Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

woman-t-shirt

By Lindsey Bever

In 1933, Ann Moliver Ruben said her cousin, Irwin, told her that a girl could never be president.

Decades later, corporate America, it seemed, was trying to tell her the same thing. Ruben, a psychologist from Pittsburgh, had been studying children’s perceptions of women leaders in the 1990s when she stumbled upon a “Dennis the Menace” comic strip in a Sunday newspaper — an episode in which a young, curly-haired feminist named Margaret told him: “Someday a woman will be president!”

Ruben put the slogan on T-shirts and sold them to a Walmart store in Florida, which pulled them from the shelves in the ’90s. According to Ruben, Walmart said that “the message went against their philosophy of family values.”

Walmart did not confirm that the message went against its philosophy of family values, but said it went against its policy of philosophy of political neutrality, according to the Miami Herald.

Following a nationwide uproar, Walmart put them back — and, Ruben said, she later created a new version with a second message on the back: “Someday is now.”

Ruben, a 91-year-old women’s rights advocate, said that “someday” came Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention when Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential nominee for a major party.

“I’ve been waiting 83 years to see what happened yesterday,” she told The Washington Post on Wednesday in a phone interview. “This is a wonderful time in our history, and I thank God I’ve lived to see it happen.”

Clinton is scheduled to formally accept the nomination on Thursday, but in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, she addressed the crowd at the Democratic National Convention at an unprecedented moment in history.

Photos flashed across a jumbotron, showing each of the nation’s 44 presidents — all men and all but one of them white. Then it showed Clinton, breaking through glass.

“I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” Clinton said, adding: “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”

Breaking glass ceilings

Over the decades, Ruben has broken her own glass ceilings. During World War II, she was starting a family and praying for her husband’s safe return from battles overseas while earning a college education at a time when most women did not do that. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh — then a master’s in counseling and psychology, and a doctorate in higher education and psychology, according to her website.

“My father told me, ‘Annie, you’re very smart, and whatever you decide to do in your life, you’re going to be successful. So don’t ever give up, Annie,'” she told The Post. “I heard him loud and clear, and that gave me the incentive.”

For years, Ruben was a psychology professor in Florida before she went into private practice, where she said she focused on providing family therapy.

In 1993, Ruben began studying children’s attitudes toward women leaders, surveying 1,500 elementary school students in Miami. She found that nearly half of them believed that only men could be president, according to an article in the Miami Herald the next year.

“The girls who finished the survey were sad,” she told the newspaper at the time. “It was clear that if they’re going to do anything, they’ll have to do it themselves. They can’t count on boys who grow up to be men to help them.”

Ruben created a company called Women are Wonderful Inc., and started selling T-shirts to raise girls’ self-esteem, according to a 1995 report in the Herald.

“I don’t want girls to believe what I grew up believing — that a girl can never be president,” she told the newspaper.

Indeed, more than 20 years ago, it was Ruben’s inspirational T-shirts, based on a cartoon, that created a flap, exposing tension between competing ideals.

‘No girls allowed’

The 1993 “Dennis the Menace” comic showed Dennis building a clubhouse. No girls were allowed. Margaret attempted to school him on all the things girls could do, including growing up to become president.

Ruben said she called the cartoon’s creator, Hank Ketcham, and then got permission from King Features Syndicate to use the frame for a T-shirt.

She sold several dozen to a Walmart store in Miramar, a city in South Florida, but the company pulled the shirts after some customers complained that the message was too political.

“It was determined the T-shirt was offensive to some people and so the decision was made to pull it from the sales floor,” Walmart spokeswoman Jane Bockholt told the Associated Press in September 1995.

Ruben told the news agency at the time that she saw it as a sign that “promoting females as leaders is still a very threatening concept in this country.”

“It’s a tragedy,” she told the Miami Herald at the time. “I think it’s a barometer of the prejudices against females in our society.”

‘We overreacted’

Ruben told The Washington Post on Wednesday that she put one of the T-shirts on her 8-month-old grandson, boosted him atop her shoulders and went to see an Associated Press reporter to get out her story.

The wire version went into newspapers across the country, Ruben said, and women were soon flooding Walmart’s phone lines to voice their concerns.

Ruben said women with the Miami chapter of the American Association of University Women, of which she was a member, marched in protest. Jackie DeFazio, who was AAUW president at the time, wrote a letter to the company’s CEO, saying, “Believing in girls’ potential is neither offensive to the public nor adverse to the family values,” according to an article from the group’s membership magazine.

Almost immediately, Walmart representatives admitted they “made a mistake.”

“A few customers complained about the political nature of the shirts, and we overreacted,” Jay Allen, a spokesman for Walmart, told the Miami Herald in 1995. “That’s what we tend to do when it comes to customers’ concerns. We overreact.

“We should have never pulled the shirts from the shelves in the first place.”

Ruben told the Miami Herald in December 1995 that since the incident, she had received 50,000 orders from women’s groups and other companies, and another 30,000 orders from Walmart, which said it heard customers “loud and clear” and stocked more than 2,000 stores.

“Wow, it still pains us that we made this mistake 20 years ago,” Danit Marquardt, director of corporate communications for Walmart, told The Post on Wednesday in a statement. “We’re proud of the fact that our country — and our company — has made so much progress in advancing women in the workplace, and in society.”

Ruben, it seems, is still a “Dennis the Menace” fan, especially when it comes to illustrating politics.

In March, she penned a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, asking fellow readers, “Would Dennis vote for Donald Trump?”

She wrote:

My husband, of blessed memory, loved the cartoon created by Hank Ketcham called “Dennis the Menace.” Never did a Sunday go by that reading Dennis didn’t give him a laugh. But I wonder if my Gershon Ruben were living today, would he laugh and see how much his 5-year-old Dennis resembles the guy who wants to be president today, Donald Trump?

I see so many similarities that it truly makes me want to laugh, but instead I cry. That Donald, acting like Dennis, is the Republican front-runner in the polls this election year makes me feel that a lot of us are nuts.

As for Clinton, Ruben told The Post, “when she’s sworn in in D.C. in January, I’m going to be there and I’m going to be wearing my T-shirt.”

Ruben said if she could pass along one message to young girls today, it would be one similar to what her father told her many years ago.

“You’re smart. Get educated. Don’t ever give up on your dream and you’ll make it,” she said. “Hillary made it. She never gave up on her dream.

“We now have a wonderful role model.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/27/that-time-walmart-banned-a-t-shirt-saying-a-woman-will-be-president/

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Academia is calling for the abolishment of the term “schizophrenia” in hopes of finding a label that’s less stigmatized. Why people with the medical condition have mixed opinions.
In an article recently published in the academic journal Schizophrenia Research, researchers called for the abolition of the term “schizophrenia.” Renaming the disorder, they argue, could destigmatize the disorder, create greater willingness of people with schizophrenia to pursue treatments, make it easier for doctors to give a diagnosis, and communicate that the prognosis is much less bleak than most people believe.

“Over the last years the term ‘schizophrenia’ has been increasingly contested by patients, families, researchers, and clinicians,” wrote Antonio Lasalvia in an email to The Daily Beast. Lasalvia is one of the study authors and a professor of psychiatry at University of Verona.

“The literature, from both Eastern and Western countries, consistently shows that the term schizophrenia holds a negative stigmatizing connotation. This negative connotation is a barrier for the recognition of the problem itself, for seeking specialized care, for taking full advantage of specialized care. It is therefore useless and sometimes damaging.”

The word “schizophrenia” was coined in the early 20th century, deriving from the Greek word for “split mind.” The term conveyed the idea that people with schizophrenia experienced a splitting of their personality—that they no longer had unified identities.

Considering all the words for mental illness, both those used by medical doctors and those that are cruel slurs used by the general public, it is striking how many of them have connotations of being broken or disorganized: deranged, crazy (which means cracked— itself a derogatory term), unglued, having a screw loose, unhinged, off the wall.

It seems there is some stigma attached to “schizophrenia.” One study showed that most people with schizophrenia (the preferred term is no longer “patients” but “users” or “consumers”) worry that they are viewed unfavorably by others, while some avoid telling people their diagnosis.

Another study examined the use of “schizophrenia” in the news media. Frequently, it is used not to describe a mental disorder, but as a metaphor for inconsistency, or being of a split mind. For example, The Washington Post included an opinion piece that mentioned, “the schizophrenia of a public that wants less government spending, more government services and lower taxes.” It is still socially acceptable—even among many card-carrying progressives—to say that something or someone is “insane,” “crazy,” or “unhinged.”

Christina Bruni, author of Left of the Dial: A Memoir of Schizophrenia, Recovery, and Hope, told me that her experience of stigma has changed over the years. “I used to not want to have ‘schizophrenia’ because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy. After a failed drug holiday, and a failed career in the gray flannel insurance field, I now have a creative job as a librarian,” she wrote in an email. “Ever since I started work as a librarian, I haven’t experienced any stigma in my ordinary life. It’s the people who fall through the cracks, who don’t get help, that the media chronicles, thus reinforcing stereotypes.”

Several people I spoke to noted that the general public confuses schizophrenia with dissociative identity disorder (which used to be known as multiple personality disorder), perhaps because they associate the word schizophrenia with “splitting.” The name change might make the distinction clearer.

There has been precedence for such a move. In addition to dissociative identity disorder, other mental and learning disorders have switched names. For example, “manic-depression” is now widely known as “bipolar disorder,” “mental retardation” is now known as “intellectual and developmental disability.”

“Changing the name can be very successful. What you call something is very important, which is why there is a PR industry,” David Kingdon, professor of psychiatry at the University of Southampton, told The Daily Beast. He has long advocated a change of name for schizophrenia.

Ken Duckworth is the medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He agrees that a name change has the potential to be powerful, but thinks we need more evidence that it will be effective. “Schizophrenia involves thought, mood, cognition,” he said in an interview. “This is powerful in terms of your identity. It’s not the same as saying you have diabetes. It comes across as something that’s wrong, something that’s negative.”

Kingdon prefers using terms that refer to different forms of psychosis, such as “traumatic psychosis” and “drug-induced psychosis.” “Clients don’t get so excited about it. It gives insight into treatment,” he says. “You can say, ‘Something can be done about this and what can be done is this.’”

Kingdon emphasized that many people feel hopeless upon receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia when in fact treatments have improved prognoses dramatically in the last 20 years. “Cognitive behavioral therapy, complementary to medical treatment, has been pretty well-demonstrated to be effective,” he pointed out.

In cognitive behavioral therapy, users learn to recognize when they are having disruptive thoughts and are taught techniques for managing them. A recent study which Kingdon co-authored showed that cognitive behavioral therapy reduced both worry and persecutory delusions. “We don’t hear a lot of media stories of people getting better, but they do all the time,” added Duckworth.

Japan has changed the name of schizophrenia. In 2002, it was recommended that seishin-bunretsu-byo (“mind-split-disease”) become togo-shitcho-sho (“integration dysregulation syndrome”). The change was officially adopted by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare by 2005.

Following the change, doctors in Japan became far more likely to disclose to patients that they had schizophrenia. While this shift occurred during a time in which Japanese doctors in general were becoming more willing to deliver difficult diagnoses to patients, it happened at a much more rapid pace with schizophrenia. This suggests that the name change itself increased doctors’ willingness to talk to their patients.

A large majority of Japanese psychiatrists felt, after the name change, better able to communicate information to patients about the disorder, and also that patients were more likely to adhere to treatment plans.

“The first lesson from the Japanese experience is that a change is possible and that the change may be beneficial for mental health users and their careers, for professionals and researchers alike,” said Lasalvia. “An early effect of renaming schizophrenia, as proven by the Japanese findings, would increase the percentage of patients informed about their diagnosis, prognosis, and available interventions. A name change would facilitate help seeking and service uptake by patients, and would be most beneficial for the provision of psychosocial interventions, since better informed patients generally display a more positive attitude towards care and a more active involvement in their own care programs.”

“It’s an empirical question whether it reduces stigma, and we don’t really know the answer yet,” said John Kane, chairman of psychiatry at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York. “The data from Japan certainly support the value of doing it. Given that, it is something that should be considered.”

The U.S. and other Western countries, however, are different from Japan in significant ways. In 1999, only 7 percent of clinicians informed patients of their diagnosis (about a third told families but not the patients).

Doctors in the West do tend to be more open with diagnoses in general. In the case of schizophrenia, however, fewer are. One study of Australian clinicians found that while more than half thought one should deliver a diagnosis of schizophrenia, doctors find reasons in practice to delay or avoid doing so. Some wanted to make absolutely sure the diagnosis was 100 percent correct since it was so potentially devastating. Others were concerned about the patient losing hope—many had a patient commit suicide.

While doctors are reluctant to give diagnoses, caregivers are eager to receive them. One study showed that caregivers unanimously preferred a full diagnosis as soon as possible, and their pain was greatly increased by the fact that their doctors—frequently—avoided talking to them about it. It also seems likely that a disorder’s stigmatization can only increase if even one’s doctor is secretive about it or avoids discussing it.

Tomer Levin is a psychiatrist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who studies doctor-patient communication. He first proposed a name change to schizophrenia almost 10 years ago. “Before the 1980s, ‘cancer’ was a stigmatizing term. The same thing was going on with ‘schizophrenia.’ A stigmatizing term doesn’t help the conversation,” he told The Daily Beast. “Our research is figuring out how to train doctors how to communicate. Say your son or daughter has psychotic break, you’re coping with that. Then you get a diagnosis. It should reflect its neurological roots and be a diagnosis that offers hope.”

Levin suggested Neuro-Emotional Integration Disorder to emphasize both its neural basis and its emotional one. He suggested that while clinicians are often focused on symptoms such as delusions, users are focused on how they feel emotionally: withdrawn, alienated, and isolated.

“We want a term that reflects that this is not just one disorder, but includes many different subtypes. A name should de-catastrophize the worst-case scenario so people don’t panic. We could improve people’s desire to access treatment and family support,” Levin continued. “Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very useful to come to terms with it. With a different name, we can link people into psychotherapy by discussing what illness is, hook them into medication by emphasizing its biological basis.”

A change is also already underway in the UK, with more doctors and patients referring to “psychosis” than “schizophrenia.” Kingdon noted that one competitive scholarship was more successful after its name was changed from National Schizophrenia Fellowship to Rethink. Proposed name changes include Kraepelin–Bleuler Disease (after two of the people who first described and delineated schizophrenia), Neuro-Emotional Integration Disorder, Youth onset CONative, COgnitive and Reality Distortion syndrome (CONCORD), or psychosis.

It is startling to read studies on proposed name changes and realize how few studies have canvassed what people with schizophrenia actually think. But the feelings experiences and feelings of users ought to be decisive. It is they who have actually experienced receiving a diagnosis, telling friends and family, informing other health care practitioners.

Elyn Saks is a law professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in mental health law and is a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship winner. She has written about her experience of schizophrenia in a memoir called The Center Cannot Hold. “We need to consult consumer/patients and see what’s least stigmatizing,” she pointed out. “We’re not a group with a big movement which can speak for us. Consumers should be surveyed.”

Duckworth was on the same page as Saks. “The name change should be driven by people with the illnesses saying, ‘We think we need this,’” he said.

“Schizophrenia is a medical condition. The term doesn’t need to be changed. If the term schizophrenia spooks a person living with the illness, they need to examine why they’re upset,” said Bruni. “The only power the diagnosis has over you is the power you give it. You need to have the balls or breasts to say, ‘OK, I have this condition and it’s something I have. That’s all it is.’ The term ‘schizophrenia’ is in my view a valid reference for what’s going on with the illness: Your thoughts and feelings are in a noisy brawl and there’s no calm unity or peace of mind.”

Kane, too, worries that changing the name might be a matter of semantics. “We might ignore underlying factors contribute to the stigmatization. What’s frightening about schizophrenia is our misperceptions and our lack of knowledge. Changing the name is only one dimension.”

Bruni prefers “schizophrenia” to “psychosis,” since “the word psychosis has been co-opted by people who are proud to be psychotic and not take medication. They think psychosis is a normal life experience.”

“The term psychosis to me conveys a terrifying hell. I doubt using the term psychotic to describe yourself is going to help you succeed in life,” she continued. “Employers don’t want to hire individuals who are actively psychotic.”

On the other hand, Lasalvia pointed out, “Any term might be problematic to someone for some reason. However, the most conservative option would be the use of an eponym, since eponyms are neutral and avoid connotations.”

Saks tended to agree with Lasalvia. “A more benign name can be good in terms of people accepting that they have it,” she said. “Kraepelin-Bleuler Disease might be the way to go, on the model of Down syndrome or Alzheimer’s disease. I’d also like to see it called a ‘spectrum disorder’ to emphasize differences in outcome.”

“With the right treatment, therapy, and support, a person living with schizophrenia can have a full and robust life,” said Bruni. “If you’re actively engaged in doing the things that give you joy, the diagnosis will become irrelevant. My take on this is: ‘Schizophrenia? Ha! I won’t let it defeat me.’ And it hasn’t.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/26/stigmatized-schizophrenia-gets-a-rebrand.html