by Diana Gorham
Executive Director, YWCA Greater Austin
Is anyone else noticing the recent and increasingly blatant attacks on women – our health, safety, prosperity and wellbeing?
Anyone know who fills the ranks of the army that is waging this “war”?
Looking at all of the reports and headlines, we at the YWCA Greater Austin have identified almost all of them as individuals who occupy relatively powerful positions in our society in the eyes of many: legislators, clergy, and members of the media!
How have they have managed to incite such passion that justifies attacking one of the most fundamental issues that affect women’s health, safety, prosperity and wellbeing, i.e., our reproductive rights?
Is it coincidence that the overwhelmingly vast majority are white, middle-to-upper class males? Is it coincidence that the overwhelmingly vast majority of those who will be affected are women, especially women of color?
Their behavior began to look interestingly familiar to us. We have observed repeated attempts to control – to intimidate – to even resort to verbal name calling (“slut”).
Because of the work we do at the YWCA Greater Austin, we help women and girls overcome such behavior in their lives, and we have a name for it: BULLYING.
When a person or group “repeatedly tries to harm someone who is weaker or who they think is weaker”, that behavior is defined by the National Institutes of Health as bullying:
Sometimes it involves direct attacks such as hitting, name calling, teasing or taunting. Sometimes it is indirect, such as spreading rumors or trying to make others reject someone.
Interestingly, the federal Departments of Education and Health and Human Services define bullying as “aggressive behavior…that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”
The power imbalance and repeated attacks make it closely related to, and sometimes difficult to distinguish from racism, especially when the perpetrators are overwhelmingly white males.
How can we combat these attacks? Don’t give in. Don’t lose your presence of mind. Use your VOICE AND VOTE!!
Diana Gorham is the Executive Director of the YWCA Greater Austin, overseeing its award-winning community-based mental health center and prevention/intervention services for youth, with a particular focus on adolescent girls. In the almost 18 years that she has been with the YWCA, she has served on regional and national YWCA boards, as well as on numerous committees at both levels. She is most proud of her participation in the creation of a foundation for the intentional involvement of women of color and young women in YWCA leadership positions throughout the USA.
This post is part of the YWCA Stand Against Racism blog carnival on issues of race, justice and diversity. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.