What actions should HR and business leaders take to curb mental harassment at work? Share your thoughts.
Mental health stigma is a byproduct of the invalidation by patriarchy of the strength expected of men and sensitivity expected of women.
Patriarchy thrives on one-upmanship. Vulnerability, crying and losing are perceived as ‘weaknesses’ in a patriarchal society. So those who display these in their behaviour are considered inferior.
Waiters, maids, laborers and other people from the lower economic class are considered inferior. Differently-abled people, fat people and the members of the LGBTQA+ community are mocked because they are not ‘normal’. A patriarchal society values competition and domination over cooperation and hence, we see a lot of tension between various religious groups and countries.
In her interview with Emma Watson, feminist icon Gloria Steinem pointed out that global warming is linked to gender inequality because the rise in the human population is a result of patriarchal culture, where decisions about having children are made by men whose ‘conquering’ and ‘dominating’ nature is considered a virtue. In a patriarchal society, power over others is more important than love. The biggest sin in such a culture is to be imperfect.
Seeking help from mental health professionals or talking about our mental illness with our loved ones requires us to admit that we are not perfect. Revealing our deepest fears and embarrassing secrets requires courage as there is a possibility that our fellow human beings will mock or disregard our feelings.
But in a patriarchal culture, mental health is talked about in hushed tones. Men are the biggest victims as they are taught right from their childhood that being vulnerable is ‘unmanly’. Many Indian men suffer silently because they fall short of the ideal of a ‘perfect man’.
Since anger is the only acceptable emotion in men, they often lash out at their wives and children out of frustration. Since a majority of political, religious, cultural and social institutions are still controlled by men, they design structures and rules with patriarchal mindsets. The result is a culture with mental health stigma, where words like ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ are used to decribe those with mental ilness and are considered insults, and seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist is a matter of shame.
The over-reliance on logic, proof and rationality (which are traditionally associated with men) has lead to total invalidation of intuition, feelings and subjective experiences (which are traditionally associated with women). The result is a culture where self-help authors mock men and women who cannot think positive and ‘defeat’ their negative thoughts.
Mental health stigma and gender inequality are related because at a basic level, both are about control. A society that values control at the cost of everything else will treat mental health as a superfluous issue.
To build a less stressful society, we have to embrace a world where people, irrespective of their gender, class, race or sexuality, are treated with respect and dignity. We have to teach our kids that the mind is not just a means to an end. There are times when it cannot function as per our will and it is not a matter of shame or embarrassment.
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Image Source: a still from the film Saat Khoon Maaf
Feminist. Autodidact. Introvert. Highly Sensitive Person. Optimist. Bookworm. Spiritual Seeker. read more...
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I wanted to scream with excitement that my daughter chose to write about her ambition and aspirations over everything else first. To me, this was one of those parenting 'win' moments.
My daughter turned eight years old in January, and among the various gifts she received from friends and family was an absolutely beautiful personal journal for self-growth. A few days ago, she was exploring the pages when she found a section for writing a letter to her future self. She found this intriguing and began jotting down her thoughts animatedly.
My curiosity piqued and she could sense it immediately. She assured me that she would show me the letter soon, and lo behold, she kept her word.
I glanced at her words, expecting to see a mention of her parents in the first sentence. But, to my utter delight, the first thing she had written about was her AMBITION. Yes, the caps here are intentional because I want to scream with excitement that my daughter chose to write about her ambition and aspirations over everything else first. To me, this was one of those parenting ‘win’ moments.
Uorfi Javed has been making waves through social media, and is often the target of trolls. So who and what exactly is this intriguing young woman?
Uorfi Javed (no relation to Javed Akhtar) is a name that crops up in my news feeds every now and again. It is usually because she got trolled for being in some or other ‘daring’ outfit and then posting those images on social media. If I were asked, I would not be able to name a single other reason why she is famous. I am told that she is an actor but I would have no frankly no clue about her body of work (pun wholly unintended).
So is Urfi Javed (or Uorfi Javed as she prefers) famous only for being famous? How does she impact the cause of feminism by permitting herself to be objectified, trolled, reviled?
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