Women's empowerment has been a long running theme for a few decades now, but I believe that it is more important now than ever. I am not just talking about the elections either. (Although there is a lot to be said about it in that area as well.) I know this is also an issue for men, but as a woman, I want to take this time to talk about this issue from a woman's perspective.

I am so sick of the idea that being a woman means that my body is somehow made for literally everyone but me. The fact that people find it even a little bit of a debatable point is disgusting. And a lot of people really honestly don't realize how common it still is. Just like having Obama as our president leads people to believe that racism is somehow not an issue anymore, having Hillary as a strong possibility for our president leads people to believe that sexism isn't an issue anymore either. Wrong. 

I currently live in the middle of nowhere in the deep conservative south, but even so, there are some heavily populated areas. Last month I was shopping in the city (or at least what passes for a city around here) and while I walked over to our last stop at the strip mall to pick up a few items, my husband went out to park the car closer so I wouldn't have to walk so far, as I am currently 8 months pregnant. As I left the store a group of young men started rolling down their windows and hollering at me, driving by slowly and obviously making me uncomfortable. As they continued I flipped them off, hoping to make them go away, but of course, they continued. At this point my husband got out of his car and chased them down, but they sped off before he could get to them. 

Here is the thing about this story: this is not the first time this has happened to me. You would think being pregnant would stop this kind of thing from happening, but it doesn't. I have been hollered at from cars, had men try to corral me into their car, men grouping my ass in public, and even been sexually abused in my previous marriage. And I am not the only one I know in my life who has experienced this. Every single woman I know in my life has had this or similar events (sometimes much more traumatic ones) happen to them. 

Now yes, I could go into a rant about how men need to learn to respect women, because they do and it needs to be fixed. However, I am a woman. And as a woman I am interested in the roles we can play from our side in helping this become less of a problem. 

Guess what ladies? You contribute to rape culture just as much as men. 

To stop these things from being normal you need to stop looking at yourselves and other women as being sex objects for boys. Women see each other as competition, and therefor bully them for being too fat, too skinny, not having big enough boobs, the clothes they wear, their makeup, hair, how many guys they sleep with, and literally every other little thing about ourselves. Stop it! You are feeding into the idea that women are meant to be looked at in this way. 

Here is what you should be doing: worry about what makes you feel pretty, and that is it. End of story. Let your body look the way you like it, wear the clothes that make you feel pretty, and focus your looks for yourself. Stop letting commercials and adds and other women tell you how to be beautiful. And stop telling them that they are ugly and not pretty enough. As women we need to empower each other to love our bodies and our personal styles. We need to love ourselves. 

We need to listen to the pain of other women and be there for one another so we are no longer afraid to open up about sexual assault. No more shaming each other and telling them they were just asking for it. No more putting each other down to raise ourselves up. If we treat each other like this it gives men and other women the right to treat us like this. It's what makes us think of ourselves as ugly and unworthy. 

We are not bait or eye candy, we are beautiful, we are women. And we will not let sexual assault and abuse be a normal part of our lives and the lives of the other women in our life. It starts with you.