I first came to UI in 2016. I was here for a semester and doing well academically but I was struggling with anxiety. After talking with my parents, it was decided I would go live with them in Mexico. It was a decision I wasn’t all too excited about, but I came to be grateful for the opportunities it gave me. I found myself in my mom’s home state of Guanajuato and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I was taking Spanish classes (a story that deserves its own post) and exploring the state’s beautiful capital city. But I wasn’t feeling all that productive. I wanted to do something meaningful so that I wouldn’t feel bad for leaving university. I was prideful and the cure for pride is humility.
That is when I found out about the Convento del Buen Pastor (Convent of the Good Shepherd), and I immediately knew I wanted to volunteer my time with them. Though their website hadn’t been updated since 2011, others confirmed that it was still open, and I was able to talk with the social worker on the phone. Buen Pastor is a church-run and state-sponsored foster home for girls and a women’s shelter that supports those in and outside of the state. The website describes their mission: Continue reading “Las Niñas del Buen Pastor (The Girls of Buen Pastor)”→
I vaguely remember what I was doing at that age. And I remember experiences in which I felt inferior to men, thinking as a young girl that I was not capable of certain tasks just because I was a girl. Society’s ideals can be cruel. Especially when you are told that if you do something a man does, you are not “acting like a lady.”
“How might your life be different if you were a boy (or a boy instead of a girl)?”
Their responses were shocking. However, they were answers I was expecting. Although many were positive, some were really sad to read. These children were interviewed from all different parts of the world by National Geographic.
When an 8-month-old baby girl is raped in India, women across the United States took a stance on Twitter to spread the word that this is not okay. The reaction some men had on Twitter was not pleasing at all. From death threats to just plain calling the women sexist, why does spreading the word of such a tragedy hit a nerve with men?
Swati Jai Hind, Twitter username: @SwatiJaiHind, tweeted about the baby on January 29 at 9:09 a.m. Her tweet said, “The worst has happened. An 8 month old baby has been brutally raped in the Capital and is battling for her life in a Hospital. Going to the hospital to meet her. Am totally numb. Terrified to face her. Please please pray for her.” By 10:50 a.m. Nivesh Agarwal replied with “Is this tweet a concern or a stunt .. Why do we write all these things on Social Media to gain sympathy or voters support.” Continue reading “Want a Dose of Cognitive Dissonance?”→
“You have 3 sisters? Your poor dad!” This is a common reaction when I tell people that my family is almost all girls. Why my “poor dad”? Do they assume he is not happy with only daughters? Is the amount of estrogen intimidating? Do they think his life would’ve been better with the grace of a son? Why is my mom left out of this? I still can’t wrap my head around the insinuated preference for male children and the overall more positive perception of what raising a male child is like in our world.
When we think of male child preference, we tend to think of countries like India and China that have been markedly fixated on the economic prospects that a male child may bring and that a female might cost. These cultural norms are perpetuated through deeply ingrained beliefs that males will be more successful and ultimately benefit the family, whereas females are seen as a liability that may eventually lead to expenses such as a dowry, which a lot of families struggle to afford. In some cases, families will even turn to breaking the law to reveal the sex of the child during pregnancy and abort female fetuses.
In the United States, although not as severe, child gender preference has implications that not only effect how children of different genders are raised within a family, but also effects the likelihood of families staying together, proving more likely if there are male children. With new technological advances, it has also become easier for parents everywhere to potentially choose the sex of their child via preimplantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilization. These preferences are affecting sex ratios, perpetuating negative stigmas about the worth of women and girls, and attributing to the different treatment of girls and boys within families.
Take a walk through any department store toy aisle, and you will see labels that ensure we know which toys are meant for girls and which toys are meant for boys. Pink and purple pastels surround “girl” aisles filled with dresses, dolls, and kitchen sets. Red, blue and orange dominate the “boy” aisles—these sections have trucks, guns, and tool sets. The divides between these toy aisles go much deeper than just playthings for children—they set the patterns for socialization and behavior for a lifetime.
Admist this sea of pink and blue, there are parents (and their kids!) who appreciate gender-neutral marketing. This February, Target decided to ditch its gendered children’s home décor lines with their new collection, “Pillowfort”. The line focuses on prints and colors that can appeal to any child, with themes like “Tropical Treehouse”, “Ocean Oasis”, and “Stellar Station”. The collection’s February debut was met with positive appreciation—the line is meant for all children; “cute enough for a three-year-old, cool enough for a ten-year-old”. This is one positive step in a growing movement towards gender-neutral décor and toys for kids. Continue reading “One Toy, Two Toy, Red Toy, Blue Toy— Why we need gender-neutral toys”→
On February 20, the Chicagoist reported on new legislation being filed in Springfield, Illinois. The bill, sponsored by two Republican state lawmakers, would deny a single mother financial assistance. If her child’s father is not listed on the birth certificate, she could be denied an official birth certificate.
The introduction of this bill has brought to light an ongoing judgment on our country’s single mothers.
“[T]hat if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child’s father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate. Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member’s name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child.” Continue reading “The Attack on Single Moms”→
I was at the register, punching in a round of drinks when an older gentleman who was sitting at the bar started asking me questions. It was general small talk and I revealed my major, my career plans for when I graduated, if I was planning on moving… etc. etc.
It started to take a sour turn though when I made an offhand joke about wishing my boyfriend and I could afford to do nothing except travel.
The gentleman laughed and replied, “Good luck doing that with kids!”
I know I could have easily agreed and laughed it off or politely smiled, but I wasn’t thinking about where this conversation was going.
I cheerfully responded, “Actually, my boyfriend and I don’t want to have kids.”
He looked surprised. “Oh! You guys not a very serious relationship?”
I laughed awkwardly. “No, we are. Just-”
“Ah, you kids are young. You’ll change your mind.” He cut me off and waved a hand dismissively.
This is where I nodded and smiled politely, hoping the discussion was over.
After a moment of silence he asked, “How old are you?”
“See, you’re still a baby yourself! Couple years roll around and your biological clock will start ticking and that’s all you’ll be thinking about.” He shook his head and took a long drink from his beer. “Everyone’s more interested their career than family nowadays…You’ll see though. Just give it time. Once you actually settle down, you’ll want them.”
I know he didn’t mean any harm. I’m sure in his mind, he thought he was being nice or helpful.
But I was seething. I couldn’t help it. I have been having this discussion with people since I was 12 years old—and I’m getting tired of it.