In its persistent quest for justice and to champion ALL women everywhere, Lipstick Republic is proud to announce a new contributor to our site. Rachael Severino is a sixteen-year-old high school student who will lend her voice to our mission. We hope you enjoy this first of many Op-ed pieces by her below.
By Rachael Severino
Save the children! A popular cry of the Republican Party, ‘save the children,’ has become an excuse to create sexist dress codes and ban transgender people from using the bathroom for the gender with which they identify.
Save the children! If Republicans care so deeply for the children that they are willing to ban spaghetti straps as attire for young girls [even in brutal summer heat] and force transgender children/teens to use a bathroom in which they are uncomfortable, why is it their concern seems so much more focused on their precious guns than on the children they are dying to protect?
How many more times must teenagers walk into their classrooms and have teachers ask about their mental state, telling them the school social worker is available to speak to them if recent events have caused upset (as if shooting upon shooting can take place without causing emotional turmoil)?
In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and in the absence of government’s willingness to move beyond their disengaged inertia, the children have decided to save themselves. These powerful teens have captured a global audience, demanding to be heard and resolve the issue of American gun control. They have face-to-face called for answers from government officials. They have coordinated rallies and walkouts, and inspired other American teenagers to take action.
What do they hope to accomplish?
These teenagers are aiming to create a true gun control policy. In other nations, such as Japan and Australia, where there is heavily enforced gun control, there are no mass shootings. Let me say that again, as opposed to the United States, which, in the name of protecting the Second Amendment has succumbed to almost weekly mass shootings, our neighboring industrialized nations have no mass shootings. These nations endured one, perhaps two, mass shooting incidents, after which they recalled all guns and destroyed them, allowing very few individuals to carry weapons after the fact.
There has been change since the February 14 th shooting. Some states have taken the initiative and begun to change their gun policies. Vermont and Rhode Island have called for stricter regulations. Florida, a traditionally gun-friendly state, passed legislation on the issue in the hopes of protecting school children. Gun control groups have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and many major companies (Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National) have severed ties with the NRA.
Though common sense legislation makes sense, many Conservatives are, of course, resistant. For those who scream and cry, ‘how will I protect my family?’, there are some questions they ought to consider. They are supposed to be properly housing their weapon, meaning the firearm is to be locked up in a secure place. If someone broke in and held a gun on them, their gun, theoretically (and practically) is of no use. If they haven’t locked up their weapon, that means they have a gun lying around unsecured. What happens if their young child accidentally shoots themselves or a friend? After all, it is fun to show off such an item to a friend while parents are in another room. Not only have they failed to protect their child, they are, in the eyes of the law, responsible for that child’s death. What if their child is angry at another person or mentally unstable and steals said gun? That has all the makings of yet another mass shooting. Conservatives, you simply are not protecting your family.
And now, as powerful young people like Emma González and David Hogg rally the masses and ask these questions, Republicans are abandoning their save the children! stance. Rather, they are turning around, and viciously attacking these victims and leaders. As teenagers rally together, creating plans to bring to the government and offering one another support, internet trolls are ruthlessly attacking the survivors. People with conspiracy theories [that can be described as nothing short of moronic] are claiming these children, who have lived through one of the most horrific ordeals the imagination could muster, are actors paid by Liberal Democrats in an attempt to gain support for gun control. At this point, it’s almost to be expected.
What was not expected was high-ranking political figures to engage in bullying these children on Twitter. Full grown adults, elected to protect and represent the American people, are spending their time belittling traumatized teenagers. Let that sink in for a moment, please. These officials have opted to keep their pockets full of the NRA’s blood money. An image of survivors crying after a Florida gun control law failed to pass was retweeted by a politician who wrote, “…the worst news they got since their parents told them they needed summer jobs.” These teenagers have been assaulted enough. They should be given support, not be torn down. Other notable Republicans, like Tomi Lahren, have attempted to shame the Democrats for once again having to bring up gun control, claiming these shootings “aren’t about guns.” This time, however, survivors of the Valentine’s Day Massacre responded, informing her that, yes, it is about guns and they want change.
Like most of Gen Z, González and Hogg know how to use globalization to their advantage. González wrote a commanding speech, calling out the United States President directly for accepting mass funding from the National Rifle Association(NRA). Hogg, a student journalist at Stoneman Douglas, interviewed his classmates and laid bare their feelings to the rest of the world. Various other survivors and supporters are sending out tweets, signing petitions, and walking out of classrooms – insisting on change.
Teenagers are expected to have their future plans laid out by their junior year of high school. Adults expect a college plan to be laid out and a career roadmap in place by the time a person turns sixteen. The events of February 14, 2018 have resulted in sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-olds announcing that they want to change corrupt policies and take on the NRA. Suddenly, they are too immature and uneducated to know what they’re talking about. Teenagers are intelligent and valid human beings, something that’s often overlooked by older generations. They are capable of understanding, planning, and executing more than these politicians could ever have bargained.
These teens have spent the majority of their lives reading and watching Harry Potter take down the corrupt Ministry of Magic, Percy Jackson stand up to the Gods and defy the past, Clary Fairchild battle deeply ingrained racism, homophobia, and backward tradition, and Katniss Everdeen tear down the government and start anew. They were raised on revolution and change.
Now, as these teenagers take to the world – like a baby to water – fully willing and able to change old, outdated policies, it is the politicians [who stopped caring long ago about anything but money] who are panicking. These survivors are more than the children who made it out of another shooting. They’re tired and angry. They’re powerful and commanding. They have a massive audience and they plan to use it to their full advantage. Stay tuned.
Rachael Severino is a quirky eleventh grader, aspiring author, tiny feminist, and cat enthusiast.