This Week in Women: Mental Health Takes Center Stage
From a retired teacher’s viral letter, to National Prevention Week, to Havaianas’ collaboration to benefit Women for Women International, this week we are exploring stories of social good that transcends borders. It’s time for This Week in Women!
Retired Teacher Sets Internet Ablaze With Response to Sexist Lawmaker
Since the House passed the Republican-fueled American Healthcare Act (AHCA) or “Trumpcare” bill on May 4, many U.S. representatives have been noticeably absent from town halls and meeting with their constituents. When Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican from Dubuque, Iowa, reluctantly returned for an open forum with constituents, he really put his foot in his mouth by posing the question of why men should be responsible for paying for women’s maternity care.
It was that comment that fueled 63-year old Barbara Rank to write a 107-word letter to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald titled, “Why should I pay indeed?”
“I ask, why should I pay for a bridge I don’t cross, a sidewalk I don’t walk on, a library book I don’t read?” Rank, a retired special education teacher, wrote. “Why should I pay for a flower I won’t smell, a park I don’t visit, or art I can’t appreciate? Why should I pay for the salaries of politicians I didn’t vote for, a tax cut that doesn’t affect me, or a loophole I can’t take advantage of? It’s called democracy, a civil society, the greater good. That’s what we pay for.”
Since Rank’s letter has been published, and subsequently shared by Reddit, she’s been a run-away hero on the internet with her bullshit-free perspective. “Every argument I’ve ever had with somebody, friends or relative: Don’t you want to live in a civil society?” she quipped to The Washington Post. “Government is the structure of the country we live in. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be.”
Mental Health Takes Center Stage with “Paint it Black” And National Prevention Week
This week actresses Alia Shawkat, Janet McTeer, and Amber Tamblyn appeared together to promote Tamblyn’s new film Paint it Black. Tamblyn’s directorial debut is making waves for delving into grief, relationships, and mental health in a riff on Janet Fitch’s novel White Oleander.
At this week’s showing at the Museum of Modern Art, Shawkat, who stars in the dramatic film, said, “Mental health in general, once it is in a film, you realize that it’s not brought up a lot at all. It’s a very delicate thing and in real life, it’s something that’s avoided. People don’t know how to do it because you can’t see it. Someone says you have cancer, they’re like, ‘Okay, we’ll go get you fixed.’ But it’s the same with mental illness. I’m proud to be a part of a film that’s talking about it.”
The film debuts at a poignant time as the state of America’s mental health reaches crisis level with the passing of AHCA, which seeks to strip even more funding from state programs, such as Medicaid. “The American Health Care Act (AHCA) as written would devastate Americans’ mental health and addiction coverage and care,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.
This week is National Prevention Week, which promotes access to healthcare and substance abuse prevention. This year’s theme is “Making Each Day Count”.
In an online statement, the National Council for Behavioral Health argued for continued progress in the mental health sector. “We can’t sit back and wait for funding to catch up with the realities of peoples’ lives. We must work with our partners in health care and social services, in housing and criminal justice, to help people become resilient and stay healthy throughout their lives.”
High Fashion Meets Flip Flops For Women for Women International
Brazilian flip flop brand Havaianas partnered with a veritable who’s-who of designers and creative visionaries to create one-of-a-kind high fashion flip flops to be auctioned off, benefiting Women for Women International. The socially conscious footwear brand gave designers—including Charlotte Olympia, Naomi Campbell, Mary Katrantzou, Simone Rocha, and model Arizona Muse, to name a few—a “carte blanche” for manifesting their signature style.
“We support women in areas of conflict who have gone through traumatic situations, but if we are not positive, we won’t be able to change anything,” said Women for Women International’s executive director Brita Fernandez Schmidt in a statement to Women’s Wear Daily. “The designers really got it and went for that spirit of positivity and sisterhood. There are so many different designers, which is great because our aim is not to put women in boxes, to show that they can be anything.”
Featured image via Palm Springs International Film Festival
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.