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Justin Trudeau: How One Person Can Positively Change The World

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Political ideology is not something everyone thinks about, but for Social Workers it is infused in our profession whether we like it or not. As an eclectic profession whose founders borrowed from psychology, psychiatry, sociology, economics, and political science, we have a long history of working to ameliorate the impact of the political ideology of any given time.

Yet, before the creation of Social Work as a profession, we were born out of altruism and charity work.  Most of us learned about the creation of the modern-day social welfare state which formed as a result of the industrialization of society and the need for help for those who were in one way or another marginalized and / or alienated by the machines of “progress”.  

Progress and industrialization undeniably changed the individuals, families, communities, and nations of our ancestors.  As a social work undergraduate student in the early 1990’s I wasn’t initially clear on the purpose and connectedness of learning about the history of western social welfare.  

But 25 years later, it is clear social work’s cultural roots continues to inform practice and theoretical understanding of the core difficulties helping professionals face in trying to ameliorate injustices on a daily basis.  Despite the continued modernization of society, helping professionals continue to try and mitigate the numerous costs and effects of working and living in capitalist, technologically advanced, and alienated communities and nations.

A little over a year ago, Canada elected Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, and the media is now filled with the typical polarized assessments of Trudeau and his governmental leadership. However, if I had to summarize the rhetoric surrounding the assessment of Trudeau, I would say the press and even the neoconservatives who previously governed Canada are shocked at how someone can unite a diverse Country and in many ways impacting the World. In short, the feeling from the left is that Justin Trudeau is too good to be true.  On the other hand, many of us Canadians believe Trudeau is a dream come true.

For the majority of  the least the last couple of decades, Canada and many of its Provinces have been governed by Neoconservatives.  The traditional Progressive Conservative Party of Canada imploded many years ago and was replaced by a hybrid conservative party which was ideologically very neoconservative. Provinces and Canada as a whole under the neocons lost a lot of ground in terms of our social welfare policy and social innovation.  Neocons convinced people through propaganda that the poor and disadvantaged in Canada were that way because of some type of character flaw –  essentially lazy or weak or both.

While I don’t personally know Justin Trudeau, I feel like I do.  I suspect that the same is true for many Canadians. Justin reaches out to us via social media – imagine a Prime Minister on Facebook!  Leaders of government have never gone out of their way to seek the opinions of the common classes, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does.

Although he has inherited many societal problems such as Canada’s poor treatment of our First Nations, Trudeau is trying to correct the damage done to the fabric of Canadian society by past governments. What I see and feel as a Canadian and as a social worker is that Justin Trudeau intends to help our country become benevolent again. Trudeau knows adversity, and he knows the value and strength of diversity and inclusivity.

Under the current political climate, I have often mourned the loss of truly professional politicians. What I mean is political science and ideology were once legitimately held in high esteem by those who sought to figure out how to best govern a population. Political debate was about reason, ideology, rights and freedoms. But politics has become about personal attacks and quite simply behaving inappropriately and using power and control to get a desired outcome. Our political system in the West at least is not the one envisioned and practiced by our ancestors.

I have high hopes for Justin Trudeau, and he has already accomplished a lot in a short period of time.  I am once again proud to be Canadian.

Clint has recently joined Social Work Helper as Digital Marketing Coordinator and Writer. He is a Canadian Social Worker who earned an Honors Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Laurentian University and a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from McGill University. Clint is in his 20th year of Social Work practice with interest and expertise in macro and systems level analysis and intervention, domestic family violence, trauma, stress, and post traumatic stress, child maltreatment, and solutions to reduce the impact of trauma in the helping professions.

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Culture

New Study Reveals ‘Marrying Up’ Is Now Easier for Men, Improves Their Economic Well-Being

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As the number of highly educated women has increased in recent decades, the chances of “marrying up” have increased significantly for men and decreased for women, according to a new study led by a University of Kansas sociologist.

“The pattern of marriage and its economic consequences have changed over time,” said lead author ChangHwan Kim, associate professor of sociology. “Now women are more likely to get married to a less-educated man. What is the consequence of this?”

Kim’s co-authored the study with Arthur Sakamoto of Texas A&M University, and the journal Demography recently published their findings. They examined gender-specific changes in the total financial return to education among people of prime working ages, 35 to 44 years old, using U.S. Census data from 1990 and 2000 and the 2009-2011 American Community Survey.

The researchers investigated the return to education not only in labor markets but also in the marriage market.

“Previously, women received more total financial return to education than men, because their return in the marriage market was high. However, this female advantage has deteriorated over time despite women’s substantial progress in education and labor-market performance,” Kim said.

The researchers found the overall net advantage of being female in terms of family-standard-of-living decreased approximately 13 percent between 1990 and 2009-2011. Women’s personal earnings have grown faster than men’s earnings during this time as women have increased their education and experienced a greater return on education.

However, the number of highly educated women exceeds the number of highly educated men in the marriage market, the researchers found. Women are more likely to be married to a less-educated man. Because of the combined facts that husbands are less educated than their wives than before, and the return on earnings for men has stagnated, a husband’s contribution to family income has decreased. On the other hand, wives’ contribution to family income has substantially increased.

This has led to a faster improvement of the family standard of living for men than for equally educated women themselves, Kim said, and helped converge the gap in equivalised income between wives and husbands.

“This could explain why it seems men don’t complain a lot about this,” Kim said. “Our answer is that’s true because look at the actual quality of life, which is determined more likely by family income rather than by personal earnings. It seems fine for men because their wife is now bringing more income to the household. One implication of these findings is that the importance of marriage market has increased for men’s total economic well-being.”

These developments could also result in gender convergence in the family standard of living associated with this shift in the norm of marriage, away from previous eras.

“Marriage is now becoming more egalitarian and becoming equal,” Kim said. “If you look at gender dynamics or from a marriage-equality standpoint, that is a really good sign.”

However, the study’s results also have implications for examining potential effects of marriage and economic inequality.

“For less-educated women, the contribution of their husbands has been substantially reduced so that their standard of living has diminished, even though their personal earnings have grown,” the researchers said.

This could aggravate a wealth gap among less-educated or low-income families, the researchers said. Kim said potential future research could monitor how family demography still shapes and directly underlies inequality, even as family relations continue to evolve.

“When we consider family dynamics,” Kim said, “men are getting the benefit from women’s progress.”

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Entertainment

Have You Heard the “Suicide Prevention Anthem 1-800-273-8255”

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MTV – VMAs

National Suicide Prevention Month begins on September 1st, and MTV officially kicked off the awareness month with a performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Logic along with Khalid and Alessia Cara at the VMAs. The song’s title just happens to be the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and the performance also included a group of suicide attempt survivors who came on stage wearing shirts with the number to the suicide helpline.

The song begins from the perspective of someone who wants to die and feels there is no one there to care about what happens to them. The opening hook for the song states, “I don’t want to be alive, I just want to die today, I just want to die.” Some may take an issue with the beginning of the song, but it can not be understated the importance of identifying those feelings in order to seek help.

A recent study which included 32 children’s hospital across the United States revealed an alarming increase in self-harm and suicidality in children and teens ranges from ages 5 to 17 over the past decade. Also, the School of Social Work and Social Care at the University of Birmingham released a recent study stating, “Children and young people under-25 who become victims of cyberbullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.”

The second hook starts with “I want you to be alive, You don’t gotta die today, You don’t gotta die.” The song moves from a place of darkness to a place of support. When someone expresses suicidal thoughts, it is critical to not dismiss their feelings or minimize the weight of the issues preventing them from wanting to live. The Center for Disease control list death by suicide as the number 1 cause of death in the 15-19 age group. According to the National Data on Campus Suicides, “1 in 12 college students have written down a suicide plan as a result of stresses related to school, work, relationships, social life, and still developing as a young adult.”

John Draper, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in an interview talked about the impact the song is already having. Draper said: “The impact has been pretty extraordinary. On the day the song was released, we had the second-highest call volume in the history of our service. Overall, calls to the hotline are up roughly 33% from this time last year.” via CNN

“I finally want to be alive, I don’t want to die today, I don’t want to die” are the lyrics and the tone in which the songs end. Then, it leads into an incredibly woke statement by Logic, and here is a sample:

“I am here to fight for your equality because I believe that we are all born equal, but we are not treated equally at that is why we must fight!” – Logic VMAs

The trend for suicide deaths is on an upward climb. A 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control state there were twice as many suicides than homicides in the United States. It’s time we end the stigma and myths surrounding suicide attempt survivors “doing it for the attention.” Suicidal thoughts may be an ongoing struggle instead of a one-off event to prevent. In this case, we need to arm loved ones and at risk individuals with information as well as tools and resource to manage their mental health status.

Suicide Warning Signs

Another useful resource is the Crisis Text Line in which users can send a text to a trained counselor and typically receive a response within 5 minutes. Texters can begin by texting “START to 741741” to get connected.

Mental Health providers and practitioners are always looking for ways to connect and reach those most at risk for suicidal and self-harming behaviors, and pop culture often has a direct connection to those who are the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, a recent study identified a link between 13 Reasons Why and suicidal thoughts in which it found “queries about suicide and how to commit suicide spiked in the show’s wake.”

However, unlike Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why“, this song is already showing that it will have the opposite effect by increasing queries and online searches about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. If you have not seen this powerful VMA performance, I urge you to check it out.

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Culture

The Rise of Hookup Sexual Culture on American College Campus

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Cultures – sets of widely-endorsed ideas reflected in rules for interaction and in the organization of our institutions – are powerful social forces that shape individuals’ lives. In colleges, “hookup culture” refers to the idea that casual sexual encounters are the best or only way to engage sexually; and the concept also refers to rules of social interaction that facilitate casual sexual encounters and organizational arrangements that support these encounters.

Today, almost all of America’s residential college campuses are characterized by a hookup culture – large and small, private and public, secular and religious, and left- and right-leaning campuses. Students must contend with this culture even if they are not especially sexually active. In fact, many students are not very active. The average graduating senior reports hooking up just eight times in four years; and a third do not hook up even a single time. Individual students can and do opt out of casual hookup sexual encounters, but few can escape dealing with that culture.

The Origins of Campus Hookup Culture

Hookup culture is simply the newest stage in the evolution of sexual norms and behavior in America. Its roots lie in the early city life of the 1920s, the first time in U.S. history that young people routinely socialized in mixed-sex groups beyond the supervision of chaperones. This created intense media interest in “youth culture,” as college attendance became accessible to large swaths of the American population. After a couple hundred years of conflict with higher education administrators, fraternity men starting setting the social tone. Their way of experiencing college life – irreverent, raucous, and fun-oriented – was suddenly the way to experience college. Attending college was linked to the idea of being young and carefree.

After a couple hundred years of conflict with higher education administrators, fraternity men starting setting the social tone. Their way of experiencing college life – irreverent, raucous, and fun-oriented – was suddenly the way to experience college. Attending college was linked to the idea of being young and carefree.

The Great Depression and World War II put the brakes on such revelry. Young women initiated “going steady” – monogamous, long-term dating – as a response to the loss of young men to war. Yet going steady, a kind of “premature monogamy,” was both new and short-lived as an ideal for young people. By the 1960s, young people wanted to remain unattached; and meanwhile, gay men in urban enclaves were experimenting with a culture revolving around “hookups.” The dangers of AIDs infection slowed down the process by which casual sexual encounters spread into the mainstream for young people, but this process proceeded nonetheless.

In 1978, the popularity of the movie Animal House ratcheted up expectations for college fun. Beer and liquor companies took advantage of the moment, spending millions in the 1980s to convince students that drinking was a mainstay of college life. Starting in 1984, when the U.S. government financially pressured the states to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21, control over campus parties was thrown increasingly into the hands of men who occupied large, private fraternity residences in which they could flagrantly break liquor laws.

Fraternities again came to dominate the campus social scene. Until today, this remains true on many campuses, but many other factors also reinforce hookup sexual norms on college campuses – including media portrayals of college life, rising individualism, and a halfway transition toward women’s equality. Social and sexual norms originally embodied in fraternities now reign supreme on college campuses.

The Destructive Sense that Hookup Sex is the Only Option

After hearing about hookup culture, many older Americans wonder whether today’s students actually enjoy it. The answer appears to be both yes and no, as I learned from years of fieldwork. About a quarter of students thrive in this culture, at least at first. They enjoy hooking up and adapt well to hookup culture’s rules calling for fun and casual, short-term encounters.

At the same time, about a third of students opt out altogether; they find hookup culture unappealing and would rather not have sex at all than have it the way this culture mandates. The remaining students are ambivalent, dabbling in hookups with mixed results. Overall, about one in three students say that their intimate relationships have been “traumatic” or “very difficult to handle.” Many of them experience a persistent malaise, a deep, indefinable disappointment. And one in ten says that they have been sexually coerced or assaulted in the past year.

Notably, my research suggests that hookup culture is a problem not because it promotes casual sex, but because it makes a destructive form of casual sexual engagement feel compulsory. Students who don’t hook up can end up being socially isolated, while students who do engage in this way are forced to operate by a dysfunctional set of rules.

Hookup culture encourages a punishing emotional landscape, where caring for others or even simple courtesy seem inappropriate, while carelessness and even cruelty are allowed. At its worst, it encourages young men and women to engage in sexual competitiveness and status-seeking while meeting impossible standards of attractiveness. It privileges immediate pleasure-seeking and heightens risks that students will become either perpetrators or victims of sexual crimes.

Changing Power Structures and Destructive Sexual Norms

Understanding that the forces shaping sexual relationships on campuses are cultural – that problems lie not so much in particular encounters as in hookup culture overall – is the first step toward clarifying what needs to change. Because culture is a type of shared consciousness, many people need to work together to make changes happen. And they can. Especially because of the strong ties in student bodies, campuses can transform themselves faster than one might suspect.

Research shows that today’s young people are more open, permissive, earnest, hopeful for the future, and welcoming of diversity than any other generation in memory. They are well-positioned to usher in the next new sexual culture. But colleges as institutions must change, too. Institutions of higher education need to put substantial resources and time into shifting cultural norms in two ways: promoting casual sexual encounters that involve an ethic of care, and diversifying the kind of sexual encounters that are seen as possible and good.

Colleges also need to change the institutional arrangements that give too much power to subsets of students who are most enthusiastic about hookup culture and who benefit from it at the expense of their peers.  Doing this may mean disbanding fraternities and sororities as they have existed, because as long as these organizations and their ethics remain power bastions on U.S. campuses, hookup culture will persist.

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