We Hold These Truths: Things to Stop Telling Women


Artist credit: Charles M. Schultz, Peanuts

Maybe I'm just kinda tired. I mean, I am tired after the recent and grotesque Supreme Court rulings: one that expands gun rights in the midst of mass shootings at schools and elsewhere and another that limits a woman's human right to bodily autonomy.


Artist credit: Edward Littleford, "Two Supreme Court decisions that will live in infamy"

That last one, the Supreme Court Ruling on June 24th that overturned Roe v. Wade, now affords more rights to guns and corpses than to women in the United States. Guns and corpses. Specifically, I'm talking about bodily autonomy. And yes, when I say the word "corpse," I'm talking about dead people.


* * *


What is "bodily autonomy," also known as "bodily integrity"? Since I'm not writing an essay for school or an academic article, let's check in Professor Wikipedia, shall we?


Bodily integrity is the inviolability of the physical body and emphasizes the importance of personal autonomy, self-ownership, and self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. In the field of human rights, violation of the bodily integrity of another is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal. (Wikipedia with citations)


What bodily autonomy or integrity means is the right to self-govern, being able to decide what happens to your own body, as long as you aren't harming another person. And now we're unraveling a moral sweater because what is a "person"?


At four weeks pregnant, is that tiny group of cells the size of a poppyseed a "person" because it is housed inside a woman's uterus? The legal answer is no. According to U.S. Legal Code § 8, a “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” is a “born-alive infant.” That’s when the collective human embryonic/fetal cells the size of a poppyseed (Week 4) to a pomelo (Week 21) to a pumpkin (Week 40) become a legal person. See here for more fruit and vegetable examples:



Artist credit: Jen Aboki, "Bump to Baby"

"Personhood" begins when the little pumpkin is born alive. Technically not any sooner. Of course, that might change with the current Supreme Court, a group of moralistic, politically-appointed justices, mostly men, whose job it is (according to their own website) to ensure “the American people the promise of equal justice under the law” (“About the Court”). I guess that depends on what the definition of “promise” is because I see no equal justice under the law that was overturned, the law granting a woman the right to choose what happens to her own body. What I understand is that recent Supreme Court Justices lied during their confirmation hearings when they said they respect the rule of law and precedent in regards to Roe v. Wade. What I understand is that the word “promise” should have the adjective “empty” in front of it.


“Equal justice” is an empty promise if you are a woman. Or a person of color. Or economically disadvantaged. Or physically or mentally handicapped. Or something other than Christian (and the right kind of Christian). Or, or, or… a living one of any of these people because unlike women, dead folks have bodily autonomy. Ironic, isn’t it?


Did you know that in the United States, you must sign up to be an organ donor? You cannot force a dead person to donate body parts. In other words, the organs of a dead person cannot be removed without prior consent, even if doing so would save the life of living person. Even in death the person can say, "No, you may not use my body or its pieces against my will."


But a woman who is impregnated may be forced to carry a child against hers. In some states, being forced to carry a child includes women who are raped… or victims of incest… or if the mother's own physical health is at risk. Even if she is on the brink. of. death... and the only way to save her life would be the termination of pregnancy, it's a solid “Tough luck, Cookie.” In some places and to some people, women are nothing more than vessels, breeding stock.


As much as I admire the work of Canadian author Margaret Atwood and her dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, we don't need to turn to fiction when we think about women and their suffering at the lack of reproductive rights. This is a real story with real women, and this is not the first time women have been reduced to the role of breeder. A look not so far back in United States history will show that (until those textbooks are yanked from the shelves). It's just that some politicians have just decided that 2022 would be a groovy year to reverse the calendar way, way back. Back to slavery and further back yet. (But we're not supposed to talk about that, right? Ooops!)


And please. Don’t come at us with a “letting states decide” argument. We know that's bullshit. If we were to let states decide, some warm regions of the United States would still have slavery and segregation. Some rights require federal protections. Human rights. Like the right to self-governance. Like the right respecting the freedom of and from religion. Like the right to free speech, which I will exercise here. Because I can still. For the time being.


*looks around


And I realize how ironic this next bit is going to be because we do have free speech (currently) in the United States, and people (maybe just the right kind of people) are free to express themselves (in a way some others believe is the right kind of way). Take this under advisement, this list, because at last count there are approximately 170 million women in the US, and most of us are tired of the telling.


Does the list below apply to all women? Do all women hold these truths to be self-evident? Certainly not. The Declaration of Independence does, in fact, say that "all men are created equal." I guess that really does mean men and not women because our Declaration of Independence was overturned with Roe.


And this list, could it not apply to others? To non-women, for example? I’m sure it could and does, but today I’m writing about women because our fundamental human right of self-governance was just removed. And speaking as a woman, there are some things I’d like to share before that right is also removed.


A good editor might have removed that whole last section: the explaining of rights, the poppyseed to pumpkin part, the dead people and "democracy for some" bits. Tightened it up. But then I remind myself that I don't need to make any excuses about why I want to say or express what I do or explain why I'm hyperventilating as I type this. Maybe I'm just bone-fucking tired of being seen and treated as a second class citizen in this country. Maybe I thought this list might be a good start for people who feel the need to weigh in about all kinds of things that aren't any of their business.


Like what a woman can do with her own body.


Stuff like that.


So here it is, an irreverent, all-purpose list of things to stop telling women:



DECLARATION of DON'TS from the Conditionally Sovereign Nation of Piper, a citizen of the Divided States of America


Don’t tell women what to do with their bodies.

It’s none of your damn business.

Mind your own body.


Don’t tell women what to wear or ask questions about their dress.

It’s none of your damn business.

You do you. Don’t ask, “You gonna wear that?”


Don’t tell women to “choose better.”

It’s none of your damn business.

You choose for yourself. Keep your opinion to yourself.


Don’t tell women, “But you knew I was like this...”

It’s none of your damn business.

Maybe, just maybe we should have chosen better.


Don’t tell women to have babies or ask when they might.

It’s none of your damn business.

Not every woman wants or can have a child.


Don’t tell women about their weight or ask about it.

It’s none of your damn business.

Not your job to say what we “should” look like.


Don’t tell women how much makeup to wear.

It’s none of your damn business.

We can show you how to apply your own if you want.


Don’t tell women about their looks in general.

It’s none of your damn business.

Just keep your thoughts to yourself. Mmmkay?


Don’t tell women they look pregnant or ask if they are.

It’s none of your damn business.

Never. Not even if you see a baby coming out.


Don’t tell women about their cycle or ask about it.

It’s none of your damn business.

Asking “Is it that time of month?” is a death wish.


Don’t tell women to “relax” or “calm down.”

It’s none of your damn business.

Never in the history of history has this worked.


Don’t tell women, “It’s not a big deal.”

It’s none of your damn business.

And you might just find out how big a deal it is.


Don’t tell women they are being emotional.

It’s none of your damn business.

You aren’t the police chief of emotions.


Don’t tell women to stop breastfeeding in public.

It’s none of your damn business.

Babies don’t eat on your convenience schedule; they don't care if you're a prude.


Don’t tell women to smile more.

It’s none of your damn business.

We are entitled to our own emotions, as are you.


Don’t tell women to use cleaner language.

It’s none of your damn business.

Sometimes, the word “fuck” is the only one that works.


Don’t tell women, “You’re crazy!”

It’s none of your damn business.

Not only is this dismissive, but gaslighting is real.


Don’t tell women something you assume they don’t know.

It’s none of your damn business.

Your mansplaining is unwanted, patronizing, and rude.


Don’t tell women, “Let me explain this so that you can understand.”

It’s none of your damn business.

Mansplaining #2. You think we’re dumb? Back away slowly.


Don’t tell women to be “more ladylike.”

It’s none of your damn business

We’ll mind the “p’s” and “q’s” we set for ourselves.


Don’t tell women they look tired or sick.

It’s none of your damn business.

No one wants to hear that, and we probably know.


Don’t tell a woman to shave or tell her how to tend her lady garden.

It’s none of your damn business.

If you want a shaved vagina, shave your own.


Don’t tell women to feel flattered about getting free drinks when out.

It’s none of your damn business.

Buying a woman a drink is not usually a “no-strings attached” gesture.


Don’t tell women they are being lied to or misled about something.

It’s none of your damn business… unless you’re the deceitful one.

Let women make up their own minds, and don’t be a jerk.


Don’t tell women to ask your mom how to do something.

It’s none of your damn business.

You think we’re doing it wrong? Go live with your mom, then.


Don’t tell women anything if they are already speaking.

It’s none of your damn business.

Most of us are used to being spoken over, and it’s total bullshit.


Don’t tell women they are [insert thing here]... “for a woman.”

It’s none of your damn business.

Seriously? Smart for a woman? Strong for a woman? Up yours.


Don’t tell women they are [insert thing here]... “for their age.”

It’s none of your damn business.

What are you trying to say? Don’t ask the age at all. It’s rude.


Don’t tell women anything about their sexuality or gender expression.

It’s none of your damn business, unless it is.

If you’re interested, say that. Otherwise, get bent.

Don’t tell women they “aren’t like other girls.”

This IS your damn buisness, so don’t be an asshole about it.

First, women aren’t girls. Gross. Second, don’t compare us.


Don’t tell women what your ex used to do.

This IS your damn business, so don’t be an asshole about it.

There’s probably a reason your ex is your ex. Think on that.


Don’t tell women how hot other women are (with exceptions)

This IS your damn business, so don’t be an asshole about it.

Do you want a gold star for noticing? Maybe crude and insulting? Are you suggesting?

(No judgement here for those in open relationships)


Don’t tell women you want a relationship if you really don’t.

This IS your damn business, so don’t be an asshole about it.

And for fuck’s sake, don’t ghost women. Be a stand-up person.


Don’t tell women you expect sex after a date or pressure them this way.

This IS your damn business, so don’t be an asshole about it.

If what you want is a hook-up, communicate that before the date.


Lastly, in case you forgot:


Don’t tell women what to do with their bodies.

It’s none of your damn business.

Mind your own body.


One more time for that guy in the back who isn’t listening:


Don’t tell women what to do with their bodies.

It’s none of your damn business.

Mind your own body.


One last time because some of you were thinking of what to say while we were talking:


Don’t tell women what to do with their bodies.

It’s none of your damn business.

Mind your own body.




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