Shelby Aemmer was born and raised in the Midwest. There she met her husband Chris and obtained her undergrad in Social Work. She and her husband have traveled throughout Europe while residing in Prague but currently reside in Indiana. She has shared some of her travels through her video blog to give her audience a sense of what life is like abroad (Prague Vlog). She also shares some of her stories throughout her podcast (Paper Cup Calls). Shelby is a fellow writer and advocate for people. She desires people to be seen in their fullness and respected for who they are.

Preface – Taylor

There are no opposed sides…

A little bit about me: I am a white, 23-year-old female, born and raised in Northern Indiana to a middle class family. I am a needy daughter, loyal friend, whimsical auntie, annoying little sister, and wife of nearly five years. I am the product of divorce and the youngest of 7 combined siblings, with a real craving for attention.

I think everyone views their lives as normal until they start observing others. I have never known a time when my mother wasn’t a hardworking, breadwinner for the family. Her dinners come from boxes and her joy comes from her work, her children, and her books.

My father, a salesman, has worked several jobs. He has sold cars, homes, and tires. He’s managed multiple businesses and even had a brief stint as a stay-at-home dad. He is the dinner maker, house fixer upper, and the witty, creative center of the family.

Although I did not grow up in a particularly “Christian” household I found myself attracted to a faith in high school and most of my education about sex, relationships, and gender comes from a strict conservative Christian background. Some of that education was genuinely good, but other parts were painful in retrospect and deeply disturbing at times. In all honesty, I am still trying to sort through the mess of my experiences and the questions they left me with, but something I am convinced of, it is that anyone should be able to express their gender and sexuality how they see fit.

As a result of this background, I am a (sometimes) fierce, confident, empowered woman.

But other times I am insecure, scared, and sad.

There are times when I love my body and find everything I try on as fabulous as I feel inside.

But there are others time I can barely look myself in the mirror without completely falling apart.

I have gained weight, lost weight, worn tons of makeup, worn none at all, dyed my hair every color possible, swore I would never do it again… then did it again.

I enjoy running, painting, traveling, cats, my friends, and my family.

But, another reality of my life (and most women’s lives) is a string of unfortunate encounters with men, dating back as long as I can remember.

The earliest memory I have of sexual harassment was when I was 8 years old and the neighborhood boys would occasionally flash me.

What I didn’t know then, is that instances like this would continue to happen to me for the rest of my life.

Like the time in high school when a boy shoved his hand down my shirt and grabbed my breast because he ‘wanted to see my necklace’

Or just a few weeks ago when I was at the club with my friends and this drunk man came right up to me with his sloppy lips and so aggressively tried to kiss me that I had to do one of those matrix back bends to get away from him.

Or nearly every time that I walk on the street and men harass me from their car by honking and yelling.

I won’t go into detail about every sexist encounter, unwelcome advance, or dangerous position I have been put in by a man (whether they intended to do so) because quite honestly, there isn’t enough time or patience within me. What I know for a fact (specifics aside), is that for most women, harassment and unequal treatment is a Near. Daily. Fight. What I also know is that just like those other women, I want to be believed, for my pain to not be marginalized, and for the victimizers in my life and others’ to be held accountable.

This is especially important in a divisive, polarized, and uncertain political climate. Like many others I was excited when the much overdo #metoo movement gave women a powerful platform to speak against sexual harassment and assault. I watched it grow with piqued interest as a series of high-profile cases against influential men began sprouting up; cases against men who’ve never had to take responsibility for their actions, and who in their time and position in society, contributed to breeding a culture of unequal treatment of women.

Growing alongside with #metoo, I also saw a rise in a deeply partisan ‘us vs them’ mentality. As someone who has been through the numbing and lonely experiences, I share with those who have been taken advantage of it’s disheartening to watch such sensitive experiences be designated as belonging to one camp in an ideological war between believers and skeptics. What I want people to understand most in my ‘Letters from her”, is that there are no opposed sides, camps, or room for battlefields, it’s just us. With topics like sexual abuse, poor body image, and the confusions of discovering and understanding one’s sexuality, they’re not women’s issues. They are human issues…

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