Pro InfirmisCH, an advocacy group in Zurich, created this beautiful PSA for International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd. It shows the group making mannequins in the image of real people with physical disabilities and then displaying them in a storefront window.
Mannequins are the pinnacle of abnormal bodies, yet they’re the most pervasive image that we see clothing draped on. Oftentimes, we have no idea what clothing will actually look like on our own bodies until we try them on. This campaign does a wonderful job of showing real bodies from real people and creates a thought-provoking reflection of the acceptance of people with disabilities.
“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” asks Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte during an abortion filibuster this past summer.
It’s a question that can be asked during any situation if you take out the government titles. At what point will women finally get the respect and recognition they deserve without being subjected to the harsh standards of society that seem to have eluded men for so many centuries? From standards of beauty to the flippant attitudes of men when it comes to the intelligence and sincerity of women, it seems that there’s still a largely unequal balance when it comes to gender equality.
Sure, men feel the pressure of looking their best and staying fit and attractive according to what the media tells them is attractive, but does their physical appearance ever infiltrate or dictate their job performance or trivialize their expertise on a subject matter? It does for women every single day, arguably much more than men.
You can see it in news headlines and segments across the world. Calling women of power “hysterical” because of their passion, making them out to be overly emotional beings who can’t possibly understand the intricacies of government, science, or any matter of logic because of that “emotion.”
The Representation Project, the creator of the above video, is setting out to show just how damaging sexism in media has become and shining a spotlight on how it needs to change. The constant objectification of women to sell products and push consumerism does nothing to progress women in our culture. It merely sets us back to a time when sexual harassment in the office was a part of everyday life and where women were only qualified to be the notetakers for men.
We may have come a long way in the last 100 years as far as gender equality is concerned, but we still have a long way to go.
This article reprinted from a blog post by Linda Tirado titled “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts“:
There’s no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full courseload, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 1230AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.
When I was pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel for some time. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2. Had I had a stove, I couldn’t have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron whilst knocked up.
I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate high school. Most people on my level didn’t. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you’ll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they’ll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That’s not great, but it’s true. And if you fuck it up, you could make your family sick. We have learned not to try too hard to be middle-class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them.
The closest Planned Parenthood to me is three hours. That’s a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can’t afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don’t want to be seen coming in and out in a lot of areas. We’re aware that we are not “having kids,” we’re “breeding.” We have kids for much the same reasons that I imagine rich people do. Urge to propagate and all. Nobody likes poor people procreating, but they judge abortion even harder.
Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since the Patriot Act passed, it’s hard to get a bank account. But without one, you spend a lot of time figuring out where to cash a check and get money orders to pay bills. Most motels now have a no-credit-card-no-room policy. I wandered around SF for five hours in the rain once with nearly a thousand dollars on me and could not rent a room even if I gave them a $500 cash deposit and surrendered my cell phone to the desk to hold as surety.
Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don’t apply for jobs because we know we can’t afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary, but I’ve been turned down more than once because I “don’t fit the image of the firm,” which is a nice way of saying “gtfo, pov.” I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won’t make me a server because I don’t “fit the corporate image.” I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on b12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that’s how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn’t much point trying.
Cooking attracts roaches. Nobody realizes that. I’ve spent a lot of hours impaling roach bodies and leaving them out on toothpick pikes to discourage others from entering. It doesn’t work, but is amusing.
“Free” only exists for rich people. It’s great that there’s a bowl of condoms at my school, but most poor people will never set foot on a college campus. We don’t belong there. There’s a clinic? Great! There’s still a copay. We’re not going. Besides, all they’ll tell you at the clinic is that you need to see a specialist, which seriously? Might as well be located on Mars for how accessible it is. “Low-cost” and “sliding scale” sounds like “money you have to spend” to me, and they can’t actually help you anyway.
I smoke. It’s expensive. It’s also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. It’s a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.
I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s. It’s that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There’s a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there’s money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It’s why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don’t plan long-term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.
I am not asking for sympathy. I am just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that people make what look from the outside like awful decisions. This is what our lives are like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently. It’s certainly self-defeating, but it’s safer. That’s all. I hope it helps make sense of it.
Update: The response to this piece is overwhelming. I have had a lot of people ask to use my work. Please do. Share it with the world if you found value in it. Please link back if you can. If you are teaching, I am happy to discuss this with or clarify for you, and you can freely use this piece in your classes. Please do let me know where you teach. You can reach me on Twitter, @killermartinis. I set up an email at killermartinisbook@ gmail as well.
This piece has gone fully viral. People have been asking me to write, and how they can help. After enough people tried to send me paypal money, I set up a gofundme. Find it here. It promptly went insane. I have raised my typical yearly income as of this update. I have no idea what to say except thank you. I am going to speak with some money people who will make sure that I can’t fuck this up, and I will use it to do good things with.
I’ve also set up a blog, which I hope you will find here.
Understand that I wrote this as an example of the thought process that we struggle with. Most of us are clinically depressed, and we do not get therapy and medication and support. We get told to get over it. And we find ways to cope. I am not saying that people live without hope entirely; that is not human nature. But these are the thoughts that are never too far away, that creep up on us every chance they get, that prey on our better judgement when we are tired and stressed and weakened. We maintain a constant vigil against these thoughts, because we are afraid that if we speak them aloud or even articulate them in our heads they will become unmanageably real.
Thank you for reading. I am glad people find value in it. Because I am getting tired of people not reading this and then commenting anyway, I am making a few things clear: not all of this piece is about me. That is why I said that they were observations. And this piece is not all of me: that is why I said that they were random observations rather than complete ones. If you really have to urge me to abort or keep my knees closed or wonder whether I can fax you my citizenship documents or if I really in fact have been poor because I know multisyllabic words, I would like to ask that you read the comments and see whether anyone has made your point in the particular fashion you intend to. It is not that I mind trolls so much, it’s that they’re getting repetitive and if you have to say nothing I hope you can at least do it in an entertaining fashion.
If, however, you simply are curious about something and actually want to have a conversation, I do not mind repeating myself because those conversations are valuable and not actually repetitive. They tend to be very specific to the asker, and I am happy to shed any light I can. I do not mind honest questions. They are why I wrote this piece.
Thank you all, so much. I don’t know what life will look like next week, and for once that’s a good thing. And I have you to thank.
Additionally, an interesting study was just completed that expands on the Marshmallow Study, where children are asked to delay the gratification of receiving a marshmallow with the promise of more marshmallows. The study was changed, however, when previous to this, they were promised items if they wait and were instead told that the items were no longer available, disappointing the waiting children. You can read about the new study here.
There’s a definitely a correlation between the constant disappointment of poverty and the reasons that many in that situation seem to make decisions that look bad on the outside, but make sense to those of us that have experienced being poor. This Cracked article from last year delves into it a bit more thoroughly and how systems are set up to essentially keep the poor, well, poor.
Yes, this is a lot of reading, but what else are you doing on a Monday afternoon?
In case you were wondering why there were so many mustaches appearing or why your boyfriend/husband/man-child has decided that they will not be shaving for the month of November, I’m here to remind you all that it’s Movember. The time when men decide to not shave their facial hair to bring awareness to testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and other men’s health issues.
Fun fact: In 2011, Canadians were the largest contributors for the charities involved in Movember, which makes this message from everyone’s favorite astronaut Chris Hadfield (sorry Buzz) all the more meaningful. I love you, Canada.
If you want to donate to some of the charities involved in Movember, here’s some more information from the official US website.
Today, you have most likely been bombarded with images and reminders that 12 years ago today, the US experienced an attack on home soil that left thousands dead and hundreds more injured or battling illnesses from the toxic smoke, even today.
The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 left many Americans feeling helpless, confused, and angry. Acts of war hadn’t been experienced on our lands since the Civil War over 100 years prior and the attacks left the US shaken. What resulted from this was the War on Terror, that is still in essence continuing today nearly 12 years later.
But even though we may still feel helpless, confused, and angry, there are things that need to be remembered more than those feelings. Today is a time to push aside the conspiracy theories, the political arguments, and the hate; what we should be focusing on is remembering those who lost their lives and who gave their lives to save others.
We must remember the bravery of the New York Police Department and the New York Fire Department, as well as all the other firefighters from around the world who came to our rescue in what was one of the deadliest incidents for firefighters in the history of America. We must remember the families who still grieve for their loved ones and who never got to say goodbye. We must remember that we are strong and we can rebuild because we are lucky, unlike many in other parts of the world who don’t have these same resources.
We must remember that we are human beings who must emanate love, compassion, and empathy for the fallen. We must remember these things because if we don’t, then we become like the same beings who perpetuated these attacks that took so many lives.
So for today, let us remember these things and these things only.
Let us remember and never forget.
Suicide is one of those hard and taboo subjects that not a lot of people talk about. It’s not often openly discussed, so when something in your life is causing you to contemplate taking your life, it’s difficult to find someone to talk to about it without feeling like they’re going to freak out on you or overreact. Depression and suicide, I think, are things that we experience personally, whether a loved one took their life or whether we’ve gone through the cycle ourselves.
When I was in college, I met a boy named Simon Poultney. Simon was the first boy in my life who was my best friend. There was nothing romantic between us, he was simply someone I wanted to spend as much time as possible with because he was funny, weird, kind and one of the most decent human beings I’d ever met. We’d ride around in my car listening to music and he’d play harmonica next to me. We’d go to shows or out to bars and dance like complete idiots. He was the one who taught me that it didn’t matter what other people thought about you, as long as you were kind to others and had fun.
I remember one time sitting at a table in the cafeteria with all of the cool players from the men’s soccer team, when Simon walked up with his headphones around his neck, speakers turned out, blaring Modest Mouse. For a flash, I was embarrassed; I mean, didn’t he see how weird he was being and how I was with the men’s soccer team? But then I looked up at Simon’s smiling face and the way he just introduced himself to everyone and then I was embarrassed for myself for getting caught up in trying to look cool when my friend was actually cool. He didn’t see popularity or status quo; he just saw people.
On September 5th, 2004, Simon took his life. He had been living with bipolar disorder that was left undiagnosed until it was too late. At his funeral, a friend of his said that he’d had a conversation with him about what his life had been like lately, and Simon had told him, “I see colors, but everything just keeps sinking into a darker shade of grey.” And I completely understood what that meant, because I’d been there, but I’d never talked about it with anyone.
A few weeks ago, one of Simon’s sister came out to visit me here in Seattle and we got to sit down and talk. Bronwen and I have kept in touch since Simon’s death and up until that point, I hadn’t really asked her about it. But what I did need to ask her was if there was anything that I could have done or if Simon had said anything about me the summer he disappeared before his death. I asked her if maybe he had taken one of my phone calls or emails, maybe I could have said or done something and he’d still be here. Maybe I could have told him about the time that I wanted to end my life and we could have worked it out. But, of course, in her love and kindness, she said that there wasn’t anything anyone could have done at that point and I realized that she was right.
To this day, every decision I make involves consulting the essence of Simon. What I mean by that is that I essentially ask myself, “I wonder what Simon would do in this situation?” Because despite his sickness, Simon was one of the most genuine and compassionate people I’d ever known and I want to emulate that. He is still my best friend and someone I will never forget.
It may seem silly to dedicate an entire week to suicide prevention. How can a week of awareness actually prevent someone from killing themselves if they’re hellbent on doing it? The answer is that it probably can’t. But there’s always the hope that maybe it can and maybe, just maybe, it could save a life.
Below is a list of resources. If you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide, maybe you can find an answer in those links. Or maybe you can find someone to talk to here. You can comment anonymously here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DotD is one of the best communities on the internet. All of us together have a shared life experience that is honest, open, and nonjudgmental. There will always be a place for you here. And if anyone ever needs, my email is always open and my phone number is just one message away.
There is always a better way. If you’re dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, just please talk to someone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
I’m Alive: An Online Crisis Network
The Trevor Project
Stand for the Silent
Enough is Enough
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Help Guide: How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal
National Institute of Mental Health
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Thanks to Cas for putting together this list of resources.