Addicted to Love? Love Yourself First

Literally every woman I know can recall a time they were sexually violated. It’s easy to swap stories in a group of ladies about inappropriate comments in the workplace, being groped without permission at a bar or shouted at from a car window. All of the women I know can remember having their opinion of themselves shaken by a comment about their appearance. Most troubling of all, they can all recall letting these experiences breeze past, brushing them off and enduring it, accepting them as simple facts of life. That, my friends, is fucked up.

I would regale you with my own examples of all of those if I had an unlimited time and word count. I could also tell you in depth about conversations I have had where I was criticized for speaking with a tone of frustration and feminism. I often censor myself and wonder if I need to ‘tone it down’, concerned that my opinions will be taken less seriously if it sounds as though it’s coming from a woman’s brain. That, my friends, is also fucked up. Given the onslaught of upsetting news stories of late, I write this Addicted to Love? contribution with exactly the amount of feminism and frustration I am feeling – unapologetically.

We women do a lot of things in order to be accepted by men. We wear clothes that we think men want to see us in. We stay places that make us feel uncomfortable because don’t want to be perceived as rude or prudish. If we are offended, we often choose to say nothing instead of something because it’s not cute to be confrontational. We allow ourselves to be compromised in the pursuit of acceptance by others.

Let’s stop doing that.

Let’s have enough love and respect for ourselves that we don’t need the half-assed external sources. Let’s dump our significant others if they makes us feel like less than rock stars. Let’s show ourselves some love by telling that guy in the office that his sexist jokes are not funny. Let’s tell cat callers to fuck off (as long as you feel safe and strong enough to do so – a sad reality we must always remember) and have confidence knowing that doing so is in no way unladylike. Let’s remove unwanted hands from our thighs and remind ourselves that we are not uptight for having done that. If we’re debating whether or not we should call the cops, let’s call the cops. Let’s stop making excuses for people who infringe on our comfort and safety. Let’s stop apologizing for demanding the level of respect that shouldn’t even have to ask for.

Let’s create the safe space for ourselves and for other women that our legal systems fail to provide so that reporting abuse doesn’t feel like a giant waste of time. Let’s be friends and lovers with the men who are allies to this cause. They exist, I promise. Let’s surround ourselves with good people and not feel guilty about excluding everyone else.

Love yourself first, and enocourage every woman you know to love herself too.

Here’s to you, ladies. Let’s stick together.

Hilary Johnston
Hilary Johnston is a writer, event manager and musician from Toronto.
Hilary Johnston