I’m seventeen. That means that when I get petitions in the mail I can’t sign them, which can be so hard sometimes. There are so many things I want to say and I want to stand for, but I can’t yet. So today, when I opened a petition letter from the pro-choice movement I really just wanted to sign it, and I couldn’t.
But I realized that didn’t mean I didn’t have a voice, so I sat down and started writing a letter of support to the movement. This is what I wrote:
Dear “the pro-choice” movement,
I would love to support and join this movement. Currently, I am only seventeen & I cannot sign the petition. I don’t have much money to give because I’m a full-time college student & don’t have a job yet.
Personally, I think it’s horrifying that anyone would ever agree to / vote for any kind of anti-choice movement in America. In school, they tell us we’re a country built on the belief that everyone should have freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, why should we exclude freedom to control our own bodies?
I grew up in a pretty liberal family in a very blue state, but at the start of the last election, I really started to struggle. I felt helpless, not having a vote… see all my friends and I wanted was to have a voice & at sixteen we felt that we didn’t, but we were wrong. I might not be able to vote yet, & I might not be able to sign that petition yet, but I can write this letter & it can be published.
See at sixteen we knew exactly what was going on in the world. We understood that we’d just gotten stuck with a racist, sexist cheeto for president. We understood that our little sisters and brothers wouldn’t grow up in a world where they felt safe, or beautiful, or strong. We understood how lucky we had been growing up, that we had a president who gave us support.
I don’t agree with everything the Obama’s did, but thank god for them really. Michelle appeared on Disney channel every week encouraging kids to eat well. She was this strong woman we could look up to.
I grew up thinking I could do anything. Rock climb? No biggy. Ride a skateboard? Sure. I never cared I was the only girl doing it. I did it because I could, because I didn’t mind a bit of dirt or scratches, because I’m the god-damn toughest person I know.
I’ve dealt with crappy boyfriends, catcalls, girls who tell me I’m weird because I’m not concerned with being someone else’s definition of perfect, and my own father telling me I’m out of shape and “ just looking after me as a fitness trainer”. I’ve fought sexist dress codes that target girls, especially curvy ones by tearing down the school posters and ripping them up. I punched a boyfriend in the face when he called me a bitch, because I was a strong woman who wasn’t going to put up with his constant insults.
I am a woman. I am strong, & powerful, & nothing will ever hold me back. I am perfectly capable of making my own choices and no man is going to tell me that I can’t do something. Not now, not ever.
Claire Isabella Palmer-Page