the unfilttered files:
We discuss what it means to be unfiltered and how to live a life of passion and fulfillment.
MY BODY BUT WHOSE CHOICE?
by Shanna Cooper
I felt it might be time that people with, what may be a more “controversial” view, share their stories - with the hopes that our voices will help others, or at least ignite the consideration to a different level of understanding.
a human's right to choose.
A man’s right to choose. A woman’s right to choose.
An individual’s right to choose - for themselves and themselves only.
You decided that you don’t want children?
You chose to have an abortion?
What is wrong with you?
I find that these questions or inferences appear entirely too often.
The topic of abortion is at the forefront of today’s world now more than ever.
One dominating the conversations within the system, society, social media and our own homes, and rightfully so. It’s important.
It is a topic that until today, I have always kept rather quiet on or held close to the chest, much like everything. I was unclear how sharing my own experience could be useful to someone else. I often find that people tend to react too quickly; their voices as tools used without much strategy or intent, only to create more harm than good.
Despite my general reticence, I felt there was a missing piece in the infinite archive of opinions on this topic. And while all those voices should be respected and should be taken into consideration, and with some serious conversations internally and with Joe, the man that is my rock/greatest support: I felt it might be time that people with, what may be a more “controversial” view, share their stories - with the hopes that our voices will help others, or at least ignite the consideration to a different level of understanding.
When it comes to the topic of abortion, it feels, at least for me, that we hear more opinions from the women that have children, do want children one day, or are pro-life, while also hearing from those in political power with personal agenda. We do not often hear from the women that do not want children, the horrifically undeserving victims of sex crimes, and the women that simply cannot afford to provide a child with the necessary financial, educational, and emotional stability. It feels as though there is not much of a community or supportive platform for those women to feel heard.
I am one of those women.
Perhaps one of few or perhaps one of many.
(Something I hope to discover).
I am not disputing that the information, the psychiatric evaluations, and the extensive level of analysis could be worthwhile for many women and should always be made accessible. I am disputing that it should be mandated for everyone. Not every woman struggles with the thought of having an abortion and not every woman feels the same way when making that choice. If it was a tumultuous decision to make for a woman then those services should be made available. But for those of us that did not feel such a way - there is nothing wrong with us .
but what if I don't want children?
The definition of filtered, according to Merriam-webster, is to be made less intense, full, or pure by being partially blocked.
Such a simple word that came to existence long before any of us reading this were even born. But a word that has now risen in its significance and its existence on a daily basis to an almost suffocating level. In order to truly understand the Birds & Blokes perception of the word filtered, we are going to ask you to look beyond the literal meaning of filters; to look beyond it being just those photo editing tools found on our phones and apps. To look at it as an intangible presence standing beside us every minute of every day silently influencing our perception of things.
That advertisement that just popped up on our phones making a bold claim that we should be doing or using something with the guarantee of providing an instant change? FILTERED. Those reviews on three different store websites? the exact same reviews across all three platforms and FILTERED. That beautiful human’s face that just appeared on our screens with a compelling caption dictating to us what we should be doing or how we should look? caption FILTERED, intention FILTERED. That cosmetic store we walk into full of staff claiming their hg products, supporting by high res. edited photos and bot or sponsored product reviews? FILTERED. That video we watched of someone else telling us to buy a product because its actually sponsored ad? FILTERED. The voice we heard in that podcast or reel stating their opinion as if it were fact? FILTERED. That celebrity that launched a skincare brand purely because of their celebrity status when they are most likely not even using themselves? FILTERED.
These things are literally filtered with edits, targeted messaging/intention or a biased opinion while filtering (blocking) us from feeling, saying or acting a certain way. Sometimes this occurs in a micro way, while other times it occurs in a macro way.
Our perceptions, understandings, feelings, reactions, opinions, and decisions are easily being driven by things that are blocking our own internal clarity and understanding. Thus leading us to feel that we are in a mandatory competition with ourselves and our own happiness for the rest of our lives. Someone else’s claims, photos, or targeted ads are convincing us to be doing something different, buying something different, taking a different career path, presenting ourselves in a less than genuine way or feeling a different way, subtly making us feel unworthy or miserable because we don’t quite look, feel, dress or act like that. Leading us to a life where our passions were somehow left on the side of the road ironically while we are constantly told that our work must be our passion.
Now, we aren’t saying that it is wrong to listen to these outside voices, or to take them into consideration. It is not wrong to trust in brands and products or people if we choose to. What we are saying is that we need to view them with a clear mind backed by a strong internal stance. We must do our own research to determine who we can trust, what ingredients/products we can trust, and what brand we can trust. We must not let them decide for us what is it is we want, need or follow. We must not let them dress us or choose our career/passion for us. We must use them as simply as suggestions or things to take into consideration and determine if they align with what we already felt we wanted, needed or would follow by becoming unfiltered. We must not let them filter us to where we are nothing more than a consuming empty shell. This is why so many of us feel the anxiety that we do, the feelings of being unfulfilled and find ourselves sitting stuck. Many of us aren’t living our lives in our own lanes. Many of us are glancing at these biased, bullshit, filtered signs as they pass by, driving as if they are holding our steering wheels or with our Teslas on filtered auto drive.
The only way for us to have more passion and more fulfillment, is to be unfiltered. We must be brands, people, and products that are striving to be nothing but honest, passionate and supportive of the concept of individuality. To embrace the idea that every single person can interpret any word, event, outfit, etc in whatever way they possibly want to.
This is why we are called Birds & Blokes. Two British slang words that have always had very clear and distinct meanings..until now. Birds & Blokes is a brand that rejects conventions and norms, and allows individuals to decide for themselves what the hell a Bird is or what the hell a Bloke is. They are whatever we want it to be. Whatever it means to be each one of us.
We aim to be a platform that inspires people to make decisions based solely on personal values without any heavy influence or blocking. A platform that acknowledges the plethora of noise and mixed messaging out there and intends to simplify it by providing a safe haven for both knowledge and consumption, with clear and honest messaging. To inspire you to identify what it is you’re passionate about and build a life on it. Our product offering is designed to support you in any endeavor or in any passionate life you decide to embark on. Products that are both reliable and effective but also efficient. By not offering highly edited content, we never intend to impose a set of values on you. We are a platform that wants you to have a voice while exposing yourself to content that invigorates, teaches and inspires you. We need to know your voice, your passions, your creativity and desires in order to even exist. We want you to thrive while you help us thrive. Birds & Blokes is not just a brand intending to be a brand, it is a brand with the goal of being a community/safe haven for the creatives, the rebels, the dreamers, the doers, the forward thinkers, the world changers, the introverts, the extroverts, the slightly left of center, and the lovers. A place where everyone can go to figure out what the hell is filtering them from being their true selves.
It’s time that we all live unfiltered.
Why was I expected to feel sad, ashamed, uncertain, or embarrassed?
Why was I questioned or being convinced to keep the child?
Why was I given a such a template level of communication and treatment as if I was not an individual?
I walked in there feeling, strong, confident and secure in our choice.
How dare you treat me otherwise without first asking me.
Why would I then have to spend another 5 hours of my next day going through motions I personally had no need for?
How can they ask women to take so much time of out of their busy days, spend so much money, and make the process so difficult if they are not going to give us the individual care that we deserve?
Does me not wanting a child make me a bad woman? Does that make me a selfish human?
To be strong in my decisions and to know what it was that my partner and I wanted? Why is that such a shock to so many?
With such a bad taste in my mouth and feelings of offense, Joe and I decided not to return to such a clinic and that the state of Texas was not the appropriate place for us. We decided that we would not pay for the procedure in Texas; i.e fund the very system that made me feel like I had tape over my mouth and no individuality. A system that makes it so difficult for every single women and also so offensive to women who stand confident in their decision.
Strong in my stance and with a man that too stood strong in his stance, we ventured to a state that did treat us with respect for our own decision as couple. One that did make the process incredibly easy and one that did not make me feel challenged, questioned or analyzed as a woman. A state that will likely be one of very few in the coming months/years.
With a short and efficient visit, we obtained the pills, and followed through with our decision in the privacy of our own home on New Year Eve/New Years Day. A process that was physically unpleasant/uncomfortable, but one that for us, was truly a relief and strengthened us as a couple. A process that we never thought twice about and never looked back on in regret.
I was often asked “Are you okay?” after sharing what we decided to do with those close to us. Of course asked out of love and concern for us which is greatly appreciated. But noticed at times that it was asked as if the expectation was that I would be in emotional despair. It reminded me of those moments when so many automatically respond with “I’m so sorry” when someone says they’ve gone through or are going through a divorce. Yes, in many instances - it is a sad and devastating experience. But there are others where it is actually celebrated and a positive choice. Perhaps the tone/impression of our responses to someone should be determined once the room is read as we are not all the same.
I wanted the opposite reaction.
To say, “Please do not have sympathy for me having an abortion. Please congratulate me for making a choice that I felt was best for me. Please show support for the women who stand certain in what they want, even if it goes against the societal norm. Please admire us for being true to ourselves.”
This was our choice - as two individuals. A choice we made together; the next brick in the building of my story, his story and our story. No external person or institution influenced that. We followed through with the conversation between our heads and our hearts: and that is why we felt no guilt and no remorse. Why we felt confident in our decision. Why I felt no less like a worthwhile woman after the abortion than I felt prior.
If you can read this without personal bias, and with an understanding that this is purely a story of two people not related to you - thank you for reading this for what it is. A story sharing my own reasonings for going through with this choice. Reasonings that I feel were financially and emotionally responsible for myself. Determined by a total acceptance and confidence of who I am as an individual human being.
If it inspires you, comforts you, educates you, or sparks any feeling in you - I am thrilled to hear that.
If you feel that my choice and reasonings for it are selfish, unholy, immoral, or awful that is absolutely fine.
Don’t agree, judge me, criticize me, unfollow me, choose not to support this brand - I do not mind.
Because that is your choice and ultimately on you - not on me.
Because that reaction is the very issue we face as a society today.
We preach, strive and talk about individuality, freedom, and the right to choose while simultaneously turning around and scrutinizing those that don’t follow the same yellow brick road as us.
We dismiss those that do not mimic our every thought and move.
Hypocritical don’t you think?
That sort of one dimensional thinking is certainly not what Birds & Blokes and its community strives to be. It is not what I aspire for this brand to stand for.
We stand for individuality - for acceptance and for using others’ stories as inspiration (not dictation) for people to follow their desires and passions. A community that engages in constructive conversation, not reactive conversation.
The intention of Joe and I sharing this is to promote the concept that every woman, man, human should be able to make their own decision. That each individual experience and determination is not for anyone else to judge or disrespect. That whatever one person decides does not have to fit the mold of the societal, religious, or human expectation of others.
That each choice, from micro to macro, is ours and ours alone.
It will mold us into who we are and it will lead us to your own happiness.
Do not let such external noise of others influence your choices.
It has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else but you.
This is one experience. One viewpoint. Our story here.
What is yours?
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