Monday, February 8, 2010

Being depressed makes you stupid

Our nation's daughters are continuing a trend that has prevailed throughout history: they make poor decisions based on what makes them feel good. Now, of course this trend, this habit, is not unique to young women, just about everybody does it, but it is my opinion that young women are especially vulnerable to the destructiveness of this habit.

Recently, I was sitting in a coffee shop and overheard a brother and two moms discussing a young girl and the bad boy who has chosen her as his next victim*. I relate this as an allegory, an instance of a girl making a poor decision because a boy is telling her whatever he has to to make her feel worthy and reward him with exactly what he wants.

I don't know about you, but I do know one thing about myself and my relationship history: it was when I felt the worst about myself that I made my worst relationship decisions. Torn down by depression, eating disorders, disappointment in life, shitty parents with drinking problems; I've made my fair share of mistakes and like 1 in 6 American women have been raped. I'm not saying that my judgment is what cause the rape (in fact, had it not been me, that douche certainly would have raped another woman and probably has -- it seemed to be his modus operandi), but my desire for approval, my need to feel good, feel pretty, and be validated helped me to fall for this bullshit he toted; put up a smoke screen so I couldn't see what was really going on. Every time, my need for validation has lead me into disastrous relationships, taken me on fateful dates, and only lead me deeper into the original problem.

My point here is not that the poor judgment of girls or women is to blame for our misery or the continuation of it. In fact, I mean to point out the opposite. Feeling bad about yourself, your life, your purpose, your body will inevitably lead to poor judgment and bad decisions.

More directly: depression makes you stupid.

Media that is aimed to make women feel badly about themselves makes us stupid. People who belittle women and girls so often that those women and girls believe that bullshit are directly to blame for the poor decisions made by those women and girls especially if belitter is charged with the well-being of that woman or girl -- parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, youth leaders, etc. Negative consequences that are addressed in a negative manner (for instance "you got yourself [pregnant, raped, etc], because you're [stupid, a slut, drink too much, etc]") make it harder for anyone, let alone a teenage girl, to go back to a similar situation and make the right decision.

We need to begin by empowering our young women. Stop belittling them. Enough with the slut-shaming. Enough with promoting beauty over intellect; being pretty over being interesting, or making the two mutually exclusive. Build them up so they not only don't believe the negative bullshit pushed by peers, media, etc, but also so they can dismiss the bullshit of a guy who will (and does) say anything he has to in order to fuck her.

Teach women that they are valuable and that they can make good decisions and exercise good judgment. That way parents and siblings don't have to stage an intervention in order to keep a young girl from being raped by some bad boy who has become her only source of feeling valued.

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*I say victim because one of the things I overheard was the brother saying that this bad boy had bragged to the girl about having forced other girls to have sex with him.

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