This show is the first in a new series on the experiences of LGBTQ teens in Maine. This episode features a conversation with high school junior AJ, who identifies as gender-neutral. AJ discusses the challenges of not identifying as either a girl or a boy, and the value of finding allies within a new school.
An interview with Laura Chasin, the founder of the Public Conversations Project, about her work facilitating a dialogue between leaders of the pro-life and pro-choice movements in Boston after the abortion clinic shootings in 1994. [Read more…]
An interview with Fatuma Hussein, the director of the United Somali Women of Maine. Fatuma describes the pervasive atmosphere of fear in the refugee camps where she lived for two years after leaving the civil war in Somalia. She spoke about the challenge of meeting the United States resettlement categories of family, when extended families are the norm in Somalia. She reported that the role of women in Somali culture has been changed dramatically by the war, life in the camps and the challenges of resettling in an entirely new culture. While, when she was little, the birth of a girl child was not celebrated, now, as Somali women have shown themselves to be the bedrock of their families through extraordinary upheaval, she feels that the status of women is improving. She said that Somali women on the whole do not see the hijab (head scarf) as a form of oppression (as many western women assume), but as a symbol of connection to a culture that they value highly. She also made the distinction between Islam which she feels tends to value women’s authority and rights, more than Somali culture itself. Ultimately she affirmed the courage of the Somali women who have come to this country with absolutely nothing and have found ways to protect and support their families in the face of overwhelming newness. She invites us to see Somali women through this lens.
An interview with psychiatrist, Dr. Jim Gilligan, former mental health director for the prison system in Massachusetts, and the author of three books on violence. Dr. Gilligan reports that many of his patients told him that they had committed murder and other acts of violence because they felt disrespected. He reports that for these men, feeling treated as if they were one down, weak or inferior was intolerable, and that violence was their only means of reclaiming pride or self-esteem. He also observes that punishment tends to generate violence, both in parenting and in our penal system. Punishment relieves people of the guilt (that inhibits violence), but increases their shame, which fuels violent acting out. Under his tenure, the only prison program that successfully reduced recidivism to zero, was offering course toward a college degree. In those men who completed the program, they now had non-violent means of reclaiming their self-esteem, and feeling less ashamed.
An interview with playwright, Cathy Plourde, founder of Add Verb productions about her new play, Major Medical Breakthrough. Cathy tells the story of writing a play to inspire health care providers to screen their patients for domestic violence. She gave sobering statistics about the high numbers of women and some men, who are being abused who see their doctors during the abuse and are never asked about it. Indeed only 10-19% of doctors report that they screen their patients routinely for domestic violence. Cathy stressed that where there is domestic violence, there is also likely to be sexual assault, something that often goes unasked about. She cites the ACE study to show that the more trauma in a person’s life, the more physical health problems they will have, and unless our doctors and nurses ask their patients, the cause of many illnesses will be missed. She gave a thoughtful description of why providers are hesitant to ask, but encouraged health workers to trust that asking the question, providing support and access to resources can make a tremendous difference.