“Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness (1972) was perhaps the most influential book of this period, advancing the thesis that woman were held to different and higher standards of reason and normalcy then men, that the psychiatrization process was profoundly gender-biased in its premises and effects, and that the very constitution of sanity and ‘mental illness’ in the late 20th-century was anchored in the bedrock of male normativity.” -Mad Matters, pg. 6
Ever since receiving my borderline personality diagnosis in 2008 I believe it was a result of being an angry young woman. As many of us know, anger is not a “desirable” characteristic in a woman but how else are we supposed to express the negative emotions we feel? Well, we’re not. I believe this is also why women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety then men. We feel something, we are told not to and then when we can no longer suppress we’re told it’s “too much” and we’re diagnosed mentally ill. I really and firmly believe that we are just living in a society that is telling us what to do and how to do it when what we really need is to do and be what we want.
What do you think?
I’m bored and tired so I decided to watch some TED talks. I watched one by Colin Stokes on how movies teach manhood. Stokes talked about a way to measure gender bias in movies called The Bechdel Test.
Passing the Bechdel Test means that a movie meets the following 3 criteria:
- The movie has at least 2 [named] female characters in it
- Who talk to each other
- About something besides a man
Examples of recent movies that pass the Bechdel Test
For WAY MORE check out the website
I’m on a section in Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining your Love Life that is talking about chivalry and how it should be dead. Chivalry is the nice expectation that men should do things for women (ie: pay for a meal, hold open a door etc). There is of course nothing wrong with men paying for a meal or holding open doors but it’s the expectation that is damaging to both men and women because it is rooted in sexism.
The author, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, is saying that romance is alive and well in the queer community (which does not surprised me) but that the gender expectations are not there. When a person in the LGBT community acts out a normally gendered stereotype, such as various acts of chivalry, they can do so with a freedom that straight couples do not get too.
I’m very curious. My LGBT followers and readers, are there no gender expectations in your relationships or how does this all play out?
I know in my relationship (straight) we’ll both old open doors for each other, both will pay for meals or pay for our own but I do know that there are times when he takes pride in being able to provide for me and where I enjoy it. This of course isn’t bad but rooted in gender stereotypes of men being the provider and women sitting there looking pretty.
All my sisters and I have gone to the same schools for the most part. It has been devastating for me to hear that my baby sister is experiencing the same sexist comments and lack of action that I experienced when I was her age, 13.
I decided to ask my friend Jeff Perera for some help in providing me information about the White Ribbon Campaign so I can pass it along to some important people in charge of Whitby schools. I’m sending my email to the Whitby Trustee, Whitby Superintendent of Education, Safe Schools, and Substance Abuse, Violence Prevention Coordinator.
I’ve sent my letter to my sister to get her to look at it. I don’t want to send it until she has given me the okay!
Here are bits of the email.
Gym is one of the hardest times, as my sister has described it to me. She reports that the boys prefer to not have girls on their team and will avoid including them unless they have essentially proved themselves (ie: on school sport’s teams). The boys continue to comment on how playing against girls will be “easy” and my sister has had her male classmates tell her that because she is a girl it is ok that she is not good at sports. The teachers do nothing to stop these comments or encourage fair playing.
My girl friends and I dreaded gym and were ignored and ridiculed by our male classmates to the point of verbal outbursts and tears. Again, teachers did nothing except get angry, not at the unfair treatment, but at the outbursts which would occur as a result.
While at [high school] I would eventually drop out of Gr.12 co-ed gym from the sexist comments myself and the other girls had to endure…The bulk of this harassment was from a young man who I had attended [elementary school] with. He had said the same things at 13 years old that he was now saying at 17.
I was told repeatedly that girls could not play sports; some of us were made fun of for our appearance and one girl even for her sexual orientation.
My sister has also told me that teachers and staff single out the young girls in regards to their clothing. She has witnessed a fellow female classmate be yelled at by a teacher and threatened with a detention when her shirt rose up a bit when she stood as a result from sitting at her desk. Another staff member said to all the girls, with the boys present, that they should “cover up” despite the young boys wearing their pants below their waists and displaying their underwear.
…the message that one gender should “cover up” over the other sends a message to both girls and boys about what girls should be wearing which has recently been spoken about by local feminist groups (ie: SlutWalk).
I’m hoping the new interactive White Ribbon workshop for young people, especially boys, is something the school board will seriously consider!
Every time I turn on the television (especially) I’m reminded of what society thinks mental illness is all about…and I’m often not pleased with what I see, hear or read.
Many of the crime shows (CSI, Law and Order etc) depict criminals with mental illness, usually schizophrenia. These characters are murderers, rapists, thieves and all around horrible, scary people who should be locked away until they die. The male characters you’re made to hate and the female characters you’re made to feel desperately sorry for. The same goes for books, newspapers, movies etc.
There is little to no acknowledgement in the media about the crimes against individuals with mental health issues. Their perceived or actual vulnerability puts, especially women, at risk for violence.Those who are perceived as dangerous will also experience violence in and outside institutions.
When I was in university my professors would frequently say that we should write an essay as if the reader had no background in the topic we were writing about. This meant that it was my job as a writer to give accurate information for the reader to understand what I was writing about.
As creators of media it should be their responsibility to acknowledge their involvement in creating societies perceptions on everything from what we should be eating to who we should hate. It is irresponsible to think that media doesn’t play a role in shaping our beliefs or for the media to think it is not affecting us. Creators of media should never assume that its consumers can and will separate fact from fiction.
As consumers we have a responsibility to educate ourselves on issues we see in the media. We cannot take everything as truth. We need to be aware that we are always seeing one perspective on a topic and that there are many more out there for us to find. We need to be critical about what we watch, read and listen to.
Visit http://mentalhealthstigma.com/ for more information on mental health stigma and the media.
Here are some examples of negative depictions of mental health in our media:
Britney Spears created a huge buzz around mental illness and Bipolar Disorder in particular. At surface value I’m bothered by using language such as “disturbing behaviour”, the worry into the welfare of her children and the statement of how “she won’t get help”. This creates the belief that a disturbing behaviour is linked to a mental illness (not the result of celebrity stress), that we need to worry about children whose parent is mentally ill (can they parent correctly?) and the belief that those with mental health issues do not seek help.
Please see ” Making Bipolar Britney” for an amazing analysis on Britney Spears and Madness by Jijian Voronka (http://radicalpsychology.org/vol7-2/Voronka.html)
Sidenote: I saw her speak on this topic and it was amazing!
I hope I don’t even have to explain this one but we’ve all heard the stories of the person with mental health issues that commits murder or a murder suicide. This newspaper, from 1999, doesn’t even try to hide its outright discriminating message in the usual flowering writing! If you have ever been labeled with a mental illness you have most likely been called crazy and/or violent. This headline says that people with mental illness are….you guessed it! violent, crazy and be away.
This one infuriates me….Yes, you are looking at a headline from 2002 about a fire at a psychiatric hospital. This “witty” piece is just all types of wrong. This not only uses the stigmatizing word of a group of people being “nuts” but it tries to make it funny……
A good “assaultive and belligerent” person is one who takes their medication! This is an ad from the Archives of General Psychiatry, 1974, which still has truth to it today. There is a stereotype as to what is a good and bad mentally ill person. A good one takes their medication and a bad one does not (I would be a bad for abandoning meds altogether). Who you are as a person should not be decided on whether or not you chose to do a certain type of treatment. This ad also says that medication is the “first choice for starting therapy”. There should be many more options than medication for treating mental illness (but there isn’t). And finally this ad discusses race. There is a difference between white mental illness and black mental illness (all races for that matter) that is rarely discussed. This ad shows the negative association with schizophrenia and anger and blackness. For a critical race look into this ad check out http://michigantoday.umich.edu/2010/06/story.php?id=7776
This section will be ongoing as more recent examples are added and discussed!
Please feel free to share with me what you think of the examples of posted and share your own examples!