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Response 1

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Martha Nussbaum
Women's Well-being

Response #1: Li


Part One:

There are many aspects of well-being. Well-being includes the woman’s physical, mental and emotional states, as well as her environmental situation. Each of these is vitally important to a woman’s sense of well-being.

The physical state is affected by the woman’s access to adequate health care. If a person does not receive medical attention when it is necessary, it negatively affects her sense of well-being. Coping with injury, sickness or disease can be draining and overwhelming. Being unable to purchase medications is frustrating and stressful. Access to good nutrition and clean water are also important factors of physical well-being.

The mental and emotional states are often linked. Trauma negatively affects both the mental and emotional state of an individual. Damage to the physical state can also cause mental and emotional pain. Mental and emotional disorders – such as depression or bipolar personality disorder - can disrupt a woman’s sense of well-being. Feeling supported emotionally and mentally can greatly contribute to a positive sense of well-being. Relationships can contribute both negatively and positively to a woman’s sense of well-being.

The environmental situation in which a person finds herself contributes to her sense of well-being. Struggling against dire poverty and starvation is taxing. Not having a stable place to live can also be detrimental to a person’s well-being. If a woman is living or working in an unsafe environment – such as with an abuser – the environment can be a huge factor in well-being, even if the person involved refuses to admit it. On the other hand, a positive environment can greatly contribute to a positive sense of well-being. A stable place to live, enough money to survive, and a safe environment help a woman to feel positive about herself and her world.

Social inequalities can also negatively affect a person’s well-being. Experiences with discrimination, religious persecution and intolerance – all part of the woman’s environment – can greatly impact the way the woman views the world. If people are constantly surrounded by negativity, their sense of well-being can hardly be expected to be positive.

I truly enjoyed reading the above statements by Li, she mentioned aspects of life that caught my attention and that were different than other reflections I read. She explores more social aspects of well-being that actually crossed my mind while writing mine. Finding a group of criteria that can help express women's well-being should include social and policital insitituions. More often then not, the political state of affairs can really affect a women's viewpoint on life. If you think of our most basic political situations now...the Iraq war...women are sufferring terrible emotional strive because they are loosing their sons and daughters. Wives are loosing partners and a high percentage are left behind to care for children and family on their own. A political war can change a woman's life unexpectedly and without support. She expressed the physical aspect of well-being by addressing access issues and that is a REAL and potentially debilitating part of many peoples lives. She also mentioned relationships which a few other people addressed too; mentioning that relationships can negatively and positively affect ones well-being. My question would be whether relationships affect well-being or whether they contribute to ones well-being? I agree with needing support I would just be curious how much she believes a relationship (any relationship) can or should affect ones personal well-being.


Part Two:

My well-being was flourishing last year when I lived in Charlotte. I finally lived in my own apartment and had my own money. I did not have to feel or behave overly grateful to anyone because I was staying with them instead of being homeless again. I could buy groceries and cook dinner instead of eating nothing but ramen – the same flavor week after week.

Other than school, life was not too stressful or traumatic. In fact, I was even able to go to a counselor to finally deal with issues from my childhood. I was surrounded by people who supported me mentally and emotionally. I was able to talk to other people with similar experiences and feel as if I was actually understood by another person.

It sounds like Li has lived a very interesting and challenging life. I am so glad she found strength and support in her life. After reading what she wrote in this section it strengths my thought process about people needing to find a family or community (not necessarily blood related). Finding that support and not feeling like a crutch on a support system is an awesome feat and deserves kudos. Another aspect of my thought process involves finding an outlet for expression and conversation and she found that after her physical needs started to be met. It is human nature to want to be understood and believed in and finding that in other people is an important part of finding well-being. I give her kudos and hope she continues to find joy and support in life and life choices.

Part Three:

My well-being was not flourishing when I lived with my biological mother. She was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive. Because she spent all of her money on drugs, there was never money for anything I needed as a child. I went without glasses, school supplies, clothing and often food. I was separated from my younger brother and sister for eight years because their father took custody of them. They had been my only strong emotional bond during this time period, because I was the person who took care of them.

My mother would wake me up in the middle of the night with a trash bag and tell me to pack whatever I wanted to take with me. We were constantly moving. I never knew which day was going to be the next time I had to start all over. Our living situation was never stable for more than eight months. I was never able to form real friendships because I never knew when I would be gone without being able to say goodbye.

As I stated before, I give this woman my respect not because she has gone through more but because she has survived and come out a stronger woman. As I read this I started to see that ones physical well-being has to encompass their physical health and physical environment. As it reflects on my essay I start to acknowledge that one's phyical well-being can be broken into three more distinct groupings: physical health(how your body is functioning and if you have access to the necessary physicians and medical care), physical environment(meaning you have a "home" that is secure, safe, and shelters you from the elements, acknowledging that some shelters have more or less protection) and Physical community (meaning how the outside community treats you...is it safe to walk outside, do you fear the community, does the community keep you in a pigeon hold?). When we break physical well-being down into it's sub-categories we see that it can encompass alot of aspects and therefore have a serious affect on any women's well-being. Being in an environment where your basic human needs are not met is as bad, if not worse than not having your health needs met. She made me think about how and what well-being means for children and how different that is from adults. I am not sure when that changes but being a child encompasses many different, yet equally challenging needs to help their well-being flourish. And on the same note, dealing with those childhood needs directly affects the need for an emotional outlet as part of creating a positive well-being for adults. I appreciate her candor and honesty.

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