I had the distinct pleasure of working with an organization called Think Olio over the last several weeks. My talk was about the construction of women’s mental health in American society and I titled it: Crazy Right Now.
Tonight was the last night and it was absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait to return. As promised, I’ve created a resource guide for folks to refer to. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions as well!
more to come, as I remember slowly…
I find this question as beguiling as the first time I heard it, around 13 years ago.
Two days ago a student came into my classroom as I was finishing up my Women’s Studies class. They are in my American Civilization class, and they probably asked me about my feminism because of what I was erasing from the board: intersectionality, othering, patriarchy, interlocking oppressions, subjectivity, hegemonic masculinity…basically word porn for the academically inclined.
I could not help but laugh at the question, not because it was funny but because I am asked it almost every semester by a student. “Yes, of course I am.” And I think some students find this to be a sort of confession, meant to remain private, or something to be ashamed of.
I am well-aware that there are many people and places, even here in NYC and its boroughs, who still scoff at the idea of feminism. If they do not scoff, they are wary of it. This is fascinating to me. And I believe that in a place that views feminists as radical, loud-mouthed women, occupying the dual role of polite adjunct lecturer and radical gender studies professor, is seen as contradictory. I’m relatively quiet and definitely polite, I’ve even been called “sweet” on multiple occasions. People generally like me, until I speak up for myself. Alas, is that not the way of American womanhood?
Regardless, I am still developing into my personality and trying to find some form of expression to alleviate my frustrations with my academic life. All of that being said, I love my students and I continue to teach for them.
So I have not written in several years, and I’m debating whether or not to keep this blog or create another. For now, I will use this one.
I will discuss issues relating to feminism and intersectionality and the struggles therein. So, here we go…
Yashar Ali, a political commentator and writer, recently wrote an article called, “A Message to Women From a Man: You Are Not “Crazy”. This article really helps me put many incidents in my life into perspective. In response to men belittling women for expressing their disappointment, sadness and anger for disrespectful behavior by calling them “crazy” he defines as “gaslighting”. “Gaslighting is a term often used by mental health professionals (I am not one) to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy”
I have been watching “Ghost Whisperer” now for a few weeks and am enjoying the obvious attempts to address social issues in some of the episodes. I’m not going to lie; the show is a little hokey. However it has an element of “mystery” in it (albeit predictable) and I kind of like the “here’s the lesson of the episode” thing it has going on for it (and Jennifer Love Hewitt is smoking hot, like seriously, who are we kidding?). Socially conscious episodes I’ve seen so far have discussed racism (S1 E19), the dangerous nature of conventional beauty (S2; E6) and domestic violence (S2 E7). However, I take issue with an episode I saw last night, “The Ghost Within”, Season 2, episode 4.
The entire premise of the show is the Melinda Gordan (JLH) can see and talk to the dead. They come to her for help, usually needing to communicate with living loved ones. This episode had an autistic man who was haunting his girlfriend, who is also autistic. Though his (dis)ability was not made known right away, it was very clear to me that he was likely autistic. Once Melinda “discovers” his different ability and discusses it with her husband, he says, “I thought people became normal once they died.” and she responds “Yes, the dead usually lose their disability once they cross over, but for some reason he hasn’t.”
WHAT THE FUCK? In my opinion, saying a person should become “normal” after they die, therefore happier, is fucked up. To me, that is like a white supremacist saying that all black people will become white (therefore better) when they die, ensuring eternal happiness and peace. Now, I don’t know what happens when one dies, and I’m not sure I believe in “heaven”, “hell” or reincarnation, but I do know that here in the living world there are people who are differently-abled and we need to acknowledge and value their presence. I realize autism has received a significant amount of attention lately and, presumably, the incidence of children born with autism has grown. I am glad “Ghost Whisperer” has brought this issue to light, but instead of reinforcing the idea that it’s bad, shouldn’t we, rather continue to study how to better communicate with those who are autistic and encourage others to do the same?
Some links of interest:
okay, so i haven’t written a post in ages for several reasons. Here are five of them:
1. Rough time at work
2. Preoccupied with shitty boyfriend (now ex boyfriend, thank goodness)
3. Was in Ohio for 3 months (what?)
4. Didn’t know what to say
5. I don’t have a fifth, but I like odd numbers.
So I am going to start posting again, though it will likely be infrequent. I just need some practice with writing, since I’m supposed to go to graduate school next year. Hmph.
So I am a member of the Groupon site for NYC and Brooklyn. It’s a pretty cool coupon site that I’ve grown to love, and they like to give tips every day. Today’s tip was a guide on self-esteem. Here it is below:
Unfortunately, we don’t have people telling us how great we are all the time, necessitating the complex emotion of self-esteem. Here’s how to help you maintain a suitable amount of self-esteem:
Hour One: Cook a hearty breakfast. Not only will eating fill your lungs with nutrients, but the act of cooking will make you feel like a lumberjack—traditionally the tallest, and therefore most worthwhile, profession.
Hour Two: Read a book. Educated people are always happy.
Hour Three: Work with your hands. Why not create something positive and use your hands to make a birdhouse or a gang sign?
Hour Four: Think of others. Any time that you spend imagining that you’re volunteering can be written off on your taxes.
Hour Five: Spend the hour repeating, “You are not worthless,” over and over again. In no time, the words will lose all meaning.
Hour Six: Find a mirror and start staring. Studies prove that as long as you produce a reflection, you’re still alive.
I like this guide, but I take issue with “Hour Two: Educated people are always happy”. I’m sorry, but how many very, very, very smart people do you know who are truly happy? It is certainly fulfilling to be an enlightened individual, but I know more than one person whose life happiness has been ruined by reading books by acclaimed authors and philosophers.
Also, smart people sometimes have to deal with not fitting in socially, or compensating their over-awareness of the world in some other dysfunctional way. Imagine seeing things and reading into things no once else can see or understand? It’s not always pleasant. In fact, it sometimes curdles the blood.
I just like to think about what one of my students once told me. She said, “I just realized recently that I was a smart woman. And it’s really, really hard. And this class (women’s studies) has made it even harder to be a smart woman.” This statement made me happy, but also broke my heart.
Smart people are not always happy.