Some news stories that caught our eye this week:
- Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day. As he is released on bail today, let’s take a moment to think of Reeva and her family, and get some important perspective from our friends at Shakesville.
- I’m not a fan of all the crime shows on TV, but maybe I should be. A new study shows that people who watch these shows may be more likely to help victims of sexual assault.
Some news stories that caught our eye over the past week:
- Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and the day of 1 Billion Rising—the largest day of mass action ever to end violence against women and girls. You’ve got to check out some of these amazing videos of events from all over the world.
- Ok, let’s talk Grammy’s … these articles don’t focus on slamming Rihanna (thank you!), but rather talk about why that’s not helpful and put the focus on how we—yes all of us—react when famous men are abusive. It does seem like we’re letting less slide these days. Am I overly optimistic? You tell me.
- This week, the Senate said yes! to passing a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) that protects all victims of abuse.
Valentine’s Day takes new meaning for me as I celebrate it with my second-grade son and his classmates. What are we really celebrating during this super-commercial holiday? Romance, or love? By whose definition? Who’s included and who’s left out on this day? And what do I want my son to learn about both romance and love?
Thinking about these questions in the context of the past few weeks, which brought the Komen kerfuffle, the joy of marriage equality, and the horror of Charlie and Braden’s deaths, inspired me to imagine what I hope my son and his classmates will experience in their lives:
- You can marry who you want. Or don’t get married. It’s up to you!
- You get to choose whether to have kids, and how many.
- You’re gonna learn skills for having great, healthy relationships―both at school and from all the adults in your life.
- Your government, the child welfare system, and your community will give everyone in your family really good help during times of trouble.
- Your family matters, whatever it looks like.
Happy Valentine’s Day, son. Mommy loves you!
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Have you noticed how much social pressure there is to be in a relationship and, if you are, the expectation to be romantic? For me, the pressure comes from various self-proclaimed matchmakers who regularly ask the question, “Ankita, why don’t you just get married?”
My mother wants me to get married because it’s time for me to ‘settle down.’ Friends of my family want me to get married because they know a successful Indian man who is looking for a ‘family-oriented girl.’ My attorney informs me that marriage is the best and easiest way to obtain citizenship in the United States.
None of these pass the laugh test, let alone provide a good reason for me to get married.
But I do wonder why no one is:
- asking me what I want, or what I am looking for in a relationship;
- coaching me on the skills I need for a great relationship – voicing my needs, negotiating compromises, respecting one another’s autonomy;
- assuring me that it is all right for me to set my own expectations?
In communities where parents and extended family have a lot of input into marriage decisions, young women like me are often advised more than they are listened to. And that can lead to unhappy – even violent – relationships.
To my self-proclaimed matchmakers: I challenge you to ask, coach, and assure me. This will help me lead a healthy, full life, whether I am in a relationship or not.