WHAT ARE WOMEN’S ISSUES?
As women, we walk through life and experiences in our own unique way. Not only have I been through my own struggles, but I have found such a connection and appreciation of walking with other women through their difficulties and challenges in life as well. Sometimes this is finding the sense of self that may have been lost, adjusting to a move to a new city and a new job, finding her inner voice, beginning again after a divorce or walking through a difficult relationship with a significant other or family member.
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that not only are women more likely to experience mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety, women also experience mental distress at higher rates than men do in all age brackets. Biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors may at least partially contribute to the development of certain mental and physical health concerns. These may be somewhat impacted by gender in some cases, but a woman may easily develop concerns that have nothing to do with gender.
According to Oxford University clinical psychologist Daniel Freeman, who analyzed 12 large-scale studies that looked at the general population in different areas of the world, women may be between 20% and 40% more likely than men to develop a mental illness. According to Freeman, “Women tend to view themselves more negatively than men and that is a vulnerability factor for many mental health problems.”
Some mental health concerns commonly experienced by women include:
- Postpartum depression
- Posttraumatic stress (PTSD)
- Eating disorders (bulimia and anorexia nervosa are clinically reported at rates of 10 to 1)
- Borderline personality (BPD)
- Mood-related challenges
- Self-harming behaviors
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ISSUES
- Sexism/Oppression: As a group, women have experienced a degree of oppression in many cultures throughout history. This discrimination and unfair treatment, which still occurs today, can stifle the growth, development, and general well-being of women around the world. Women may be forced into marriage, denied basic rights and excluded from some professions. Even in the United States, women are underrepresented in many fields and are often paid a lower wage than men. We also had the #MeToo Movement that gained momentum in 2018 and brought attention to the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. We soon saw the magnitude of the issue as those that spoke out in the church, education, finance, politics & government, sports, medicine, music, military & pornography industries. There are many more. It is important to note that when we see these issues in the media, it can often trigger our own traumas from the past and shouldn’t be ignored if it becomes troubling.
- Abuse/Intimate partner violence: Women are statistically more likely to be victims of abuse and intimate partner violence. Surviving these types of abuse may influence the development of depression, posttraumatic stress, or anxiety. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health in 2006 found that women who experienced some form of intimate partner violence—physical, psychological, or both—“had a higher incidence and severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms, PTSD, and thoughts of suicide” than a control group.
- Human and Sex Trafficking: It happens here in Davidson County and across Tennessee, effecting women, children and men. A lot. Here are some findings from a study done by Vanderbilt and The TBI in 2010. For more information visit It Has To Stop
– 85% of Tennessee counties reported at least one case of sex trafficking in the previous 24 months.
– 72% of counties reported at least one case of minor sex trafficking in the same time frame.
– Four counties (Davidson, Knox, Coffee, and Shelby), reported at least 100 instances of minor sex trafficking in the previous two years.
- Adverse portrayal in society and the media: Media portrayals of idealized women may skew expectations of what women “should” look like. A number of studies conducted on women have explored the link between self-esteem/self-worth and exposure to media’s representations of the feminine “ideal.” A meta-analysis published in the Psychological Bulletin in 2008 found “exposure to mass media depicting the thin-ideal body may be linked to body image disturbance in women.” Frequent media depiction of women as sex symbols can also be problematic, as women may often be societally expected to maintain both the image of chasteness but be available to men who pursue them. The clothing choices and sexual behavior of women and young girls are both often policed by society in general.