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8/11 - This Week in Women: Speaking Out, Speaking Up

News

This week, conversations surrounding some of women’s most discussed yet neglected topics covered headlines worldwide. From pay equity in New Zealand to female oppression in India, to diversity in Hollywood, all topics were on the table, with these five women unafraid to put them there.


New Zealand’s Labor MP Annette King Comments on Pay Equity

After a 30-year political career, MP Annette King is retiring from New Zealand’s Parliament following this month’s election. This week, King gave her farewell speech with closing comments that included the lack of equality for women throughout the country, particularly at work. In her speech, King said, “I’m ashamed that we don’t have pay equity in New Zealand. Women have waited long enough. No more excuses, no more half-baked measures, no more litigation. It’s time for us to once again lead on women’s issues.” King also recognized that women “only make up 31 percent of MP’s,” noting the change needs to carry into the political parties, so that Parliament can more wholly represent New Zealand.

Annette King Courtesy of RNZ

Comedian Niecy Nash Discusses Female Representation in Hollywood

Niecy Nash Courtesy of Newsweek

As part of Nash’s new series, Claws, the comedian is drawing attention to how far black women have come in the media – attributing this to actors like Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington. However, the comedian still feels as if not all women have benefitted from the strides these women made.

“There are so many other women in the world besides black and white women whose stories are not being told – Asian women, Indian women, and Muslim women,” said Nash on air with Chelsea Handler. Nash continued to discuss the importance of growth in the right direction to continue to diversify Hollywood. Following this television appearance, Vox published an article in which they used the following statistics from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film as sobering data in support of Nash’s comments: only five percent of broadcast female characters were Asian, five percent Latinas and two percent identifying as “other.”

Taylor Swift’s Battling her Sexual Assault Case

All week, the musician has been trending on social, as followers criticize the lack of support from other celebrities and speculate results. Yesterday, the trial began against former country radio DJ David Mueller, keeping Swift at the top of trending articles due to her “gutsy” testimony and “sharp” responses. “Because my ass is located in the back of my body,” Swift replied to Mueller’s attorney asking why the photo, in which Swift says Mueller was “grabbing her ass cheek,” showed the front of her skirt in place. The attorney continued to question why Swift didn’t take a break during the meet-and-greet after she was alledgedly groped, to which Swift said, “Your client could have taken a normal photo with me.” Throughout the trial, Swift continued to fire short, similar lines as defense, and also as proof of her determination to be a role model to encourage young women that this behavior is unacceptable. The trial continues in Denver next week.

Taylor Swift Courtesy of TGM

Varnika Kundu Inadvertently Starts #AintNoCinderella Campaign

This week Kundu, a DJ, was walking home from work late at night when she was “chased and almost kidnapped” by multiple men in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh. Kundu took to Facebook to post about her experience, noting her appreciation for the quick response by local authorities.

Palak Sharma Courtesy of BBC News

After the post went viral, however, local politician Ramveer Bhatti continued to draw attention to the event by blaming Kundu for the attack. Bhatti said, “The girl should not have gone out at twelve in the night…why was she driving so late in the night?” As a result, Congress party’s social media launched a campaign with the hashtag #AintNoCinderella in response to Bhatti’s reaction to Kundu’s curfew. Spandana told the BBC, “Why shouldn’t women go out after midnight? I’m asking people like Mr Bhatti who are they to set curfew hours for us. This is such a regressive mindset.” The hashtag began trending as more women posted photos of themselves out after midnight, continuing the conversation around victim-shaming and international female oppression.

Rose Namajunas Poses Nude for Women’s Health

Rose Namajunas Courtesy of MyMmanews

As part of the “Naked in 3 Words” campaign put on by Women’s Health, the UFC star said she felt motivated to participate, posting her image on Instagram with the caption, “Cut, The, Shit. Be yourself, work hard, love your body and put your best self forward. What are your 3 words?” In addition to this post, Namajunas also spread body positivity during the shoot, saying, “My naked body is…the story of my whole life. All the scars on my body, all the bumps and bruises, all the muscles – that is a story of everything I have done.” Namajunas continued, “I have a middle finger that was jammed in one of my craziest fights, and it looks like a swollen turkey to this day. There’s a bone chip that’s in there, and it’s a reminder that this finger contributed to my fight, and to my beautiful house, to everything in my life. It might be ugly, but it’s mine and I love it. I’ve got some big old knees, big old feet. I could nitpick, but at the same time, I think it’s all friggin’ beautiful.”

6min read
Health

What Sexual Abuse Survivors Want You to Know

In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.


For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.

Believe it or not, I am happy about that.

The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.

It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).

These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.

So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.

Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.

The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."

In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.