Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

When I was an undergrad in Central New York, back in the late 70’s, I learned about the Fight vs Flight Response in a Psych 101 class. Our professor explained the difference between the two and offered instructive examples of possible scenarios. I stopped listening when he spoke of the potential circumstances that might lead one to choose fight or flight. I wasn’t listening because I was on the ceiling, remembering the many times when I was sexually abused, the many times I did not choose either flight or fight to protect myself. Instead, I chose “freeze”. In my situations, I was so terrified and/or shocked that I was unable to move. I didn’t blink, I didn’t breathe, I didn’t move a muscle; I remained physically immobile, but my spirit/my consciousness flew out and hovered above my body.

For years, I believed this “choice” made me complicit in the abuse. I never told anyone about my trauma or response because I felt they would blame me as much I blamed and shamed myself. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even heard of “freeze” within the context of the fight vs flight condition. Brittney McNamara’s story in Teen Vogue this week focuses on research that confirms what many of us have always known: that paralysis is an involuntary and frequent reaction during rape. Some women are simply unable to “fight back.” Please take a look at the article for a discussion on state laws regarding whether or not an assault is considered “rape” if a victim doesn’t fight back and for an explanation of what society expects from rape and assault survivors. Along similar themes, Jon Krakauer and Laura L. Dunn’s New York Times op-ed argues against proposed changes the Department of Education is considering regarding sexual assault and Title IX on college campuses. The two writers believe that if the current Title IX status is revoked, perpetrators will be much less likely held responsible for their crimes.

Other stories this week include a piece on Rebecca Solnit as an important voice in the current political resistance movement; White House attacks on journalist April Ryan; the return of 20th Century Native American child remains from a boarding school property in PA; a piece on Intersectional Solidarity; and an Atlantic article on Transgender Soldiers. Don’t miss Riva Lehrer’s beautiful article on the disabled community.

So for these stories and more, Please Read On! As always, your comments are welcome.

  1. Strange as it is to say, Solnit’s newfound popularity reveals more about her readers than it does her. That the book, and her other suddenly timely work, was not written in the last several months, but rather years prior, makes its ideas seem even truer, giving it the veneer of sacred text. She has become a Cassandra figure of the left, her writing, which seems magically to have long ago said the things that many Americans now most want to hear, consumed as both balm and rallying cry.Rebecca Solnit thumbnail
“How Rebecca Solnit Became the Voice of the Resistance”/ by Alice Gregory/ New York Times/ August 8, 2017


2. The day was historic for all those across Indian Country who want the tragedy of the boarding-school era to at last be aired fully and publicly. Some researchers say the collective damage inflicted on children at boarding schools has contributed to the addictions and dysfunctions that plague many tribes today.Indian bording school thumbnail
“Army Begins Unearthing Remains of Children Who Died at Carlisle Indian School”/ by Jeff Gammage/ August 8, 2017


3. New research published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica shows tonic immobility — a state of involuntary but temporary paralysis — is a “common reaction” for sexual assault victims. The research also points out that people who experience tonic immobility during an assault are likely to experience PTSD and severe depression in the aftermath.Girl covering face art thumbnail
“Temporary Paralysis Is Common in Rape Victims, Study Shows”/ by Brittney McNamara/ Teen Vogue/ August 4, 2017


4. According to a 2007 article published by Physicians Postgraduate Press, cosmetic appearance is key in a user’s acceptance of a prosthesis, and is on par with its physical function. A research report published in 2014 in Prosthetics and Orthotics International also argues that aesthetic quality of the prosthesis can help improve the wearer’s body image and psychological well-being.prosthetic foot thumbnail
“Woman Who Is Disabled Shocked To Find No Prostheses In Her Skin Tone”/ by Elyse Wanshel/ Huffington Post/ August 7, 2017


5. While Spicer had a history of dressing down reporters—his antics quickly becoming fodder for a Saturday Night Live caricature—the confrontation with Ryan seemed particularly personal, given her skin color and the minority communities she represents. Ryan serves as one of just seven or so black White House press correspondents among approximately 53 reporters at a time when the White House has increasingly declared war on minority communities, with frequent arrests of immigrants, a travel ban against Muslim-majority nations, vows to increase police presence in largely black communities and other aggressions.Newsweek magazine logo thumbnail
““Why Trump’s White House Fears April Ryan, One Of America’s Most Successful Black Journalists”/ by Chris Riotta/ Newsweek/ August 3, 2017


6. Once, someone asked why I refer to myself as “cash poor” instead of “working class.” I think working class is a misnomer, since work is no indication of any shared socio-economic status. An undocumented sex worker, for example, and a white housewife trying to get her Etsy Store off the ground don’t have much in common. Saying both are working class does a lot to alleviate the conscience of those in positions of privilege. Yet still, when I turn on the news, that’s the group I hear politicians declaring their allegiance to. That’s the group I see folks clamoring to fight for. Terms like working class often erase intersections of oppression and replace them with a fictional shared experience. The same can be said of words like “feminism,” and even “women.” Ultimately, it’s not our shared experiences (real or imagined) that will unite us. It’s acknowledging our differences.Trump protest thumbnail
“Befriending Becky: On The Imperative Of Intersectional Solidarity”/ by DiDi Delgado/ Huffington Post/ February 14, 2017


7. Allowing guilty students to dodge responsibility sustains the myth that victims routinely cry rape to exact revenge, or get attention, or assuage regret the morning after. Branded liars or dismissed as crazy, victims are thus shamed, humiliated and marginalized, worsening the soul-crushing trauma that is a byproduct of sexual violence. And make no mistake: Women are raped vastly more often than men are falsely accused.friend image thumbnail
“Don’t Weaken Title IX Campus Sex Assault Policies”/ by Jon Krakauer and Laura L. Dunn/ New York Times/ August 3, 2017


8. “You don’t have to make a statement about who did it but you can make a statement denouncing how terrible it is to attack a building of worship,” the host said.
“White House Defends Silence on Mosque Bombing, Says it Might have been Faked by Liberals”/ by Addy Baird/ Think Progress/ August 8, 2017


9. After months without securing a job and struggling to pick her children up from school on time, Rose opted for the “noncompliant” label. This meant losing US$440 a month in TANF payments, her only source of cash income until, six months later and through her own efforts, she found another low-paying job in a different nursing home. During those six months, Rose sometimes couldn’t afford diapers, which meant her youngest child sometimes went without them. When she ran out of food a couple of times, she would send her children to relatives to eat while she went hungry.
“How Welfare’s Work Requirements Can Deepen and Prolong Poverty: Rose’s Story”/ by Kristin Seefeldt/ Salon/ August 7, 2017


10. Lake Palcacocha is a mile long and 250 feet deep, and the effect of a large avalanche would be similar to dropping a bowling ball in a bathtub. Modeling scenarios predict a 100-foot wave so powerful it would blow out the dam. Three billion gallons of ice water would go roaring down the mountain toward the city of Huaraz, burying its 200,000 residents under an Andean tsunami of mud, trees and boulders.
“A Flood of Problems”/ by Nick Miroff/ Washington Post/ August 7, 2017


11. Jessie worked nuclear submarines by day, classic rock by night. Molly was our drill sergeant. Lilly, the fighter pilot and sequined temptress. Our matron Barbara, who the girls whispered was a retired general, held court in pearls. I wore my favorite black number and sang Frank and Ella—always the classics. We were patriots with dreams and families to support, but we were transgender, and my friends knew their careers in the military could be destroyed.CIA flag thumbnail
“Transgender Soldiers Want the Dignity of Serving Their Country”/ by Jenny Hall/ The Atlantic/ August 4, 2017


12. Trump’s budget also betrays his contempt for Indian Country. If budgets are moral documents, his is morally bankrupt: It calls for more than $300 million in cuts to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs budget. Trump wants to cut $64 million from education, $21 million from law enforcement and public safety, $23 million from human services and $50 million from housing programs. These programs represent more than money; they’re investments with which the federal government honors its treaties with tribal nations.LA Times thumbnail
“Trump is Breaking the Federal Government’s Promises to Native Americans”/ by Tom Perez/ Los Angeles Times/ August 7, 2017


13. These arguments falsely conflate anti-Asian racism with anti-black racism, according to Kim. “Racism that Asian-Americans have experienced is not what black people have experienced,” Kim said. “Sullivan is right that Asians have faced various forms of discrimination, but never the systematic dehumanization that black people have faced during slavery and continue to face today.” Asians have been barred from entering the U.S. and gaining citizenship and have been sent to incarceration camps, Kim pointed out, but all that is different than the segregation, police brutality and discrimination that African-Americans have endured.
“’Model Minority’ Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks”/ by Cat Chow/ NPR/ April 19, 2017


14. Don’t call me angry when what you mean to say is: this Black person has full human emotions and I’m uncomfortable. Or if you mean: I feel personally slighted by a generalized statement because who is this Negro is telling me what to do. Don’t dehumanize me because you are uncomfortable with what I have to say.
“White People: Stop Weaponizing Our Emotions to Avoid Your Racism”/ by Shannon Barber/ Wear Your Voice/ August 4, 2017


15. But nothing changes a disabled person’s sense of self like another disabled person. I am a painter, and in 1995, I was invited to join a group of artists, writers and performers who were building disability culture. Their work was daring, edgy, funny and dark; it rejected old tropes that defined us as pathetic, frightening and worthless. They insisted that disability was an opportunity for creativity and resistance.
“Where All Bodies Are Exquisite”/ by Riva Lehrer/ New York Times/ August 9, 2017


Joyce Hayden left her university teaching job two years ago in order to pursue her own artistic work. An assemblage artist, painter, and writer, Joyce is currently in the process of acquiring an agent to represent her memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which describes her 8 year relationship with a charismatic gambler and the dangerous road that eventually led to her freedom. Her chapbook of poems, Lost Handprint, is forthcoming from Dandelion Review. A freelance editor and writing coach, Joyce’s writing services and a selection of her artwork can be found at her website Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

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