Nathaniel Reed

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Nathaniel Reed is a Junior Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies double major. He enjoys running, hiking, reading, and drinking coffee.

"DSC_7662" by United Nations Development Programme is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (via Flickr)

This past week, members of the first Qassim Girl’s Council, a provincial group in Saudi Arabia that discusses issues regarding women’s rights within the Qassim region, met publicly to begin discussions on how they can meet certain goals laid out as part of their Vision 2030 program. Despite the seemingly good intentions of a council like this, the photographs from this conference present a different narrative. The dark reality of this meeting can be seen through the photographs of strictly men sitting in on the conferences. The women that were part of the Qassim Girl’s Council were reportedly in another room being connected via video stream, adhering to the strict laws of gender separation outside of familiar ties that is practiced in Saudi Arabia. Photographs of this meeting garnered significantly more attention in the United States after being compared with the photographs of President Donald Trump signing abortion legislation while being surrounded by powerful, white, conservative males. The moral issues presented here cover a host of topics, but the main focus of this issue is whether or not men have the right and/or autonomy to govern the rights of women.

"Drone-007" by Ville de Nevers is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

During the Super Bowl halftime show this past month, Lady Gaga masterfully demonstrated one of the most unique mass uses of drones to date. At the conclusion of her show, drones powered by Intel were used to form the American flag and then were rearranged to identify one of the main sponsors of the show, Pepsi. This demonstration represented the artistic side of drones and one of the more positive images of them.

"Half Dome Ropes" by Daniel Schwen is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

This past year marked the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS). Created in 1916, the NPS has had a long standing tradition of stewardship that has preserved many of America’s most beautiful areas from the threats of manifest destiny and American exceptionalism. However, the NPS must now deal with a new threat presented through overcrowding and the environmentally degrading practices that come with it. Taken to the extreme through the example of Zion National Park, where rising crowds resulted in six million people visiting the six-mile-long stretch of canyon last year, can result in major infrastructure changes to mitigate the anthropogenic effects.

"Bluefin Tuna" by Dennis Tang is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

A recent auction of bluefin tuna at the Tsukiji market in Tokyo sparked recurring discussions over the environmental and economic effects that overfishing and big tuna businesses are putting on local areas and fisheries. This came as a 212-kilogram fish sold at Tsukiji for 74.2 million yen (or the equivalent $64,200), which per piece would cost over 25 times the 400 yen usually charged at the bidder’s restaurants.

"football" by ljv via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

When conjuring up the perfect image of masculinity in your mind, most people imagine the typical high school jock. He plays football, basketball, ice hockey, or a similar hypermasculine activity. Rarely does a runner, swimmer, or this sort of “second tier” of masculinity in sports arise. By assigning masculinized predispositions to certain sports, could the conversation surrounding masculinity become skewed from a young age? If so, this would certainly create a problematic discourse around certain sports and limit a conversation for LGBTQ+ communities to have a voice within this realm.

"Séance pleinière de la COP21 pour l’adoption de l’accord de Paris (Salle Seine - Le Bourget)" by COP Paris via Flickr (Public Domain)

This past week, following his presidential victory, president-elect Donald Trump named Myron Ebell, a staunch dissenter on climate change, as his head of transition committee for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Alongside Ebell’s nomination, Sarah Palin and Forrest Lucas have been names mentioned in possible positions within the Department of Interior and Department of Energy. The implications these nominations hold  for the future of American environmental policies and climate carry major weight. To fully digest these implications, one must look into Trump’s environmental stances and those of his possible future nominations.

"In the insane asylum" by waferboard is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

In a recent post published by the Prindle Post, staff writer Carrie Robinson discussed the ethics behind displaying mental health in Knott’s Berry Farm attraction FearVR 5150, which “sparked concerns about the stigma surrounding mental health.” 5150 corresponds to a California police code that denotes interactions with individuals with mental illnesses. Essentially, the ride took individuals through various scenes displaying their version of what a haunted mental health hospital would entail. This inherently portrays highly polarized and stereotypical views of mental health issues that negatively depicts those who suffer from them.

"Kid Cudi @ Good Vibrations 22/02/10" by Laurence Barnes via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Recently, rapper Scott Mescudi, also known by his alter-ego Kid Cudi, checked into a rehabilitation clinic. Upon entering rehabilitation services, Mescudi published a Facebook post detailing the internal struggle he has been going through after delaying the release of his anticipated album Passion, Pain, and Slayin’ Demons. Mescudi’s brave and open look into his personal life has facilitated many conversations surrounding the feminization of mental health and its correlation with race. His openness has allowed us to ask key questions on how we should talk about mental illnesses and how our daily actions can have detrimental effects on the ones around us.

Mescudi is not the first person from a hypermasculine and racialized culture to speak about his mental problems, but he has enabled individuals to talk about how racial discrimination and racial attitudes contributes to breakdowns in mental health among minority communities. In a 2000 study, David Williams and Ruth Williams-Morris highlighted some key aspects of how racial attitudes can have unequal effects on the mental health of minority individuals. Racial discrimination has adversely lopsided effects on minority communities as individuals in the out-group are subjected to face the negative stereotypes that psychologically attack their self-worth. Negative reflections of blacks and other minorities in American culture creates categorical beliefs and results in higher levels of discrimination and oppression in these subjected communities. This can attack the self-worth of members of those communities. Paired with significant economic marginalization, racial attitudes contribute to increased instances of mental illness in minority communities.

It is important to note that the effects of feminizing and designing a sexist discourse surrounding mental health creates two problems. First, overtly feminizing the issue of mental health comes at the cost of suppressing men to be open about their internal struggles in the face of a hypermasculine culture. The fear of being feminized for suffering from depression, anxiety, or a host of other issues, can create a deprivation in self-worth. For a person already suffering from a breakdown in how they perceive themselves, challenging their masculinity on the basis of inherent, internal problems can come at serious costs. After years of depression, Capital Steez’s death serves as an example on how far suppressing mental issues can challenge someone. Mescudi is only the most recent person in the explicitly masculinized culture of rap to come out about his issues, but ground has been made for individuals to discuss their problems before him. Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, DMX, and Joe Budden have been inspirations among minority communities to address mental health.

But, on the other side, designating a sexualized discourse on people who report their mental health issues creates another problem. This can be seen in the responses over social media to both Mescudi and R&B singer Khelani after coming out about their mental battles. Khelani was hospitalized from a suicide attempt after an intense amount of public shaming. Her suicide attempt followed rumors surrounding her relationship with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and possible reports of infidelity. Khelani was open about her hospitalization and the reasoning for her suicide attempt, similar to Mescudi. Unfortunately, she was highly criticized, and still is, for her hospitalization, which has turned into a recurring joke surrounding the discussion of mental health treatment. This has highlighted the inequality in our culture’s responses to mental health because in implicit beliefs about sex and mental illnesses.

To really address the complexities behind mental health and the factors that contribute to its prevalence in modern society, key points need to be addressed in our rhetoric surrounding these issues. Following a larger discussion on race, we must look into an array of socioeconomic aspects and examine how systemic racism can impact the mental health of our communities in order to open up this conversation. Unequal treatment of individuals directly affects one’s ability to properly provide self-care and to apply a level of self-worth for themselves. Feminizing the issue of mental health paired with a hyper masculine culture can lead to men suppressing their internal struggles until the effects of their mental states are too deep and developed to overturn. The rhetoric used in discussions surrounding individuals and communities who experience mental illnesses needs to be examined and changed to create an equal, non-gendered, and open discourse on how mental issues affect everyone in some form. As a society, we need to seriously examine our beliefs surrounding mental health and educate ourselves about the signs and symptoms associated with these illnesses to properly address this aggressive problem.

"Elephants" by Megan Coughlin via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The United Nations’ Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES) will begin on September 24th in Johannesburg, South Africa. The hot topic at the convention will be lifting the ban on the ivory trade that was imposed in 1989. Botswana has been the most recent country to speak out against the ban and to side with fellow African countries, such as Kenya and Tanzania. Botswana carries heavy influence in the decision because  it is home to the world’s largest population of elephants. Along with South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are some of the larger players in the African ring to support lifting the ban. They are in favor of the economic benefits that come with sales of this natural resource. They will offer a proposal at the conference to lift the ban on the sale of legal ivory. China and Japan also play a large role because of the sheer amount of ivory that finds its way into their borders.

"Photo a day project: February 2006" by Jenny Lee Silver via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Atlantic published an article titled “Sex Ed Without the Sex” this past week by writer Olga Khazen. In that article, Khazen traced current sexual education practices in the city of Odessa, Texas. Odessa represents the widely used ideology of current sex ed courses throughout the United States, which is laden with conservative, Phyllis Schlafly-esque teachings. At this time, only 13 states require sex ed lessons to include medically accurate facts, while less than half actually require sex ed to be taught in school.