For more info: http://freemarissanow.tumblr.com/
How to Bear The Weight of Someone’s Story
by Kate Cockrill
A few years ago, I was sitting on the floor of my office surrounded by piles of highlighted transcripts of women talking about their abortions. Some were interviews I had conducted with women at abortion clinics, others were interviews with women who had called post-abortion talklines for support, and others were stories submitted to abortion-related websites. My goal was to explore how different women characterize their experiences with abortion stigma.
I was looking for overt examples: experiencing emotional or physical abuse, having your body or housing threatened, abandonment, name-calling, ostracism, or scolding. Experiences like these were certainly present in some of the transcripts, but more subtle manifestations of stigma kept emerging. More common than abuse or threat, was the experience of reaching out to someone for support, only to experience judgment, distancing or pity. Another common experience was not having someone to talk to at all.
I was reminded of this work when I came across this video clip where Brené Brown talks with Oprah Winfrey about shame stories. Brené Brown is a University of Houston professor whose Ted Talk’s on shame, vulnerability and wholeheartedness have been viewed by over 18 million people. In this clip, Dr. Brown describes the “type of people” that don’t deserve to hear a shame story:
- The person who responds with sympathy rather than empathy by saying, “I feel so sorry for you,” “Oh you poor thing” or “Bless your heart.”
- The person who needs you to be perfect and can’t help you because she’s too wounded by your imperfections.
- The person who is so uncomfortable with your vulnerability that they scold you: “How could you let this happen?”
- The person who goes too far to make it better and can’t admit you might make mistakes. “You are exaggerating, it wasn’t that bad.”
- The friend who listens to your shame story and needs to “one-up” you with her own.
In this famous photograph by Eve Arnold, a young activist is trained not to react to provocation at a 1960 civil rights training session in Virginia. The training was organized by the Congress for Racial Equality or CORE, one of the major civil rights organizations of the period. Founded in 1942, by the early 1960s, CORE had dozens of chapters around the US, including many on college campuses. Since CORE frequently used civil disobedience to challenge segregation and other discriminatory policies, they often held nonviolence trainings such as the one pictured here.
One of CORE’s most famous initiatives, organized with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC, were the Freedom Rides during which mixed race groups of civil rights activists would ride buses into the segregated South. During the first ride, the Freedom Riders were attacked by mobs and severely beaten at several stops in Alabama. After the initial group of activists were forced to abandon the ride, SNCC leader Diane Nash organized new groups of activists to take their place. Throughout the summer of 1961, more than 60 Freedom Rides crisscrossed the South with an estimated 450 riders participating.
During their rides, the activists would often protest against other forms of racial discrimination they encountered by sitting together at segregated lunch counters and restaurants. This tactic proved especially effective when they targeted large chains, which would often choose to desegregate their businesses in the face of Northern boycotts. The activists frequently faced harassment during such sit-ins ranging from food and drinks being poured on them or smoke being blown in their faces to beatings and arrests.
Nonviolence trainings such as this one were intended to help prepare the activists, many of whom were high school and college students, for such treatment. The courage of these and other civil rights activists helped bring the issue of segregation to national attention and inspired many people to join the growing movement for racial equality.
To introduce young people to the Civil Rights Movement and its courageous activists, we’ve compiled over 30 books for children and teens in our special feature on the “Top Mighty Girl Books on Civil Rights History” at http://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/civil-rights-history
Among those books featured in the collection include “Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins” for ages 5 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/freedom-on-the-menu), “White Socks Only” for ages 5 to 9 (http://www.amightygirl.com/white-socks-only), “The Story of Ruby Bridges” for ages 4 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/the-story-of-ruby-bridges), “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” for 10 and up ages (http://www.amightygirl.com/claudette-colvin-twice-toward-justice), “Remember: The Journey to School Integration” for ages 9 and up (http://www.amightygirl.com/remember-the-journey-to-school-integration), “Fire From The Rock” for ages 12 and up (http://www.amightygirl.com/fire-from-the-rock), and “Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High” for ages 12 and up (http://www.amightygirl.com/warriors-don-t-cry).
For many books and films about the famous civil rights activist Rosa Parks, visit our “Rose Parks Collection” at http://www.amightygirl.com/character-collection/historical-characters-2?cat=574
For Mighty Girl stories that explore racial discrimination and prejudice, visit http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/prejudice-discrimination?cat=71
"We need to change the way we talk about abortion. We need more women to understand that knowing, unequivocally, that abortion is the only right decision for you does not make you less of a woman. We need more women to understand that not wanting to be pregnant is not a moral flaw. We need more women to understand that abortions are good and safe and they save lives. And it is totally okay that, if you need one, you ask for one for Christmas. It’s the best gift you’ll ever get."
[n.b.: people who don’t identify as women have abortions too]
Read the whole thing here.
Important perspective to consider: “Opponents of abortion may argue that terminating my pregnancy violated our baby’s human rights and that if anything, we should have continued the pregnancy and opted for palliative care at birth. The more surprising and hurtful responses, however, have been from people like my staunchly pro-choice friend who told me that she was jarred by my use of the wordson to describe our fetus, as though the moral basis for abortion depends on denying the fetus any semblance of humanity, no matter how close it is to the point of viability, no matter how the woman herself chooses to define her relationship to the fetus. I’m not sure I explicitly thought of our fetus as our son until the day of that ultrasound, but after entering a situation in which we had to consider medical decisions that included imagining our long-shot, best-case scenario as trying to get our little boy through a year or two of preschool before getting a kidney transplant and starting on lifelong immunosuppressive drug therapy, there was no way to think of him otherwise.”
Read the whole thing here.
This is a gift I wish I could give all survivors: a place for their stories to live that isn’t in their head or on a police report or court petition. A place where their stories can be spread among other people, diffused, made real through their voluntary, consensual telling, to be heard by people who will not immediately file them under “L” for “liar,” or “O” for opportunist, or “B” for “bitch.”
This is the enduring story of rape culture, the eternal lie: Give us the perfect victim, and we will believe you! That’s all they’re asking for—just one perfect victim, and then we can talk about all of this rationally! Send us someone we don’t have so many concerns about! This is a great deceit, and it is borne out of a cultural narrative that has no place for listening, only a place for victim-blaming, only a place for reinforcing stories that do not too terribly upset our Friday night movie binges.
I’m not asking you to decide, today, whether Woody Allen is a child abuser, or to preach fire and brimstone the next time someone picks up a copy of Manhattan. I am asking you to do something more powerful, more long-lasting, more revolutionary: Listen to survivors. Understand that our stories are not sad addenda, but part of our whole being, part of the people you love or hate or see in the elevator sometimes at lunch. See us not as victims, or characters, or some unidentifiable, sad and tragic “other,” but as the whole people we are, moving in and out of your lives.
The highest and lowest women earners tend to show the most support, a trend that does not hold for men.
Follow policymic on Tumblr
Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.