Ageism is defined as “discrimination against persons of a certain age group” or “a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment,” and is a serious global problem with economic and medical impacts. Ironically, controversies such as age-based healthcare rationing illustrate it in a clear way. Those for rationing treatment based on age argue that extending life at all costs unfairly favors the elderly, while those who argue against these practices claim age alone is a poor marker of disability.
After graduating from DeVargas Jr. High in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I was slated to attend Santa Fe High, right down the street, just as my brother had. During the early ’90s, the school was plagued with all sorts of problems no one acknowledged or addressed. Many of my brother’s friends never attended classes and still managed to pass or even excel, as my brother did. They spent their days ditching in the woods behind the local library, and drugs were everywhere. …
At seventeen, I traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, to meet my father for the first time. The literal truth is that I’d seen him before, as a baby, when our family lived in Lagos, Nigeria, where he worked as a professor of Psychology. He and my mother lived there together for, as she put it, “ten good years.” The “good” she references is usually the place itself. Having come from a background in small-town Indiana, those ten years gave her life a focus and meaning it had previously lacked, one rooted in the art there, which she’d eventually become an expert.
Bill Cosby’s recent get out of jail free card on a technicality has forced thousands of survivors to reflect on our experiences with the pervasive and indiscriminate rape culture still thriving in our world. The images above illustrate this culture in two very different ways. On the left, I am thirteen years old in the popular tourist destination of 1990’s Santa Fe, New Mexico. To the right, in my early forties, mother to a daughter nearing thirteen herself.
When I finally worked up the courage to post one of my #metoo stories on social media, I did so dreading some of the reactions I knew I would receive. That fear was well-founded, and I was soon confronted with everything from my mother’s anger to pitying and somewhat judgmental responses about how much easier it would be for me if I had “faith” via some sort of religion. It was also one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I’d spent forty years burdened with misplaced guilt about being raped and molested, as young as the age of…
Trigger warning: this story contains content related to sexual assault and pedophilia that might be troubling to some readers.
Santa Fe is a small town with a large city’s art scene and the crime rate to go with it. You are 71% more likely to be the victim of a crime in that town of eighty thousand people than the rest of the US, and New Mexico holds the title for the second-highest number of violent crimes in all fifty states. I was thirteen when I didn’t say no there, in my eighth-grade year at DeVargas Junior High School.
They had both been through it and basically forgotten about one another. It had been a long haul. She had lived a number of lives, in and out of sanity and always striving for an area closer to the edge. He had been over that edge a number of times, jumped off and climbed back on, pushing and pushing himself to understand what the fuck he was doing here. He never learned.
They both married well. Fell in love, really, though they would have said the same upon meeting one another when they were teenagers. He had chosen a woman…
Trigger warning: this story contains content related to pedophilia that might be troubling to some readers.
The first time I didn’t say no I was only a child. I cannot recall the age but know we lived in Texas. It’s strange, the effects of trauma on the mind. In this case, I can't clearly remember the event as an actual occurrence, but rather a moment when the memory itself pummelled me, over and over, as a teenager living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The trauma of this recollection was as severe as this time I didn’t say no.
Jenny Mundy-Castle is the author of Every Time I Didn’t Say No, her memoir inspired by educating high-trauma youth in New York, New Mexico, and Nigeria.