October 2012 Archives

Abu Ghraib

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After discussing the situation which took place at Abu Ghraib, I now believe that it's never okay to torture. It wasn't the pictures that we saw in class that lead me to this believe, but other documentaries that I looked at after class. I don't feel that some of the treatment that took place at Abu Ghraib can be characterized as torture, because some of it was just plain abuse. but at any rate, I feel that torture is a waist of time. If someone is being tortured they are going to tell you anything just to stop the pain. it's an unreliable tool for Governments to use. I feel that we have so much advanced technologies, technologies the we don't even now about yet that can get us more intel than torture could ever yield.
In regards to the book that the military used to dehumanize victims at Abu Ghraib, I don't think that it was far off. I still feel that the Muslim culture is way more Conservative than the American & European culture. I an basing this statement on what the Muslim religion dictates in terms of women. I believe that the handbook for torture does have some credence, but is it right to exploit this information to dehumanize someone, of course not.

Militarized Border Rape

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After discussing this topic after class, I, like other students, wondered why we don´t hear about border rape in the Media. I have come to the conclusion that its because of one of three possibilities: racism, the socioeconomic position of the Mexican Women or their migratory status in the United States. In terms of Race having to do with the reason that we don't hear about this in the media, I believe it is linked to the fact that white men usually put white women on a pedestal. White privilege and white supremacy explain this and leads to the conclusion that if it were white women being raped on the border, this would be an outrage to our society. In terms of Socioeconomic status of the Women, they aren't seen as important; because they aren't rich, nor do they belong to the upper class. Imagine if someone like Oprah Winfrey was raped on the border. What would happen in terms of the media and what they would report? It would be frontline news, because, is affluent. The last possible reason as to why the media isn't interested in what's happening at the border can be explained by basically considering the fact that the women raped at the border aren't Citizens of the United States of America. Believe it or not, there are people in this world who believe that if you don't have permission to enter the U.S., then you forfeit your human rights.

Militarized rape

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Last week in class we were talking about Militarized Border rape as an intentional military strategy used to deliberately degrade and "otherize" Mexican women. In my group discussion last week, one of the questions that I had in mind was, what are the circumstances, or military training that would allow these men to commit these acts of violence against immigrant women in such large numbers? How does the military, or border patrol officials influence a space for rape free of moral feedback. I guess what I'm trying to say is, how do these men rationalize rape in such large numbers? How are they able to sleep at night. On the other hand the militarized border rape strategy is almost like the interrogation strategies used in Abu Ghriab , where the soldiers are also traumatized by the environment in which they are obligated to serve. It seems that when a person is confined to an area where there is a constant normalization of violence, boundaries can become blured, or non-existent; "the gloves come off"!

Hi Professors Briggs and Peterson,

While reading chapter five, I came across a section on sleep apnea. Both my father and two of my brothers suffer from sleep apnea and use CPAP machines, so I thought it was an interesting connection. That is, until I read this line: "Because apnea is associated with being overweight, doctors typically recommend weight loss as a first treatment option." I had a number of objections (listed below) to this, but decided it wasn't worth making a stink over. I also did the review questions for the section, where it was listed again as question 4. That bugged me a bit more. Then, I saw this question on the chapter quiz:

Your friend Megan is suffering from sleep apnea. What might you suggest she try first?


Select one:


a. Watching television before she tries to fall asleep

b. Reading a book before bedtime

c. Losing some weight

d. Turning up the thermostat in her house

I find this overly-emphasized fact a bit hard to stomach for a few reasons, the first of which is the Lillienfeld text's emphasis on correlation vs. causation. While the text goes out of its way to mark every instance of Occam's Razor, CvC, Falsifiability, etc. it ignores it here. As we see later in the same book, the concept of framing is being applied here -- that is, while the information of a correlation is being given to us, "apnea is associated with being overweight," the correlational fact is de-emphasized and a casual link is implied by the quiz questions and the doctor's recommendation without a reasonable, opposing viewpoint. This viewpoint, for example, might point out that since we can't be sure factor A (weight) is causing factor B (apnea), it doesn't make sense to simply try to decrease one factor as the link could be the other way around (apnea is causing weight gain, which would obviously make it extremely difficult to decrease factor A at all) or both could be caused by an independent factor, such as poor nutrition.

In addition, not recognizing this viewpoint has a long and documented history of causing harm, as noted by a number of Fat Activists, incuding Ragen Chastain of Dance with Fat. She and other sources point out the fatal dangers of misdiagnosing overweight people due to their weight. In my brother's case, he was told to lose weight first before another doctor noticed that there was actually something wrong with his nasal passages. Considering how dangerous sleep apnea can be, I find the notion that losing weight is always the first thing to do offensive and potentially dangerous or fatal. In the question above, the first thing you should suggest Megan should do is, in fact, to see a doctor about every possible treatment option -- including treatment for the here and now. In Psych 1001 terms, the doctors are relying on a representativeness heuristic and the fact that the Lillienfeld text is enabling this is downright shameful.

This is not a strictly medical course. The vast majority of Psych 1001 students are not going to go on to diagnose sleep apnea or reccommend a course of treatment. But in the case that they do, it is imperative that the course provide accurate, unbiased information. While I also recognize that this is more of an issue with the text than with the information taught through the lecture portion of the course, I think you'd agree with me that the course should be responsible for all of the information we're expected to learn.

Thanks very much for hearing me out -- I look forward to your responses!

Best,
Geordin Crist

Rape Within the US Military

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The men in the U.S. military clearly have a problem with asserting their dominance over women. It was depicted clearly in "National Security" and the Violation of Women by showing individual women's stories. Military officials are given way too much power, by allowing the code of silence to go on, along with the 1950s ruling that "states that the government is not liable for injury sustained by active duty personnel" (Lucy Broadbent, The Guardian). This means that military officials are not allowed to report criminal activity of other officers and that if someone wants to file a rape complaint, the government says they aren't liable. So really there has been no way for women, and men, to get the justice they deserve. Women who try to say something to their superiors about a rape are rarely taken seriously and often have negative outcomes. They are ignored when they try to tell someone and if they still have the courage to try to tell others, then it gets around that they are a slut, liar or homosexual. The army doesn't allow the victims the right to just leave and get away from their attackers because they told after dealing with the aftermath of the rape "if there's something wrong with your mind, you'll have to stay here in this locked ward"(Lucy Broadbent, The Guardian). Instead of locking up the attackers, they lock up the victims. The military doesn't give them adequate treatment for the problems they suffer after the rape: depression, PTSD, anxiety. Instead they are looked down upon and have no way to leave unless they go AWOL. They are kept in close quarters to their attackers most of the time and have no way of getting help. It is a serious problem after reading the article "Rape in the US military: America's dirty little secret" I have become sicken with the way the US treats our soldiers. I recommend everyone reads it though, it is a tough read emotionally but it's really eye opening. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/09/rape-us-military

Militarized Rape

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After hearing about cases of rape at our border, I wondered why I hadn't heard about it before and whether or not it happens other places too. Surprisingly, right after class on Monday I was looking for an article for my freshman seminar and stumbled across a New York Times article about two soldiers who raped a woman on the Okinawa base in Japan.
(Here's the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/world/asia/2-us-navy-sailors-arrested-in-okinawa-rape.html?ref=world)
This was on the front page of the New York TImes website, however, I have never heard about rapes along the border anywhere. In fact, it's difficult to find decent articles about it happening. Here is one I found that I really liked: http://www.xojane.com/issues/abuses-our-name-us-border. It discusses not only the rape of women, but the deaths that occur at the hands of the border patrol as well.
I guess my main question is, why is one case in Japan getting more attention than hundreds of cases on our own soil? It's an injustice that needs to be corrected before we can move on as a country.

Blog 3: Border Patrol

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Last night, I was watching the presidential debate. When the topic of immigration came up, President Obama said, "We do have to deal with our border so we put more border patrol on the -- any time in history and the flow of undocumented workers across the border is actually lower than it's been in 40 years." I couldn't help but to think about the chapters on border violence I've read for this class and others. Obama and Romney both talked about immigration reform, but with the readings still fresh in my mind, I kept wondering if border patrol would be reformed as well. As the number of border patrol workers increases, the risk of border violence also increases, Also, I found it interesting that Obama mostly stuck to using the term "undocumented workers," while Romney preferred "illegal." In my opinion, referring to a person as "illegal" only perpetuates the notion that they are subhuman, making it easier to strip them of their human rights.

Another Form of Micro-Enterprise

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Last Wednesday, the U of M's University Singers were privileged to meet members of Imuka Singers from Tanzania. For those of you who have not heard of them before, here's the description from their website:

"The 30-person-choir is made up of highly talented musicians and dancers representing a dozen community groups from the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria. Imuka brings together not only rare singing techniques, electrifying choreography, hand drumming and multiple percussions, but also traditional dancing techniques that are adopted from the oldest East African folk songs and dances.

Imuka's purpose extends far beyond music, which, in Africa, has proven to be one of the most powerful tools in transforming people's lives socially, spiritually and economically. It was out of concern for the less fortunate members of their communities that Imuka Singers was born.

Imuka uses the energy and passion of the music to harness the values and dreams of East African people and encourages them to work together for self -sustaining economic development of their communities. Portions of all Imuka earnings go towards community health, education, and micro-enterprise initiatives to help partner communities in Bukoba. We are creating and using music to change lives!"

After last week's discussion on microcredits and loans, I was a little frustrated at how neoliberalist mindsets are now driven by profits and not altruism. I was surprised to find a group that was successful in using a similar model. One of the male members had been successful in constructing and selling drums, while a female member was an accomplished tailor. A composer, who was unable to transcribe his songs, was given the chance to do so; now, his songs are sung around the world. Through their choir, they have come together to find ways to spark economic growth in their communities and at the same time celebrate their culture and songs.

I believe that Imuka Singers embody the ideal version of what Berkovitch and Kemp call an empowerment project. They're working towards self-reliance while inspiring those around them. "Imuka" is the Kihaya word for "rise", and that's certainly what they do.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend going to hear them sing (their tour schedule is on the website; currently they are headed to Illinois, but they will be back to Minnesota next month).

From Nonprofit to Neoliberalism

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I was still a little unclear on how to define/think about neoliberalism, so I looked it up online. Here's some information that I found on CorpWatch (a website with information about 'holding corporations accountable', presumably for negative actions).

1) "'Neo-liberalism' is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer."

2)"Neo" refers to a new type of liberalism. The old economic liberalism referred to market and enterprise free from government control/regulation. After the Great Depression and the New Deal, it became more well-thought-of that the government should help spur common good. The recent (25 yrs.) capitalist surge inspired the "corporate elite" to bring economic liberalism back into play. Thus "neo"/"new" liberalism (again).

3) According to CorpWatch, five main points of neo-liberalism are: the rule of the market, cutting public expenditure for social services, deregulation, privatization, and eliminating the concept of 'the public good' or 'community'.

Information came from this article: http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

I found it unfortunate to learn in class that what began as a low-key, simplistic, well-intentioned movement (microcredit loans) has become a bank-modeled profit-seeking industry. In the beginning, micro-credit loans were just a small way to help women in developing nations create financial management and stability for themselves. Non-dominating, non-manipulative. And while I guess I can sort of see the intent of newer bank-modeled microcredit institutions ("Why don't we help out AND make a profit? Win-win?"), I think it's too bad that the idea has developed in this way.

On a broader scale, depending on many life aspects, I can semi-see the efficiency of neoliberalism from a business perspective. I don't necessarily think that all tenets of neoliberalism are wrong. But when a principle such as this is implemented in society and makes apparent inequality, or has an obvious lack of care for social good, then there's a bit of a problem.

HOPEFULLY in the future we can establish practices in our domestic and intertwined global economies that circulate goodness and humanity among people. It would be nice if we could all get our share to live comfortably and help others worldwide too, but I know that's terribly idyllic.

On a happier note, one way in which my family likes to support economies/efforts in agricultural areas around the world is by supporting Heifer International, an organization that provides resources such as animals and small infrastructure to give families in other countries a little help with their farm or craft (and consequently works towards ending hunger and poverty). It's a great thing to do around the holidays, and Heifer is a trusted 501c3.

Here's the website! Check it out! The 'Heifer's Cornerstones' page under 'Our Work' gives interesting highlights about common goals and cyclical improvement (families who receive donations can later become donors). Great organization!

www.heifer.org

Border Patrol

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I found the article "National Security and the Violation of Women" very surprising and eye-opening. The points that Sylvanna Falcon raised made perfect sense, especially the fact that militarization increases violence. She stated, "I call these violations militarized border rapes because of the 'power' associated with the border itself". I can understand that the systematic power and militarization can create an atmosphere for rape, but someone raised a good question in class; why is rape associated with war and military in the first place? Falcon also states, "rapes occur because sexual assault is in the arsenal of military strategies, it is a weapon of war, used to dominate women" (120). It's terrible that whenever power is thrown into the system, rape is a no-brainer. The thing about rape and victimization in general that especially bothers me is that no matter what, the victim is viewed as the problem. Although in some cases the perpetrator may receive punishment, the victim never receives true justice. Also, the victim is the one who is seen as the one who raises the problem, because if they are brave enough to come forward, they are the one who brings the issue out in the open. The perpetrator always possesses the power, and especially in the case of the border war zones, they have power to begin with. In order for the violence to be eliminated, it has to start with eliminating the militarization and creating the people across the border as the "enemies".

Micro Credit Lending

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As an senior economics major, I feel like I am pretty knowledgeable about our economy. I even took a class specializing in the economy of sub-saharan African. We talked a little about micro-credit lending, but I have to admit: I never realized how commercialized it has become. I was saddened to find out that an idea which was started in such a generous, wholesome matter has done a 180, and is now used as a way for big corporations to gain profit. To a woman in SSA, 10 dollars could make a world of difference. 10 dollars could help her start a basket weaving company, or buy thread to make bracelets. To these big corporations, 10 dollars is like a penny with gum stuck on it on the floor of the bus; it is NOTHING! But, because these greedy bastards don't really care about the well being of these women, they keep that old dirty penny. Micro-credit lending needs to rehabilitate, it needs to go back to its roots and actually help people.

Microcredit Loans: Institutionalization of Capitalism

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In class, we have seen the ways in which capitalism in America has created wealth divides, and how global capitalism has created global wealth divides. Profit based capitalism has resulted in the concentration of wealth into the hands of an elite few, and has created a culture based on consumption. Our capitalist system simply does not work in the best interest of all people and is neither just nor equitable.

Microcredit loans seem simple enough. People without many resources receive a small amount of money, they start businesses, start making money, and become liberated in the process. Through the empowerment of women, we introduce capitalism to these communities, and therefore capitalist mentality (profit, cash-based economies, etc...) without asking whether or not capitalism is best for these communities. Our altruism has become a method for the global institutionalization of a (capitalist) culture which has been neither just nor equitable for most of its participants.

(I purposefully do not use words such as "Third/First World" or "Developing/developed" due the hierarchical nature of these words and their inherent imperial colonialism)

The Empowerment of Women Through Micro-credit Loans

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After our lecture on women and micro-credit loans, I was interested in looking into the occurrence a bit more. I found a video in which the two broadcasters discuss how the Dalai Lama was having a panel on the empowerment of women throughout third world countries. One of the broadcasters stated, "The key to the empowerment of women...is to be financially secure. In the third world, creating financial security for women and their children really depends on getting very small amounts of money." Micro-credit loans, according to our lecture, are small loans provided to the poor to subsidize home-based businesses, such as basket-making and quilt-making. I found the video interesting because it discussed several things we talked about in class, such as how the micro-credit loans increase independence for women and ease poverty in third world countries. It was interesting to have all of the points we discussed reaffirmed by a source that had nothing to do with the class. I have posted the video I watched below.

Neo-Liberalism in the US

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Above is a video I found that claims neo-liberalism is the reason for the wealth gap in the US. As a result, the US economy is shrinking. The video correlates with class discussion, since we talked about neo-liberalism and private companies being focused on profit rather than altruistic values. This causes more harm than good to the public (for example, college costs being higher).
I have gained a different outlook on using a credit card after our discussions. Large banks wish to gain profit from people paying interest. These banks know that they will gain profit because it is the poor and marginalized that need credit cards for basic needs. We also talked about impunity. These banks (and companies) can get away with doing wrong because they have complete control. In the same way that women in third world countries need micro-credit loans, I need a credit card to pay for college, food, gas, etc. Thus, the elite have us in an extremely vulnerable position.

Neoliberalism

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Neoliberalism is the belief that through hard work, all individuals have the ability to achieve success and live the 'good life'. This system is greatly connected to capitalism considering both focus on creating profit. The individual is the most important aspect in neoliberalism; this system highly discourages government involvement even as a 'safety-net' for those less privileged.
Because of neoliberalism, many altruistic ideas and organizations are transformed considering goals are profit oriented rather than society oriented.

In order to get a better understanding of neoliberalism, I watched this video interview of Dr. Dumnil, a very influential author and pioneer theorist of neoliberalism and economic crisis.

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2f2liR/:c-mfqxRY:SJYLYIMp/therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4962

Dr. Dumnil defines neoliberalism as a new and contemporary form of capitalism meant to continually improve and sustain the upper percent tile. He explains that the discretion of those in power to freely transfer capital around the world greatly supports neoliberalism.

Dr. Dumnil believes that after the Great Depression, a great opportunity for neoliberalism emerged. The people of America and around the world were in the middle of a huge class struggle resulting in worker strikes and revolts for rights. Because authorities were finally confronted, they were forced to compromise with the people. However, once confronted with worldwide inflation, the capitalist party was able to regain power and implement social order considering they supersede popular classes.

This system of neoliberalism then puts all workers in a state of competition; making it hard for these workers to come together to control their own rights such as decent wages, purchasing power, and social protection of health care.

The Doctor also touches on the huge increase in stock-market indices; meaning the globalized neoliberalism goal was achieved.

After learning about the system and processes of neoliberalism, I have come to see it as scam for a lack of better words. Because this system is meant to focus on the individual and supposedly give everyone a chance to successful, it sounds very appealing. However, when examining the playing field unequal opportunity is salient. White privilege, racial profiling, and gender discrimination are only a few examples of injustice that come into play. The fact that the system is so individual centered almost seems selfish; when everyone is trying to better themselves, there's no effort into benefitting society. I believe that under neoliberalism people will become more bitter and hostile considering the lack of altruism and doing good; a necessary aspect to human life and well-being.

Border Patrol Update

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Blog #3:

I noticed that the Sylvanna Falcon article was published in 2006 so I was looking online to see if the situation has improved at all over the last six years. However, I found that the situation has gotten much worse. Border patrol forces have increased significantly (21,000 in 2012 vs. 11,000 in 2007), because the demand is so high for patrols departments have loosened requirements for hiring. The scariest part is that these men are armed with pepper spray, guns, Tasers, and etc.... with only a few years of experience. This concentrates power in the hands of these types of individuals make violence more likely to occur. There is a reason why background checks, lie detector checks, minimal educational experience, and other standards are required. You do not want to arm individuals that are likely to be violent. These men do not have to abide by the same standards as the police force, which make violence even more likely, because accountability is a lot less. If they have become this lax on hiring practices then it is difficult to believe that departments are going to be strict on enforcing. It seems as though resources are being abused, and distributed in the name of national security. There is strong incentive in a system like this to keep crimes of violence and abuse on a hush level. In order to keep funding and departments running they need to maintain a public image as the protectors not the aggressors especially when it comes to women. Therefore, it seems as though the ideas in the Sylvanna reading are still relevant today if not more relevant. I would be interested to hear about statistics from you guys about the border patrol today. I am pasting the link at the bottom of one of the articles I read about the border patrol today.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/20/opinion/la-oe-frey-border-patrol-violence-20120420

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Blog 3: Top 10 ways to get away with rape

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Check out this web site first: http://collegecandy.com/2012/10/15/top-10-ways-to-get-away-with-rape-flyer-found-at-miami-university/

This is a picture of a flyer posted around a university campus. original.jpg

I can't believe I saw this on Facebook. The background behind this picture is that this was found posted in boys bathrooms at Miami University. It encourages men to rape a lot and tells them how to get away with it. I think the current statistic is that 1 in 4 women are raped. I am not sure if that include people they don't know have been raped, or if it includes non-citizen or not. Either way, one in four is very high.

So, today in class we were talking about how women in war zones and on the border are very susceptible to rape. However it also is girls that are about college aged are also very vulnerable because they are likely to be into: partying, clubbing, and going out to bars. When intoxicated or drunk they are more prone to be a victim. Guys my also purposely get girls super intoxicated or slip stuff into your drink. It suck that this reality, but the only way to fight it is to educate people.

here is another picture that speak a thousand words:
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Border Militarization

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Insofar this semester "National Security" and the Violation of Women is my favorite reading. Sylvanna Falcón really made me question my beliefs and judgments about militaristic activities, the motives that propel their action and the ways in which American civilians perceive the actions of the military. Until I first learned about Abu Ghraib in 2004 my ideas and perceptions of the US Military was completely altruistic. I thought they were the "good guys" who go out to kill the "bad guys". I assume this to be the same perception that most Americans hold most of their lives, however when I learn about the discretion they're given, the unearned power they receive, the limited supervision and the impunity from federal charges I begin to question my faith in the military, for the common good, and the US Government all together. The story of Juanita enraged me, to say the least. It infuriates me that no one regarded her allegations against Officer Selders with sincere concern, but instead accused her of being a prostitue. And, after all of the hoops that they made her jump through for "justice", I felt as though Selder's punishment was a slap on the wrist. When the military paid Selder's settlement to Juanita on his behalf they were condoning his behavior. That type of action says; "It's ok, you can do whatever you want because you're in the military". Even more so than this type of action is the inaction that occurs, by which I mean the other 99% of claims and accusations that go unaddressed, unresolved, and swept under the rug.

This may only be one case, but it happens more than we would like to admit. I grew up in a military family, in fact, I am the first person in my family to not join the military and I am so ashamed to be a part of a family affiliated with an organization like this. I'm ashamed to live in a country that chooses to look the other way when vulnerable individuals are taken advantage of and sexually exploited. I'm ashamed to live in a country that want to "other" groups of people in need instead of extending help. I'm ashamed to live in a country where everyone wants to wear rose-colored glasses instead of knowing the truth. I'm ashamed to be an American.

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Blog # 3 - Citizenship

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The "National Security" and Violaton of Women: Militarized Border Rape at the US-Mexico Border reading has been my favorite so far. This is a topic that I was so unfamiliar with. I knew that rape was commonly used as a weapon of war, and that it was used to show force, but I had no idea that this was going on in this manner.
I have never traveled outside of the United States, so whenever I thought of the border between countries and the US, I always imaged it to be how it was in That 70's Show. I knew that it was patrolled, and they border patrol checked if you were a citizen, and if you had a passport, or a visa. I also knew that they checked you for contraband, but that was all. I had always imagined that Mexican citizens just dashed through barbed wires at night to get to the other side.
Whenever someone asserts their power, there is going to be violence. A form of violence is rape. I feel as though I should have put it together, but the reality seems so harsh. Hearing the stories being recounted by the victims was so hurtful. I can't believe that anyone could treat another human being that way. It saddens me that the government usually did nothing about this, and other members of their team took a vow of silence. I don't think its right to sit back and watch others treat people this way. Its crazy to think that this is happening in today's date, not some long barbaric time ago.

Microloans and women

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The purpose of micro loans when it was started was to motivate and inspire women to start their own businesses. The program was aimed at women in third world countries who were unable to start their own businesses. The program was started with good intentions which was to help women around the world become empowered.However, when a lot of international and financial institutions endorsed this program, it was turned into a profit. The recipients of this program ,who were mainly women,conditions worsen.The women were unable to pay off the micro loans and were struggling.Furthermore, the money which was suppose circulate in the community did not making it difficult for the community to improve. I think it is really disconcerting to see a program that provides a lot of opportunities for women turned into a profit organization where the only rich profited and the poor exploited.

I am currently taking a community service learning class that is focused on the Chicano/Latino Community. Although what I am learning in my Chicano Studies class does not coincide directly with what we are learning in this class, there are some great connections that I would like to share. Where we are focusing on the inequality and injustice that exists for many different people in our society, in my Chicano Studies class I am focusing specifically on the injustice that the Chicano/Latino community is experiencing. I have been doing community service in the Chicano/Latino community, and have become aware of many of the challenges that Chicanos and Latinos are experiencing. The more I work with young Chicanos and Latinos and the more I learn about these challenges, the stronger I have grown to care about this community and become frustrated with the inequality that many of its members are experiencing.

Even though I feel like I am learning a great deal about the challenges that Chicano and Latinos are experiencing - in particular, those who are undocumented immigrants - I never expected to discover the sad truth that Sylvanna Falcon uncovers in her article,"'National Security' and the Violation of Women." Throughout my Chicano Studies class, I have read many articles about he quickness of authoritative figures to target and take at advantage of Mexicans, Chicanos, and Latinos, and have been saddened. However, I am appalled by the incidents written about in Sylvanna Falcon's article.
If you would take a moment to watch this video, I would like to focus on that statement that Governor Martin O'Malley makes.

http://vimeo.com/44123341

Governor O'Mally states: "As sad as it is to see a disfunction around our whole immigration issue, even sadder would be if no one in the rest of the world wanted to come to America." Many of these Mexican and Latino immigrants are coming to the United States with nothing but a hope for better living conditions and greater opportunities. The fact that Americans - men like Larry Selders, and Luis Esteves - are taking advantage of this helplessness and hopefulness is pathetic.

Neoliberalism: Friend or Foe?

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Warning: may contain high levels of pessimism.
From the surface neoliberalism looks like a great economic boost, but when I dug deeper into the specifics I found it to be a movement geared for the rich. Neoliberalism branches off of liberalism, but by replacing government with private sectors it is "able to solve" society's problems more efficiently. It said that neoliberalism is more cost efficient and supporters try to convince people that it will benefit all of us by an unregulated market that in return increases economic growth...but does it really benefit everyone? The trickle down economics were put into place under neoliberalism and I believe most poor people are still waiting for the trickle. It seems like the only thing happening with neoliberalism is the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting...well, poorer.
Neoliberalism liberates free enterprise from any ties to the government that may cause profit loss, no matter what the social damage may be. The sad consequence of this is it benefits a minority of the world's people, and for the large majority it just causes further economic suffering for the poor. To reduce wage they de-unionize worker and eliminate worker's rights. Along with this a heavy burden is put on the poor, which pressures the poor to find solutions to their problems on their own, no matter how bad the situation is. If they lack health care, education, or social security too bad, that's their own problem to figure out. It goes along the same premise as the bootstrap theory, which states that "anyone" can economically rise up with hard work. How is this true when some already start on third base, while others can't even get up to bat? When safety nets, social programs, welfare, and the right of labor are cut for the poor how does neoliberalism help "everyone"? Maybe these private sectors are creating jobs, but it isn't spreading the wealth among people. It is more so concentrating wealth to fewer hands and making the public pay a higher price for their needs. I don't believe in meritocracy because of the systematic oppressions that are put on people. Like I said, some people can't even get up to bat, while others are born on third base.
Another interesting point to think of is do microcredit loans really help people anymore, or is it just a way for private sectors to make even more money from interest on the debts? Not all that glitters is gold....

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The Wealth of Women

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It took me until the last few weeks to realize the enormous gender divide between men and women when it comes to wealth. I always naively assumed that things were even because my opinion has always been that I am able to do what I want in my life as long as I work hard to get towards that. I never really had the mindset that I wouldn't be able to make as much money as a male friend of mine or my brother. As I now am looking into the wealth of women in the world I am shocked to find out how small it is. According to an article last year in the Huffington Post, women only make up about 1% of the worlds wealth. I find that a statistic like this is an extreme surprise. This goes to show how many women in this world are living in poverty. I feel like so often people don't take the time to really think about what is happening around the world and instead we are focused on what is going on in our lives directly. We don't see that there are women who are struggling, who are not given the same opportunities as men because of their sex. What shocked me the most however, was seeing the difference between salaries for men in comparison with women. Salaries range from a women earning 12-80 cents for every dollar earned by a man. In Bangladesh, a women earns 12 cents for every 1 dollar that a man earns. This is truly unjust and a terrible thing. People seem to disregard what is happening in so many other countries because here in America, women are given many opportunities and rights. However, we need to start opening our eyes to what is happening in the world if we ever plan on changing the way that women are treated.
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Microcredit Loans, real or hoax?

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I had heard of Microcredit Loans before, but never really looked into them enough to actually understand what they do, and what they lack, for people in 3rd world countries. When I read the article "Economic Empowerment of Women as a Global Project" it helped me understand more clearly what Microcredit Loans are actually doing.

From the outside, the idea of Microcredit Loans to help impoverished persons get on their feet makes sense. And that is what it seems to have originally been for. As microcredit loans has become increasingly popular the motives of companies and institutions giving micro-loans have become more and more questionable. In technical terms, microcredit loans are in place to help women, in impoverished countries and communities as a way "out". Women are given small amounts of money, usually around $25 dollars, that they are expected to use to start up home-based businesses.

The pros of microcredit loans are that they allow women to feel empowered and creates economic autonomy. These microcredit loans are seen as helping the poor, while in reality they are also another way to marginalize a specific group, to ensure that they do not escape their "destiny." I think that it scares businesses and government that a country such as India can have such a large population, and that one day they could surpass America, it is easier to keep people in poverty than to help them escape it. This system is far from fair but in the society that we live in, there will always be a hierarchy even if we fail to see it or acknowledge it. It will always be there

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Blog 3

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Reading the article, "Economic Empowerment of Women as a Global Project," made me really understand micro-credit loans. Prior to reading the article, I never really understood what the term meant, so it was nice to get a clear definition of it.

As I read the article, I learned that micro-credit loans are designed to help economies of third world countries subsidizing home-based companies.I think that this concept is great because small businesses are being supported. I also found it really interesting because micro-credit loans are specially designed for women because women have proven themselves to be more reliable and, in a way, responsible by paying their loan givers back. Going off of the loans given to women, I think it's great that women are allowed to build their own businesses inside their home; it definitely gives them a sense of empowerment because they are running something the way they want to.

I believe that micro-credit loans are really making a different in communities because they help businesses begin within a community and also help nurture it to flourish throughout the community. Because the businesses are community based, I feel as though communities grow together and prosper with the help of each individual.

Blog #3

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The article of "Economic Empowerment of Women as a Global Project" was very interesting to read. I did not know that there existed such a micro-loan for women in the third world countries. I think that is a really great idea and opportunity to help people and specially women. This program gives opportunity to women to start something and make a living and also support their family. They could open a small home owned business such as making poetry, making jewelry, growing vegetables and selling them to make some profit. However, there is a down side of this program - that women have to pay back the loan plus the interest added to it. Opening a small home owned business it is easy but hard to make profit out of it. Therefore, this makes it hard for the women to make such a great profit to be able to pay back the loan with interest, have set money aside to continue their little business and also have money to support their family with daily necessity food. In class on Wednesday we discussed that the banks which issue these loans make a higher profit than the women do. Is this right? Using poor people to became richer? I say no if we live in an ideal world. However we don't live in one. There exists poor people which do not have opportunities and will try everything to survive and there exist rich people that want to expand their wealth. Therefore using poor people to get richer is not right but we live in a world based on credit - borrow money today from people/firms that have it and return it back to them with interest. This is not fair but sometimes it is the only way to make the day go by and hope for a next day to come, that's why I think that the system of loans will always exist. And poor people will try to find a way to survive. Below, is a pictures, it shows that poor people trying to get what they to survive from people in power


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Microcredit Loans

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I think micro-credit loans are a great idea to boost an economy and/or even just help out the poor. I think it is very interesting that micro-credit loans are developed for women - it is great. When I learned that they were created for women because women are more reliable to pay back the loans, I thought that was really interesting that they would make a loan just for women because we are more reliable. I also got some what of a chuckle out of it. I also think that it really does foster social connectivity and solidarity between poor women because they are now able to start these home-based businesses. Through these businesses they are able to connect with the community by selling and creating costumers and they are also able to connect with each other by training each other to hopefully expand their company.
Another part of the micro-credit loans I thought was really interesting was how they had interest on the loans to be able to give others loans. I thought this was cool because it really shows how these micro-credit loans are not only helping individuals start up a business and get going, but it is helping other women, too. And therefore it is helping out the entire society.
Micro-credit loans were new to me, and I personally think they are very effective and help out in a lot of different economic ways. I thought I'd share this picture I found to show how happy women are to be able to receive these loans.Unitus-Microcredit-Borrowers-1.jpg

I Know What I am

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The term "gender identity" is a lot more intricate and complicated than one may believe. After reading "I Know What I am", I got a better understanding of what the term truly means to me. Identifying a gender for a person is unconsciously placing them into a group. In society, each person is typically placed into the "female" or "male" group. Along with placement into one of these groups comes the inherent responsibility for one to "act" a certain way, as well as portray themselves as a sort of "representative" if you will for their respective group.

This means that there are expectations for someone to act a certain way based on what society has labeled their gender as, even though they might not want to. There are people out there that act certain ways just because they feel inclined to do so, and are afraid of the ramifications and judgement that they will have to face if they don't act a particular way.

To me, the term "gender identity" is what an individual feels like based on their own beliefs. There shouldn't be predetermined groups that people should feel inclined to consider themselves a part of. Gender identity is the state of mind that individuals has that makes them want to act the way that THEY themselves want to act. There should be little (if any) outside influence on how one identifies themselves. As far as being a male or female, I believe that these are, as we discussed in class, biologically determined traits. There are body parts and organs that exist to back up that statement. However, just because someone is a male or a female, that does NOT by any means incline them to act a certain way. However, the society we live in has predetermined views on what exactly is a male or female in their eyes, and I believe that those prejudices are wrong and should be changed over time.

My reflection on "I Know What I Am"

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After reading the article "I Know What I Am", I was a little overwhelmed to be perfectly honest. I think the reason why is becuase I wasn't familiar with the majority of the terms that David Valentine wrote about such as "transafrican, gender di-morphism, transexual, transgender and more. This unfamiliarity left me confused about the majority of the article becuase I couldn't look past all the terms I didn't know the meaning for. Once we discussed the terms in class and researching them on my own, I appreciated the article a lot more. My eyes were definately open to different ways people identify themselves and how others identify people in the GLBT community.
I found it interesting that for the most part, whenever the interviewer asked a question regarding their gender, they were quite adament about not associating themselves with just one particular identifiacation, but that they were more thanjust gay or transgender. They didn't want to be identified soley by who they are attracted to or what they identify themselves as. The people interviewed did not want to be defined into one category. I understand that gender identity is complex, but I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing to have people of the GBLT community to have a determined identity, established on thier own, not by society. Their certain gender identity doesn't necessarily have to be their master status throughout their life, just a status that they find on their own time and terms.

Micro-lending towards women

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I've heard of micro-lending before, but I never got into detail about the topic. After reading the article Economic Empowerment of Women as a Global Project, I understood it more and I actually wanted to hear more about it. I never knew that micro-loans were targeted more towards women and I didn't quite understand why they were until I continued reading the article and until we had the discussion in class.

Micro-loaning gives women an opportunity to start up a small home owned business to earn some extra money. I was really confused in the article when they said that women were given a small amount of money because I imagined that this whole micro-loaning thing was going on in the United States. While in class, I learned that it mostly happened in third world countries which made more sense because if the women were given small amounts of money it would be harder for them to pay back something as small as ten dollars. It would also make more sense because I didn't know how one could start a small home owned business in the United States. What could you start? If you were in a third world countries, making scarves or pottery or anything of that sort would be a sensible business to start.

I feel like targeting women when it comes to micro-loans is a great idea because I can see why they would be an ideal target. They are more likely to stay and pay back their loans instead of running away. Most women would like to stay where their family is located, while men are usually the ones who start a family and decide where to move.
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Micro-loans

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I was really interested to read about neo-liberalism, and the concept of individuals producing wealth for themselves. I think that micro-loans are a great way to give women the opportunity to support their families. After receiving the micro-loans, making money and paying the loans back, the women to develop a sense of self-worth and gain various resources. These resources include "know-how", expertise of the skills in their trade, and money management skills. Hopefully, these women take their small businesses and show the other women in their communities, sharing the wealth with everyone.

However, like we had discussed in class, the ways of the certain micro-financing programs do have their downfalls. It was really discouraging to see how even though the loans are meant to help countries boost their economies, the overwhelming number of loopholes that needed to be be fulfilled in order to receive the money. After developing infrastructure, developing a liberal democracy with a constitution, and being forced to become a single-crop economy, most countries struggled to repay the loans. This wound up hindering countries and not helping them any more.

The idea of the micro-loans, however, is something that I really believe can, and will make a difference. Its just a matter of ensuring that these women/countries won't be taken advantage of. Helping these women feed their families is great, but it won't help if they can't ever repay the original funding. Same goes with the structural adjustment programs. The concept is great, but would definitely need to be some adjustments for them to be completely beneficial.
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"I Know What I Am"

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This article stood out to me more than others because it really made me rethink about what gender is. Gender is what one believes for themselves to be. It does not matter so much what category others put you in, it only matters what you categorize yourself to be. The women were being interviewed and each time they were asked if they considered themselves as a transgender. This really opened up my eyes because some of the women did not identify themselves as transgender, they classified themselves as whoever they wanted to be. It showed me that people can be happy in their skin by just being themselves and not needing to labeled as one specific type of person.

Micro-loans and Women

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After reading Economic empowerment of women as a global project in class, I was very interested in micro-loans and the impact that they are making in the world. I'm not very interested in money or economics, but when it came down to the empowerment of women because of these micro-loans, my interest was definitely stimulated.

With micro-loans, women in Third World Countries can get just enough money to start a small business within their community to stimulate the economy of this community. They invest in their community by making and selling products that their community can invest in. Community investing is a powerful socially responsible investment strategy that puts critical capital into the hands of low- and middle-income communities across the US and around the world that are underserved by mainstream financial institutions. It provides a hand up, not a hand out, that allows people in poverty to start small businesses, own homes, and attend college.

I think that it was very fascinating reading about the difference between micro-lending for women and for men. Allowing for more loans for women and not for men, in my opinion could make things bit trickier in the family. However, It definitely gives a sense of empowerment that these women, especially in other countries across the world, could never achieve without these micro-loans. I believe that micro-loans are a good strategy for women to become empowered as well as help the community to become better invested in.

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World Wealth of Women

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After the discussion of the article, Economic empowerment of women as a global project, during class, I became very interested in learning more about why the world wealth of women is only 1%. I decided to go onto the World Bank website to learn more about what they have been doing to increase economic empowerment for women. In the World Development Report 2012: Gender and Equality Development, it states that women represent 40% of the world's work force, 43% percent of the world's agricultural labor force, and more than half the world's university students. Also, in 45 countries there are more girls than boys in secondary schools and in 60 countries there are more women than men in universities. I immediately found this very interesting because even though women are becoming the dominate educated sex in the world, they are still making 1% of the world's wealth. Upon looking further into the report, I found that women are more likely than men to work without pay as a family laborer. Also, women who are farmers are given smaller plots to work with and crops that are worth less wealth compared to men. For women entrepreneurs, they are usually hired by smaller firms that are much less profitable compared to larger firms that are more likely to hire men. Along with other limiting factors that include more deaths of girls and women, lower school enrollment of females in disadvantaged countries, and not being able to voice their opinions for political issues. The possible solutions that are offered in the report to end this problem are to reduce the number of deaths in girls and women by providing clean water, sanitation, and maternal care, policies that improve access for women to get an education, allow women access for economic opportunity, allow women to have a societal and household voice, and not allow this gender inequality to continue to other generations. I think that these are great ideas to approach these problems but it will take a significant amount of time to enforce them and to see the change that needs to be done. I think that reducing the gender gap within the economy can be reduced but it will take a lot of work. Along with policies and laws changing, society itself needs to change. Our ideals that women belong in the home and are not capable of doing equivalent work to men also need to change. This gap can be lowered but much change needs to be made.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDR2012/Resources/7778105-1299699968583/7786210-1315936245355/Main-Message-English.pdf

"I know what I am"

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Blog.jpgWhile reading the article the only thing that I knew about initially was the Meat Market. I knew about the Meat Market from the television show Law and Order: SVU. Knowing about the Meat Market initially helped me out because I was able to examine the show and how they used "socially correct" terms to identify victims and perpetrators. During the episode a transgender male who calls himself Erica. When Erica is being interviewed by detective Stabler, Stabler has a hard time conducting the interview properly. Stabler displays uncomfortable behavior and when confronting the directly he often uses Erica's government name instead of the name the she prefers he use. This situation is played out multiple times in society. Since people are caught up in the appearance of and individual they often surpass the fact that some people rather be identified with the opposite sex than what they are and be verbally recognized as such.
My overall understanding about what the article was trying to rely was this; Although many individuals identify with the LGBT community this community is only an umbrella that hold many terms that are unfamiliar with mainstream culture. The terms that describe the experiences in which an individual encounters are unique not only to the LGBT community, but also to the individual him/herself. I understand that by giving some one the chance to identify themselves with you is important and should not be shortened by "socially correct" terms. Since identity is complex every individual must approach formal introductions with the understanding of its complexity.

Blog #3- Reaction to "I Know What I Am"

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Reading "I Know What I Am" provoked a lot of thoughts about gender and gender identity and what it means. I think overall what I took away from the article was that no one can tell you your personal gender identity but yourself. Although many of the ladies fell into specific gender categories in terms of how they described themselves they still were very picky about the titles they chose in order to portray their identities. For example when many of the women described themselves it sounded as though they were describing what we would know as a heterosexual transgender person though to them they still identified with terms such as "gay," "queer," and "fem queens." And some refused to identify as transgender. I think that the labels society places on people are very damaging to their own self image and how they feel others and their own selves perceive them. Although we may have a good idea of what the "socially correct" definitions are for gender it is not up to us to place that person in a category but rather up to the individual themselves. I think this article really opened up my eyes to the true complexity of gender and gender identity.

Neo-liberalism and Human Rights

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In the article "Economic Empowerment of Women as a Global Project: Economic Rights in the Neo-liberal Era" it talks about how women in West African countries were given microloans to support themselves and their children. The article presents this as a placenta to all the social and economic problems in West Africa while making the affluent America look good. These microloans are a good idea because they support neo-liberal ideals while promoting responsibility, self-relieance, and credit. On Wednesday we talked in class about how these microloans have become detrimental to women. Private institutions have taken over these loans and distributed them. However, they have put in rules and regulations which make it hard for women to pay them back the loans. The bank ends up making more profit than the women do which defeats the purpose of the original loans. The women end having eternal debts to these banks. This leads to a new form of oppression and marginalization. Being oppressed by someone who lives in a different country than you. This also leads into a question of human rights. Is it ever ok to use someone who is already to poor to make money and make yourself look better to outsiders? I think the answer is no. These concepts contradict each other because helping someone should come from an altrusitc place and in this situation it comes from a place of greed. It is never ok to use someone like that. These loans started out as a good idea, however with private institutionalizing it has become a horrible, oppressive thing.
The picture below sums up the argument very well
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Sex Trafficking in the Superbowl

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I brought this up on Monday, and figured after looking into it that I should blog about the topic. I found that the Superbowl is possibly one of the largest sex trafficking events in the United States. Most of the workers were minors, and one man was even arrested for selling an 18 year old and a 14 year old as a "Super Bowl Special".
It made me excessively upset that this exists. In a country where we claim to fight wars for women's freedom, this shouldn't be a problem. However, I understand that sex trafficking exists and can be difficult to stop. For example, some girls may enjoy the work they do and the money they make. However, a majority are forced into the sex business due to dire. circumstances. I don't know how to fix the situation, but I now feel grateful for the advantages afforded to me by my upbringing.
So, this got me thinking. What can we do to help? It struck me when Prof. Isoke brought up that there are problems close to home, and I want to know if there is anything we can do to help those in need in Minneapolis. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

Articles on Superbowl Sex Trafficking:

http://theresurgence.com/2012/02/02/sex-trafficking-at-the-super-bowl
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/super-bowl-sex-trade_b_1198168.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/02/02/sex-and-the-super-bowl-indianapolis-spotlight-teen-sex-trafficking/

14 Years Ago Today

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This is a quick article (it was posted on Sunday) in remembrance of Matthew Shepard, the 21 Year Old gay man from who was harassed because of his sexual orientation 14 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming. The violence of this hate crime was took his life at such a young age. I was very young when this all happened, but I've heard of his story a countless number of times.His story brought to the public eye how horrible some can be treated just because of their sexual orientation, at a time when nobody really wanted to talk about it at all. If anyone wants to read it, here is the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-mcgonnigal/matthew-shepard-anniversary_b_1944723.html


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Crime Sentencing for the Privileged

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Response to "Roots of the Racial Wealth Divide"

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After reading the "Roots of the Racial Wealth Divide" article, I was shocked by multiple statistics. The responses of the 40%- 60% Caucasian people who believe that colored people are just as well if not better off employment, health insurance, income, and education wise greatly portrayed public ignorance. Just because colored injustice is occasionally revealed does not mean it occasionally occurs. After reading the article, I gain a more thorough understanding of the intentions of the media. Stories of oppression are infrequently but evidently revealed to the public in hopes that the people are assured that the 'problem' is insignificant yet being taken care of. I have a hard time understanding how those who believe "I think it's pretty even, but blacks don't want to admit it" and "It's good the bad days have passed and the blacks have come up.. now if something occurs, like a black guy being mistreated at a job or something, you hear about it" (page 5) are able to ignore the criminal facts. Out of the entire article, the responses of these people destabilized me the most. The fact that a black family has less than ten cents for every white family dollar really puts things in perspective. It does not help that while half of white young adults receive a financial head start (of $14,000), and only one out of five colored young adults receive a financial head start. Its evident that oppression is existent considering the ever widening financial gap between white and colored families; the color net worth fell 7% while the white net worth average rose thirty-seven percent. Considering it is more likely for a white with a criminal record than a colored person to be hired, systems definitely favor white people. It seems that the only explainable cause for these statistics is racial injustice and white privilege.

I have many privileges that I wasn't aware of before attending this class. I now understand that I am not entitled to attend college, choose the career I am passionate about, and feel safe and secure financially and physically. I do not believe I have particularly earned these privileges because even if I had not worked hard in school, my parents would've helped pay for my college career. I was born into financial security because of my dad's job, and I lived in a safe neighborhood because my parents could afford housing in a friendly location. To some degree, I believe it is fair that I have kept these privileges because I have worked extremely hard in school and do my best to save money for my family by supporting myself as much as possible. I should not give up my privileges just because others do not have them. Loosing advantages and rejecting opportunities will not help anyone. Rather, I should use my privileges to help others gain advantages like my own. During the class activity, I began feeling guilty about my privileges. I feel like I should've accomplished more with all of the advantages I received. There were many times I wanted to skip a plus here and there, but I didn't knowing that would not change the situation. I figured it was time to face the facts and end the ignorance.

Prison Hierarchy

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The racial injustice in this country when it comes to the prison and police system was made very clear when reading The New Jim Crow. But I also wanted to get into the gender injustice/ favoritism of women. Which Michelle Alexander did not talk about but I chose to do some research on because through personal experience, I have always felt that being a woman makes you seem more "innocent" and less likely to commit a crime. And its true, "Males had an imprisonment rate of 14 times higher than the rate for females" according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There are fewer women committing crimes, but still I do not believe this to be the explanation for the huge gap. As I suspected, I read in an article, "How Much and What Crimes do Women Commit" that when the war on drugs hit, women started to be used as drugs fronts. Before, the arrest and imprisonment gap was much lower, but since the war on drugs hit hard on men especially, they realized that women do seem less suspicious, so they began to use them. Women committing crimes are typically found with men, especially their significant other, thinking it makes them less suspicious. In my own experience, I really believe this to be true. In high school, I every single one of my guy friends either got; arrested, a ticket for possession, or a MIP. But when girlfriends and I would be in a car with them or walking down the street they wouldn't be worried at all. I felt like I never had to be concerned, knowing how the cops overlooked girls. In my suburban community they it seemed like the cops still thought it was the 50s were a young woman would never drink or do drugs or steal. I am a white young innocent looking female; when they looked at me they don't imagine me doing anything wrong. If you look at the chart below, you'll see that the number of women of color is disproportionate to the white women incarcerated. This is just like the men. "Black men have been admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is more than thirteen times higher than white men"(Alexander 100). This is just made clear as discrimination when the Supreme Court ruled "that police officers are free to use minor traffic violations as an excuse to stop motorist for drug investigations" (Alexander 108). When police have that much discretion and "people of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates" (Alexander 99) discrimination is the only explanation. Through personal experience, the readings and my own personal research, I have come to the conclusion that the police and prison system is a sickening hierarchy. Where the black men sadly suffering the most and the white women, like myself, are going easily unnoticed by the law enforcement. Picture 4.png

I Know What I Am

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...is possibly one of the most powerful phrases in the world. As the Disney Channel says, "Be Yourself!" However, being yourself isn't always the easiest thing in the world -- especially considering how long it takes one to find themself in the first place. The Meat Market in the reading "I Know What I Am" by David Valentine, however, highlights a large number of individuals who are confident in who and what they are -- even if that identity can't be put into "reasonable" terms with today's common-use vocabulary. For example, Mona is gay and attracted to men... but identifies as a woman. Typically in American society at large, that would be considered a contradiction. However, in writing this piece, Valentine's makes possibly one of the best and thought-provoking arguments in conquering this description conundrum: more representation is not needed; instead, what we need, is acceptance of ambiguity. While we covered this for awhile in class, I feel as though this reading's full scope was not explored. As Valentine states, "It is important to note that I am not calling for better "representation" of those I discuss above, or the simple elaboration of new categories, but rather a reexamination of a system which, in both practical and theoretical terms marks... ...as 'other.'"

I found this to be a very refreshing take on an old and difficult problem: the more inclusive we become, the more categories we begin to include, the more frustrating it is to categorize sexualities, genders, ethnicities, and the like. On my dashboard on tumblr, I constantly see calls to accept demisexuals, gray-asexuals, asexuals, genderfluidity, heteroromantic/homosexual etc etc etc. individuals.Perhaps, as Valentine argues, we should simply start to overcome our human need to categorize others and "know" things about them. The first argument that springs to mind is how, then, would we treat others. For example, how would we know whether to call a baby "beautiful or "a 'lil champ?" Short answer: We wouldn't. And, as Valentine argues, that's okay. Additionally, the more we move into acceptance of ambiguity, the more we move away from strict categorical gender roles as well as othering and marginalization of those who fall through the cracks, such as intersex individuals or gender-fluid individuals.

However, as this article about a child named Storm shows, we have a long way to come. The fact that a private family decision has caused such outrage shows how deeply ingrained our "need to know" is, and the temper tantrums society can throw when it doesn't get its way. However, as Valentine argues, in order to achieve true acceptance, this is the first step: accepting ambiguity.

Me, Myself, and Justice

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Hi! My name is Geordin. I'm a sophomore at the U majoring in psychology, currently minoring in music and thinking about taking a minor in GWSS as well. I'd eventually like to go on to work in therapy as a counselor specializing in LGBT+ issues as well as others of atypical sexual orientations or gender identifications. I identify primarily as a gay cisgender male, but I strongly believe that that does not preclude me from participating in activities that American culture has deemed primarily or even exclusively female, and vice versa for cisgender women. The gender binary and culture today has very harsh expectations and rules for each gender, which is not only narrow-minded, but unjust. I think Nomy Lamm puts it best in her poem "Book of Rules: A Girl's Guide to Doing What You're Told."

"you don't get to decide what you are
what happens is, you are nothing, and then you pop out
and the doctor says "boy" or else "girl" and that's that.
for the rest of your life you are trying to be "boy" or else "girl."

Engaging Gender Justice

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I have honestly really enjoyed all of the gender-based readings that have been assigned for class so far.
My favorite was Doing Justice To Someone. This came about at almost the perfect time. As stated in my previous blog post, the only show that I ever watch is Law and Order SVU. The episode that I watched the day before this reading was assigned was about this specific case!! (with many other SVU twists and turns.) I had been watching this episode with my mom when she made the comment that she wasn't sure why it would cause distress to the individual if they had never known the biological anatomy that they were born as. Without having read the article, but along with the conversation that we had already had in class, I was able to explain why this might be an issue, and open up her mind to the topic.
I feel as though it is not that most people don't accept "gender differences", it is that most people are not familiar with them.
Hopefully by diminishing ignorance to such topics, society in general would be able to be more open minded so that these groups did not feel oppressed. After reading Punks, Bulldaggers, And Welfare Queens, I see the difficulty in knowing exactly how to achieve this. I'm not sure if campaigns, or different forms of the "in your face politics", would work better, but I definitely think that something needs to happen. I wish there was a clear answer, but there simply is not.
I find this to be important because of what we have been talking about in class lately. A main subject that I am starting to become more aware with is how oppression is so intersectional. Before this class I would have never thought that all of these different groups could be so intertwined. I find it to be so important for all oppressed people, and others who witness oppression, to come together and unite against the systems that are enabling this to happen. Individuals feel more inclined to help others combat similar problems that they have already faced, and many would like to have another person alongside them during those tougher times.

Blog 2: Gender Justice

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Looking at this picture, it encompasses the topic we were talking about in class. This picture of this girl is depicting how she is judges and labeled when she has a "man's" haircut. Because she is female society associate her with feminine attribute, like having long beautiful hair. When she cuts her hair, it's like she is cutting away her femininity, as if she can no longer a "women" and does not fit into the gender binary. The unintelligibly of society creates the need for "us" to know, what she is and maybe her reasons, because she is different.
This ties in to the Judith Butler article, because of how the medical professional, parents and peers expected David/Brenda to act, be like, and look like. For example, David had to dress like a girl, play with girl toys, and pee like a girl when he was Brenda. Also, when he got a false penis when he got older, because that's what a man needs to be a man. There are many concrete attributes and practices strongly associated with being one gender or the other and when we (society) notices an opposition between the two, we have a hard time to comprehend it, because it is not "normal". As mentioned in class, each gender practices and conforms to attributes of our gender and often our performance always fails. For example, most girls will start playing with make-up in their early teens, and wear it almost every day throughout life. The class example today was the use of a bra.

These additional pictures are for fun and from FB.
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November Valentine

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To address the questions on Moodle
What is "economic justice"? I would say that economic justice can be better understood by engaging the Valentine text. In this reading the author portrayed the members of the meat market in a way, for me, really illustrated how people can be disenfranchised by many aspects of society, including economic status. I would say that economic justice is the interdisciplinary approach, and often struggle, to understanding the conditions of economic inequality in order to challenge these conditions and bring economic fairness to society.
What does it look like? A multifaceted highly informed and diverse approach to engaging the sources of inequality. In the Valentine text, the author is involved in combating economic inequality by giving out free safe sex materials and educating those who have suffered from misinformation due to a lack of capital or some other hindrance.
What are the major obstacles that prevent the United State in obtaining economic justice?
How does society currently attempt to challenge poverty and inequality in the United States? Although I believe there should be more efforts to challenge poverty and inequality in the US and around the world, there are some impressive programs out there. Social Security is a wonderful institution to ensure the elderly are not left out in the cold after they become seen as not-able-bodied by society. In St. Paul the Sandra Day O'Conner center is one such a housing facility in a web across the nation that houses the cities homeless as well as takes efforts to provide food and social activities.

Lastly I just wanted to relate how the Valentine article relates to this election. It cannot be denied that this ballot will be incredibly important to the Minnesotan contribution of lawful discourse on the matters of not only marriage, but gender and sexuality as well. As we have seen the gender binary, man and woman- is not concrete and cannot be supported by the law, for it would create a society of falsehood.

Response to Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens

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I would like to focus on the issue that Cathy Cohen brings up and continues to touch on in her article, Punks, Bulldaggers, and Wellfare Queens. Cohen precisely introduces this issue: "I argue that a truly radical or transformative politics has not resulted from queer activism. In many instances, instead of destabilizing the assumed categories and binaries of sexual identity, queer politics has served to reinforce simple dichotomies between heterosexual and everything 'queer.'" From what I understand, more simply put, Cohen is saying . . . A person cannot deteriorate this concept of normal and the set of norms that structure our society by essentially saying, "I am different. Accept me as different." Until reading Cohen's article, I never really thought about this approach as being wrong, or saw any other option for that matter. However, with much consideration, I can see that Cohen makes a striking point. When it comes to societal and political change, there is not so much a need for people to claim that they are different and work towards a world that accepts or tolerates their differences. punk_boy.jpg By doing so, a person would only express that they are okay with these societal norms existing, and separate themselves from those who can consider themselves normal under theses constructs. Rather, there is a need for people to challenge society's preconceived ideas of what is considered normal (the regulatory regime), try to expand what is societally accepted, and even strive to completely rid society of these "governing" norms. For example, let's say I see this boy walking in front of me on my way to class. What do I think? "He looks different than me and my friends, and the majority of the people around him." Then I can make the decision to either accept that about him or not. Being the person that I am, I would continue to think, "But that's fine. Good for him." I think my thought process is a step in the right direction; however there are still so many things wrong with the fact that I thought about how the boy looked different, or even considered him different in the first place.

Response to " I know what I am"

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As I read " Doing Justice to Someone" by Judith Butler, I cannot help but agree with her that a lot of important things such as values and norm have been decided in advance for us. We are conditioned from young age to behave and act certain way pertaining to gender. Girls are taught to play with certain toys and dress up certain way because that is accepted behavior for that gender. However, when a girl or boy engages in an activity that is considered a taboo for that gender by society, they are perceived as if there is something wrong with them. This is what happened to Brenda(David) when she was caught urinating while standing and as result she was threatened.In public and private we are coached incessantly to conduct ourselves in ways that fit with the norm. Furthermore, failing to comply with societal norms can be emotionally and physically damaging to one's self. People have hard time understanding and accepting ideas,lifestyles, and cultures that are not aligned with the norm. It is not that majority of these people are narrow-minded but it is the dominant culture that dictates what is or not acceptable and it is difficult to break from that. When you look at the meat market from " I know what I am" reading, you are able to see behaviors and lifestyles that are frowned on by our society. For example, the sex workers are combination of fem queens and butch queens who were born men but present themselves as women when working. In our society such behaviors and lifestyles are considered shameful but to the sex workers it is acceptable.

Escaping Gender Identity

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The "I Know Who I am" piece by David Valentine argues "...none of these people's understandings of themselves or their desires are intelligible in political categories of collective agency, because of the gap between their understandings of personhood and the political categories of identity which claim to represent them (108)." Trans gender experiences and perceptions of self cannot be labeled with existing political terminology. There are so many words such as transgender, transsexual, gay, butch, etc... and these terms are constantly overlapping for some individuals so they do not know which group or identity they belong with. It makes me wonder if this existing language is escapable? I mean I understand that we said in class that it is rooted in history and came about over a long time. However, to me it almost seems like this language is a necessary evil. It may have an isolating effect, but I am not sure how political discourse can take place without some broad words. If the language got so specific as to try and capture every individual's identity I am not sure how we would arrive at policy decisions. When politicians appeal to the public they need to explain things in terms for everyone to understand, so that they can outline policies. The group itself also needs this terminology to construct change in society, if they have a lot of specific terminology the public can get lost in understanding their message. I think about how in class we got so lost between the distinction of transgender and transsexual that is a reflection of how unclear these meanings are, because they are one level more specific than just gay and lesbian. Therefore, while I do think that identity in society can be a bad thing in that without a clear understanding of what category you belong to you can feel isolate. I am not sure if adding more categories is the solution, and eliminating categories would halt discussion altogether. The categories we currently have seem to be a necessary evil. What do you guys think???


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What is Gender Justice?

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I've been very moved by a lot by the articles we have read and discussed in class. I always thought of myself to be very conscious and aware of the many ways that people can identify themselves. But between our discussions in class and from the readings over the past week or so, I've learned so many new things. The article about David by Judith Butler, really amazed me. I was quite upset when I read that David's parents felt the need switch his sex in order to make him "normal" after the accident during his surgery. At the same time, I now know why they felt that need for him to be "normal". It made sense after we talked in class a few days later about the need to know someone so we can better understand how appropriately to interact with them. Although it truly wasn't the best thing the parents could have done in the situation, they really were trying to keep David away from all the questioning he would receive in his future from his peers.

The problem with today's society is that, like I stated before, we all have that desire and urge to "need to know". It been ingrained in us to desire normalcy. To many of us, what is different and new to what we are used to is wrong. That is what needs to be changed. In the cases of both David and the sex workers in the Meat Market, justice to them truly was to call them by their desired name (or proper pronoun in the case of the workers). Rather, to call David "Brenda" or the workers in the market "transsexual" when many were of various other identities, would be and injustice to them. Much like what we discussed in class about building from ambiguity, to obtain gender justice, we need to acknowledge and accept all those who are different, because what is normal to you is not the same normal as any other individual and vice-versa.areyou.jpg

Reaction to Pariah and Discussion October 1st

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I thought our conversation yesterday was so insightful and interesting. As a straight, white, female, it can be difficult to understand the feeling of hate and discrimination that certain groups feel. I detest knowing how many people go to bed at night feeling bad, uncomfortable, or inferior because of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. I cannot even imagine how it would feel to have those hateful people be your family. In the clip of Pariah that we watched in class, it broke my heart to see how Alike's mom treated her. My best friend is gay and her mom has not handled it well. I can see how much it hurts her to feel like she is not accepted by her mom. Why has our society made sexual orientation such a huge deal? Thousands of years ago, many people were bisexual and gay, and that was the norm. When did it become "improper" to be attracted to someone of your same gender? The discrimination that Alike felt, as well as many of the people in our articles, is so unbelievable in my mind.

Blog #2: California Passes New Law

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Ever since this weekend, California has been headlining newspapers and news stations. This is because Governor Jerry Brown signed a law to put a ban on gay conversion therapy. Gay conversion therapy is used to attempt to change the sexual orientation of someone. It is mostly aimed at trying to convert children and teenagers who identify themselves as gay into being straight. Studies were completed by the American Psychiatric Association that found that patients undergoing this therapy are at a greater risk for developing depression or more severe depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. They also stated that "therapists' alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already felt by patients". This law will take effect on January 1, 2013 and will prohibit any patient under the age of 18 from getting this therapy. This is the first law of this kind in the nation. Immediately after I read the article about this law, I thought of the "Doing Justice to Someone"article. David Brenda was forced to go through therapy just like this. She was forced to go to Dr. Money to help her feel like a woman and identify as a woman. She went through what I thought was very cruel and unnecessary treatments in order to help her lose her want to identify as a male. I understand that it would be a very hard position for the parents to be in, but I don't think that they should have made David change who he felt he was. David Pickup, a spokesperson for the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, reminds me of Dr. Money. He said that homosexual children and teens usually come to his office because they are distressed about homosexual feelings. I think that in many cases these children are forced. Instead of telling them that these feelings are not okay, we should be encouraging them to embrace who they are and to not be afraid to feel this way. It is nothing to feel ashamed about. This is why I am so elated about the passing of this law. I do not think that it is right for parents to bring their child or teenager to a therapist in hopes of changing their homosexual feelings or views that they are having. Children and teenagers should be able to identify however they want to without having someone try to convince them otherwise. Taking children and teenagers to this kind of therapy only lowers their self-esteem and makes them more vulnerable for depression and suicide. They are forced to try to be someone that they are not. Everyone should be able to identify themselves as whatever they want and not be afraid to be comfortable in their own skin. If David were still around today, I am sure he would be as happy as I am about the passing of this law. I hope many other states follow California's example and make a similar law because everyone deserves the right to be who they want to be.

This is the article I got my information from if anyone is interested in learning more about it.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/01/us/california-gay-therapy-ban/index.html

Defending the Color Line

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Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens

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Reaction to recent discussion

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Reading these articles, and listening in class to the lecture, opinions, stories and input from the class, I can't help but to just sit there at soak all of the information in. This is all so new to me, I have never taken a class like this and frankly, I haven't put much thought towards these issues before. However, now that my eyes to them, I am shocked at how people treat transgenders, transsexuals, gays, etc. I am from a suburb outside of Milwaukee, WI, straight, white, raised in a single parent home half the time, the other half with my mother and and step father. They raised me to treat others the way I would like to be treated and to always accept people, even if they're different, and because of them, I always have. After reading "I know what I am" I realized that not all people were raised the way I was, to accept those who are different. I was shocked that little girls were threatening to kill Brenda just because she liked to go to the bathroom standing up. I was shocked at the way people mistreated her. I can't imagine how confused she must have felt, being so uncomfortable in her own skin. I guess this blog is about how thankful I am that I am learning about these topics that never came up in my life, topics that people struggle with every single day. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one confused on all of the different terms brought up in discussion. I return to my dorm after class and search those terms, look up present day issues concerning them as well. I want to be able to respect and accept all of those who associate themselves with the terms that are so new to me. I am becoming extremely interested in these topics and I am glad now that I can learn about the troubles people face by identifying a certain way and that I am learning about them and therefore stop all of the discrimination and misunderstanding associated with these identifications. The clip of the movie we saw in class also brought new concepts to my attention. The way people assume someone who is a transgender is a bad person, like the mother in the clip. All of these new vocabulary words, ideas, feelings, stories- I am open to learn about them and what to learn about them. I don't understand why society needs people to be a specific category- and if they don't know how to categorize someone, they are instantly different. Why must we need to place someone in a category...you can't be in two categories. But why? If someone is in two different categories, that is the way they want to be. Just accept. They are still human, they are a person, they have feelings, they love, they hurt, just like everyone else. Just like me. It is hard for me to understand what these people are going through, but it is also hard for me to understand why people don't accept others just the way they are.

Vote No against Voters ID Law Requirement

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With election day right around the corner I think it's important that we as college students are well informed on the issues that will arise on the ballot this November. One law that is being tried on the ballot is the Voter ID Law Requirement, up until last week I had never really thought twice about it. But when I was at synagogue last week for Yom Kippur services my Rabbi did a sermon against the Voter ID Requirement that I have not been able to stop thinking about, here I have attached a link to the sermon it's only a few pages long and very easy reading:

Don't Stand Idly By: Voter ID

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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