cultural expectations

Let's Welcome Alena, our Impact Development Director 

by Alena, Impact Development Director of Willpowered Woman. Originally published here.

My name is Alena and I’m from Russia. I joined Willpowered Woman as Impact Development Director last month. I have more than 5 years of experience in nonprofit organizations and have a diploma in social psychology and economics. Unfortunately, intimate partner abuse is paid very little attention in my Country. There aren’t any crisis centers or women’s shelter to help survivors. Recently, a law was passed by our Government that decriminalizes intimate partner violence. If a woman involves the Police for the first time, a man will not suffer any punishment. Growing up in Russia, women are brought up under different stereotypes: women should cook, clean the house and care for children, but men need to rest after work; the message is frequently communicated that if a woman isn’t married and doesn’t have children, she will be unhappy and have a sad life. There are a lot of women in Russia who think it’s normal if their husband hurts or humiliates them.

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Real Talk: On Empowering Girls & Women

by Emily Frost, Founder of Love Your Nature, originally published on Youth Passageways blog here


Take a moment to remember your teen years. Think back to your first sexual encounters. Remember your body, your environment, the people you were with. Paint the picture. What did it feel like? How do you feel now, trying to remember? 

If you’re a woman reading this, you’re probably connecting to some awkward if not terrible memories. Most of us had mostly not-great sex before we were 20, have been coerced, assaulted, raped, or don’t remember our first sexual experiences because of substance use. Any of this sounding familiar? You are not alone. In fact, you’re a lot like almost every other woman on this planet. Perhaps you are man reading this, with daughters, sisters, or women in your life you love dearly, who already share or may come to know these same experiences. 

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Taking Back Our Names

by the Young Women's Freedom Center. Originally published in their blog here.

 

Our words can change the world. At YWFC [Young Women's Freedom Center] we are taking back the page, the stage, and the airwaves. Read, watch, and listen to our work on this blog. 

Nobody gets to tell us who we are, but they try all the time. Here are words of resistance from YWFC women: 

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In the Name of Our Daughters

by Naomi Katz, Founder of Beautiful Project. Originally published here.

I had already written my piece to share as we basked in the afterglow of finally electing a woman president.  I was so sure we were ushering in a new time, I was so optimistic about the future for ourselves and our daughters, and now I have to pause.

I pause because we have to think again about how we will support ourselves and our girls in the aftermath of this election. I pause to really think about relations between men and women, and what Trump’s victory might mean for our youth.

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Changing Culture is an Act of Love

Story by Kuei, Youth Ambassador of That's Not Cool, a project of Futures Without Violence. Originally posted on ThatsNotCool.com

My people are from the world’s newest nation of South Sudan and we carry our culture everywhere we go. I love and embrace my culture because that is what I grew up to do and I feel like it has made me the person I am today. I was born in Cairo, Egypt but my family was born and grew up in South Sudan. Even though I love my people, I think some of their values are oppressive. For example, that a woman’s goals and dreams should revolve around her being a wife and a mother and that they should obey the men in their lives, or that it is a man’s job to get at least one wife, have children and be the breadwinner for his family. Ever since I could remember, my mother was a single mom. My brothers and I did not have our dad in our lives and we watched my mother try to play both roles. She taught me the opposite of what she internalized. She taught me to be my own person and do what I want to do that would better my tomorrow.

My mother worked a lot and we lived with a lot of family. I watched a lot of unhealthy relationships that constantly went on through my life and I made an agreement with myself that I would never entertain an unhealthy relationship in my life. It did not really work well because I did not know what the signs where or how to go about it.

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Machismo's Vicious Reign in my Latinx Community

by Abigail Miranda, Youth Council Advisory Council member of That's Not Cool, a project of Futures Without Violence. Originally posted on ThatsNotCool.com

What is Machismo?

Machismo is a predominant “traditional” belief in Latinx communities that women are inferior to men. Machismo takes forms in various ways and often is culturally ingrained within Latinx communities. Machismo within our Latinx communities is most commonly presented in sets of heavily enforced gender norms and expectations. Often coming from “La mujer tiene que atender su hombre, porque es la mujer” (“The woman has to attend her man because she is the woman”) to “No seas lloron! Sos hombre!” (“Don’t be a crybaby! You’re a man”) Machismo has established oppressive standards that are harmful to both women and men. Machismo sets a strong practice that of which “hombres” have to comply to machismo and are expected to be hyper-masculine, intimidating, aggressive, and dominant. It is a strongly practiced and harmful belief system that not only maintains sexism as a habitual practice, but also ventures into violence, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia.


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REAL TALK about SEX

by Naomi Katz, Founder of Beautiful Project



“What if we spoke to kids about sex more instead of less, what if we could normalize it, integrate it into everyday life and shift our thinking in the ways that we (mostly) have about women’s public roles? Because the truth is, the more frankly and fully teachers, parents and doctors talk to young people about sexuality, the more likely kids are both to delay sexual activity and to behave responsibly and ethically when they do engage in it.”

- Peggy Orenstein, "When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?", NY Times, 19 March 2016


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The Red Women Rising Campaign

by the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health (CCUIH). Originally published on CCUIH's website here.


The California Consortium for Urban Indian Health's Red Women Rising project supports culturally responsive domestic violence services for Urban Indians by increasing public awareness and enhancing collaborations between Urban Indian health organizations, domestic violence service providers and traditional healers. Earlier this year, CCUIH created a webpage that houses all of the Red Women Rising media so advocates can participate in their public awareness campaign and start important conversations about recognizing abuse, stopping violence, and healing as a community.

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Vague feedback of “Lacks Executive Presence” is blocking senior women’s advancement

by Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, Executive Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. A version of this article was first published in the Huffington Post here.


Two years ago, when Sheryl Sandberg launched the campaign to “Ban Bossy” for young girls, women also cheered. Many women have been called bossy, or the adult version of the word, at some time. While some women receive direct feedback to act differently, more often, they are just told they lack the executive presence or influence to advance to the C-suite. In many instances, that criticism reflects stereotypes about who makes good leaders. While a long-term solution is to block the reliance on stereotypes when speaking about and evaluating senior women, we need immediate action. My solution? A new campaign to advance women leaders: Ban “Executive Presence.”

“Executive Presence” is often defined as commanding a room, having gravitas or communicating decisively. This critical leadership characteristic is rarely based on demonstrated behaviors, but instead on whether others perceive you as having it.


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Professional Black Women are Dying for Inclusion

by Precious J. Stroud, founder of BlackFemaleProject and lead consultant for PJS Consultants. A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2016 edition of Daisy Magazine.


Has your boss ever said:

“You oversold yourself during the interview.”
“You are not meeting expectations.”
“You don’t know your place.”
“You go by that name at work?”
Or my favorite, “You seem angry.”

If not, imagine hearing statements like these over and over again from the person to whom you report.








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Menstruation in the 4th wave: How my period helped me find my (feminist) voice

by Emma Sachat, sophomore at Wheaton College and intern at the Red Web Foundation

In most cultures, a girl’s first period is emblematic of womanhood. Her first period not only indicates that she is fertile, but welcomes her into the world of women rather than girls. For me, my first period was not so sacred. I began to realize I was a woman not because I was met with admiration and respect, but because my body and my ability to menstruate were regarded as vulgar and obscene. My period marked my coming to womanhood in that I learned how I was meant to feel about being a menstruating woman. And it was because I was so angered by the old-world attitudes towards my period that I began to grow into my feminist-self and develop my feminist thought. My period marked the beginning of a new awareness of unjust attitudes and language regarding women.

Despite being slightly embarrassed when I came home to the raspberry-topped cupcakes my mother had made to commemorate my coming into “womanhood”, my period was not initially a source of shame. I did not share the horrific first-period story as do so many women--bleeding through white pants onto a classroom chair, staining a bathing suit. Rather, my first period was uneventful, almost, it seemed, of no consequence at all. I did not regard my period as a great source of shame, nor did I see any reason to. I did not question my own body and my right to menstruate and talk about menstruation openly until I found myself in the presence of boys at my coed high school.

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STOP

by Robin Weathers, Jenna Cheli, Jessie Marshall, and Soli Tays, students of Cloverdale High School who won Best High School Film at the Alexander Valley Film Society for their film, STOP


Insecurities are something that everyone faces no matter the age, race, or gender. This unifying theme connects us all together throughout generations and will continue to connect us. Then why do we target these insecurities within other people? Why are they one of the most frequently used topics to hurt others with? People throw words at each other that target these insecurities whether they know it or not. Friends even make comments to them as jokes. These jokes are sometimes the ones that hurt the most.


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The Duck Syndrome (Anxiety and Perfectionism Among Young)

by Carol Langlois, Teen Advocate: Youth, Culture & Self-Esteem Expert at Dr. Carol


Recently, I learned about the duck syndrome from a friend of mine at Stanford University. The duck syndrome is apparently running rampant at many colleges (and from my research) at many high schools as well. What is the duck syndrome? Well, think of the duck gliding along the water. She looks very serene, calm and pleasant. Then, look under the water and s/he is paddling frantically. That is the duck syndrome. Too many students on the outside are appearing calm, cool and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out. As women, we want to see ourselves being able to have it all. To be the great student, great athlete, and well-liked by her peers, which typically means being social. But what price do we pay? Proving we can do it all has transformed into an ugly state of unattainable expectations and extremes, which are unhealthy for any girl of any age. It’s a recipe for disaster that goes against what feminism truly stands for.

I believe high school is where this syndrome starts to formulate. Many of the girls that suffer from the duck syndrome in college were probably “big fish in small pond” at their high school. Most teens want to be popular, and to be popular these days means that you can do it all. I see high school students staying up ridiculously late doing homework, always wanting the A, playing on one if not two sports teams, and also expecting to go out every weekend. All this can lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy habits. When they get to college, which could have 12 to 20,000 students, being big fish is not so easy anymore so the stakes get higher.



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Practicing Self-Love

by Sara Cerami, Senior at Berkeley High School & President of the school's Body Positive Club


In high school, the pressure to fit in intertwines with stigmatization, creating an experience of body shame and guilt for far too many students. Unfortunately, many do not escape the anxiety and feelings of inadequacy created by our culture’s narrow perception of beauty. High school serves to amplify this cultural toxicity. Judgment and constant comparison permeate my high school’s atmosphere, making it difficult to see and declare one’s authentic beauty. I experienced this type of judgment and internalized it, which led to body hatred and self-deprecation.

However, I thankfully found The Body Positive and learned that it was possible to be free to love myself holistically; in a way where I no longer needed to try to fit a malleable, ever-changing beauty standard. My confidence grew and I started being authentically myself without shame. Learning about intuitive self-care made me recognize how important it is to treat myself kindly and with care in order to be able to accomplish all that is possible in my life. I am a strong feminist, and I realized that if I could not respect my own body and mind, I could never help other women find empowerment. This awareness motivated me to create a foundation of self-love, and to reach out to those who have not yet developed theirs.

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The Everlasting Bond of Sisterhood

by Betty Wu, Senior at Holy Names High School


As an international student hailing from the distant country of China, I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to be a member of Holy Names High School -- an inspiring and encouraging environment for young women. In my three years’ journey at HNHS, I’ve seen my teachers’ dedication to teaching, my classmates’ commitment to learning, and I’ve also experienced the Holy Names community’s welcoming and supportive atmosphere.

Even as a young girl, my mother always taught me the value of independence and intelligence for women. As a successful businesswoman herself, I have witnessed her fearlessness and perseverance in operating her business. As a mother, she raised me to have courage to enter male-dominated fields, such as business and science. Although she never received a higher education beyond secondary school due to family and social poverty when she grew up, she understands deeply the power of knowledge and highly values my education as a female. Throughout my growth, my parents seized every opportunity for me to gain a better education. Going to an all-girl school was a novel idea for me three years ago, but now I cherish my time at Holy Names High School.

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Why do girls apologize for everything? Stop saying you're sorry!

by Carol Langlois of Dr. Carol


When a person says they are sorry, they are telling someone that they are remorseful. The message sent is that they feel badly for what they have done. The word sorry isn’t hard to say for many people, but for some people, mainly young women, they seem to say sorry way too often. The big question is: Why do young girls feel it is necessary to say sorry for things that don’t require an apology?

Generally speaking, girls are typically more apologetic than boys, but it doesn’t mean they are any more remorseful. Girls seem to give out apologies within the broader context of a conversation, where boys typically do not. There is also a cultural expectation that girls will be more accommodating than boys, and sadly many girls live up to that expectation. Overtime, apologies become repetitive, habit-forming and expected by others. Girls can lose sight of why they are even apologizing.



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