E is for Empowered: #AtoZChallenge

Much as I genuine like the people I interact with, one of the unfortunate things about them is that they tend to make assumptions about me.

It’s not that I can’t see how they arrive at their conclusions, however wrong they are — I’m married, so I must be straight.  I’m a parent, so I must be pro-life.  I graduated a Catholic college, so I must be Christian.

And even I — bisexual pro-choice non-religious me — can understand why they would make those knee-jerk assumptions.  But some of them seem to come out of left field.

I’m fairly young; I have limitations as to what I can wear at my day job, but I certainly don’t dress conservatively; my bag dons numerous pro-woman and feminist buttons.  But for some reason — involving a longer, older local news story that I won’t bother you with as background — it’s come to my attention that they seem to assume I should be disapproving of overt displays of adult female sexuality.

And, um.  No. Sorry.  But no.

I respect those women who find strength and power in modest dress and conservative living; I respect their choices, and I respect their right to personal expression.  But when you start conflating conservative dress and modesty with self-respect, I have a problem.

I’ve been nearly naked in a room full of people.  I’ve donned lace panties and glitter pasties in front of a group of strangers, I’ve gyrated topless across a ballroom floor, I’ve stripped down to undies and a feather boa in front of a crowd of strangers, and it was the most powerful and wonderful I’ve felt in my life.

I studied burlesque and striptease for a(n) (unfortunately brief) time with a local burlesque troupe, and I can say — as a longtime fan of burlesque, and (briefly) as a student of it — being an active agent of my own sexuality was a wonderful and liberating thing for me.  It was empowering, knowing I had the ability to so tightly control my body; that I had the power to arouse and titillate (and still be ensured a safe space); that I could choreograph and perform a piece of art (and make it sexy, dark, dramatic, funny) with my full self.  It was amazing.

It was amazing, and it wasn’t for everyone, and I respect that.  What I don’t appreciate is anyone looking down their nose telling me I have a lack of self-respect for doing something that makes me feel powerful.

What’s something that others might look down on that makes you feel strong and empowered?


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Jessica Cross

Writer, maker, geek, feminist, mom. Not necessarily in that order.

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