I hope this post does not offend any men. That is certainly not my intention to exclude anyone or minimize the very real types of struggles that both men AND women face....However....there is a HUGE problem facing our society. I would venture to say an epidemic. I think of it as a silent epidemic because it seems to fly under our radar. Now yes, there is a lot of talk against domestic violence, and to uplift and empower women to be strong and independent....yet despite ALL of this, women everywhere are still suffering...WHY???

I want to tell you a true story. Just today as I sat across the desk from my academic advisor, she suddenly broke down and told me that her son (16 years old) has a girlfriend who is suicidal. The parents of this young lady are placing the burden of help onto the shoulders of this woman's 16 year old son, and on her...Obviously they are trying to find answers and get help....so as I sat across from this woman practically in tears, I shared a little bit about my own story of leaving an abusive marriage, and how I am now in school, waiting as opportunities are abounding all around me, and just pushing forward a day at a time.....

This woman opened up to me. She said that she too left a very abusive relationship several years ago. She had a nice house, a nice car, LOTS of money....but she was being abused. She said that this was a generational thing as well. Her mother was abused, so the cycle repeated itself. Now she has a 16 year old boy who is trying to rescue this girl, the same way he tried to rescue his mother when daddy was beating her....I suggested that she get professional help for her son. A light bulb went on and she was like, "YES!!! I am going to call this afternoon and get him in to see someone...." Sometimes that's all it takes...a little encouragement in the right direction....

These stories of women being hurt are SOOOOOOOOOO common. What is it about our sick society that perpetuates this idea into little girls at such a young age that they are to be submissive to men? I used to think it was strictly due to the Christian ideals we are raised under, whether we are religious or not, however this exists in the Muslim culture as well, and probably in every society on the planet. Maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe it's not EVERYWHERE....but as I have moved from being a victim to being a Survivor, I am awakened to the fact that women everywhere feel diminished, silenced, unheard, they feel "sorry" for every little thing, and don't even realize that an apology isn't necessary. They live as though their only value is to make others happy, and they assume the majority of professions that enable this type of sick thinking to continue. If the customer is always right, the woman must do as the customer says. If that customer doesn't leave a happy customer then the woman did something wrong....

I'm in the process of possibly being accepted into the Electrician's Apprenticeship. If successful I will become an inside wireman. I sat in a room FULL of men just the other day. Something that terrified me just a few months prior. I've had my share of traumas throughout my life. I've worked through them ever so slowly. And now my heart brakes for the fact that I was fortunate enough to have good people around me. People from this very site!!!!! (You know who you are.....THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY LIFE!!!!!!).....so I was fortunate. OH so fortunate. And now I can sit in a room full of 50 men with my head held high, not caring if they look at me like, "what is SHE doing here?"....

I wish women everywhere could be afforded the ability to find their strength and find their voice...WITHOUT A MAN!!!!! Our value and worth is NOT tied to what a man thinks of us or wants from us. And any man who thinks that their needs should come first at the expense of the health and well being of the women who love them is not a man, but a little boy.

If I am successful at being an electrician.........No.....WHEN I am successful at becoming an electrician, I am going to empower other women around me and say, "You can do anything you set your mind to!!! (I really really believe that!!!) I'm starting now with this discussion/blog. And I'm never...ever....ever going to stop.

I'm tired of women having to suffer. I was SOOOOOOOOOOOO fortunate to have help. THANK YOU....

WOMEN: You are beautiful

thanks for reading

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It does not matter if the country is Christian or Muslim. Women have been traditionally underrepresented in societies where religion and religious thinking are interwoven into political, legal and social structures. Only when we can have secular societies where religious influence is minimized will we see any real change. Giving women control over their own bodies and allowing all girls equal access to an education is the first step towards empowerment.

When I hear men label domestic violence or children’s welfare or any such matter as “women’s issues” I will always correct them and remind them that they are issues that we all must deal with.

We all have rights as humans. When we need to fight for the human rights of others we need to do so with the same enthusiasm and energy as we hold them for ourselves. We should do so not because they are male rights or female rights but because they are Human Rights. I agree that Women’s rights are still not where they should be but that is a problem we all need to action together.

Religions will never help women. Religious standards are just too poor for modern societies. We will all be better off when we give the problem the respect it deserves. We need to change our way of thinking.

I LOVE that Ted talk.....I is true that men need education just as much as women on this issue. It angers me so much. I hear from girls every day that I am in class with things like, "I'm not good at math," or...."wow, I couldn't have done that by myself,"....etc....and I hear my own voice and the way I used to think, and maybe still the way I think at times due to habit....it's so engulfed into the fabric of women...it makes me so mad.
You know, as I was walking back from campus today, pondering this notion of "education...".....many women are educated. Many (if not most) of the women that I encounter in my classes are from very privileged families. They have money. These women are in college. They lack for nothing. They are part of the "elite"...and yet these women suffer too. Not anywhere NEAR the way women suffer in other parts of the world. But if education and power over their own bodies were the only thing lacking, these women should be empowered!

But they are not.

The issue of low self-esteem, low self-worth, believing they are not good enough, body and self-image issues...all of these things are the NORM. Not the exception.

The empowered woman is the exception. The empowered woman is rare.
The woman who KNOWS she is worth it and won't take mistreatment from anyone is uncommon.

And may I be so bold as to say that the man who values her and stands behind her is equally rare.

What is this silent epidemic? I want to find the cure. I want it to stop. It angers me to no end. Something dramatic must happen. I wish that "something" were just one thing. But I know better. I know it's much more complicated than that.

Hi Belle. It's certainly true that women have a long history of being oppressed in many societies. An interesting question (that I don't know the answer to) is whether as a gender, women are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem than men or is the imbalance caused by society/culture. Or is there even an imbalance? - perhaps as many men suffer from low self-esteem but it is not manifested in the same way. It could be that women with low self-esteem tend to become submissive whereas men "lash out" and react aggressively.

I do not believe that women are biologically more susceptible to low self-esteem. I believe it is all related to societal norms, and the way we are raised.

Yes, it's a major problem and I've been on both sides of it. In my opinion the whole gender system needs an overhaul. But it would be a nice start if the legal system would penalize abusers more harshly and if there were more support for survivors. 

It is a generational problem and it is also based on ideas about power and gender that are deeply embedded in our culture. It's something that will take work on a societal scale and on a very personal scale. Given enough effort and time, I believe domestic violence can be greatly reduced.

Religion was almost exclusively invented, codified, and enforced by men. But I think religion is more of an abused tool than the original reason for misogyny. Even with the secular US constitution, it was only recently (in a human history perspective) that women got voting rights.

Genghis Khan is an extreme example of course, but to wit: He encouraged religious freedom and did not kill, pillage, or rape in the name of religion. He was responsible for the deaths of up to 40 million people, a significant percentage of world population at the time. Here's a quote from a paper published in 2003 (bold emphasis is mine):

We have identified a Y-chromosomal lineage with several unusual features. It was found in 16 populations throughout a large region of Asia, stretching from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea, and was present at high frequency: ∼8% of the men in this region carry it, and it thus makes up ∼0.5% of the world total. The pattern of variation within the lineage suggested that it originated in Mongolia ∼1,000 years ago. Such a rapid spread cannot have occurred by chance; it must have been a result of selection. The lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan, and we therefore propose that it has spread by a novel form of social selection resulting from their behavior.

So, nature or nurture? The above may be evidence of how both nature and nurture conspired to increase male aggression. In any case, I can reasonably maintain that men invented and then wielded the tools of power, which include religion.

I was going to post about 18-yo Saira Blair winning a seat in the West Virginia house. She's pro-life, Christian, and fulfills many other Republican stereotypes. But I still couldn't help but feel happy that more women are getting elected into power.

Belle, I suspect it's easier for me to be the only guy in many of my classes than it is for you to be the only woman. I'm in awe of most of the women there, who are also moms, and even single, working moms, and I like (as I've always liked) being in an environment where I can look up to most of my "peers". I hope as few as possible of the male assholes out there will stay out of your way. (And cheers to the guys who help women succeed.)

@Pope: I went through a 3 month pre-apprenticeship prior to my application and met many men (and women) in the industry. I have been absolutely ASTOUNDED at how much support and encouragement I have encountered. Overall, the men in leadership positions WANT to see us women succeed. The "new guys" (aka rookies) who encounter women also entering the trades also are supportive, but it's a little like when you imagine a group of popular football players going out for a night together, but that ONE girl tags along and it ruins their ability to tell the (really) dirty jokes, and they suddenly feel restrained by their conversations because they don't want her to feel uncomfortable. But as soon as she loosens up and starts cussing like a sailor right along with them it's all good, lol....

Unfortunately, one thing you women in general have to deal with is not coming from men or society, it is their own feminine nature which brings with it some consequential hormonal and hard-wiring consequences which make women overall (and not every single individual, of course) somewhat more submissive than men. Of course, being the smaller sex lends to relative submissiveness as well.

Belle -- I've read this a few times since you wrote it and just can't "let it go."  It goes against everything I know about humans in general and -- believe it or not -- the bigger truths of the plight of women in the USA today. 

First you start off talking about a HUGE problem "there is a lot of talk against domestic violence, and to uplift and empower women to be strong and independent....yet despite ALL of this, women everywhere are still suffering/"

Domestic violence is not strictly a male against female issue.  In my 4 yrs as in county law most cases of domestic violence that I encountered have been women on children reported through schools or neighbors. As far as uplifting, empowering anyone to make them strong and independent.... think about that for a minute.  If I lift someone up, if I empower someone they can be neither strong or independent because they haven't accomplished it on their own.  That's where and how the entire issue can be solved -- not by pointing a finger at everyone else to make them responsible for a problem.  Do you think men do not experience the same thing?

As for "low self-esteem, low self-worth, believing they are not good enough, body and self-image issues" you mentioned as obstacles for women -- do you not see these things as equal obstacles for men and even children as well?  Do you think re-education camps for men will enhance the self-esteem, self-worth, self-image and sense of adequacy for women?  WRONG.  All those things are generated from within a person and are improved by that person's deliberate efforts to overcome them, not by demanding other people prop up or pamper fragile needy egos.  It's not just a random coincidence that the word "self" precedes -esteem, -worth and -image.

You do say you've been ASTOUNDED by the support and encouragement you've received.  The you say the men in leadership want women to succeed.  No.  They want motivated PEOPLE to succeed regardless of gender.  If you want to see their encouragement and support shrivel up go in and give them  this rant about them needing to be uplifting and empowering women to be strong and independent.... and ALL the women everywhere who are still suffering.

Where I go to school. there's an engineering professor who breaks out in this routine -- during classes on engineering where she has a captive audience.  In her world view no one has problems that equal hers as a woman, a single mother (by choice) in a school where only 20% of her students are female. She quit doing that after we "introduced" ourselves to her based on our problems which she had never considered.  

Everyone suffers, everyone has ordeals, everyone struggles and if you think your life is harder than the lives of others you need to step out of your life and meet people with problems that will put yours in a new perspective.

Domestic violence is not strictly a male against female issue.  In my 4 yrs as in county law most cases of domestic violence that I encountered have been women on children reported through schools or neighbors. As far as uplifting, empowering anyone to make them strong and independent.... think about that for a minute.  If I lift someone up, if I empower someone they can be neither strong or independent because they haven't accomplished it on their own.

I can't figure out where most of this is coming from, and I'm hoping I won't have to dig up statistics that refute it. Just being familiar with police communications on scanners alone overwhelmingly disproves to me that females are the most violent. I can see how the number of accused single moms could be higher than for single dads, but that's because the number of single moms and dads is far unbalanced from the start.

From anecdotal experience (e.g. other than police scanners), I've talked to a lot of abused women. I've also talked to a lot of abused men, not abused by their mothers but by fathers or step-fathers.

As for "low self-esteem, low self-worth, believing they are not good enough, body and self-image issues" you mentioned as obstacles for women -- do you not see these things as equal obstacles for men and even children as well?  Do you think re-education camps for men will enhance the self-esteem, self-worth, self-image and sense of adequacy for women?  WRONG.  All those things are generated from within a person and are improved by that person's deliberate efforts to overcome them, not by demanding other people prop up or pamper fragile needy egos.  It's not just a random coincidence that the word "self" precedes -esteem, -worth and -image.

Overall, community organizations that help families overwhelmingly deal with single mom families. I don't know anything about "re-education camps". I do know that women who are given safe haven and emotional support are invaluably enabled to get on their own feet and uplift themselves to some pretty admirable heights! I've seen it. The same can be said for men in many situations, even wrt drug addictions. Sure, there are failures, so neither of us should hold to broad generalizations.

As for body image and egos, I'm only citing anecdotal experience again. With men, it's mostly about physical performance, and with women it's mostly about physical appearance. One is more physical (health), and the other is more mental (beauty). Have you noticed which magazines are most popular at grocery store checkout lines? There's just no doubt in my mind about which culture's priorities currently prevail.

I haven't felt a need to develop a source of male vs female cultural statistics until just now.

Listening to police scanners can leave a false impression.

It is now scientifically established that women tend to initiate violence more often than men, and that the male response to that violence tends to be what ends up in a call to police. For decades that left the impression that men were the initial aggressors.

CDC Study: More Men than Women Victims of Partner Abuse

According to a 2010 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Justice, in the last 12 months more men than women were victims of intimate partner physical violence and over 40% of severe physical violence was directed at men. Men were also more often the victim of psychological aggression and control over sexual or reproductive health. Despite this, few services are available to male victims of intimate partner violence.

Woman As Aggressor: The Unspoken Truth Of Domestic Violence

This statistic was undoubtedly the most striking: in committing acts of domestic violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, in the 71 percent of nonreciprocal partner violence instances, the instigator was the woman. This flies in the face of the long-held belief that female aggression in a relationship is most often predicated on self-defense.

Researcher Says Women's Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Ri...

How can we prevent Intimate Partner Violence and injury to women? IPV researcher Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D., a social scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, finds that the best way for women to be safe is to not initiate violence against their male partners.

A woman who smacks her man is taking her life in her hands. Women need to be taught better ways of expressing their displeasure.

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