Published by: AK98
What America Means to Me:
Over this 4th of July weekend, Bleacher Brothers has asked me to write an opinion piece on “what America means to me.” One thing that I’ve learned since graduating college is that I have a lot to learn, so the answer to this question now may be different in a decade. Even with that being the case, as part of the Gen Z population I know what America & being American means to me:
Anything I want it to mean.
The freedom to be whatever I want to be is the first thing to come to mind. I can literally be anything I want, even going as far as identifying as a wolf or my “assigned gender.” Even things I may find as ridiculous as being Otherkin (people who identify as being part/full animal or mythical creatures, such as sprites or dragons) or trends like Paraphilic infantilism aka “Adult Babies/Diaper Lovers” are allowed to exist in their own space, even if the members of those communities are pushing the boundary lines of those spaces.
Sometimes I wonder if America will ever be at a place where thousands of people dressed up as foxes & elves and their supporters will line flood the streets and the halls of state capitol buildings to vehemently shriek in the faces of their detractors.
As crazy as this may seem, it wasn’t that long ago when the concept of being a gender different from the sexual reproductive organs/genitals was seen as ridiculous & taboo. Now, they are being celebrated in giant ad campaigns worldwide. On the flip-side of that, America also allows for the detractors of such issues to exist. People who hold to traditional scientific/religious views rather than current pop-culture rhetoric.
We have detractors of religious beliefs such as atheism, and hell (pun intended) we even allow for churches devoted to Satan. The point is, America allows these places to all exist. And with the technology explosion in the 21st century, more people are able to connect, and be, whatever they feel. And still, the people who think these individuals of some of the more fringe communities (like the “rape me/rob me” sexual fantasy phenomena) are merely mentally unstable people trying to feel special (a part of a community) are equally protected to their ideas.
Most Americans are told from an early age that they can be whatever they want; “If you dream it, it’s possible.” And that’s true. There is plenty of hard work that goes into achieving those dreams, and “possible” isn’t a certainty. There are chances that those dreams will not come true, and all you will take with you are the lessons learned during the process. But, in 2023 America, the aesthetics of gender, skin color, and/or sexual orientation will not be one of the defining factors of whether or not you reach your dream.
Sure, biology will most likely prevent a woman from ever being the NFL MVP, much like it would prevent a man from giving birth, or breast feeding. Are there still unfair advantages for certain types of people? Absolutely, and that will never change. The best we can do is try to even the odds across the board so everyone will have a fair shot at getting a slice of the pie.
I’m grateful to be an American. I know no other way. At 25, I’ve been blessed with a life that has encouraged my goals. I have two loving, supportive parents (even when I strayed from the medical legacy of our family), a career that gives me the freedom of expression, and the possibilities that come with an unknown tomorrow.
If I identify as an astronaut, does that mean I get to go into space?
I don’t know, but I’m sure grateful the possibility exists.