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Archive for March, 2007

In a few days time will be International Women’s Day. Excuse me? What’s that? We need a special day to remind people we exist? Have we not moved on from needing this kind of positive discrimination? So far as I can see, it being International Women’s Day will make no difference. Will I get a card? Will the female driver jokes stop? Will the invisible barriers to women in various careers and hobbies suddenly disappear? Will any of the oppressed women of the world get any increased respect and recognition on or because of this day? No, of course not – for one thing, it’s far too broad a subject to be of much use in specific situations. We have an entirely pointless Special Day just to hang around and devalue all the meaningful Special Days. Well, I can’t say that I feel particularly Special.

Yesterday was St David’s Day. Here is a Special Day with some history and at least some meaning. Hurrah for all the Welsh people celebrating their heritage, and hurrah for the Christians remembering their history.

The Specialness of recent days that means most to me, however, is that on 1st March, it was Self Injury Awareness Day. This day is important because self injury is very misunderstood, and if its existence can help people understand a little better, then it is a good thing. People assume that if you’re going to cut yourself deep enough to bleed, there is something fundamentally wrong with you and you’re going to cut yourself deep enough to die. Over the years I’ve known a few people who have self harmed. I know from having been around them that it is not a mental illness, it is not just teenage angst, it is not a failed suicide attempt and it is not, in and of itself, a problem – it is a coping technique. They don’t do it for kicks and giggles, they do it because they feel driven to do it by some other, underlying issue. Sometimes, the emotional pain inside is easier to deal with if it’s translated into physical pain outside. So if you discover that someone you know has deliberately hurt themselves, don’t act shocked and horrified, don’t run for an ambulance, and don’t assume that they’re going to do any serious damage. Instead, be prepared to listen and try to understand what’s behind it. You might find their reasoning surprisingly rational.

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