Sexism is a term normally associated with women. It affects women in the workplace, on the street, in the media; it affects women in so many different ways, that we often forget an important piece of the sexism puzzle:
Sexism affects everyone: bisexuals, transgender, lesbians, gay men, and yes, even straight men.
Watch Laci Green as she unpacks and explores the idea of sexism against men and the effect it is having on everyone.
Watch and imagine what effect it would have on gender based violence if men no longer felt that they NEEDED to hide emotions, be powerful, and do manly things like fight, fix things, and have lots of sex to prove how masculine they are.
Could part of the solution be as easy as realizing that: there is no man or woman or gay or lesbian or transgender. There are humans.
Have you ever been sexist towards a man? If you are one of our male readers, have you ever experienced sexism?
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
I recently reached out to an acquaintance and asked how they were doing, and the litany of complaints began. I immediately felt deflated. I felt like saying, has nothing positive happened in this whole year?
I did not. Instead I just listened and made an excuse and got off the telephone.
If we wish to elevate our spirit, we must choose carefully the kind of person with whom we commune.
Now, comes the scary question, what life language do you speak?
Are you one of the people who is uplifting or down putting?
If you don’t know, try listening to yourself.
If you don’t know how to listen to yourself, then ask a trusted friend how you come across and promise them to not shoot the messenger.
Rushed doctor’s not taking enough time with patients, teachers and parents looking for a quick solution, families hiding the reality of their home life, and a lack of support for children experiencing trauma have all contributed to the possible misdiagnosis of ADHD, when in reality the child is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to trauma.
Which raises an interesting question for all of us in our everyday lives: who have we misdiagnosed with a rushed and incorrect label in our own lives?
We call the neighbor’s teenage daughter that “gets around” promiscuous (if we are being nice) and a “slut” (if we are not being nice).
We call the boy in the Motley Crue jacket, smoking cigarettes a “thug” and walk on the other side of the road.
We call the lawyer at the party, who pushes everyone away with her know-it-all behaviour, a snob.
The child who never has lunch at school and wears old, torn clothes “just comes from a poor family”.
The bully in the playground is “big for his age, and pushy”.
The little boy, bouncing off the walls at the grocery store while his mother screams “must have ADHD”.
What if each of these people has a deeper story that we are ignoring?
Dr. Nicole Brown, Dr. Heather Forkey and their colleagues are working hard to change the landscape of ADHD diagnosis, hoping that they can teach professionals to look deeper, go beyond the quick and simple diagnosis and find what may really be going on with some of these kids.
You may not be a professional, but doesn’t taking more time and going deeper with your own “diagnosis” of people seem like a good idea?
How could your life, and their life, be different if you did?
This conversation between me and my son seems innocent enough, and, a few months ago, before starting to work with Indrani’s Light Foundation, it probably would have remained in my brain filed away as “not a big deal.”
But, through my work with the Live a Brighter Life training, corresponding with the ILF Team, and the research I have done for articles and blog posts, this was no longer a casual comment by my son. It worried me.
Why at the age of seven was he cautious when he thought my character’s avatar was a girl, but excited to watch me play when he discovered I was playing the game as a boy?
My mind quickly returned to another conversation we had also had about Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness Quartet”, a series of books we were thinking of reading, until my son found out the protagonist was a girl.
This was now the start of a pattern and it worried me even more.
So, I did the only thing I could think of to, hopefully, change my son’s view and start some conversation:
I deleted my character and made a new one, this time a female character.
It didn’t take long for my son to notice. The next time he came to the basement while I was playing the game we had another conversation.
“Where’s your other character?”
“I got rid of him and made this one.”
“Is that a GIRL?”
“Yes it is a girl”
“Why are you playing as a girl?”
“Because I think she is way cooler than my first character. She is a warrior and uses this big sword and charges into the bad guys to fight”
“Can I watch?”
Will my playing a female, instead of male, character make a huge difference in how my son perceives gender roles and stereotypes? I have no idea. But I figure it can’t hurt and we are at least talking about it now and can continue to talk about it when he watches me play.
Equally important, this video game and conversation has me realizing areas in my life where I am modeling behavior that is supporting gender stereotypes and inequality and I need to change that.
Asasha Veil, my female character, is at least one step in the right direction.
Does making a small change like this help? What seemingly small changes could you make to help model gender equality? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
In the book The Six Pillars of Self Esteem, Nathaniel Branden tells us that “self acceptance is more primitive than self esteem. It is a per rational, per oral act of self affirmation.”
I think in the caveman days it served to say to the tribe that we, too deserve to eat at the fire, to have a place in the cave for shelter and we have a place at the fire for community and camaraderie.
In modern times this means that girls have the right to eat the same healthy food as her brothers and father. She has the same rights for schooling and she has the right to expect and demand that she and her body be respected.
“Self acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself.”
“An attitude of basic self-acceptance is what an effective psychotherapist strives to awaken in a person of even the lowest self esteem. This attitude can inspire an individual to face whatever he or she needs to encounter within without collapsing into self hatred, repudiating the value of his or her person, or relinquishing the will to live. It entails the declaration : “I choose to value myself, to treat myself with respect, to stand up for my right to exist.” This primary act of self affirmation is the base on which self esteem develops.”
When we cannot dig deep enough to uncover this basic self acceptance, we fall prey to what others want to say and do to our minds and our bodies.
We must, at all costs, find the strength to face ourselves and to declare: “This is the day that I stand for ME.”
Will you practice standing up for yourself in small ways?
Maybe at the grocery store, or at the doctors office or perhaps with the your child’s teacher.
If you practice in small places, the larger places will not seem so very dire.
Love and light,
P.S. Read The Six Pillars of Self -Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. It is worth every minute of your time.
Hold a pencil lengthways between your teeth (in a pretend smiling way).
There is a very famous study with undergraduates who were given some tasks and some were asked to hold a pencil in their teeth (mimicking a smile). The task was not significant. The pencil holding was the significant part of the research.
It seems that those who held the pencil between their teeth had more positive feelings during the task, after the task and also days after the task.
The researchers concluded that a “fake” smile may have triggered the happy hormone and made the participants feel better.
This is also the theory behind Laughter Yoga. This school of yoga leads groups of people in laughter exercises and the results have been measurable and positive. The brain reacts to fake laughter just as readily as it does to real laughter.
So fake smiles and fake laughs are good for us!
How can we actually use this amazing piece of research?
I found a way this past week while mediating between an employee and an employer.
Both parties were in terrible deadlock over what the job description was, could have been and will be moving forward.
The employer was an older woman who had a history of not being very tolerant.
The employee was the geriatric nurses aide that was hired to help make the older woman’s life a little easier.
Both women needed each other.
Both women were ALPHA women.
Both wanted to be “right”.
Both wanted ME to tell the other that the other was at fault.
The employee began the conversation citing past instances of when the older woman was “mean” or ” hateful” to other employees. I stopped her instantly and asked her why those things were her business.
She was a bit stunned. She thought I needed the history to make a fair determination.
I did not.
I told the employee that my focus was what SHE wanted from her life and how she chooses to address the things that concerned her.
I then asked her to hold a pencil in her mouth and she had to listen to me while I told her how the mediation would be conducted.
The older woman was at first very sure she would not hold the pencil.
Her reason was this, “This is a serious subject and I am a serious person.”
I said, “Yes this is serious but we do not have to have discussions with mean faces that are only reflecting disdain and anger.”
I finally got her to “fake” a smile.
I then began the mediation.
I must say, the results were marvelous.
The parties seemed to be able to listen more attentively because they were focussed on maintaining the smiles and the discussion did not fall into a “she said, she said.”
It was quite exhausting for me, as both of these women were really tough cookies. They were both used to running right over the people in their lives. They were used to “winning” while others were to be the “losers.”
I was sure this needed to be a win/win.
Why would this lesson be necessary in a blog that deals with ways to handle abuse?
I actually think that we can teach this technique to small kids when they begin to bully others in their family. As mothers we can hold pencils between our teeth when we want to scream at our kids. We can show our children that while we are experiencing human emotions we do not have to give into negative and demeaning behaviors.
Please try this exercise the next time you are so angry you just want to scream.
Please do not use this technique to dismiss significant abuse. Significant abuse must be dealt with in different ways. You must seek guidance to handle significant abuse and get to safety for you and your children.
This technique is for the smaller aggravations in life that often trip you up.
When I think of this phrase I think it means to be an informed consumer.
Am I buying products made by children in the slavery mills around the Globe?
Am I consciously aware that what I do here in my country is negatively affecting the Amazon Rain Forest?
Are the diamonds that I admire Blood Diamonds?
I think I can make my buying power MAKE a difference.
I CAN make my money talk!
The phrase “THINK Global…Act Local” could be applied to Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse?
What would that look like?
It might look like this…
You are watching TV on a normal day or night and you see a story of a VERY FAMOUS NFL player like Adrian Peterson being charged with Child Endangerment for beating his 4 year old son with a switch. You may or may not be appalled… Let’s say you ARE appalled.
What can YOU do?
Well you can begin to look at your own behaviors towards your kids or other people’s kids.
You can open a conversation with your kids … if you dare… and ask them what it’s like living in your home.
Do they feel emotionally safe?
Are they worried about people flying off the handle?
Are they afraid of anyone in particular?
YOU must be brave and courageous and really listen.
LISTEN with your ears and your HEART. (Especially your heart.)
You MUST promise them immunity from YOU flying off the handle if you hear something that hurts your feelings.
If I would have had parents who had asked this question to me and if I trusted them, I would have said something like this:
“Well you are always beating us and yelling at us. If we cry then you beat us more to “really give us something to cry about.” You tell me that I never do anything right. I am always scared of you.”
IF I had parents who were brave enough to go there, I may have had a slim chance of a happier childhood.
YOU have the POWER to give your children a bigger chance of happiness.
If you ACT LOCAL, while observing the pitiful GLOBAL state of violence against women and girls you will be making a difference.
Don’t know where to start? Start with YOURSELF, your own boundaries and awareness of shame and building your shame resilience.
Now, let’s say you were NOT appalled at someone beating their child in that way, you can still do something.
You can begin to wonder about your own abuse and ask yourself if your parents could have been more compassionate.
If you say they did the best they could with what they had, you would be right. However, YOU can do better with all the new information that you have about child rearing. You can seek out informed guidance on how to be a better parent.
Why? Because you owe it to those kids you brought into the world.
So however you slice this Domestic Violence pie, you can Think Global and still Act Local.
Love and light, Indrani
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