For far too long, women have been defined by motherhood and further validated by the man she’s married to and the life he provides for her. But being a contemporary woman means making decisions that lead you to being exactly who you want to be, independent of anyone else. Gabrielle Union is a public champion of this, and it’s one of many reasons why we love her.
For example, in a recent interview with Yahoo Style, the Being Mary Jane star talked about her decision to get a prenup before marrying Dwyane Wade last summer. She said, “Now that it’s time to get married to a man who happens to play basketball and has done well for himself, I want to make it clear that I have in no way hitched my wagon to his star. I have my own wagon and star.” Union’s choice to get a prenup was based on empowering her own identity instead of attaching herself to someone else’s — an independent move from a headstrong woman who paved her own way from Omaha, Nebraska, to the top of Hollywood.
Union has also opened up about being raped at gunpoint at age 19 and how she was able to grow from being a victim to a survivor by taking matters into her own hands. Hearing Union talk about how she was able to conquer this experience gives other young women the inspiration to take off the victim cloak and push forward. More importantly, Union, who was raped at the shoe store where she worked, sent out a call for us all to be more socially responsible by researching the criminal history at places of business before working there.
While Union’s outspokenness is refreshing, she is no stranger to activism. Union was appointed by President Obama to work with the National Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women and works with Planned Parenthood. Last year, after being targeted in a celebrity nude photo leak scandal, she used her voice to confront the issue head on. Union published a tell-all essay in Cosmopolitan, condemning attacks on women’s bodies as abusive and criminal.
Her words combated the notion that women’s intimates are up for grabs without consent, the same sentiment that has made revenge porn a pastime for teenage boys and rape a hook line in popular music. For Black women targeted in such attacks, Union explained in her essay, “There's an added dimension. Throughout history, our bodies have been open for public consumption.” Her openness brought a much needed lens to an issue we’ve long known, but choose to ignore.
Of course, Union is hardly the first woman to blow the whistle on sensitive issues. However, her outspokenness has made her a relatable, role model-worthy woman for both the young girls who look up to her as well as her celebrity peers, who may feel removed or above societal issues. #GoGabby
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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