This May Be The End or Blog On Break

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To those who read my blog!

I have been avoiding writing this for a while and finally, I just have to. I have been really struggling these past few weeks in getting up the motivation to write for this blog. There are so many reasons to write it.

There is the woman in my husband’s class who says she doesn’t like feminism because she doesn’t like labels.

There is New Mexico, where I lived for years before moving to Austin, where they are talking about criminalizing abortion in rape cases because it “tampers with evidence.” What?! I worked at the Rape Crisis Center there for years and know women who both had a child from rape and who had an abortion, both very difficult decisions.

There is John Boehner who is making a huge stink about ending abortion. And all of the people who don’t seem to understand that making abortion illegal, not only dehumanizes women by taking away their rights, it leaves women more vulnerable to back alley abortions. Abortion won’t ever end, but, if this happens, women’s safety will be put at risk. I look at this and see misogyny, plain and simple, the hatred of women.

Women were just granted permission to fight in combat in the military. There is so much to address with this. There’s equality and there’s the fact that military women are at MAJOR risk of being sexually assaulted by their peers. Will that fact change with the new direction of equalizing women?

I could go on.

There are a million reasons to write this blog and so part of me doesn’t want to give it up. I have loved interviewing women and the awesome stories that came from that process. I also love all of you who read it, except the ones who have sent me hate mail (but I doubt you’re reading this now) Ha Ha! I have loved getting to know some of you and the blogs you write. And…I am very honored that people read my feminist rants!

This blog has helped me grow as a writer, as a feminist, as a woman. I needed it during the time I have written it, but now I need to step away from it. In other words: it needs to end, or at least take a hiatus.

I have other projects I am working on and the blog has become something I feel I have to do rather than something I am excited to do. Is the content important to me? Yes! Of course. It always will be. So, who knows? Maybe it’ll resurface at some point. Maybe in this form or maybe in another form- who knows?!

For now, I want to say, Thank you to everyone who reads Matrifocal Point. I wish you well.

In Solidarity, Liza Wolff-Francis

 

 

GQ Magazine- for Gentleman or Pigs?

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Magazines geared toward men have, for years, rated women. They have picked apart our bodies like we were up for auction. And that right there is the very problem! We’re not for sale. We’re not for your viewing pleasure. If you’re going to tell me, “but it’s normal for straight guys to check out women,” I’ll say, “yes it is. It is also normal for women to be respected.” What’s not normal is the constant making women worthless.

How? By reducing us to a number, to the “hottest,” to body parts rather than the whole of us, to seeing us as drool-worthy or not. Until women are seen as whole beings not to be rated, sold, bought, picked apart, and for the masturbating pleasure of men, violence against women won’t stop. Until women are seen as equal participating members of the society, which means not being treated in objectifying and exoticizing ways, we will not be out of danger.

GQ magazine, Gentleman’s Quarterly, I believe is what it stands for, has just published an edition of their magazine that is not only misogynist, but racist. Lovely GQ. No seriously, WTF!

I guess you could say, “well, what did you expect?” But, I don’t want to let them off that easy.

When you say:

- “Hottest Indian Chick”: Freida Pinto
- “Hottest Pregnant Sri Lankan”: M.I.A
- “Hottest Italian Chick”: Monica Belluci
- “Hottest Chinese Chick”: Zhang Ziyi (sometimes credited as Ziyi Zhang)

first, you are taking away women’s bodies from women. Women must own their own bodies. It’s things like this that make it easier to justify everyone discussing laws that ultimately determine whether women get a say so about what we want for our bodies (rape, right to legal safe abortion, what we wear). But you are also doing something else grossly wrong! Setting a racist tone for beauty and ugliness. Throughout history, women have been acclaimed for their beauty and men for their accomplishments.

Traditionally women of color have been judged based on white standards of beauty, so the worth of black women, for example, would be based on how her features are similar to those of white women, like lighter skin. When GQ says “Hottest Chinese Chick” they are defining women by their race/ethnic identifiable traits. This not only defines what is “beautiful” for the society, but also what is ugly. When we think of women, hate is often based on what is ugly. So, it can be used as an excuse. She’s ugly, she deserves this treatment. Or even unconsciously, she’s ugly, I’m not going to give her this job. This also contributes to racism overall, which women we believe are worthy of certain things, treatment, rights.

Making women exotic, exoticizing them, also keeps women of color as the “other,” leaving them even more unequal and in danger.

It is absolutely disgusting that “gentlemen’s” magazines in this day and age support a ranking of women as if they were to be sold at auction like slaves. It is absolutely disgusting that they categorize women as beautiful or ugly according to race and ethnicity. This promotes: misogyny, the belief that women are less than and not equal, violence against women, objectification, the exoticization of women, and racism.

When are “gentlemen” going to start cleaning up their act? It’s one thing to be a guy attracted to women. It’s another thing to be a racist misogynist standing for things that promote violence against women. We’re in a new year! This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. It’s one more thing in a list of long things that all add up. Let’s change this! Let’s make change. Stop the hate.

Education Against Violence in 2013- For Steubenville, For America, For Women, For Us ALL

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I’ve been slow to blog my way into the new year. Needing a break perhaps. It’s a lot for us all to read the news about the violence against women because of misogyny and to know that while some things improve, many don’t and for women, it’s a slow change.

We’re six days into 2013 and so far, to me, it looks like a good year, but it also looks like one for education. I don’t mean, let’s all get up on our soap boxes and do some preachin.’ I mean, we all need to work together to understand what is going on around patriarchy, around misogyny- and examine how to change it.

We entered this year with the Indian woman who was gang raped having just died. The men who are guilty may face the death penalty. Will that be enough? In India, official statistics show that a rape is reported every 20 minutes. Think about the many that are not reported.

Then there is the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio. Last August a sixteen year old girl was raped there by two or more members of the high school football team when she was unconscious after drinking alcohol. Protests have been ringing in the new year as it is believed that the investigation has not been open to all of the facts. It is believed that the investigation has favored perpetrators in favor of saving the football team which has, in the past, brought the town much pride.

Someone identifying as “Anonymous” saw many of the interactions on social media about the rape and began posting it on social media. “Anonymous” may have hacked into email to get some of the information. What that says to me is that “Anonymous” is fed up with rape culture and feels it is worth the risk of repercussions in order for there to be justice.

Even aside from the rapes themselves, when you see the ways the guys on the football team and people in general have responded to the victims, to the cases, to the issue of rape itself, you begin to see what we call “rape culture.” It is the idea that rape is normal, that victims deserve to be raped, that rape is sex. It is the excusing of rape in the culture, the tolerating of it, and even condoning it. It is the expectation of rape of women.

Though rape affects everyone, men, women, young, old, there exists the idea that women’s and girls’ bodies are for public use. In the Steubenville case, there were boys on camera dragging the unconscious girl off to rape her. There were boys saying she was “dead,” so “dead” that she was to be raped and “if it was their daughter, they wouldn’t care.” There were tweets about how she was raped. Social media all over the place. Anonymous informed the public. “Anonymous” made it clear that the case was not to be blown off. It has gotten national attention because of “Anonymous” blowing the whistle. We all need to be whistle blowers around rape. We all need to speak up to stop it, to make sure it doesn’t happen, to say it’s not okay! It is NOT the norm. It is NOT to be expected. 

In this new year, we have the opportunity to change. We can educate each other. We can brainstorm ways to stop violence against women. Against girls. Against people.

We can speak out against rape. Against street harassment. Against all sexual violence!

I know someone who posted on Facebook the other day that she now hates to go jogging because every time she goes, she is ‘cat called,’ whistled to, or propositioned. There were some people who said she should get a weapon and asked if she wanted someone to kick some ass, but many people responded to her saying, “Enjoy it while you can,” “It won’t last forever,” “Once you’re older, you’ll wish that happened,” “Take it as a compliment,” “It’s because you’re beautiful,” and “Girl, that was me.” They were joking and trying to make her feel better, but what she knows and what I couldn’t resist commenting is that street harassment is a threat and dangerous. It is sexual violence. She is beautiful. What has been happening to her when she jogs has nothing to do with that.

How different would it be if everyone said, Whoa, that’s sexual violence- not okay. Sorry that happened to you. Street harassment has to stop. It keeps women from being fully free in the world. It is a threat and can escalate quickly. We must shape these conversations, even online ones- maybe especially online ones, to stop rape culture.

How different would it be if any time someone saw another person engaging in inappropriate behavior, they said something against the behavior and worked to make it stop and prevent further harm.

2013 is a good time to start to make change. To change our culture to not tolerate rape. The rapists in India might get the death sentence- we need stricter laws to deter people from raping and we need a society that absolutely will not put up with sexual violence against anyone! We need education around sexual violence and around stopping it.

Keep ringing in the new year. Let’s make some change for 2013 and for all of our futures!

Feminism Fa la la la la la la la la

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Happy Holiday Season 2012 everyone! This is a repost from last year, but thought I’d post it again in the holiday spirit. Blessings to you all. Thanks for reading my blog!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la-la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

The old year is passing quickly. We’re almost to the new. There are going to be obstacles and things that make us want to stay indoors, like wind and rain, but we can’t let anything stand in our way. A new year is coming- Let’s make change!

Some women say, “we have equal rights. I don’t want to be the same as men.”

I have also read stuff on the internet that promotes that same idea- that women having equal rights, opportunities, and same pay as men means women want to be the same as men. For everyone (men and women) who believes that: We don’t want to be the same as men- we’re pretty awesome as we are!

Women have a lot of amazing ideas, skills, talents, and drive. We should be able to be liked, promoted, recognized when we do something great because we do something great, not because of our looks or because we show our bodies or because we hate-on other women.

We all view women with a different lens than the lens we use to view men. For example: men are seen as strong if they speak up or call somebody out on something, women are seen as bitches. Another example: men’s sports are way more popular than women’s.

Men are seen in a different way. Again, we’re different, so that’s fine- until different means better. Essentially that’s what it is, men are seen as better. Why? Because the system gives them power and as part of the system, we all continue to give them power. But power is not always bad, you say.

It’s power-over others. Power-over others in a society doesn’t allow all people to think and act for themselves.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to convince men we don’t hate them and we think they’re okay. The system of patriarchy that’s in place also makes men believe that women standing up for themselves means they are “man-haters.” That’s not true. So, men, just trust it, we don’t hate you.

The system set up has everyone stop and listen when men speak, but to ignore women. It’s set up so that men aren’t seen as people who have feelings, so when they express some kind of feeling they have, everyone drops everything to cater to him because it must be real and important. It has been more acceptable for women to show emotion, so often when women express our feelings, we are seen as hysterical and emotional. When men have new ideas, everyone pays attention to them and considers them. When women have new ideas, they might not be heard or they might be dismissed. Men are seen as in charge- top of the rung would be wealthy white men. That’s not to say that wealthy white men are bad necessarily, it’s to say they have the most power in the society.

With a system change, all people can be seen as important, valuable, and needed rather than a burden.

First things first with the system change. What I’m talking about leaves women more able to make decisions in the society, for our lives, and for our bodies. That stops violence against women, children, and men. That allows both men and women to be as great as we can be, rather than holding us back because of stereotypes or gender roles.

Feminism is a movement that has been in response to the oppression of women. It also calls for a change in the system. Call this whatever you want. I’m talking a complete remodel. What we have now is outdated. So, let’s update.

I happened upon a great quote from a novel I was referencing the other day. It speaks to power and oppression.

“The narrower a man’s intellectual grasp, the more power he is able to grab in this country.” -From The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

People who can’t open their minds, who are unwilling to imagine a different system that celebrates women and men equally, one that respects women, one that encourages us all to participate in life and have a voice about what we need, want, and can do in this world, don’t see the true value in others and therefore will take what they want only for themselves.

The narrower your view, the less you can see others as valuable and the more power you will grab for yourself. If you can see the possibilities and the good stuff within each person, you’ll want them to also be able to speak and you won’t hog the mic the whole time.

This world can be a better place, with more love, more peace, more creativity if women and men have equal rights and women are respected. There are so many people battling this patriarchy right now. It’s going to mean men stand up and respect women. It also means, and perhaps most importantly, women stand up for themselves and each other. We have to be on one another’s side. We are strong when we are united!

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses
Sing we joyous, all together
Heedless of the wind and weather
We can change this

Fa la la la la, la la la- la

Happy Holidays!

A Gendered Mental Health?

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In connection with the Newtown tragedy, there has been much talk in the past week about the need for mental health services. There doesn’t seem to be a lot, so far, about what that means or how that looks. It’s pretty obvious to most people that people like the gunman Adam Lanza, are not mentally and emotionally stable. But what hasn’t really been talked about is that Adam and the killers in the other major public shootings this year, have been men. There are of course other killings that have been committed by women, but a majority of killings in this country, if not worldwide, are carried out by men. And yet there is still a societal taboo against men getting help.

When there is talk about the need for mental health services, all I can think is that even if there are services available, there is still that stigma against men taking advantage of those services. Stereotypically, men are supposed to be brave and strong. They are supposed to be able to take down the monsters, not be plagued by them internally. They are supposed to fight back and to walk off pain. But what if they can’t?

I think we’ve seen the answer to that question.

We get the Newtown massacre. Or the movie theater one. Or the mall. Or the temple. Or domestic violence murders. Or any number of violent crimes.

It is not merely that we as a country must provide accessible mental health services, but that we change our views of who should go to therapy, of who should get help, of when that help should occur. It means we change our belief about men not needing help.

The system of patriarchy says men are on top. They are in charge. They are all knowing. They can handle anything thrown at them. They are the heroes, the ones who will save everyone else (women, children, animals, property). And Geez- That’s a lot of pressure!

The reality is men are human. For the society to allow men to get help, we must acknowledge they are human and that sometimes life is hard for everyone. Men must understand that getting help isn’t a failure. Society has to back them up in understanding that. It’s not a disgrace to go to therapy. It’s not weak. It’s an exploration of the self in this world.

We should be curious about our thoughts, about our feelings, about our plans, about our dreams, and about our lives. All of this is mental health. Can you share all of that with someone else? Can you trust someone else enough to explore that stuff with them?

If there is something you are up to that you can’t share with a therapist, maybe you should go talk to one. Would Adam Lanza have been able to talk about his plan with a therapist? Probably not- and he might not have, but if he had been seeing someone regularly, who was on his side, helping him through the hard time he was having, this tragedy would have hopefully been avoided.

This isn’t to say every tragedy is avoidable, but receiving mental health services can help prevent some. Having it be a normal thing for people to check out their mental health can prevent tragedy. If our body hurts we get it checked out. What if our mind or our feelings, our selves hurt? We also need to check that out.

In order for people to be able to get help, we need for that to be normal in the society. That means we all need to check in about our mental health, our emotional health. What does that mean? Talk to a therapist, a counselor, trustworthy religious personnel- when you are having a hard time. When you feel sad. When you are confused. When you are angry. Encourage others to get help. Talk about when you needed to do that.

The internet is a great place to find therapists and therapeutic programs BTW

I have a friend whose father died a few years back. I asked him if he saw a therapist. He told me no, he just drank a lot. If you have to cope with something with alcohol or drugs, you’re not coping well. Talk to someone. We all must do this more. It needs to be the norm, otherwise it will still be taboo for men. And let’s face it, men also need help. We all do from time to time.

Make it acceptable! Make it important! Make it the norm!

Healthy mental states for all!

When do we stop ignoring Gun Control?

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What will it take for us to do something to regulate the sale of and access to firearms?

The argument that the Second Ammendment protects our right to bear arms doesn’t hold up anymore. Our society has gotten to a point where people are so impulsive, so negligent of mental and emotional health, and so violent, that the right for one person to bear arms means inevitably others will lose their lives.

On Friday, we saw it was twenty children.

Though the Second Amendment was adopted with the rest of the Bill of Rights in 1791, in 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two big decisions regarding it. In 2008, the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. In 2010, the Court listed many longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession as being consistent with the Second Amendment.

Now we need to go even further. There must be more prohibitions, more restrictions. It doesn’t matter if YOU are responsible, some people are not or are unable to be. With firearms out and about in our society as it is right now, it is inevitable that innocent people will die because of them. 

Since Friday’s tragedy, there have been numerous petitions going around about gun control. One says we should demand armed guards stand at the gates of schools. I understand the impulse. It’s terrifying what happened and if nothing changes, it will happen again. But, that’s the opposite of where we need to go. An armed presence does not a safe school make. It makes guns the norm. It makes people hide what they are doing and ‘police’ each other.

I was held up once and there was a police officer standing probably thirty feet away. He didn’t see and consequently, he did nothing. When you have a gun facing you, you don’t scream for help, even if help is right there. My point is that more police in schools or more guns there, won’t necessarily make us safer, they might provide an illusion of safety, but that is an illusion and one that gives us the sense that school is a dangerous place.

I want to live in a world with fewer guns. Schools need to work to form plans for how they can be safer as institutions. As a society, we must work to lower rates of violence, stop sensationalizing violence, be curious about each other, get to know each other, ask about guns, talk about guns and weapons, talk about safety, talk about emotions, talk about mental health, use our words, communicate with each other verbally, push for mental health, and we must look at how we regulate who gets a gun and what guns are available.

The Second Amendment is to protect our right to have guns to protect ourselves, but what if guns other people have kill us?

Be

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beach pic

Be

who you are as much as you realize you are that person in each moment in time. as much as the world will allow, and then some. without inhibitions. without fear. keep discovering you. the changing you. the evolution of you. curious about you and how you walk through this world.

Be

wonderful like you were meant to be. the contradiction to all negative speak you have ever heard or imagined about yourself. the proud warrior in whatever battles you were meant to fight. the buoyancy in contrast to all force against you. a bear. a cheetah. a house dog. the reign of all that is reflective of good. not only for the self. uplifting the self. uplifting the good within you. within us all. love.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

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I love this quote by Marianne Williamson. You may have heard it before, but I think it’s especially important to reflect on it every so often and December, right in the midst of the holiday craze, seems like a good time.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Patriarchy, misogyny, depression, insecurity, fear… There are many things that hold us back. But remember, “We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Shine today. Now. Always.

Football, Domestic Violence, & Patriarchy

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After Jovan Belcher killed his partner Kasandra Perkins last Saturday, there has been quite a bit written about factors that might have caused the murder and then subsequent suicide. People say it was a head injury issue or trauma to the brain. They’ve said if he hadn’t had access to a gun it wouldn’t have happened. The argument has been made that rates of young African American women being killed are high and so has the argument that this was an act of woman-hate, pure misogyny.

So, here we are with more about Jovan Belcher. For those who read my blog, this is not to bore you, it is to make a larger point about our society and patriarchy and how football is a part of the patriarchal system. I want to acknowledge the amount of attention Belcher has gotten, even while dead, and how Kasandra Perkins has taken second place, though she was the victim, killed without any choice. This post will be about the context of Belcher’s actions, but it will be for Kasandra Perkins and looking toward a world where women are not killed. Ever.

When all the analyses that have been made come together, a more true picture is painted. Some may argue one over another and there’s no way to really know what happened, but in my view, they are all true. In my last post, I postulated that Belcher had trauma, at the very least, if not repeated traumatic brain injury. If he did, which I believe is very likely, he is more likely to act impulsively and to be unable to control his emotions. I would even go a step further to say he may have not been fully conscious about his actions because of trauma or substance use. Is this to say then that he is not to blame? NO, absolutely not. He did it, it was his fault.

But, there is a but. This is all in the context of misogyny and that is in the context of patriarchy. We live in a world where women are seen as second class citizens and as incapable, where women are seen as objects to be controlled and less than human. Equality doesn’t yet exist between men and women.

When we look at Jovan Belcher killing Kasandra Perkins, I see he probably had trauma, if not repeated traumatic brain injury AND he lived in a patriarchal world where women are seen as property, as less than, and for controlling.

There are lots of reflections within the society about how women are not treated equally to men. The biggest is this: women everywhere are at great risk of violence of all kinds, including homicide. The rates of younger African American women being killed are extremely high. Of course this societal reflection comes from women not being considered equal or treated equally.

Football as a sport, is incredibly violent. You must attack and fend off attackers in order to win. Even aside from traumatic brain injuries, it seems likely that a football player might more easily become violent in situations outside of football. This is not to say that all football players are violent. But then throw some misogyny in there and easily there is a formula for violence against women.

If the underlying belief is that women need to be controlled and are inferior, that’s already a set up for violence against women. That violence includes street harassment like cat calls and groping, sexual harassment at work, rape, intimate partner violence, and of course, homicide.

To sum up, Belcher’s murder suicide was probably influenced by trauma but it was definitely in the context of a patriarchal system, which inevitably has misogyny in it.

For women like Kasandra to not be killed, the society must change. First and foremost, women must be seen as equal to men. Second, gender roles must be more bendable, less rigid. Third, violence against women cannot be tolerated. Actually, violence against anyone CANNOT, MUST NOT, be tolerated. Football is a part of all that. The football world has to take responsibility for how the violence in the game affects its players and consequently the outside world around them and the people in that world.

 

Jovan Belcher- Football and Trauma

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Jovan Belcher, the NFL starter for the Kansas City Chiefs killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, on Saturday and then himself, leaving behind a 3-month-old daughter. This is tragic. It just makes me so sad- for the daughter who had two parents and now will never know them, for the woman who was killed and had no choice in whether she wanted to live, for Belcher who couldn’t regulate his emotions enough to not kill someone else and himself, for all the people who knew him, the other players, the coaches, the fans, and for football itself.

I don’t know any more details than the first hand news reports are giving, but from afar it looks like a domestic violence case that escalated to a woman being killed, though there are reasons to see it as atypical. BUT, there is one thing, that makes me think it might have an added issue- football.

Football as a game has gotten progressively more violent. Protective gear hasn’t helped because it makes the players ram into each other even harder. Head injuries happen probably more than even coaches and players realize. I’ve been around enough men to know they’re often told to “walk it off” when they are hurt. Even if they’re not told that, they have that ingrained in them from growing up. Don’t dwell on it, walk it off, you’ll be okay. But what if you won’t be?

Belcher is the sixth NFL player to kill himself in the past two years. Anyone can imagine that having a head injury might not be good, but what about over and over again?

It already happens with trauma that people avoid situations and stimuli that remind them of a previous traumatic event. If their nervous systems believe (even if falsely) that they are in danger, they may respond in ways that are over the top or like in this case, violent.

If a player’s trauma of being hit and charged at by people who will stop at nothing to win has gone untreated, it is absolutely possible that at some point, they will react severely and violently towards themselves or others.

A player could also have childhood trauma and football just piled on as one more thing threatening your wellbeing- BuBuBuBUT, it’s just a game.

Let me list symptoms of trauma. You can have trauma and not have PTSD, though you cannot have PTSD without trauma.

First, the trauma: 2 things-
1. if a person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which they experienced, witnessed or were confronted with an event that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to the physical integrity of self or others.
2if the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness or horror. As children they might have agitated or disorganized behavior.

So, trauma symptoms:

recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event
recurrent distressing dreams of the event
acting or feeling as if the event were recurring- might be flashbacks, hallucinaitons
intense psychological distress at reminders of the event
physiological reactivity to reminders of the event
efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, conversations associated with the trauma
efforst to avoid activities, places, people associated with the trauma
inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
loss of interest or participation in significant activities
feeling of detachment from others
restricted range of feelings and ability to show feelings
doesn’t expect to have a normal lifespan
difficulty with sleep
irritability or outbursts of anger
difficulty concentrating
hypervigilance
exaggerrated startle response
__________________________________
The above symptoms are associated with PTSD and certain numbers of symptoms in different categories must be present for over a month and must cause distress. Other trauma symptoms might also include:
appetite being affected
depression
sense of worth being affected
anxiety

What if, as a player, you feel a lot of these things regularly? What if you can’t “walk it off?”

Trauma is very serious, but it hasn’t been seen as a potential issue in football until more recent years. Now people are beginning to question whether players have Traumatic brain injuries. Whether it’s traumatic brain injury or trauma, these players have clearly demonstrated they are NOT okay and have little impulse control. They are just the ones we see. I imagine there are many more players suffering out there who have not yet killed themselves and are trying their damnedest to “walk it off.”

Trying to constantly deal with trauma symptoms like these is brutal and to always have to face the enemy again in what is a game understandably would leave some players feeling hopeless enough to kill themselves and out of control enough to kill someone else.

What if it is football’s fault? What if being slammed in the head over and over again messes you up? What if the humanity within the players that says when a bunch of big dudes are set to fight you and chase after you, you run like hell and don’t go back or fight like hell and then run? They’re doing that, sure, but still getting clobbered at one time or another-that’s football. And, I might argue, that could also be trauma.

We may need to rethink the game. We may need to rethink the way players’ mental and emotional health is monitored. We may need to hire doctors to evaluate head injuries and any body slam action. We may need to retire players with honors after shorter periods of time. We need to put players health and emotional/mental health before the game.

ONE MORE NOTE: Rates of violence and homicide of African American women are high, especially of younger African American women. I chose to write this article about football and Jovan Belcher because I believe that the game as it is negatively impacts players. That does not mean to excuse or take the blame from the perpetrator of the murder, it is to suggest that people do things often because of trauma, acts of domestic violence/intimate partner violence included. Looking at trauma and helping men acknowledge trauma symptoms and mental health issues and to get help is also a part of stopping violence against women. It must be.

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