Viewing entries in
Womens' Self Empowerment

Income Inequality and its Impact on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)

Income Inequality and its Impact on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)

Income inequality continues to rise throughout the country. This issue is perhaps best summed up by the phrase; the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. 

 

Too many people at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder are deprived of good working wages. In comparison, the wealthiest people in the country continue to make more and more money. While the prominent executives are taking home huge bonuses, the people down at the bottom are struggling to get by on minimum wage. 

 

Naturally, this creates a troubling situation in the U.S. Income inequality has significant implications on the lives of millions of people. In this post, we look to explore some of the critical areas that are most impacted by the growing income inequality. 

An increase in ACEs

ACEs are adverse childhood experiences, which primarily refers to any stressful or damaging events that happen during childhood, thus can affect health and development across the life course (Halfon, Larson, Son, Lu, & Bethell, 2017). Unfortunately, this can include domestic violence, children being abandoned by parents, a parent being imprisoned, or growing up in an uncertain home environment that’s plagued by arguments or drug abuse problems. 

Is the Multi-Billion Dollar Wellness Industry Worth the Money?

Is the Multi-Billion Dollar Wellness Industry Worth the Money?

We all know how important health and wellness are, and there is an increasing focus on becoming healthier, more balanced, and ultimately, happier. It’s big business too, with the global wellness industry now valued at a huge $3.72 trillion and accounts for approximately five per cent of the global economic output[1]. It seems that there are new trends and fads coming out every day, from spin classes and yoga to organic food, special drinks, guided meditation classes, and more. There is even a drive to feed our pets clean, healthy, natural food[2].  With the wellness industry now being “one of the world’s fastest, most resilient markets,”[3]outranking the pharmaceutical industry several times over, it’s easy to wonder, is it worth it? And if it is, is it something that is exclusively for high-earners and not for those on a budget?

 

Wellness trends

Wellness can be defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing,”[4]and it’s definitely something that is at the forefront of many people’s thoughts. Searches for ‘self-care’ on Google have increased by 25% in the last year[5], and people are paying for more and more wellness products and services. There are even wellness festivals popping up around the world. The Womad festival, for example, dedicates two acres of land to spa and wellness areas, including meditation led by Buddhist monks and shamanic healing. Likewise, Soul Circus in the UK focuses on wellness, with tickets costs around $260. Founder Ella Wroath explains that she “wanted to create a balanced event that left you feeling rejuvenated and inspired, rather than hungover and unhealthy”[6]

Non-Profit Organization Awards Grant to Student of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Non-Profit Organization Awards Grant to Student of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Non-profit organization OKOLOGIE.ORG is delighted to announce that a grant of $500 has been offered to student Jessica Orozco, after her successful research into sanctioned residential segregation and its effects on educational success in the Los Angeles area. Orozco, who received the grant in February this year, will use the money to help towards costs associated with attending the NACCS Conference in the Chicana and Chicano Studies field. 

With around 2 million Chicano/Latino students in California, and only around 25,500 Chicano/Latino teachers to serve them, children are often only exposed to their ethnic culture twice a year – during Hispanic Heritage Month and Cinco de Mayo. Oklogie.org believe that Orozco's field of study is important, as it addresses the often-overlooked social, political, cultural, and economic conditions of the Chicano people.

Are We Failing Our Elders?  The Rise of Senior Poverty in the US

Are We Failing Our Elders? The Rise of Senior Poverty in the US

One in every six elderly Americans now live below the federal poverty line, and over half of all ‘baby boomers’ have reported a deterioration in their quality of life over the past few years[1]. 21 per cent of married couples and 43 per cent of single people over the age of 65 depend on Social Security for a massive 90 per cent of their income, and almost 62% of households headed by someone over the age of 60 are in debt[2]. 2.9 million older households in the US suffer from food insecurity[3], and between 1991 and 2007, the number of 65- to 74-year-olds applying for bankruptcy increased by a huge 178%[4].

Now, “25 million Americans aged 60 and above are economically insecure”[5], leaving them to struggle with housing, rising healthcare costs, nutrition, transportation, and savings. To make matters worse, they are often left isolated and alone, living in suburbs and surrounded by other elderly people, whose families have grown and flown the nest[6]

An Aging Labor Force – Working Until You Drop

With the increasing financial difficulties faced by the older population, many continue working long after the traditional retirement age, with 40% of ‘baby boomers’ claiming that they plan to “work until they drop”[7]. Of course, for some, this is a choice – a desire to continue in their current roles or even explore alternative career options, but for too many it’s a financial necessity. In the year 2,000, 4 million senior citizens continued to work after retirement age, but by 2017 that number had jumped to 9 million – the highest senior employment rate in 55 years[8]! In fact, it’s the highest senior employment rate since before retirees earned the right to healthcare and Social Security benefits in the 1960s.

To put further strain on older employees, the workforce is changing. Technology is becoming more and more prevalent, and senior employees are left to learn new skills or change the way they work[9]. This leaves some forced out of their jobs and as a result, many sell their properties, give up their lifestyles, and travel the country in search of seasonal work[10]. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that by the year 2022, workers aged 55 and above will make up a huge 25% of the labor force[11] and it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better any time soon. We’re failing our elders, and we need to do something about it.

Gender Expression and the Umbrella of Terms

Gender Expression and the Umbrella of Terms

     Transgender Americans and their struggles have become much more prominent in recent times. Last year, an article about the transgender rights movement focusing on actress Laverne Cox made the cover of TIME magazine;[i] and earlier this year, Caitlyn Jenner made her transition from male to female public, discussing it in interviews with 20/20[ii] and Vanity Fair.[iii] It would be fair to say, then, that there is a fair amount of public interest and discussion on the subject of transgender people and the life they experience at present. However, most of the public discourse appears to focus on a clearly delineated change: male to female, female to male. But for many people, gender can actually a much more complicated issue than simply being one or the other.

     People who do not feel they fit in the world as either male or female will often refer to themselves as “genderqueer” or “nonbinary” rather than simply transgender.[iv] Both are umbrella terms used to cover many ranges of gender expression. Some people will use both terms interchangeably; others feel they have slightly different connotations. For the purposes of this article, I will be using the term “nonbinary” to refer to this group of people, as it came into use for this purpose more recently than “genderqueer,” and I have seen it used more often in recent discussions of gender. The word nonbinary refers to the fact that these people consider themselves as living outside of the gender binary, which is to say, the male/female dichotomy we usually think of when describing a person’s gender.

 

The marginalization of the transgender community

The marginalization of the transgender community

     The LGBTQ community is often seen as a monolithic entity, with everyone working towards the same end goal. It’s certainly easy to think that way, since they’re united as a community by the marginalization they experience for their sexuality and gender expression. But that acronym itself shows the inaccuracy of that assumption. This community includes gay men and lesbians, who are linked by their homosexuality but often experience different, gender-specific forms of homophobia – for instance, while a gay man might be greeted with simple disgust and even violence by a straight man, a lesbian might instead be told that her homosexuality is “sexy” by the same man and find that he is sexually aggressive towards her despite her orientation or even because of it. Bisexuals often face marginalization in the LGBTQ community because their homosexual peers resent their option to “pass” for straight, or find that potential partners outright reject them for fear of not being able to fully satisfy them. The “queer” label that rounds out the acronym is itself an umbrella term for several other disparate groups who face similar problems in how they are treated by their society for their sexuality and gender identity; often “queer” is used as shorthand for these groups or even for the entire LGBTQ community, due to how many terms would need to be rattled off to mention all of them.

The Childfree Life

The Childfree Life

Do we have an obligation to reproduce or is it okay to not want kids?

                   The choice to live your life childfree is still surprisingly taboo, even given the modern propensity for contraception and increasing reproductive freedom.  It’s got to be said, there is a clear distinction between being childless and childfree.  Whilst the former would like to have children but cannot, be it due to infertility or illness or whatever, this issue is one that deals primarily with the latter – the childfree, those who are able but choose not to procreate.  The choice to not have children often shocks people and the proclamation is, more often than not, met with insidious comments like “there must be something wrong with you,” “that’s just selfish,” “you were a child once,” and worse “you’ll change your mind when you get older/meet the right man/your biological clock starts ticking”.  It’s surprising, primarily, because in an age when we pride ourselves on freedom and choice, we still ultimately put an obligation on reproduction. 

 The ‘unnaturalness’ of it all

 As anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy points out, women are associated with the ideals of nurturing and child-rearing and so, when a woman decides that she wants to remain childfree – or worse, declares that motherhood was a mistake after the fact – they are seen as unnatural[1], as though something is wrong with them.  Jessica Valenti argues that all women are separated into two distinct categories: mothers and non-mothers[2] and in this way, parenthood defines us.  Not whether we are or are going to be good parents of course, just whether or not we are parents – and the idea that we will be, and that we want to be, is still seen as our ‘default setting’. 

LGBT Youth Homelessness Epidemic

LGBT Youth Homelessness Epidemic

In the past decade, the US has seen significant progress in LGBTQ rights. The most high-profile issue, that of same-sex marriage, has also seen the greatest gains: 35 states allow same-sex marriage outright, the remaining 15 states are awaiting action in the courts on the issue, and the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages as legal.[i] In an era where DOMA and DADT have been struck down, it would be easy to think that most of the work to be done on LGBTQ rights has been accomplished. However, the unfortunate truth is that these victories, while a great step forward, only affect gay and lesbian adults. For others in the community, and especially for queer youth, there are plenty more hardships to face, and far less national attention to support them.

In particular, homelessness is a huge problem for LGBTQ youth. It is perhaps unsurprising that young people in the queer community are most vulnerable to this problem. Sadly, despite making up a small percentage of the US population, a 2012 study found that as much as 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.[ii] In a cruel twist of irony, the prominence of gay rights issues might even be contributing to the disproportionate number of gay youth on the streets; encouraged by seeing adults like them fighting for their civil rights, LGBTQ children are coming out far earlier than before, often well before gaining independence from their families.[iii] Since they often have little to no contact with the LGBTQ community, they have no support network to fall back on if their families should reject them, as families unfortunately often do. Consequently, the homeless population of this group is growing at a disturbing rate, and in 2012 94% of agencies reported working with LGBTQ youth, compared to 82% ten years earlier.[iv]

 

A tampon that prevents HIV

A tampon that prevents HIV

     Scientists have been searching for a way to help women prevent contracting HIV during heterosexual sex for some time now. Eighty-four percent of women contract HIV in this way and at present the only preventative options are condoms (both male and female versions). This might seem simple and accessible enough to a number of women living in the United States, but the reality is that for many women around the world guaranteeing that their male partners will use a condom certainly can prove to be difficult, if not impossible. Half of the people in the world living with HIV are women and women are twice as likely as men to contract HIV. This is one of the reasons that scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle are interested in creating a new form of protection in which women can take their sexual health back into their own hands regardless of their situation.

     As mentioned before, this idea is nothing new. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PreP) is a prevention method that can be used by people who have a high risk of contracting HIV. This might include people with HIV positive partners, intravenous drug users, or people who regularly have unprotected sex with partners with unknown HIV statuses. The anti-HIV drugs are given in the form of a pill that must be taken every day. Scientists have also been working on topical creams and gels that contain the anti-HIV drugs microbicides for years. While the intention is good with these products, they still lack usability and convenience. They can leak out, be quite messy, and the anti-HIV drugs take about 20 minutes to absorb into a woman’s system, so she would have to know she was going to have sex beforehand and have already applied the gel or cream in order to be properly protected. Microbicides are a promising way to help women prevent HIV, but the engineers at the University of Washington agree that the delivery method of these drugs need serious improvement. 

HPV Vaccine: Prejudice and Misconceptions

HPV Vaccine: Prejudice and Misconceptions

Cancer is a nearly universal health concern in our lives; it would be difficult to find anyone whose life has not been touched by the disease, in all its various and horrifying forms. This year alone, the American Cancer Society reports that 1.6 million people in the U.S. will develop cancer, and nearly 600,000 will die from it.[i]  HPV, or the human papillomavirus, causes an estimated 19,000 of those cases in women, and just under half that in men.[ii] HPV is a common disease transmitted through sexual contact, which is usually known for causing genital warts and, once contracted, is incurable.[iii] HPV is best-known for causing cervical cancer, but it is also associated with cancer in the head, neck, anus, and genitals of both sexes. But though it cannot be cured once contracted, the variant of the disease which leads to cancer can very easily and effectively be prevented by readily available vaccines.

 

 

Google+