Brainwash Me, Brainwash Me Not (Series)

Since birth, girls are bombarded with subliminal messages from the media, from the community, and from family members about how they should look, how to speak, how to feel, what to wear, and who to be. While these messages might sometimes seem innocent, they have effectively brainwashed women into falling in a lattice of lies -- causing them to lose a sense of self. Teen Voices Rising participants explored the effects of societal messages and wrote about what it would mean to unlearn them.
      Every day the girl wakes up scared. Scared that her boyfriend would abuse her. Scared her sister would get caught up in a gang. Scared that when she went to school, she would be made fun of. Scared that her life would end at any given point.   Every day she asks herself, “Why?” Why is their violence in this world? Is it because of the rap songs they listen to? Is it the gangs? Stress? Drugs? Insecurity? What makes them act this way?   Every day she says to herself, “What if?” What if she could change this world? End the violence, or save some of the dying people? She knew it wouldn't hurt to try, by speaking up about it. Stop it when it happens. Set an example. Take a risk just to try, so people see she’s a strong minded individual who cares about the people around her and can change this world.    
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It was not one of those nights of slight breezes and cups of hot chocolate between family. Instead, it was a dark and eerie night. It was not one of those nights of sharing tales in the yard. No, it was a night full of intrigue. On November 7, 2010, at 9:13, I witnessed a real-life 3D version of a PlayStation war game. Action. Danger. Fear. Cars spinning out, screeching loudly. Then, shocked neighbors running in slow motion -- as if it was their last chance in the game. Not a minute later, bullets hailed down. The Dominican sky lit up like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Hearts raced with the rhythm of the shots. “Oh great power of God, don’t forsake us,” my mother cried out. I was only 13, with two pigtails, biting my nails down to the cuticles. Even though my heart wanted to escape from my body, I tried not to let it show. The chaotic scene was unfolding at a mansion surrounded by bulletproof walls and barbed wired. It was only two houses away from mine. It was owned by a mysterious man known only as Isidro. He always tried to hide his face. No wonder. He was the biggest drug trafficker in Bani, my hometown. A rival had come to fight Isidro over money. It lasted 30 minutes until the police stopped them. When my family and I tried to stand up, our legs didn't work. A month later, we moved to the United States. Six weeks after that, there was another big shooting in my hometown. It has become a habit. I owe it to my town to make something of myself here so that one day I can rescue those that have had to remain in the game. I plan on bringing those pleasant and peaceful nights back to my family and friends.
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Arnold Castaneda, 17, from Boston Latin Academy, says he feels frustrated since he is part of “The Walking Dead” TV series fandom but can’t find others at his school who share the same interest. Fandoms are defined as being fans of something, but they are more than that. Whether it be music, television programs, or sporting events, audiences play a significant role through their participation. Fandoms exist both online -- communicating through forums and discussion boards -- and in real life, as more outspoken fans sometimes organize “meet-ups” through social media, and bond through their love of the topic at hand. Samantha Shave, 16, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, knows what it takes to be a true fan.
“Being a fan,” says Shave, “means consistently knowing what’s happening and admiring the work put into whatever the subject is.” For Veronica Boggie, a junior at the O’Bryant, TV shows have become the new reading-for-fun. She keeps up with several programs with popular followings, such as “Dr. Who” and “Sherlock,” but knows where to draw the line. “Fans make the show,” says Boggie, “but at the end of the day, it’s the creation of the writers and it belongs to them.”
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Fifteen-year-old Kris Mark, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, says he believes that spanking a child is OK in certain circumstances.
“It depends on your child and how you raise them,” says Mark. “They might take you as a joke, so you have to make sure that they are clear on your expectations, and what you want from them.” However, Mark says he doesn’t agree with parents who hit children with objects that can hurt them. “You don’t want your child to be scared of you,” he says. Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has been in the headlines recently after it was reported that he had beaten his four-year-old son with a tree switch to discipline him.
Rishka Pizarro, 15, from BCLA, feels that even spanking goes too far. “If you hit a kid, it makes the situation worse,” Pizarro says. “You have many other things you can do -- even take away something they might like. If you keep hitting your kid, they will grow hatred towards you.” Ariana Bishop, 14, from BCLA, agrees. “There is no reason to discipline kids through spanking. It’s wrong,” Bishop says. “The child might end up doing something worse from all the anger of getting beaten.”
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Cover Story
Catcalling All Men: It's Not a Hoot. It's Harassment.
Ten hours, over 100 catcalls. That’s what one woman dressed simply in jeans and a black T-shirt endured as she conducted a cultural experiment on the streets of New York City with a hidden camera meant to capture the cascade of crude remarks slung her way as she walked around town. Greetings from the gutter included: “Nice,” “Damn,” “Hey, baby,” “God bless you, Mami” and “Hey, look it there.” In October, a video of the woman -- produced for use by the anti-street harassment group, Hollaback! – blew up on the Internet. As a form of both protest and empowerment, women worldwide have been sharing -- online and elsewhere -- their own tawdry tales of verbal and other street abuse. On the following pages, young women of Teens in Print add their voices to the chorus of those who have been subjected to mouthy assaults and other rude behavior dispatched from the sexist sidelines.  

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  I was in Codman Square last week when an old man whistled at me and called me “baby.” Maybe he was trying to show his friends how easy he could get girls. I kept on walking. Then he called me a “b----.” Honestly, that really did not affect me because I know that I’m a good girl who wants to be successful in life. I know that I am educated and he was acting like that because he is not.   ~ WILL-ANGEE RAYMOND // STAFF WRITER  

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  I was on my way to school in September with headphones in my ears while reading a book to show people on the Red Line that I did not want to be bothered. A man approached and said, “Hi, gorgeous.” I made an annoyed face. I told him to leave me alone. He then decided to put his phone in front of my face. As I tried to return to my music and book, he showed me a picture of his penis. “What the heck is wrong with you?” I asked. “Too much?” he replied. I was furious. I didn’t want to cause a scene so I just said “You’re crazy. Leave me alone.” I walked away.   ~ JENNIFER LE // SENIOR EDITOR  

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  In the summer, I was dressed for a job interview downtown and I looked very professional with a button-up shirt and dress pants. A group of guys started to follow me, asking me where I was going and who I was seeing. I was honestly a little freaked out and ignored them. They continued to follow me, telling me that I should give them a try. “How you not gonna talk to me?” one of them said. I told them to back off and leave me alone. I was scared for my life.   ~ HARRIANNE ERRIE // STAFF WRITER  

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  Several months ago, I was taking a friend home and I waited for her to get on the bus in Dorchester. When the bus came, I gave her a friendly goodbye peck on the cheek. Two old guys in a car saw this and one of them must have thought it was a real kiss. “I’ll pay $300 to see that again,” he said.   ~ FARMATA SAMATI // STAFF WRITER  

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  “Aye, girl. Bring dat a-- over here.” --Hyde Park Avenue, December, 2014   Yes, indeed, I am a girl. Indeed, I have a butt. However, I will not, shall not, ever “bring dat a-- over here.” I find it so disrespectful that men think it’s OK to speak to me in any way they want. Would you want someone to speak to your mother, sister, or daughter that way?   ~ ADAMAJAN BAH // STAFF EDITOR  

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It was about three months ago and I was walking near Ashmont with my best friend. We were about to go to this pizza store and there were, like, eight boys in front of the door. “Can you move out of the way?’’ I asked. They were like, “Oh, you guys are hot. Can we get your phone number?” I said no you may not. As we were about to go in, one of them said, “B----, you’re ugly. Why are you here?” I felt bad for a few minutes but then I remembered that it doesn’t matter what they call me because they don’t know me.   ~ CHERBY SINORA // CONTRIBUTING WRITER

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  One day, I was walking from Faneuil Hall to downtown all alone with music in my ears. I was walking really fast because I had somewhere to be. A man approached, called me beautiful, and asked if he could buy me a drink. I was about 16 at the time. I told the man that I was too young. He disregarded my age and continued asking questions. Not even two minutes later, another man came up to me and asked me if he could buy me a drink. “I’m too young,” I said. He had the nerve to say, “You’re not too young to date.” I got annoyed and walked across the street. It made me feel uncomfortable and scared because if he thought that way, he could have other plans in mind.   ~ JENNIFER LE // SENIOR EDITOR  

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  As I was walking in West Roxbury with my best friend this summer, a man in his 20s driving a black car slows down. He rolls down his window and yells: “Ayeo, dark skin!” We knew he was referring to me. I found it funny at the time because did he genuinely think I would consider even responding to a comment like that? It doesn’t matter what the color of my skin is. I am a woman who has a name just like that man has a name.   ~ HARRIANNE ERRIE // STAFF WRITER  

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  About six months ago, I went to the corner store in Dorchester to buy my mother something. While I’m walking back home, a car beeps at me and a guy says, “Hey, sexy.” I ignored it and continued to walk. A second car beeps and a guy says, “Hey, Mami.” That got me upset because he was the second old person doing it to me on the same day but different minutes. Then a third car beeps. The guy inside didn’t say anything. But when I turned around, I saw him looking at me with his mouth wide open. I didn’t know what was causing these people to do this to me but I didn’t want to hear any more of it. I started speed-walking home.   ~ FARMATA SAMATI // STAFF WRITER  

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  “Damn, ma! You so fine.” -- Dorchester, November, 2014 See, now I can’t run in my neighborhood. OMG! I’m training for a marathon and I need to get this run in and you’re staring. Ugh. So annoying.   ~ ADAMAJAN BAH // STAFF EDITOR  

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While walking with my boyfriend downtown several months ago, a man walked by us and said, “Look at this man walking with a beautiful lady.” My boyfriend laughed and said I’m so popular. I laughed but then the man said, “I hope she has my babies.” I felt so awkward and grossed out.   ~ JENNIFER LE // SENIOR EDITOR

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“Aye, yo, shorty! Let me holla atchu real quick!” -- Dudley Station, November, 2014 Wow. Really? Let you holla? Do you mean you want to talk to me? I’m not a mere object. Plus, does it look like I’m short? So don’t call me shorty.   ~ ADAMAJAN BAH // STAFF EDITOR  

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There was a time, several years ago, when I was going shopping with my mother and we were coming back home to Dorchester. On our way, we heard a guy asking if we were from Guinea-Bissau, which was weird because I am from Guinea-Bissau. Me and my mother looked at each other and then turned around to see who it was. I realized that he might have overheard us speaking in Portuguese Creole. He told us that he was Cape Verdean. He asked if he could get my number. I told him that I did not give my number to strangers. He kept asking. That’s when things started to get aggravating, because he kept licking his lips while he was talking to me, which I found so disrespectful. He kept calling me “baby.” As we sped up, he was like, “No, don’t go. I still didn’t get your number.”   ~ FARMATA SAMATI // STAFF WRITER  

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When I was in the fifth grade, me and my mom were walking through Boston Common. When we got to the sidewalk, we heard someone say: “Hey, you wanna a ride?” As respectful women, we just ignored him. “Shawty,” he said to my mom, “I know you heard me talking to you, b----.” I watched my mom’s face explode with anger. I felt really bad after this because it disrespected and humiliated my mother. As I got older, I realized that incidents like this happen every day. I believe that all women deserve to walk down the street in peace.   ~ ROSE KOUMBASSA // STAFF WRITER

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STREET RHYMES FOR STREET CRIMES

  Catcalls. Is she a cat? Not at all. Don’t call.   That little girl, she loves the world. She stands tall, never to fall.   One. Two. Three. “Hey Mami” right on cue he says at you.   Four. Five. Six. “Send some pics.” Makes me sick that he thinks like this.   Seven. Eight. Nine. “You so fine.” Then, ten. Put the pigs in a pen.   ~ NICOLE DUBOV // TVR STAFF WRITER  

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Catcall Calculus

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