Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Are you for MISS?

Female advocates for true independence may refuse to take in their husband’s last name in order to continue branding their maiden name. They have plenty of respectable reasons for keeping their last name but I am personally influenced by the women who can take in a new last name and make it personal to herself. 

This summer, I had stepped into former NWAB Mayor Siikauraq’s office to speak to her about the MISS movement and ask for her advice. She told me the story about taking in her husband’s last name. Siikauraq is a part of the big, local Wilson family and had grown up making something of her name through sports and activities. After college, she got married to Alex and had one daughter, Denali. Together, they were the only three Whiting’s in Kotzebue. 

Siikauraq told me about the first time she ran for borough mayor and how unknown her last name was to the region. She was advised to add her face to her campaign in order to be recognized with her new name. Through this process, she began to create a well-known last name for her daughter to now identify herself with. 

I am also deeply influenced by Siikauraq’s passion and drive for a brighter future in the NANA region. She gets involved and does as much as she can because she believes in it, but at the end of the day, too, it may not really be enough. It is not enough because there’s always a different direction to reach towards. 

MISS was founded by the passionate drive behind seeing something wrong and speaking up about it. It drives to make people more comfortable with being aware of the social ills so we can begin learning what we can do to fix the problem. It is a movement towards combating rape culture, a culture in which rape and abuse is normalized or accepted. The MISS movement should provide outlets to the victims in order to bring these women (or men) another step closer to healing. 

Since the debut of MISS, I have already been a personal outlet for 5 victims. Three of them weren’t considered “close” friends but they admitted they felt more comfortable speaking to me because I have already spoken up about being against it. Just being against it. Two of them were opening up for their first time in almost 5 years to me. One of them I had known for my entire life and had no idea (at all!) that she was affected by it. Each of them admitted being able to tell someone who offered to just listen helped them more than they thought it really could. 

I don’t want MISS to be the only outlet. There is only so much that the two of us can do. I believe that there are a lot more people out there who believe in the same things I do and want the same change, too. It begins with admitting what you are fighting for. Speak out about being against rape culture through MISS by simply writing “I am for MISS.” on the Facebook page. 

Writing this message on our public page will provide the victims an idea of who they can turn to. Sometimes, the only thing they need is someone who is willing to listen but they may not know who to begin with. If you are uncomfortable with publicly admitting it, please let your close friends or family know privately. Just in case. 

The first step to making a change is by speaking out. You have recently read about the difference Teressa Baldwin has made by simply telling her story with Hope4Alaska. Savanah Kramer has also done the same through No Make Up Mondays. 

Are you for MISS?
  • Rape culture is a culture in which rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence is normalized or accepted. 
  • This is not just a “women’s issue” and we must recognize that not all men commit the crime and not only women are the victims. 
  • The only step to improvement is if both sides work together. (Women AND Men)
  • Supporters should not stay silent and are encouraged to reach out to peers. 
  • Violence is a choice. It should not be excused. 
  • We must raise awareness of the possible and simple supporters. Let the victims know there are more outlets they can speak to. 
  • Showing support is helping the victims in the healing process by allowing them to not be silenced. 

Write “I am for MISS.” on our Facebook wall. 

-Jacqui Lambert

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