The Three Big Words

The A Word

Today, we can hear the A word more and more often. With feminism being on the rise, especially in countries usually referred to as “developing”, Abortion is finally becoming a topic to talk about. While some countries have reached a tolerable level of gender equality, they have made steps towards conscious family planning. Many others, like Chile and Poland, are merely discovering the right of women to take control of their bodies. Thousands of young women struggling for self-expression and the right to choose their own destinies, have come to socially and legally defend abortion not as an act of murder, but an act of leadership and responsibility. Despite the controversy about the ethics of abortion, even religious leaders have come to support it, or at least the right for a woman’s choice. In fact, if we look at any relationship, consent is the fundamental aspect of it. What happens to consent in a woman’s relationship with her body? Shouldn’t she be allowed to give her consent to having a child? So many pro-life activists seem to forget about it, and call women merely vessels for new life. Moreover, the number of men against abortion in the US exceeds the amount of women who feel the same. Similarly, so many men still haven’t embraced the value of consent when it comes to women – coincidence? Abortion, as much as a moral issue, is much more a gender equality issue. The issue that every woman should address in her life, it is the freedom she should advocate for. The A word needs to be said as an affirmation of women’s freedom of choice and true equality.

The R Word

The R word is still mostly a whisper. It is surrounded by an aura of fear, shame, and victim blaming. This is the word that even the most progressive women would still not say out loud, especially if they have been victims themselves. In our society, rape is shameful, and nobody feels comfortable talking about. Even when grueling stories of gang rape in India and Bangladesh come to light, not everyone is willing to sympathize with the victims. Let alone cases like one of Brock Turner when so many do their best to look the other way. Talking about rape takes a lot of courage and self-reflection. In the world where a woman’s virginity is still somehow equalled with her innocence and good nature, being raped means being responsible for losing part of good character. Some manage to break the circle of fear and speak up. The hashtag #notfraidtospeak appeared in Ukrainian and Russian-speaking social media in July of 2016, and after only a few days it had been used in thousands of posts from women of different ages and social backgrounds. All of them have been at some point sexually harassed or abused. Many of them found courage to speak publicly about these traumatic experiences for the first time in many years. The internet can come as another way of subjecting victims to shame and blaming, however, it also comes as a spiritual outlet and a powerful tool for keeping others accountable. Rape is a real problem. And saying the R word is the only way to make this hidden issues visible and be on the way to tackling it.

The M Word

The M word is a good one. Or at least a neutral one, a natural one. There has been a lot of positive change in the way society perceives menstruation. Despite the fact that many men are still afraid of menstrual blood and even think that women are cursed when they bleed, there’s been a shift in perspective when it comes to periods. Nepal finally banned murderous menstrual huts, employers in India are entertaining the possibility of menstrual leave. A Russian model, Natalia Vodyanova, has recently spoken about the importance of menstrual health. All of it begs the question: are we there yet? Maybe we are. It’s totally ok not to want to discuss periods, as we don’t usually discuss going #1 and #2. Nevertheless, more and more men talk about periods, and they are not ashamed of it. Then, why should we?  The topic of menstruation has made its way to popular culture too, like that satirical sketch in Movie 43. Hopefully, one day the M word will make it even further, how about a song about periods? That would be pretty empowering.