An Open Letter To Vice President Pence — Women Are Not Disposable And We Matter

Flickr / Gage Skidmore
Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Dear Mr. Vice President,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am many things but above all I am a woman with a past, and hopefully, a future under your administration. I am not someone who accepts conditional terms to exist.

My earliest memory of being conditional was in the 5th grade where I maintained my first relationship for approximately 6 minutes. The breakup, particularly brutal for a pubescent girl, was credited to my braces which adorned my face as a decorative ornament from the middle school through many of my developmental years to come. Simply put, a smile under construction was not a sight that wanted to be seen by the boys in my grade, girls should not come with hardware. After 6 minutes of thought I was reconsidered and deemed I was not feminine enough.

I cataloged the condition; a girl’s face and body should be flawless if she is expected to keep a boy.

Reading your various comments about whom you feel can and cannot use a women’s restroom is disturbing. Declaring that you have the right to dictate where one relieves them based on their body parts from your definition of women is unbalanced. Have we become so desolate as a nation that we police restroom policy. I beg you to reconsider.

At age 17 I kept my head down and worked as hard as I could to escape the small beachside town I called home. After time I was recognized at my job for managing the operation efficiently and resourcefully, something to which I was very proud of. After being called into my supervising manager’s office after one successful day I felt joy and pride for a job well done. He wandered in hovering by the door but never allowing the courtesy of sitting. “We’ve decided to go a different way with the promotion of our next supervisor. You will not be considered.” he stated leaning against the doorpost with his arms folded. I stared at the linoleum floor hard and long before asking the reason. He offered a sympathetic smile and remarked, “Honestly- we feel this position is better held by a man who would have more authority, I’m sure you understand you are far too gentle but a bit bossy, a women’s approach can be like that sometimes.”

I cataloged the condition; a girl must not be too soft spoken or too brazen, she must be just right to be respected in business and the world.

Mr. Vice President, the words you have used to oppose women in the military appear black and white on a computer screen, brought up years ago, before you were given this unnerving power. We see the bridges that were built are being burned because we are not ‘just right’ in our occupations. Furthermore, you hide behind subjective ideas that classify what women can handle; it has been your prerogative that a family and a career cannot possibly be handled by the same gender that supplied munitions in WWI tirelessly. I beg you to reconsider.

Finding likeminded individuals helped me blossom into a more confident person, one who was able to hold the hand of her girlfriend in public. Walking up to a gas station at 20 I fearlessly grabbed my girlfriend’s hand. She shot me a brief smile and I relaxed despite my inability to control how rigid I was walking, focusing on only getting to the door and out as quickly as possible. A group of acquaintances including a good friend sat outside gathered around a small table sipping cheap coffees, all eyes glued on us. As I grabbed for the handle one girl shouted out at me, “I can’t believe you’re doing that in public, for everyone to see. What an embarrassment.” My good friend glanced at me, and quickly looked down. Feeling like a brick had been weighing me down I attempted to speak but nothing came out, barely a stutter in the face of adversary. She continued smiling coolly, “No one here thinks it’s okay. No one here thinks you’re okay.” I looked to my friend for help, but she wouldn’t maintain eye contact. My girlfriend’s hand slipped from mine as I pulled the door open forcefully.

I cataloged the condition; friends will not stand for your difference, you are alone in defense of yourself.

When you, Mr. Vice President, freely uses the term “societal collapse” in reference to love between same sex individuals my whole self becomes conditional as do the minds and bodies of millions of like-hearted people across the globe. When a facet of the gender we love becomes perverse I imagine it as a tool in the mouths of those whom fear us. I imagine an arsenal built and invested in for hundreds of years to come, sealing hate as our signature. Mostly I revert back to the scared girl at the gas station who gripped the handle of the door so tight she thought it might fall off. Now, I know this won’t change. Most of the damage has been done. We see what our friends have decided is permissible in office by supporting these men who attempt to fit us in a box, to manifest their ideas of what and how women should act, speak, feel, look and create. Those whom we have grown up with and whose birthdays, weddings and graduations we attended have placed their faith in the ability of these men to shape and condition us.

What you stand for our country stands for. Similarly what you fall for, we shall fall for too. I refuse to fall on your principles; I refuse your definition of fact.

I am not disposable and I am not conditional. I am a woman; hear me roar.

Fearfully yours,

Nicole

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