As a Women’s and Gender Studies major at Wheaton College (MA), I was incredibly excited to be able to take the Violence Against Women course that is only offered every two years. It is taught by two amazing professors (one in the sociology department, the other in anthropology) who have basically made studying violence against women their life’s work. During the first half of the course, we read academic articles about the many different aspects within the overarching topic of violence against women. It is not an easy class to take, as the material is incredibly hard to read sometimes. However, the second half of the course is designed to make the students into activists that can make a difference on our campus. We are required to design a symposium week together as a class that aims to raise awareness about violence against women and the way it is manifested on Wheaton’s campus. Our symposium week (which is happening right now!) has included events about our school’s sexual misconduct policy, a visit from a local SANE nurse for our pre-health students, public art displays, and more.
For my group’s part of the symposium, we decided to make a video about healthy and unhealthy relationships. We surveyed the Wheaton community (students, faculty, and staff) and asked them to tell us about an experience from a healthy relationship and/or an experience from an unhealthy relationship. We received an overwhelming number of responses – half of which made us grin from ear to ear, and the other half which made us feel incredibly sad. We took these statements, edited them down, and chose about 30 healthy and 30 unhealthy statements to put in our video. We went around campus and asked students and staff to say these statements while we filmed them, with the understanding that these stories are not their own but that they represent anonymous experiences from the Wheaton community. The filming experience itself was powerful (for us and the actors) and we were all so grateful to the large numbers of students who were willing to participate in this project. I learned a lot about filming and how to use my camera in ways I hadn’t before, too. After many many MANY hours of editing (done by a group member and an awesome film student who volunteered to help, thanks Nico), we finally had our video.
We released it on YouTube on Sunday night, and by Monday night, we had over 1,000 views. The response from the Wheaton community and from those outside of it has been incredible! We are beyond happy with the final product and the story that it tells.
YOU deserve to be in a healthy, happy relationship, and our video can help you understand what that relationship can and should sound like. We have the power to change the narrative.
Please share the video so we can extend our reach throughout the Wheaton community and beyond. Thanks for reading! Margaret.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
I have had a hard time defining what “recovery” or “being in recovery” actually means. At what point are you actually recovered? How long does recovery take? What do you have to do to recover? And what happens if you relapse?
I am in the process of recovering from my eating disorder. This isn’t something I usually open up about or broadcast to the world, and I know that it’s not something that I’ve told even my closest friends about. So why write a blog post? This blog is a way for me to get out feelings and thoughts that I don’t know how to express otherwise. My eating disorder is an incredibly personal thing that has been a source of internal shame for a long time, and keeping a shroud of silence around it is going to do nothing to help push away those feelings of shame and disappointment. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to talk about, and always wanted to tell people about, but I haven’t figured out a way to do it before. I’m the type of person who is worried about what other people think about me, and coming out as having an eating disorder puts me out there for a good deal of judgement. Just by looking at me, you could never tell that I’ve been dealing with an eating disorder since freshman year of high school. Too many other girls and women are feeling the same shame, frustration, and confusion that I have felt for the past 6 years, and talking about it is the only way that I know how to help others.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has declared February 23 – March 1 to be National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so I figured that this would be as good a time as any to write a post about recovering.
Warning: triggering content about eating disorders
But wait, there’s more!
I’m not one to typically “rebel” against Valentine’s Day or any other holiday like that, but I do think that the pressure on everyone, single people and couples alike, to have a certain type of experience on this holiday can be a little ridiculous.
Society sets up single people, women especially, to feel like they have to have some strong emotion on Valentine’s Day, like being upset and depressed that they don’t have a partner, or like they should be angry at the holiday for simply existing. Couples, on the other hand, are sometimes pressured to put out this great big outward show of their love and dedication to each other, which often means that someone needs to buy something (flowers, jewelry, dinner reservations, candy, etc.) expensive. People in my generation are often expected to post a sweet Instagram photo on Facebook that expresses to the world how much they truly love each other. This basically equates the “level” of their love for each other with how much money they have/are willing to spend on each other, how creative they get in their surprises, and how many likes they can get on their post.
Basically, it frustrates me that a holiday that is capable of bringing people love, joy, and happiness is also capable of delivering shame, frustration, stress, and sadness to many, many others. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, express it any way you can, but don’t let the value of their love be influenced by the value of the physical items they are able to give to you. Love is about so much more than a dozen roses or a box of chocolates.
So with that, I think that Liz Lemon puts it very nicely: a very happy Anna Howard Shaw Day to us all!