An Insight to Women and Mental Health

By Nyree Hall

An estimated 26% of American ages 18 and older, about 1 in 4 adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When it comes to women, research suggests that 40% of women are more likely than men to develop depression. Women are also twice as likely as men to develop PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), with 10% of women developing the condition after a traumatic event compared to 4% of men. Why does it seem like mental illness is more common in women? There are a multitude of reasons that range from gender-based trauma, discrimination, and gender bias in the medical industry.

Patriarchal societies such as the United States create an environment for trauma and discrimination against women. There is no doubt that these experiences can contribute to mental illness. Research shows that 18.3% of women have experienced rape some time in their lives with 42.2% of women have experienced rape before the age of 18. When it comes to domestic violence, 85% of victims are women. Women also frequently suffer from postpartum depression and stress from parenting, not just because being a parent is demanding, but because many women do not have supportive partners and women often have to work the “second shift”, meaning that after they finish their shift at their jobs, they have to come home and do demanding house and parenting work as well. The medical industry is also a factor in mental illness in women. Often, implicit bias in medical doctors will attribute a women being emotional as suffering from a mental illness when they may be emotional due to another condition such as chronic pain. Instead of helping women get the medical care they need, they may focus on the emotional aspect since mental illness is more common in women and give less attention to the root of the problem needing to be addressed.

Within the last few years, fighting the stigma against mental illness has become more widespread in order to help people with mental illness find the help they need, as well as create understanding for those who know people who manage mental illness. These actions are creating positive steps in making mental illness less of a taboo subject and help people who have them get the treatment they need. Although this helps to bring access to treatment, getting to the root of contributors of mental illness in women, such a trauma, sexual and domestic violence, bias in the medical industry, discrimination, and toxic masculinity, needs to be a priority to ensure women are living the healthy lives they deserve.

Let’s Talk about Feminism

By Nyree Hall

Esteemed author, feminist and activist bell hooks defines feminism as “the struggle to end sexist oppression”. In Feminism a Movement to End Sexist Oppression, she explains that “Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific group of women, any particular race or class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all our lives”.

Going by this definition, feminism sounds pretty awesome to me. So who can be a feminist? What do feminists actually do?

Although feminists are primarily women, everyone can be a feminist.  As bell hook’s told us, feminists seek to end sexist oppression. The dictionary definition of sexism is “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” The dictionary definition of oppression is “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.” Feminists primarily work to end the unjust treatment of women in society, however, many feminists acknowledge that not just women are discriminated against or stereotyped in society based on gender; men and people of the LGBTQ community are as well.

Wait men are oppressed?

When it comes to men, they often experience toxic masculinity, which is a socially constructed idea of masculinity that is harmful to them as well as women. Toxic masculinity is the idea that men are supposed to be a certain way; it glorifies violence and aggression, prevents men from doing “feminine” things such as crying, being emotionally intimate with people of all genders, and being physically intimate with other men (such as hugging). The glorification of violence and aggression leads to actual violence and aggression against people, with women being a big target. The avoidance against a “feminine” show of physical and emotion affection and prevents men from being physically and emotionally close to the people they love, including their spouses, children, and parents. Many men don’t necessarily want to follow society’s rules for masculinity but are forced to due to social pressure. Many follow this idea of masculinity because they don’t know how else to act. Feminist want to help educate men and the rest of society about the negative effects of toxic masculinity, how to create healthy gender roles, and how we can stop thinking of ourselves and others strictly from a gendered lens.

So if feminism does all these great things for people, why does feminism have such a stigma attached to it then?

First of all, anything that disrupts systemic power dynamics is bound to create backlash. In the history of the United States, women have been forced to take a submissive, subservient role in society. This role has privileged men because it was socially acceptable for them to pursue education, hobbies outside of the home, work and make wages to support themselves or their families, and generally become a leader in society if they wished. Most women were not able to have any of these privileges. Their primary duties included taking care of the home, taking care of the children, and abiding by what the men in their lives wanted for them. When women decided to create a movement to empower themselves and end the sexist oppression they faced in society, most men were not on board. The result? Propaganda and slander against feminism. Some of the popular ideas framing feminists are that they are ugly, fat, can’t get a man, they’re lesbians, and that they want to oppress men. This is not an accurate portrayal of feminists. Slander against feminists has happened since the birth of feminism and unfortunately, is still going strong today. Thankfully, there are many more men and women who are feminists today and with the internet and social media, people are able to educate themselves about what feminism means and why it has been thrown under the bus all these years.

Feminism also has a stigma due to its historical struggle with intersectionality. Intersectionality is a theory coined by Black academic Kimberly Crenshaw and is used to explain how intersecting identities (such as race, class, gender, and sexuality) impact our experiences. The birth of the women’s rights movement is an example of the struggle with feminism to be intersectional. Many early feminists were abolitionists. You would think this meant that the experiences of discrimination and racism that free and enslaved Black women faced would matter to them, however, this was not the case. This set the stage for Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech. Sojourner Truth making this speech about how she had never been given the opportunity to be feminine and fragile in front of a group of white women is the epitome of why intersectionality is important. The abolitionist version of feminism organized to fight for women’s rights, however, they also wanted to fight for the ability to not be seen as fragile women who constantly needed the help and support of men. However, Black women such as Sojourner Truth were not given opportunities to be feminine and have the support of men. Instead they worked just as hard as men, worked alongside men, and were not given assistance with tasks such as crossing puddles or having doors opened for them. Politically, their rights as Black people were also a high priority due to racism impacting their basic rights as people, let alone women. These early feminists were primarily concerned with their rights as White women and did not actively include Black women in the struggle. Unfortunately, this forced Black women to create their own women’s rights movement which aimed to empower them based on their needs in society. Black feminism is called Womanism, which is a term coined by Alice Walker who is an author and poet.

Feminism has also struggled to be intersectional in the case of sexuality. In the 70’s a group of radical feminists wrote a book called Love your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianismwhich called for political lesbianism. Political lesbianism meant not having relationships or sex with men (although sex with women was not mandatory). This is obviously problematic because heterosexual women were co-opting the label lesbian for their own politics. It also showed privilege because they were choosing not be heterosexual which is not something afforded to lesbians who are homosexual. This is also problematic because as pointed out by women at that time, women should be teaching and educating the men in their lives to be feminist, not completely excluding them from feminism and social interaction. Many women of color also found the exclusion of men problematic because men of color, while suffering from toxic masculinity, were still oppressed in society and needed the support of their entire communities, including women.

Feminism has gotten a bad rap over the years, but at its core, feminism exists to correct the toxic power dynamic between genders and make society better for all of us. Like many things in life, people are afraid of what they don’t understand, and this has also been true for feminism. Women have taken up this struggle because of their historical experiences in society but it’s up to all of us to make this world better for everyone. So become a feminist, educate yourself and those around you about feminism, sexism, oppression, and gendered stereotypes. Open up the conversation for positive social change.

WRC staffer, Sac State Students speak about rape

This week, WRC’s staff member Katrina Pinkerton-Lloyd and other Sacramento State University students gave their opinion on rape to the Hornet, Sac State’s newspaper. Comments also touch on US Congressman Todd Akin’s comments that women’s bodies are capable of “shutting things down” to avoid pregnancy when a woman is raped.


The Student Parent Support Group will begin on September 12th. We will meet every Wednesday thereafter at 4pm in the Womens Resource Center (next to Round Table on thefirst floor of the University Union). This group is for parents who attend Sac State or another school in the area. If you have a child (or children) and are in school and need emotional support or want to network with other people in your unique situation, please come! The meetings will be brief and tons of fun. Kids are welcome! See you there!


Also this semester we have a phenomenal event. On September 11th from 4-7pm in the Redwood Room, in the University Union. We have an amazing instructor who will teach self defense moves to participants. Come learn how to kick butt and gain confidence that  you need to lose that fear of waking around alone at night.


Yemeni Women against harassment and Feminist-Christians/ Feminists and Christians


Catholic women as out-of-control radical feminists who blaspheme against God and church? That is how the Vatican frames these Christian feminists and their work.These nuns have their own story- they just give a sh** about social justice. Check them out at Check out the controversy at

Russian ladies offend the religious. These wild women get mad a President Putin. Feminist collective/ puck rock band “Pussy Riot” faces years in prison for charges of “hooliganism.” Basically, if you haven’t seen the youtube video, this band mocked Orthodox Christian religious ceremonies in performing a punk song on a church alter, to protest patriarchy and Putin. Now the world watches as the 3 imprisioned band members fight for freedom.

An article:


Lastly, check out Yemeni women’s efforts to end street harassment!

Fall Semester Approaching/ “What can you do with a Women’s Studies degree?!”

Get ready for an exciting semester! We have about three more weeks until school begins again at Sac State. One thing I am especially looking forward to is the WRC’s Student Parent Support Group. We will be meeting every Wednesday, from 4-4:30pm. Location is TBA, but right now I am thinking it is most likely going to occur in the Women’s Resource Center itself. Stay tuned to the blog and website ( because the first week of school I will post the location.

On a personal note…something I am not so excited about is how busy I will be during the semester! In addition to working at the WRC, I also have my regular job (lactation counselor and childbirth educator with various hospitals in the Sac area), will need time for my son, am applying to several grad programs all over the nation (to become a nurse-midwife) with no idea how likely it is I will get in or how to plan in the event that I am admitted, and I am trying to piece together an orgiastic graduation celebration to take place in December (on a laughable budget). The grad party needs to be a gluttonous occasion because it has taken me TEN YEARS of on-and-off schooling to complete my college education. Three schools, ten years and one kid later, a BS DEGREE (in Women’s Studies). I can’t believe I am trying to launch right into a 3 year grad-school program…

Ok, so I will relate my personal tangent to a feminist topic. Why do so many people find it an impossible task to imagine how a Women’s Studies degree might be useful? A friend and recent Women’s Studies graduate told me that when she was out celebrating her achievement of obtaining a degree, she had some folks say some pretty rude things to her. Actually, another friend and recent Women’s Studies grad told me she encountered the same rude comments. All too often, us Women’s Studies majors hear comments like, “Oh, what are you going to do with that?” as if it really mattered in today’s job market exactly what one’s degree is in, unless you are in accounting or nursing (actually, after I get my WS degree I am going into graduate nursing). People also look at us WS grads with an incredulous or puzzled look, which is fine because I do not expect all persons to know “Women’s Studies” is, so I explain the Women’s Studies major. I explain it as the academic major where students take courses in a number of different disciplines with an emphases in feminist theory, and to put it in perspective, I let folks know that our major is in the same college (“Social Science and Interdisciplinary Studies”) as economics, sociology, ethnic studies, anthropology, government, etc. In fact, as a WS major, I took classes in most of the majors just named. People still look at me and my fellow WS buddies like we are silly ladies. My response to people’s inquisitiveness of my major is cheesy, but pretty true- “Well, what can’t you do with a WS major?” In all honesty, many WS majors safeguard their future by getting dual degrees, often in psychology, government, biology, or other majors. Others, like myself, hope to go on to pursue master’s degrees that are less esoteric (nurse-midwifery qualifies as mainstream, right?) Being very honest again, I don’t know what to make of the trend in WS majors obtaining degrees in other concentrations. Are we truly incapable of obtaining decent jobs with out WS degrees? Maybe…but probably not. For myself, my major is actually an asset when applying to the CNM program at top universities like UCSF and Yale, who specifically suggest that WS majors bring a perspective to the profession that is welcome and needed. In fact, he American College of Nurse-Midwives recommends that high school and college students who are CNM hopefuls actually obtain a major in Women’s Studies

I hope that in tough economic times, when women’s programs in every sector are being cut, Women’s Studies is not edged out of universities (examples in my own life where women’s programs are being cut and which impact me directly: the master’s-entry division of the nurse-midwifery program at UCSF, who boasts one of the best CNM programs in the nation, might have to discontinue the program…also, just this week at the hospital where I work, they carefully selected the program which helps pregnant women manage their diabetes to sacrifice to the chopping block…ethnic studies programs are under attack…….). On a more positive note, I also hope that our culture as a whole comes to recognize the value of a WS degree, of the well-rounded education their potential employee will have under her or his belt, of the critical thinking skills that are refined and perfected within this major and which are so crucial to have an employee who needs to function at a high cognitive level. I myself considered a different major when I returned to school after a long break, but ended up declaring WS because I am in love with feminist theory and with the diversity of knowledge I obtain withing the major.

In conclusion…Have a blessed day, and stay tuned for more rambling blog posts and info on the Student Parent’s Group! Thanks for reading.❤    :D)


Katrina Pinkerton-Lloyd