Posts filed under ‘Children’

Slavery: Not Just in Egypt Anymore

President Barack Obama views the Emancipation ...

Image via Wikipedia

Remember the old bible stories about Joseph and his coat of many colors? Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. Then he rose to become the right hand man of the Pharaoh himself. Several generations later, his ancestors and the descendants of his brothers were slaves. Moses led them out of the land of Egypt, parting the red sea with his staff.

Then, remember how several years later a bunch of immoral white men in Europe and the United States kidnapped, mutilated, tortured and killed many Africans on big seafaring vessels? Remember how the ones who survived were later sold off to plantation owners in the South who then treated them abysmally? Maybe you don’t. Do yourself a favor and read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Roots. Remember how Abraham Lincoln set those slaves free with a little document we like to call the Emancipation Proclamation?

Slavery is alive and well in America and throughout the world. Only now slavery is not defined by your religion or the color of your skin. It’s dependent upon your gender and your social status. Women, girls, and the poor are slaves, not just in the rest of the world but here in this country. Undocumented workers are smuggled into this country at the mercy of unscrupulous traders.  Then they are either sold into slavery outright or dropped across the border with a debt owed to their smugglers that they will never repay in their lifetimes: the new indentured servitude.

It’s happening to our young girls, as young as 13, courted sweetly by men whose future plans are to sell them in prostitution. The same sweet guy who treated these young women like princesses later rapes, beats, and drugs them. And rap music sanctifies and glorifies such behavior for whole new generations of young men, with its tales of pimps working hard to manage their bitches and hos. Yeah, it’s hard out there for a pimp. So hard, in fact, that we gave the men their own Academy Award winning anthem.

Our own military, in its efforts to reduce military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, have contracted the work of its non-essential personnel to civilians. These civilians are recruited by firms who contract with companies that contract directly with the Pentagon. Who knows just how many channels the money is laundered through until it gets to the hands of the slave traders? But if you’re an American, your tax dollars are paying to buy slaves.

Poor men and women are promised big money in exotic locations only to find out that they will be forced to Iraq and Afghanistan against their will, kept in sub-human conditions, abused and sometimes sexually battered. They will dodge bombs, shells, missiles and bullets on a daily basis. They will be hungry. They will not be allowed to leave. Almost all of them will not receive the pay they are promised. Some will not be paid at all.

Yes, slavery is alive and well and living in America. The new slave is poor and foreign or female and young. And America is buying.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/05/sex-trafficking-201105?printable=true

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/06/06/110606fa_fact_stillman

June 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm 3 comments

Some Things Never Change

A young girl kisses a baby on the cheek.

Image via Wikipedia

A recent Gallup poll surveyed Americans about their preference in the sex of their children. Just as in 1941, Americans prefer boys.  Perhaps the only change since 1941 is that it’s the men who are causing our preferences. Women basically have no statistically significant preference either way. They are split pretty evenly with about a third preferring a girl, a third preferring a boy, and another third having no preference whatsoever.

Men want boys. Just why is that? Is it because they hate girls? I like to think not, but you have to wonder with nearly 50% of American men having a clear preference for boys. Maybe they just wish the best life for their children and prefer to have boys so that their children will have more opportunities and have a better chance for a happier life. That argument makes sense. Men still make more money, hold more positions of power, and do far less work around the house. It’s pretty cool to be a man, or a husband, at least.

Maybe they just think boys are easier to raise. You don’t have to worry as much about them being molested or raped or getting pregnant. No Doubt’s “Just A Girl” perfectly illustrates the difference between growing up a daughter versus growing up a son in America. Boys cause trouble; they don’t get into it. Or at least, that’s the prevailing myth.

I was on a manosphere website once where one of the participants commented that women were using abortion in order to practice sex selection as a form of gender genocide. I kid you not. However, this article sounds like, if anything, the opposite is happening. Couples are using technology to ensure the selection of boys. If this is a significant trend, it will have disastrous consequences in years to come.

There is another possibility besides plain old misogyny or wanting a better life for your child…there is the possibility that American men prefer boys because they will carry on the family name. Maybe their reason for wanting to procreate is to perpetuate the family name, carry on the family line.

This brings me to another example of sexism in our culture. Women get married and take on their husband’s names. They willingly do so. But why is it that no one ever asks why the family name has to be the husband’s name? I wonder how many men would still prefer boys if their sons didn’t carry their names but their daughters did.

Follow me here. What if two people get married and instead of the wife taking the husband’s name and the kids taking the husband’s name we did something different? What if a man named Smith marries a woman named Johnson. They become the Smith-Johnson family. Any female children get the last name Smith. Any male children get the last name Johnson. Maybe they go by Smith-Johnson until they strike out on their own or until they get married when the boys drop the Smith, and the girls drop the Johnson to include a spouse’s name.

It’s much more equitable. I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime, anymore than I would expect to see the Equal Rights Amendment passed. The fact is that women have shot themselves in the foot. Right now we’re a little over half the population of America. If we wanted to mobilize and get to the polls and vote we could have passed that law a long time ago, or any other law you care to name. We could have formed our very own political party. But we traded all that for the dangling carrot of a princess wedding and a diamond ring.

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/23/gallup-americans-prefer-boys-to-girls-just-as-they-did-in-1941/

June 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm 8 comments

Love Should Be Multiplied, Not Divided

Sister wives

Image by Elizabeth Haslam via Flickr

The recent popularity of HBO’s series about polygamists in the Fundamentalist Mormon Church has spawned a TLC reality show. Again, Wal-Mart has corrupted me into buying immoral DVDs with a ridiculous price of $13 for the entire first season of Sister Wives. Why, why, why do I feel compelled to watch such trash? Well, it seemed like a kind of interesting sociological experiment for $13 and also seemed like a series that might be full of fodder for a feminist dissection.

The problem is that these people are so wholesome and loving and sane that it’s just impossible to have a bitch fest on them. I can’t do it. The lifestyle isn’t for me. I see the appeal, and not just from a reproductive standpoint. Obviously, a man with more than one wife can produce more children than, say, the opposite scenario. But the appealing thing is having more than just two adults to share household duties and obligations with. Hillary said it takes a village, and these people are their own village.

In the beginning we meet Kody Brown and his three wives, Meri, Janelle, and Christine. We meet their thirteen children. We get to see old pictures and hear the courtship stories of all three women. This isn’t some compound where boys are abused and girls are married off to old men at the age of 12. All three wives were adults who made the decision to enter a plural marriage.

The first wife, Meri, knew that she would not be the only wife when she married Kody. In fact, she seems to be the jolly matchmaker. Janelle jokes that Meri is in mergers and acquisitions, and no one gets to Kody without first bonding with Meri.

Janelle works outside the home, and Meri works and attends college. All three women say that they just want to raise healthy and happy, productive members of society. If the children choose not to engage in polygamy or to leave the faith of their upbringing, that will be okay as long as they are making their own choices. Above all, they want their children to have the freedom to choose for themselves. Janelle even lectures her girls that they will be finishing college before they get married.

I’d like to denounce these people for their “perverted” lifestyle, but it’s just not the case. Everyone’s needs are being met. Sure, the women experience some jealousy, especially when Kody brings on a fourth wife, Robin. But all four of these wives have a loving and considerate husband. A lot of other women would give up 100% of their one shitty husband to trade for 25% of a good one. And I realize that it’s a reality series. How ideal their domestic bliss seems probably has more to do with the editors than it has to do with “reality.” But these women seem significantly happier than Kate Gosselin, even after she dumped Jon.

Like I said, it’s not for me. I wouldn’t endorse the lifestyle or the religion. However, this is America. As long as the adults involved are consenting and no one is being abused or coerced, the children are well provided for, and the welfare system isn’t being abused…then what business is it of ours?

May 12, 2011 at 11:26 pm 3 comments

What Is Marie Osmond Thinking?

Marie Osmond holding a custom made LSR/Steinbe...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday legitimate news sources confirmed what had been rumored in supermarket tabloids for months. Marie Osmond remarried her first husband nearly 30 years after their first marriage. She wore her first wedding dress, which is supposed to make us go, “Awww,” but which I just find thoroughly creepy. Is there anything about this story that doesn’t scream, “Marie, please take your meds!”

Marie’s first husband is Stephen Craig, a former semi-pro basketball player. They married in 1982. They separated and reconciled twice. Then they divorced in 1985, with her claiming “mental cruelty” and amidst rumors of infidelity on his part. Apparently, he was disciplined by the Mormon Church for his behavior during the marriage.

After that unhappy union, Marie remarried not even a year later, to music producer Brian Blosil, or, as he is otherwise known, Mr. Marie Osmond. He adopted Stephen’s son, Stephen Craig, Jr., and together he and Marie had two biological children and adopted five more. They also separated and reconciled after Marie’s very public battle with post-partum depression.

In 2007 they jointly announced their intention to divorce. He’s apparently such a winner that one of their sons refused to retain his last name, and he didn’t attend that son’s funeral after he killed himself. Reportedly, the other children didn’t wish for him to attend, either. He sounds like a really swell catch.

Remember how Mr. Blosil adopted Stephen Craig, Jr.? Well, apparently, Stephen Craig, Jr. has been in contact with his biological father, and, following her divorce from Blosil, so has Marie. Stephen Craig is now a motivational speaker, and he’s been courting Marie and family at her home in Las Vegas where she now performs in a musical revue with her brother Donny.

I love Marie Osmond. I used to watch The Donny & Marie Show when I was a kid. I had a Marie Osmond Barbie doll. My brother and I had a really lame storybook about Jimmy and a robot. I bought one of her books and read it (not the one about the depression), and I watched her on Dancing with the Stars. I watched the talk show she had a few years back with Donny. I defy you not to like her. And for 51 years old, she’s smoking hot. She’s always been a very attractive woman, but ever since she lost that weight on Nutri-System or whatever, I would think she’d have the silverfox Mormon men crawling out of the woodwork for a chance at that.

Why does she feel the need to jump into the magical time machine that is her wedding dress and relive a grave and obvious error in judgment? I also love how she’s reconstructed her history. Like the redeemed villain of a soap opera, this cheater has swooped in to save Marie from a life of depression and loneliness. Everything will be strawberries and whipped cream this time around!

Remember again how Brian Blosil adopted Stephen Craig, Jr.? You should. This is the third time I’ve mentioned it. Here’s her official quote on Stephen now:

“I am so happy and look forward to sharing my life with Stephen, who is an amazing man as well as a great father to my children.”

If he’s really such a great man, then why did you divorce him the first time around? And if he was really such a great man, then why did you say he was guilty of “mental cruelty”? That doesn’t sound like he’s such a great man. If he’s really such a great man, then why did the church sanction him based on his behavior during your marriage? Was it just a case of the LDS Church being afraid to bite the hand that feeds it? Or was he legitimately immoral, unethical, and cruel? And finally, if he’s such a great father, then why did his biological son have to be legally adopted by the kind of father who wouldn’t attend his own son’s funeral?

Of course, it’s Marie’s privilege to not answer these questions for us. In fact, it would be inappropriate for her to do so. Some things should remain private. But I hope she’s asked them of herself. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes that a temple marriage seals spouses together for all eternity in a celestial marriage that not even death can tear asunder. I hope that she’s not yoked herself to a cheater.

I wish you well, Marie. And I sincerely wish that I am dead wrong. People can change, and you married young the first time around. Maybe you’ve both matured. Congratulations!

May 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm 6 comments

Greg Mortenson & 60 Minutes

Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

Previously I’ve written about Greg Mortenson, his non-profit, the Central Asia Institute, and his book about his journey to build schools for the children of rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book is called Three Cups of Tea, and its accuracy has been called into question by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes and journalist Jon Krakauer. In addition to alleging that Mortenson’s autobiography is less than truthful (remind anyone of James Frey?), there are even more serious allegations of money mismanagement.

In addition to the tall tales that Mortenson supposedly told in his books, Krakauer and 60 Minutes  are saying that Mortenson has not built as many schools as he claims he has.  Many of the schools Mortenson claims that CAI has built or is funding are not currently functioning. Central Asia Institute has only furnished one audited financial statement in its 14 years. Several board members have quit over misgivings about financial accountability. And Mortenson’s travel costs are paid for by CAI while Mortenson himself retains speaking fees for speaking engagements and promotional tours for his books. The proceeds from the books go to Mortenson and not to the institute.

Some of the allegations here shouldn’t be terribly shocking to anyone who read Mortenson’s book. Mortenson himself admits that he is a poor planner, ineffective with time management, money management, and people management. But for some reason he has a knack with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And no one is alleging that he isn’t an effective advocate for girls’ education in developing countries. No one is stating that he hasn’t vastly improved the lives of literally thousands of children. What they are claiming is that Mortenson has not been a good steward of CAI resources and that perhaps he’s indulged in some tall tales or some creative license with his story.

In one portion of the scandalous expose, 60 Minutes interviews a man that Mortenson identifies in a photo from his book as a member of the Taliban who kidnapped him for several days. Kroft interviews the man, and the man says he’s not Taliban and that he didn’t kidnap Mortenson. But honestly, if you were a member of the Taliban or if you had kidnapped someone, would it be in your best interest to admit to it on American national television? Why would we take this guy’s word at face value any more than we would Mortenson’s? And what due diligence did 60 Minutes undertake to ensure that this guy really was who and what he claims to be? We’re not told.

Three Cups of Tea was co-written by a seasoned journalist named David Oliver Relin. I have a hard time believing that he didn’t do any research on Greg Mortenson and his claims. After all, his professional reputation was on the line. I’d be interested in getting his take on things. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has asked that the public reserve judgment about Mortenson. Kristof is unimpeachable.

As for 60 Minutes and Krakauer, I’d like to say that, to be fair, the piece isn’t a complete hatchet job. Kroft indulges in some sensationalism in following Mortenson to a public book signing. Shame on you for grandstanding, Steve Kroft! It’s beneath you. And Krakauer may feel duped for having given $75,000 to a man who’s perhaps been less than truthful. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s envious of Mortenson’s greater success with his books. Krakauer wrote two bestsellers, one of which was made into a movie that was directed by Sean Penn. But his books haven’t sold as many copies as Greg’s, and Jon Krakauer probably can’t command the same speaking fees. Maybe his motivations are not entirely pure.

Even if Greg Mortenson has done a lot of good in the world, as I’m sure he has, he should still be held accountable. At the very least, Mortenson should start freely sharing audited financial statements on an annual basis. I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone contribute one penny to CAI until this happens. Mortenson himself has admitted that he’s a lousy businessman. Why shouldn’t he continue to be the front man for his charity and hire someone else who’s experienced and knowledgeable to handle the day to day nitty gritty of being CAI’s executive director? I am sure that there are plenty of qualified individuals who would love the challenge of reforming such a worthy charity.

60 Minutes has tried to turn a hero into a charlatan. The truth is most likely somewhere between those two extremes. The jury’s still out on this matter, as far as I’m concerned. However, there are many questions that need to be answered. If Greg Mortenson is really concerned with helping the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan, then he’ll do his best to answer those questions honestly and to behave honorably with regards to the money that has been entrusted to him for those children’s welfare. Mr. Mortenson, the excuse of naivete will only get you so far. It’s time to grow up and do the right thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363068n

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/greg-mortenson-author-of-three-cups-of-tea-nicholas-kristof-and-others-respond-to-the-controversy/2011/04/19/AFo6Zt4D_blog.html

http://danielglick.net/2011/04/60-minutes-expose-on-three-cups-of-tea-is-weak-–-and-wrong/

April 26, 2011 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

What Age Parenthood?

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, circa 1954, this is a c...

Image via Wikipedia

Apparently, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband has decided that they are going to have a baby. How does a 94-year-old woman have a baby? Good question. I guess the plan is for her husband to inseminate a donor egg and then for a surrogate to carry the child. An article on CNN states that this will never happen because no reputable infertility specialist would help Prince Frederick von Anhalt and Zsa Zsa due to the fact that their combined ages are over 100.

The key phrase here is reputable. Octomom, anyone?

But it does beg the question at what age a woman or a couple should not be able to become parents. Men can father children until death, especially since we now have Viagra. Should we withhold it from them? Or should we just insist that men that have to use Viagra or some other drug in order to perform sexually be required to undergo vasectomies?

If two gay men wanted to be parents, and one of the men was 48 years old, and his partner was 52, then should they not be allowed to purchase the services of a surrogate? How about the single woman without a partner? I know there are women that have given birth in their 50s and 60s. Yes, it’s rare, but it has happened.

Should we say that any single person over the age of 50, regardless of sex, shouldn’t be assisted with fertility issues? That is half of 100, after all. And the child of a single parent is especially vulnerable. If the parent passes away or if the parent’s health is compromised, then there’s no one to pick up the slack.

Annie Liebowitz gave birth for the first time at 51. Years later, a surrogate carried twins for her. Diane Keaton adopted for the first time at 50. Are they bad mothers due to their age? Are they less entitled to the experience than younger people?

I don’t think there should be any hard and fast rules. The thing about women like Annie Liebowitz and Diane Keaton and the kinds of women who can fund infertility treatments that help women beyond normal childbearing years become pregnant is that they have resources that us normal folk do not. Kelly Preston not only has a husband and a fat bank account she also presumably has a support network of people and employees that can help pick up any slack and provide for her new baby Benjamin should she and John die or become severely incapacitated.

It might not be fair. But life isn’t fair. You didn’t get the memo?

Each case is different and unique. Ideally, people who lack the resources to be good parents shouldn’t be given children. Life doesn’t work that way. Eleven-year-old girls get pregnant without assistance or effort. When this happens should we just shrug our shoulders and say that nature knows best? Obviously, she’s supremely qualified to be a parent by virtue of conception, gestation, and labor. But should the baby be taken from her?

Again, the answer depends upon the circumstances. Can the child be well cared for? Does the mother have the support of her own parents? Does she have the support of the father, the father’s parents (because God forbid the father be an adult; if so, I sincerely hope he’d be in jail for the first several years of the kid’s life)?

I’ve said before that I think nature makes women infertile at a certain age for a good reason. Do I think that means that women shouldn’t be allowed to be mothers once they reach a certain age? Not across the board, no. I think it should be evaluated on a case by case basis. There are children in elementary school now who suffer from diabetes and, less often, the reverse is true, and a 40-year-old has the body of a 25-year-old. Some people shouldn’t have children just because they can.

Technically, I could probably conceive a baby without medical intervention. But should I? I’m 39, overweight, diabetic, with high blood pressure. I do not have family support nearby. I do not have a large family. I am lucky to provide financially for myself. I can’t for the life of me think of someone that I could trust to provide for a child of mine if I died or became ill or incapacitated nor do I have the resources to provide that for a child. Should I have a child? Hell, no.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Zsa Zsa and her husband should be allowed to bring a child into this world. The idea would be absurd, but more shocking things have been known to happen. The reason I don’t think they should be allowed to have a child has more to do with the fact that neither of them are prepared to take care of a baby. Yes, there is more to it than just being able to provide financially. And Zsa Zsa’s been rumored to have money problems recently. We all know Prince Frederick didn’t marry Zsa Zsa for her youth and beauty, so that means that his pockets are shallower than his gene pool. And that’s sayin’ something!

Prince Frederick wants a baby as an ego thing or an immortality thing or maybe, sadly, just to secure his hold on Zsa Zsa’s estate after her death. And we all know the best reasons to want a child aren’t about what a child can do for you but what you can do for a child. In fact, in an ideal world we would apply the John F. Kennedy principle to all matters of fertility.

But the world isn’t an ideal place. You didn’t get the memo?

April 15, 2011 at 12:30 am 4 comments

Save Texas Schools

Texas State Capitol

Image via Wikipedia

I’m about a month behind, but better late than never. About a month ago over 12,000 people marched on the state capital of Texas to protest a decrease in state funding for public education that will put many teachers out of work, as well as countless peripheral staff such as school bus drivers, guidance counselors, cafeteria workers, teacher’s aids, etc.

Rick Perry, our governor, says that he’s not firing teachers. He doesn’t have any influence over hiring and firing decisions. Talk to the superintendents and school boards of your local school districts. But if the school districts are getting less money from the state, then they are forced to make cuts. So, make no mistake, Rick Perry and the Texas state legislature are firing schoolteachers and school workers all over the state of Texas. With that many people out of work, how is that going to affect our economy?

This doesn’t have to happen. Texas has a rainy day fund. Supposedly, the state of Texas was so economically healthy a few years ago that Texas didn’t need any incentives that were offered by the federal government. In my opinion, not being able to provide a quality education for our children counts as the kind of emergency that requires a rainy day fund.

Texas is a state well known for big money and big business. There’s no excuse for being at the bottom of the barrel in terms of how much we spend per student on our students. Excuse me. I’m sorry. We’re not actually at the bottom. I think Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas might spend less. That thought is comforting.

The state lottery supposedly funds education. Things are tough all over. Our media is saying that the federal government may experience a shutdown. However, in times of economic downturn the lottery traditionally does well. People still spend money on lottery tickets when things are tight. In fact, they usually spend more money on lottery tickets. Where is all this lottery money that supposedly goes toward education actually going?

If you live in Texas and you think education and our state’s children need to be a priority, then you can let your governor and state legislators know. They will listen. They want above all other things to be reelected. If they know that you will not vote for them unless our state’s children receive the education they deserve, then they’ll find that money somewhere. Trust me.

I’d rather you not vote for Rick Perry at all, but this is a Republican state, and Perry has great hair so as long as he wants to be governor he’ll probably remain so. But we don’t have to let him know that. Call him up and tell him that you want your kids to have teachers and you won’t vote for him unless he sends money for teachers. Or write him or whatever. He doesn’t have to know that you really vote for him because you think he’s hot. That will be our secret.

http://savetxschools.org/

April 8, 2011 at 3:17 am 3 comments

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