Tag Archive: destruction

Hurricane Sandy makes landfall

On the heels of Hurricane Sandy, a disaster that history will ultimately consider to be one of the largest storms to hit the United States and will most likely be one to have an incredible financial impact to be felt for years, it is important to know what the media won’t tell you.
When Katrina came ashore in 2005, it came at a time when the media was experiencing a shift in how the news was reported. Katrina came ashore at a time when the internet was taking hold, camera phones were in the hands of the majority of the middle class, and the “citizen reporter” was a term that many people were just becoming familiar with. When Katrina came ashore, the majority of America didn’t grasp the true nature of Mother Nature. The United States has seen its share of disasters from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 to 9/11 in 2001. No one though, would ever grasp what the nation witnessed day after day starting on the night of August 28th. Approximately 2,000 people dead and 81 billion dollars of damage. As a nation, we watched as the poor die one by one, because of the lack of response. In the aftermath of Katrina there was plenty of blame to go around from FEMA to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. What we witnessed for the first time ever, was our own biases on poverty. “Why didn’t they leave?” “How stupid do you have to be to stay when a Category 5 Hurricane is on its way?” This is my personal favorite…”Why did they buy their homes in the 9th Ward anyway?”
This however is not a post about poverty, but the beginning of a conversation of what it is we didn’t see. We all saw the poor standing on the roofs of their homes. We saw people drowning and no one will ever forget the scenes from inside the Superdome. The aftermath of Katrina began a new conversation about poverty. What happened and how do we keep it from ever happening again? So what was it we didn’t see? What didn’t they show us? What is it that is never shown by the media whenever a natural disaster occurs anywhere in the world?
The answer?
Women are the forgotten, vulnerable population in every country in the world. As succinctly as I can, here is why.
  • Women usually have less influence with the government during the planning, mitigation, and preparedness stage
  • Women in most countries, especially poor communities and 3rd world countries have less access to transportation, control over land, and control over money
  • Most jobs of rebuilding the community goes to men for the natural reason of sheer strength needed. Most governments don’t consider what a woman’s role can be and that many women can do things such as dig ditches, build houses, and use chain saws. Oftentimes, the money allocated for jobs are jobs for men pushing women further into poverty. If the woman is the head of the household or her husband dies, she often times ends up homeless.
  • Women are usually seen as the caregiver of the home. They take care of the children, the elderly, and the disabled. This is overlooked often times as a female head of household tries to recover. Many women go hungry as they feed those they take care of on the limited amount of income and food they are able to acquire.
  • When the media does show women, they are seen as weak and vulnerable, being aided by a man. There have been a number of studies on women and the media during a disaster and what they show is a society that perpetuates the “weak woman” in a time when women are at their strongest.
  • Many disaster kits are created as “gender neutral.” This means that women do not get the necessary feminine supplies needed to last several months following a disaster.
  • Rape and Domestic Violence…Rape and domestic violence has been shown time and time again to go up immediately following a disaster. Rape in 3rd world countries is such a concern that there are organizations from the international community that teach women how to stay safe by moving in pairs, basic self-defense, and reporting
So what do we do? What is happening in the Northeast right now that isn’t being reported?  When the storm subsides and the water is washed back to the ocean, what will we see and where do we go? First of all, don’t look at the media at face value. They will show you Wall Street, Times Square, the Boardwalk in Atlantic City and nice homes washed away. They will show you cars overturned and power lines down. They won’t show you how women kept their families from dying when their spouse went to cut down trees. They won’t show you how women post disaster gave up their jobs when the child care centers never opened again, so the spouse could go back to work. They won’t show you how women rebuilt the social networks of the community. They won’t show the women who fought off attackers who used the disaster as a means for violence. They won’t show you the women that kept their children alive, while they went hungry.
Here is what needs to be done all over the world;
  • Make opening and rebuilding child care centers a priority, so all adults can rebuild the community together
  • The disaster teams need to have special training in gender specific issues, which currently very few do
  • We need to see that women CAN do the MEN’S work such as hauling water and digging ditches and use the natural disasters as a way to show that women are an indispensable figure in all aspects of society
  • Women are natural community organizers. Use the women to engage the community in the mitigation stage as teachers of the importance of preparation. Give women the power to create community block parties where all neighbors are aware of each other’s vulnerabilities. Use these block parties to prepare the community. Where one person can babysit 5 children, another can gather water and another can clean debris.
  • Make sure the disaster kits that are pre-made before the disaster are gender specific and can supply the family for at least 3 months
Most importantly, we must bring a gender perspective to mitigation and recovery. We need to engage the women before and after the disaster. We need to include ALL members of the household in preparation and recovery and not just the men.
In response to increased levels of gender-based violence in Nicaragua following Hurricane Mitch, the government organized an information campaign using all types of media. The message was simple, “Violence against women is one disaster that men can prevent.” This campaign changed violence against women in Nicaragua forever…not just during the disaster. The campaign was so successful, that disasters are being used around the world as an opportunity to change how men see women. It is an opportunity for growth. Women can rebuild and women have a voice!
There is one important thing all people can do now to change our response to disasters and we can do it right now. Let’s stop the violence against women by calling an end to the misogynistic society we live in. When women on a sunny day are seen as helpless, needy, emotional, and in many places a 2nd class citizen, then how do you think they will be treated after a deadly disaster like Sandy?


This article depicts a common problem in our world…a problem that asks men to be “men”….no matter at what cost.

A young neighbor of mine was told by his mother and older brother that he must go fight…even through his please of not wanting to, they droned in the ideals of “manhood” into him: “you have to be tough”, “you can’t let people push you around”, “you have to be a man” , “you better not stop fighting till someone is one the ground, the one left standing wins”, “I’ll get you a reward for winning and for doing this.”

These and many more statements filled with derogatory comments alluding to the fact that if you’re not a man, you’re either a girl or a piece of a woman’s genitalia. As the words got more harsh, the words begin to be spit at the 11 year old.  In the end, he rode away on his bike ready for the fight that he didn’t want to go to with tears streaming out fo his eyes.

As this article says:  “This kind of manhood striving is driven by a contradiction: To be a real man in U.S. society, one must have or display power—the capacity to exert control over one’s self and the surrounding world—but the fact is that most men in a capitalist society have little or no power. For most men, striving for manhood status is an attempt to evade this contradiction, to escape the psychic pain it causes.”

The pain that it causes is pushed down into more violence and sexualization, so that these men feel no pain, and it is transferred to the violence or a insatiable sexual appetite to cover up the pain.

However, as the article continues to say…in the work place this is what is asked for: “Most American men know perfectly well the qualities they must display to be considered fully creditable as men: power, competitiveness, and toughness. This turns out to be enormously useful for generating profit. Just give men opportunities to display manhood in these ways and they’ll do things that add to the bottom line, even if it’s to their own detriment.”

In the end, “this what capitalism exploits, what it uses up, in the quest for profit is human bodies. This occurs in both the workplace and the marketplace. One way to enhance the exploitability of male bodies is to instill in them the desire to be men. The trick is to make feelings of self-worth contingent on the ability to display the qualities culturally defined as signs of being a real man.”

Being a real man and being a good man is most important…and the article goes on to show that we are not creating “good men”, we are creating this testosterone drunk view of what a man should be, based on archaic social structures of societies like Sparta and Ancient Greece.

This view of a “real man” is propagated even further through reality TV which shows and depicts what kids and young adults see as “real” people. If they are real people, they are famous, they are rich, they can do anything they want – that is how to be.

So in the end…this article asks us to decide whether this view of a real man is helping our society or simply destroying it?:



So far we have talked about many risk factors. This is part 3 of this series and the list continues.

As you read this list, notice how the articles of the past (on this opt4 blog) have specifically spoken to and shown how to change these risk factors.

Also, as you read these risk factor posts…notice the risk factors in you. We all have them, because our society helps us have them.  Because these risk factors exist, is the reason why DV exists. therefore, we all have either experienced or have one or two risk factors in our minds at all times. It is the ability to not act upon them that defines the person we are.

Desire for control, anger problems, Weak problem solving skills

Where does one get a desire for control?  When they themselves have never had control over anything. Imagine a child who has multiple older siblings or very overprotective or overbearing parents. This child would have no say in anything because everyone else would always be taking for them or telling them what to do.  By the time this child grows up, all he wants is something he can control by himself.

Anger problems, desire for control….one creates the other. Soon you become angry that everyone controls you and tells you what to do. You are a pawn in the chess game of life and it is upsetting that you can not do more or decide what you are going to do. You feel like you’re in a rut and anger si the only escape. Also, because the anger fueled society we live in…anger is accepted. Anger is an emotion you feel and it is natural, except when it is created through unnatural means. These unnatural means are your mind creating something that is not there, and creating you to feel emotions based on this error of your mind.

Suddenly everything upsets you because you feel everyone is trying to control you and nothing is working. Add this idea and thought to a person who was never taught or never learned how to make a decision…and you have a very volatile person. When this person is in public, they are angry, upset, and their first thought is the only thought…even if it isn’t the best choice.

When these people get in a relationship…all they want to do is control the person and wants the other person to do everything they want to do. If that doesn’t happen anger ensues! If there is a compromise to be made, it won’t be made and it will only be one person’s way…theirs.

How do you correct these ideas? Education, education, education!!!!

We must  teach good and proper problem solving skills. Many people, and I have this experience in class all the time, ask someone to do something and they say no. The next step is violence. How is this ok?  It’s not, but our society shows us this example time and time again in every violent blockbuster that graces the silver screen.

Anger is a disease that will fester onto and attach itself onto everything. We must work to end the anger that is being created in our children because they are frustrated with life. Be there for kids. Be there for people with problems. help people, I believe we could lessen most of the violence is we just showed people that they are valued!

Can you believe this picture?

Look at these two pictures. The definition of gender roles is everywhere. The marketing of gender roles are everywhere!

 The scary part is that this is not only marketing to the kids, but this is also asking the parents to uphold these gender roles.

 What are these roles that are beign upheld?

Boy – talking on the phone(a connection to the outside world), relaxed and happy, in control, nicer kitchen, beautiful scene for the outside, wearing a watch(again a connection to the outside world), a tie and a business suit (he’s a worker and he just happens to be in the kitchen…this isn’t his normal atmosphere, active cooking.

Girl – wearing a apron (two fold message – girls pay attention to their clothes more, and she actually has an outfit for the kitchen….people who have outfits for a specific job belong in that job…think about seeing a McDonalds person outside of their work), she’s off balance(something that is often depicted in older women…meaning not in control of anything), not in a business suit of any type(in relaxed clothes as if she’s in her natural environment), trying to juggle all of the dishes and pour the tea (a view that many women can relate to – feeling like they are doing everything and have to keep everything in the family together, pink and pastel colors – “girl colors”, baking something (a job in which takes a lot fo time and preparation.

What do you think?

Is this right? Why?

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