Archives for the month of: July, 2014

My therapist deserves a lot of credit. On my Monday session, she gave me a truly great piece of advice for dealing with anxiety. I was describing to her how the approaching deadline of school starting without me having paid my tuition (and thus, unable to register for courses) was making me feel like a failure, because it was confirming all of the terrible things people probably thought of me. “They think I’ve lost now. People believed I couldn’t do it. They believed that I didn’t belong in university, and that I would never make it to the end.”
She paused, and then said to me in her thoughtful therapist voice, “Let’s try something. Say all of that again, only switch “they/people” to “I/me”, and see what happens.
I did it and I realized something: There is no “they”. There is only “me”. My own anxiety about not having that damned $900 is the source of my woes, not what other people think. Nobody has recently come up to my face and said that I couldn’t make it, if they had, I would have been able to attach a name and a face to it. The only face that I need to attach to those sentiments is my own.
This is a huge relief for me. Because it’s easier to know that I have to convince myself that I will make it, that I will get that money somehow, and finish my last year of university, and go to grad school, than any nameless faceless voices in my head.

I’m back in therapy now, after getting an additional 24 free sessions from the BC Government.
My goal with the first 24 sessions was to begin my recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder after being raped. I feel like I achieved that, I’ve been given the emotional and intellectual tools that I need in order to work through PTSD and get back in touch with my sexuality.
My goal with these extra sessions is to work on the more-deep rooted anxieties the rape left behind about my self-image and my ability to like myself.
But it’s really important for me to learn how to love myself again, not just because it’s a basis of good psychological health; I’m planning on becoming an academic. How can I be a successful academic if I don’t like myself? Part of that career involves spending a LOT of time alone with myself researching, writing, and editing. That’s a recipe for failure if you’re disturbed by your own company and want to smother it by going out to socialize.

I’m not a fan of viral feminist commercials. The latest two in my memory to get popular consisted of: a montage showing a young girl curious about science being gradually discouraged by her parents from exploring her environment and engaging in scientific activities, until she loses interest entirely, and a montage of adults versus young girls being asked to “[verb] like a girl”. One was for a cell phone company, the other, a soap company.
My biggest problem isn’t just the commercials themselves, although they don’t make me rush out to buy Dove soap or get a Verizon phone, but the reaction to them. On their own, the commercials are goofy and manipulative feel-good schlock, but they’re commercials, what do you expect? I won’t go into most of the problems I had with their message, except I will say that, as someone with numerous female friends who are interested in the sciences, I know that a passive cultural disinterest in science can’t stack up against an openly sexist attitude from bosses, professors, and colleagues in terms of discouraging a woman from pursuing a career in STEM fields.
The bigger problem is that these commercials are being treated as feminist revolutions for doing precisely what commercials have always done: Making the person consuming the media feel good. People act like it’s a big cultural shift for a commercial to make women and girls feel good about themselves, when nothing could be further from the truth. The only difference is a slight tweak to the formula. Instead of promising that you’ll feel good if you buy the product to make yourself beautiful, the promise lays in being a good feminist supporting a good cause by buying Dove Soap. You’ll feel good because you’ll feel like you accomplished something good.
Dove’s clever, but this isn’t some subversive feminist revolution. It’s just good marketing.