Black women and femmes often represent perfect victims for what our abusers would say is not a crime. By Shannon Barber "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive." — audre
Black, indigenous and women of color are not your sin-eaters, we don’t exist to endure pain for the sake of our communities.The 1st of May marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, and Wear Your Voice’s writers and editors have always worked on shedding light on the mental illness, health and the stigma attached to both. Mental health is a feminist issue—it is inextricably linked to oppressions like misogyny, queerphobia, transphobia, racism, ableism and a multitude of others. Studies have proven what we already know through our experiences: racism is literally making us sick. Micro and macro-aggressions take a toll on our mental health, and for those of us with mental illnesses, treatment is often difficult, heavily stigmatized or ignored. In our worst moments, mental illness can lead to the police killing us rather than helping us. Our pain goes unnoticed or untreated because there are limits to the empathy people feel for us, especially for indigenous and Black women and femmes. Resilience happens to be the thing people praise about us rather than our vulnerability or softness. But when do we get to be open, honest and broken without being discarded because we cannot take care of everyone around us? Why is it that people expect us to fix everything without taking the time to heal from our own wounds?
Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough.Self-care honestly gets a bad rep. There is a time for action and a time for rest, and our bodies and spirits need the balance of both to work their best. And while there's a space for self-care that incorporates face masks and bubble baths, the issue becomes apparent when self-care is only centered on addressing our appearances, rather than what truly plagues us below the surface. With self-care becoming more widely known, it's important that we understand the necessity of incorporating self-care that dives beyond the surface. Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough. We know that self-care is important because, like other living things, we need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others. Marginalized people especially tire ourselves out, each day, by overextending ourselves out of necessity and survival. Running on fumes is normalized. And when so many of us commit the invaluable parts of ourselves to causes that go bigger than ourselves, we have to learn how to better prioritize our revitalization. But self-care as we know it seems to be misdirected. Its purpose doesn't come from simply feeling better at the moment, but in helping to normalize self-healing. Self-care is an important tool that teaches us what long-term self-focused healing can look like, but exactly what does that mean?
Society must be answerable to the lives of those lost to the ramifications of toxic masculinity, in both the moral and physical sense.By Olivia Ahn [TW/CW: discussions about gun violence, murder, domestic violence and misogyny.] On Wednesday, at least 17 people were killed when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire using a semiautomatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. 14 other students were wounded, with five suffering from life-threatening injuries according to NBC news. The Boston Globe reported that Cruz had shown violent tendencies, was abusive to his ex-girlfriend, and his expulsions were related to a fight in regards to her new boyfriend. Since the shooting, authorities arrested Cruz in Coral Springs. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. [caption id="attachment_49393" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Nikolas Cruz[/caption] Since the beginning of 2018, there have been 1,827 gun-related deaths in the U.S.. In 2017, The Gun Violence Archive reported 15,590 gun-related homicide deaths, domestically and climbing. Approximately 20 of these deaths received widespread national-level media attention. Of the 20 nationally-covered gun-related homicides last year, 100% of the gunmen were male, with 40% of the motives classified as an extension or direct act of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and/or sexual assault or harassment. The Violence Policy Center (VPC) reported from 2001-2012 that approximately 11,766 women were killed by their current or ex boyfriends or husbands. Over half of these women were killed using a gun. If we are to critically address the issue of gun violence in the U.S., we must confront toxic masculinity’s foundational role in influencing and perpetuating these outcomes, especially in regards to its explicit impacts on the behavioral and mental health of men that proportionately affect the survival of women. The data above was featured in the 2015 documentary “The Mask You Live In”, which focused on the effects of toxic masculinity on young and adult men in The U.S.. The term toxic masculinity has been attributed to the cumulative work of psychologists and sociologists since the early 1980’s, stemming out of the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement. These men commonly defined toxic masculinity as the harmful, detrimental, and even destructive effects of high, demanding, and narrow cultural expectations of masculinity in society. Examples include socially acceptable male traits, such as dominance, emotional repression, the devaluation and subjugation of women, homophobia, extreme self-reliance, and most importantly, violence.