To be gobsmacked by this article?

(83 Posts)
Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 13:01:02

So, I promised myself I'd stop reading the Guardian, but I couldn't resist. Today, I found myself reading this gem;

www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/feb/08/black-women-mental-health-high-rates-depression-anxiety

Now, the distparities in mental health prevalnce and treatment among different social and ethnic groups are serious, and desperately need to be addressed. However, is it just me, or are these not just examples of how to be a normal grown-up of any sex or colour!? More Guardian identitiy politics bullshit!

Zoe, a 27-year-old pharmacist, wrote: “I am treated like I’m odd just for being myself and doing the things I like to do. I’m always viewed through the eyes of people’s narrow-minded expectations.”

Or, "Why do I have to change who I am so that people don’t find me intimidating or aggressive?” wrote Michelle, a 27-year-old teacher. “It’s tiring to have to always conform to get ahead.”

And, “I can’t embrace who I am, fully,” typed Grace, a 24-year-old PA. “I need to make sure people are always comfortable with me.”

Backingvocals Tue 09-Feb-16 13:19:25

Those quotes aren't great I agree. They read like fillers. I feel exactly the same and I'm white with no mental health issues. Also I know two teenagers under a section - both white and middle class like me. Go figure - I know people like me and the author knows people like her. So that proves nothing.

However it's obviously an important topic - black people do have higher rates of mental ill health than white people and there's a clear need to understand why. This article doesn't really enlighten me - but I wouldn't say I was gobsmacked by it. It's ok. Not great.

OddSocksHighHeels Tue 09-Feb-16 13:37:12

What do you mean by them being examples of how to be a normal grown-up?

AdrenalineFudge Tue 09-Feb-16 13:41:51

I wouldn't be gobsmaked over that article either. It's important to realise that ethnic minorities do suffer a great deal from MH problems and often won't seek help or treatment.

I do see the sense in the quotes though and as much as Guardian is famous for this sort of thing in this instance I think it is necessary - there was a documentary not too long about about this esp regarding the intimidating or aggressive stereotype of the 'angry black woman' and lengths some black women will go to to avoid being seen that way.

I think treating this article as just another typical Guardian feature means these negative attitudes of black people will just prevail. And I also think the 'whataboutery' argument is just another means to end discussion e.g. "I'm white and I also feel this way..."

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 13:44:19

Yep, important topic, shite article that seems designed only to tick the usual Guardian boxes.

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 14:11:26

What do you mean by them being examples of how to be a normal grown-up?

Well, the fact that we all have to temper our behaviour to 'get on'. The fact that in corporate environments (like that of a PA) or a classroom (teacher), everybody has to work to fit-in to the dominant culture of the place.

If you usually come across to most people as 'odd', 'intimidating' or 'aggressive', the common denominator is you. It's not for 60+ million people to adapt to your quirks, I'm afraid. That's nothing to do with ethnicity, it's about growing-up and accepting that you're not the centre of the universe.

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 14:12:02

And, if someone is commonly seen as aggressive and intimidating, I'd go so far as to suggest that they should not be a teacher at all.

Mistigri Tue 09-Feb-16 14:19:46

They're quoting people suffering from mental illness though, not a research paper. People who suffer from depression often have a hard time articulating how they feel, and some cultures/ backgrounds may make it harder for people to acknowledge that they are ill and how they feel.

I don't think it should be any surprise that there are differences between social and cultural groups in the incidence of mental illness, how it presents and access to treatment. Socio-economic and cultural factors play a role in many diseases.

It seems a reasonable thing to write about even if the article itself isn't very good (haven't read it).

OddSocksHighHeels Tue 09-Feb-16 14:23:36

The point they were making was that a black woman and white woman can act in the same way yet the black woman gets told she's aggressive or angry while the white woman doesn't so black women are having to be much more aware of conforming and trying to prove that they aren't the angry black woman stereotype.

Compare it to women (of any race) and men - men can be assertive but women are hysterical or something. Women already have to prove themselves more tha men do and there's the additional factor of overcoming racial stereotypes for black women as well as the fact that they are female.

The article could be much more comprehensive than it is but I don't see anything gobsmacking about it.

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 14:39:18

The point they were making was that a black woman and white woman can act in the same way yet the black woman gets told she's aggressive or angry while the white woman doesn't so black women are having to be much more aware of conforming and trying to prove that they aren't the angry black woman stereotype.

But there's nothing whatsoever to back up this pretty bold claim. Anecdote isn't the singular of data, as they say.

Shoki Tue 09-Feb-16 15:05:28

But there's nothing whatsoever to back up this pretty bold claim

I'm assuming you've done research on the 'angry black woman' stereotype and have come to this conclusion.

Because it would be pretty stupid ignorant to assert that something doesn't exist because you've never heard of it.

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:06:32

I'm assuming you've done research on the 'angry black woman' stereotype and have come to this conclusion.

Yes, as part of a dissertation, actually.

Thanks

BottleOfGinger Tue 09-Feb-16 15:20:30

Oh dear, why would someone as unwilling to listen to the voices of folk suffering from institutionalized oppression such as women of colour, want to do a dissertation on the angry black woman stereotype?

Jesabel Tue 09-Feb-16 15:25:57

What was the conclusion of your research Babycham? Was it specifically about stereotypes of black women?

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:31:29

Jesabel, it wasn't solely on black women, no; it was on the pathologisation (and medicalisation) of 'aberrant' behaviours. Conclusion (in short): it's another form of control and cooption in which we're all complicit, subject and object. Hardly rocket science, but that's the Humanities for you.

Jesabel Tue 09-Feb-16 15:34:34

How does that relate to stereotypes of black women?

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:35:57

Oh dear, why would someone as unwilling to listen to the voices of folk suffering from institutionalized oppression such as women of colour, want to do a dissertation on the angry black woman stereotype?

You mean three examples of people complaining that they can't behave exactly as they like and 'get-on' in the workplace?

I'm afraid I don't consider a teacher being perceived as 'aggressive and intimidating' as a symptom of their oppression. It would take some remakrable ideological somersaults to do so.

I'd go so far as to suggest they're not ideal characteristics for a teacher, and that's nothing to do with class, race, gender, culture or any self-defined characteristic. If she's struggling in the workplace, it may well be as a result of her own behaviour, which sounds utterly inappropriate, according to her own description.

FragileBrittleStar Tue 09-Feb-16 15:36:14

I think the question of people being forced (or feeling forced) to hide behind a façade or act differently from their nature and impact on mental health is an interesting one - I've heard of it in the context of lesbian gay people in the closet at work and the impact of lying.
I think the question of angry black women being perceived as aggressive is slightly different although that gives the context of why these women may feel they have to put up an act.Its like white women who are angry/assertive= bitches - men= assertive

The issue of diversity in the workplace is difficult- there is a strong focus on pushing back and accepting cultural diversity and making the mainstream culture more aware of it rather than making the minorities comply (eg instead of making Japanese people speak up/say no more - understand why they don't and embrace the different behaviour)

MilleniumTalcum Tue 09-Feb-16 15:37:43

BottleofGinger I was thinking the same. I'm white but I've seen plenty of 'real life evidence' of that stereotype and the avoidance of it. And I've been through the MH services once or twice and seen enough to think it's a very neglected topic.

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:38:41

Jesabel, I was asked if I'd done any research on the subject and, yes I have as part of that dissertation. As a means of surveillance and control of marginalised groups, it has everything to do with it

Jesabel Tue 09-Feb-16 15:39:38

I wonder if you are a bit confused about the article OP?

"I'm afraid I don't consider a teacher being perceived as 'aggressive and intimidating' as a symptom of their oppression. It would take some remakrable ideological somersaults to do so."
She isn't saying she wants to be able to behave aggressively, she is saying that a black woman could behave in the same way a white woman or a man would and be perceived as being aggressive whereas they wouldn't, or might be seen as being assertive.

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:40:43

Fragilebrittlestar, I've lived and worked in South East Asia, and I had to tailor my workplace (and social) behaviour to their cultural norms, which seems quite right to me.

Why on earth should they change theirs to take account my my presence?

Babycham1979 Tue 09-Feb-16 15:42:30

Jesabel, I understood it perfectly well. She said,

“Why do I have to change who I am so that people don’t find me intimidating or aggressive?” wrote Michelle, a 27-year-old teacher. “It’s tiring to have to always conform to get ahead.”

She wasn't talking about having to do more or behave differently to everyone else. She was specifically complaining about having to (God forbid!) conform.

Jesabel Tue 09-Feb-16 15:44:48

Do you believe that there are stereotypes about black women that mean their behaviour is interpreted differently OP? If you disagree fundamentally that women, and particularly black women, face this kind of discrimination then that might explain why you disagree with the article.

MilleniumTalcum Tue 09-Feb-16 15:46:50

I think it's actually a good point overall.

They mean that people already expect them to be angry or aggressive. So they have to try harder to avoid it etc. And the full article is talking about other social issues too, like not being taken seriously or being discounted affecting mental health.

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