I voted. So should you.

This year, I voted. Just as I have every election since I became legally eligible to do so at age 18 (that magical age when I was deemed old enough to help decide the fate of our country, not to mention die for it, but not quite old enough to have a beer. But that's a rant for another day.).

The process of voting in the 2014 mid-term election was not any different for me, but the meaning behind the ballot I cast has changed. Today, for the first time, I voted not just for myself and my future, but for my daughter and hers.

My mother and her generation forever changed the fate of women in this country. They fought like hell to have the right to make choices about their bodies and their sexuality. They fought like hell to get to do the same jobs that men do, and be taken seriously while doing them. They refused to live in the shadows, to walk a step behind, to accept that their body, their autonomy, their life, should be subject to the dictates of someone else.

I'm embarrassed to say that my generation has, to a large extent, taken this for granted. Many of us don't even identify ourselves as feminists because we don't recognize that the truths we hold self-evident, like the right to be treated as equals to men, are dearly held feminist ideals. Our battle was fought for us, and we've rested on our laurels. And now the ground our mothers gave their blood, sweat, and tears to gain is being lost.

Until I had a daughter, it was easy to see this erosion happening and still look away -- a problem for someone else to solve. But now I'm acutely aware that every single one of us has to fight this battle. We have to fight it with out votes, and with our voices, and with our actions. With a staunch refusal to accept anything less.

So today, I voted. And I'm writing this blog because I'm sick to death of being polite and politically correct so that I don't offend someone. That time is over.

I voted, and I write, because my daughter deserves equal pay for her equal work, and because she deserves to be treated like an equal in the workplace. Her choice to have a child should have no more impact on her career prospects or her salary than that of her male counterparts. I vote, and I write, because I believe that her male counterparts should be entitled to the same bonding opportunities with their children that she is. And because those bonding opportunities should be mandatory and guaranteed by federal law, just as they are in almost every other industrialized nation on this planet.

I voted, and I write, because I want my daughter to have the right to make choices about her body and her health, without the intrusion of government, or the church from which the Constitution of the United States guarantees that that government will be separate.

I voted, and I write, because my daughter, and every other child, deserves to grow up and be able marry the consenting adult of their choice. To have children of their own with that person. To grow old with that person. To not have their valid choice compared to acts of sexual coercion and violence and degradation.

I voted, and I write, because access to birth control is not about getting laid, it's about accessing the best that medicine and science have to offer to proactively take care of our health, whether that means deciding when and under what circumstances to get pregnant, or helping to curtail the debilitating effects of diseases like endometriosis. Our health insurance pays for other treatments prescribed and supervised by a physician. This should be no different. 

I voted, and I write, because we as a society continue to brush off a culture that subversively condones violence against women, even when it stares us right in the face in all of its ugliness and brutality. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where the boys and men around her know that no always means no, that violence is never the answer, where our leaders would never dream of implying that a woman was complicit in her own violation.

I voted, and I write, as a promise to my daughter that I am done being polite and I'm done being quiet and I'm done tiptoeing around these issues because it makes people uncomfortable. It's too important. Her life, and the lives of all of the other daughters, depend on it. My foot is firmly planted. My stake is in the ground. I hope you'll stand with me.


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