Copyright 2014 Roberta Gallagher
Have you ever noticed that most self-help books are aimed at women? Are we so helpless, unassertive, needy, and codependent that we require so much advice? Or are we more open to think in new ways and not afraid to think we need help?
There appears to be a social issue underlying all of this.
I have always been interested in making a difference but as a woman growing up in the 1950s the messages around me said I was to be a housewife and stay at home Mom. That is not and was not who I am.
I did not fit in.
The roles for women have been so narrowly defined that many of us have low self esteem because of our appearance, because men feel free to interrupt us, and because we think we must have a partner.
I began searching for facts to understand how this socially constructed role impacts females — from very early in our lives until we have enough consciousness to try to deprogram ourselves.
Depression, anxiety, and even somatic symptoms are significantly related to gender based roles, stressors and negative life experiences and events. Women are over-represented in these life ailments. Women have been on the receiving end of “blame the victim”. Women are the largest group to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since we experience a high rate of sexual violence.
Economic and social policies that cause sudden, disruptive and severe changes to income increase gender inequality and the rate of common mental disorders. Women bear most of the burden in downturns and conservative policies.
Unipolar depression, predicted to be the second leading cause of global disability burden by 2020, is twice as common in women.
When I began to develop a website in the late 1990s I was told “Aim it toward women because they are the ones who seek the help. Men are not comfortable asking for help.”
So be it. This is what I did and I became successful. But I now ask myself – do men stay stuck in their old ideas because we expect them to? I notice that there are more men asking for conversations that are more than about the daily tasks of life. More men are asking for deeper levels of conversation and want to share their visions of life and reveal their fears and delights.
Statistics are important so that we can see our lack of power as much more than our individual problem. It is your responsibility to break down these internal barriers, but you did not get them because there is something lacking in you.
These 2013 statistics come from U.S government.
Depressive disorders account for close to 41.9% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% among men.
Leading mental health problem of older adults are depression, organic brain syndromes and dementias. A majority are women.
An estimated 80% of people affected by violent conflicts, civil wars, disasters, and displacement are women and children.
Lifetime prevalence rate of violence against women ranges from 16% to 50%.
At least 1 in 5 women suffer rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes.
Draw your own conclusions.
We cannot change the belief systems in our culture without changing ourselves. It is a daunting and long term task that can be accomplished one woman at a time. Let those who have the bent toward social change get strong enough to act. The world is ours when we hold our heads up high and have courage to stand up for ourselves.