they start to believe that it’s true. They start to feel guilty about their feelings. Slowly they stop expressing themselves as often. Slowly they may stop expressing themselves at all. Their fear of being labeled crazy forces them in to a metaphorical aphasia. 

Today I tell you ladies you are not crazy. Your feelings are notmal and they are real. You deserve to speak and you deserve to be heard. I’m not saying go out in to the world and dump your feelings all over without warning or discretion. We are still responsible for how we use our voices and how our feelings affect others. We must use our voices with kindness and love, but we also must use them to express how we feel without fear of the label crazy. We owe it to ourselves.