Category Archives: Articles

Lending a Hand

depression 2

Mental Health has been a topic national discussion, in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide, and the call for their to be a more efforts put into researching mental health, as well as an honest discussion on how the mentally ill are regarded in this country.

There is a huge stigma attached to having a mental illness, and it is this stigma that add more reasons for people not to seek help. Mental illness is seen as a weakness, and that people should just “suck it up,” which is why we see so many mentally ill on the street, people who are deemed “lazy” or they just did not “try hard enough”. It becomes their problem, and takes any culpability away from a society that turns a blind eye to those who are struggling, and suffer from very real issues.

One of the things we discussed yesterday during the Women’s Center meeting, are the things we can\will be doing during this semester, and hopefully for many semester to follow. Starting February we will be having a Support Group on Wednesday’s from Noon – 1 led by a counselor from Access Hope and starting next week on Thursday’s from 3:30 – 4:30 there will a Recovery Community meeting.

We are all really excited to have these groups available, and hope that they provide some support to those in need.

This is a national battle, but we can do our part in our little community. Here are some folks who are sharing their own stories, and pushing to make change in how we interact with mental health:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/16/health/mental-wellness-warriors-fighting-for-those-who-need-it-most/index.html

Yes Means Yes

The internet is buzzing about California passing the Affirmative Consent Law.   There are high emotions on either side, some feeling as though this is long overdue, while others feel as though the government is overstepping.

In California, the Senator Kevin de Leon introduced the Affirmative Consent Law that was recently passed by Governor Jerry Brown. This law is applicable to any higher education institution that receives state funding.  The law tries to better outline what  kind of protocols that should be in place,  as well as what programs and support need to be in place for survivors of sexual violence.

I am curious to see the effectiveness of this bill, and what, if anything happens to institutions who do not comply with this law.  There is a need for more resources available for survivors, and it is important to have a support network,  hopefully this law provides the push needed to get campuses into action and providing these much needed spaces.

It will be interesting to see how other states react to this, especially states with institutions that have higher rates of sexual violence.

There is a lot of back and forth going on about what the law is and isn’t, here is a link Affirmative Consent , where you  can take a look at the points, and what the campuses will have to do in order to comply.

One thing I have noticed in looking through comments, is that people are complaining that this places too much responsibility on the alleged attacker. In most cases the responsibility is on the victim of an attack, where there is the need to justify what they were doing, how much they were drinking, their sexual history, did they do anything to maybe give the faintest whiff of interest, etc.  I think it is alright if there is more responsibility placed on the person being accused, instead of someone trying justify why it was horrible for them to be attacked.

Good News!

There has been a  lot of debate across the country about women’s bodies, and what everyone else thinks women should or should not be doing with them. In some cases this has resulted in states implementing laws that have limited the access to clinics that provide abortions. This is particularly a struggle for women with low-income, who have not been cut off from affordable female health care.

This is why it is good to see that one clinic is up in running again. According to an article on usnews.com , a Texas judge ruled against a piece of a  legislature that would make access to abortion clinics nearly impossible for women in southern Texas.

I realize there is a lot of focus on the fact that this a clinic that does abortion procedures, which is a hot button issue, but I think what people are missing at the heart of this, is that women have more access to  female healthcare.  Yes, women get abortions, but women also get pelvic exams, pap smears, birth control, and various other things on a more frequent basis. These things are rather important, and can be crucial in preventing serious problems later down the road.  It is also an important way that women can be aware of their bodies, and how different things function.

Ultimately, women should have the right to make the choice to do what they will with their bodies, but with laws like these popping up, that is becoming even more of an issue, and it is threatening basic women’s health as a result.  This is a step in the right direction, hopefully these women continue to have access to this clinic.

Street Harassment

I recently read an article about this site Cards Against Harassment  (neat little play off the game) which can be found here, about this woman who is both addressing and recording street harassment that happens to her.  This is only her experience, but  many people have been on the unhappy end of street harassment. It usually starts with you minding your business,  doing some activity whether it is walking to work, riding the subway, or trying to get some coffee, when someone decides they have a right to make a comment about your sexual appeal, sexual orientation, weight, etc.

Her cards are rather amazing and the fact that she hands them out to people who make comments to her is even better. Regardless of the excuses they make, she is setting up a boundary that lets them know she is not alright with their actions, and neither are many other people who may not speak up.

Check out the website and see what she is up to!

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black  is a favorite of a lot of people, and is gaining even more attention with the release of Season 2( I loved it).   Like many others,  I was anxiously waiting for the new season to come out, and I binged watched it one weekend, and it was glorious.  For a lot of folks it is a big relief to see  women in more dynamic roles,  but also seeing women from different ethnic backgrounds being portrayed at all, and having personalities is something long awaited.  Which is why I was not sure how to feel about this article from Noah Berlatsky.

He made some good points in the article like,

Men are incarcerated at more than 10 times the rate of women. In 2012, there were 109,000 women in prison. That’s a high number—but it’s dwarfed by a male prison population that in 2012 reached just over 1,462,000. In 2011, men made up about 93 percent of prisoners. 

which is astronomical.  Our prison system is absurd, and the incarceration rates and why they are the way they are is something that needs to  be discussed more. There also needs to be better solutions to rehabilitating prisoners.

He also talks about male victimization,

Male victims of domestic violence are almost entirely ignored, though domestic violence is perpetrated by men and women at about equal rates (though, Jones points out, violence by men is disproportionately more serious because of strength and weight difference.) In Bosnia, human-rights organizations focused on the (horrible, important) suffering of women rape victims and refugees, while largely ignoring the mass, gender-targeted killing of “battle-age” men. Similarly, violent attacks on women receive much more media attention than violent attacks on men, though men are substantially more likely to be attacked.

I agree with him on both accounts and I think that it is tragic that anyone is abused, and that victims deserve sympathy and resources no matter their gender, age, orientation, or any other categorization.  He makes great points, and there needs to be more done to address the issues with male victimization being ignored or mocked.

However compelling and  important his points might be, he is complaining about men not being represented in a show about a women’s prison.   It is bothersome for numerous reasons,  but the main reason is that it is a women’s prison, discussing the lives of female prisoners.  There are shows out there that talk about male prisoners, or  gang / drug lifestyle that land people in prison.   These shows are comprised of men, and I expect that being that it takes place in an institution that is specifically for men.  This reason, is why I am not really sure why he  feels as though men need to be more represented on the show.

One of the most disappointing things about this article is that he is addressing important issues, but it is overshadowed by his ludicrous complaint. If he had taken the time to write an article about male incarceration and or male victimization he could have been far more productive.

Victimhood: A Coveted Status

Recently George Will wrote about the stance that Washington has decided to take when it comes colleges/universities in regard to sexual assaults and rapes on campuses.   The proposed changes will hopefully educate colleges on how to handle  sexual violence, and how to better provide prevent and provide support within their institutions. It is also an attempt to keep these institutions from overlooking them, sweeping them under the rug, or outright dissuading victims from reporting to police.  That is quite a general explanation, and this post provides more information and links to what is going on.

To many these changes sound great and long overdue, but Mr. Will feels quite differently. He writes, “They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. ”   If he sat down and talked with victims, I highly doubt that they feel privileged or as though they are in a coveted status. It is not as though there are unreasonable requests being made, most people who have been victims of sexual of violence would benefit from having safe places, and environment where they are not being shamed for being a victim. 

This kind of mentality just reinforces #yesallwomen, and how it is normalized in our society.  He calls them “micro-aggressions”, and I call them those moments where I would feel the need to say something or just leave because it is not worth it for me to stay in an environment where I feel uncomfortable or potentially unsafe. He can call the whatever he likes,  but that does not make them any less valid, nor does it minimize how it ties into the overarching issue of sexual violence.