Posts tagged ‘CNN’

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

The Law of Supply & Demand

Prostitute in Tijuana, Mexico.

Image via Wikipedia

I read an article recently on CNN, written by a Swedish woman in law enforcement, about how they have reduced the rates of human trafficking and prostitution in their country. Since I identify as a feminist, this topic is of obvious interest to me.

Also, the fact that the article is specifically about how they tackled prostitution in Sweden is of particular interest. You see, I detect a lot of similarities between the culture of modern America and the culture of modern Sweden, particularly when dealing with the relationship between the sexes. I actually get a noticeable amount of traffic on this website from Sweden.

You might wonder what they did that helped with the human trafficking and prostitution in Sweden. Here’s what they did. They decriminalized prostitution and cracked down on solicitation and trafficking. So, in other words, if you are a prostitute you won’t be punished for it. However, if you’re a john, a madam or a pimp, then you’ll be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows.

I’ve personally been saying for a long time that the key to combating prostitution is in focusing on the demand rather than the supply side of the prostitution chain. How do you decrease demand? You do it by creating consequences for the buyer. Consequences for the seller sort of defeat the purpose. Not to mention that criminalizing prostitution in some cases is kind of like prosecuting a rape victim for her rape (which is still done in some countries).

Let’s put this in more understandable dynamics. The typical prostitute is either forced or coerced into prostitution. Frequently, they start at a young age, before the age of consent, and more often than not, they are dependent upon drugs. Sometimes the prostitution funds a drug habit and sometimes the drug habit is what necessitates the prostitution. Sometimes the prostitute is made dependent upon drugs in order to keep her dependent upon her john or madam. She can’t run very far away from her bordello if she starts to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Typically, what happens in America’s penal system when it comes to prostitution is that a police department receives complaints about street prostitution. The police department is under an obligation to respond to that complaint. So, they send out their vice squad to run a sting and they send out more patrol cars to enforce laws on loitering. The sting involves vice officers posing as johns in order to arrest and prosecute the prostitutes. The prostitute goes to jail. She gets convicted. She pays a fine or serves her time and then goes right back out on the streets. She just moves to a different neighborhood next time. The problem isn’t solved. It’s just temporarily migrated.

The reason why attacking the problem in this manner isn’t working is that prosecuting prostitutes is kind of like giving a man on death row a consecutive 153 year sentence. First off, no man is going to live to be 153 years old. If he were convicted as a newborn baby, he’d spend his entire lifetime in jail. Secondly, he’s already going to die. What’s the point of the extra sentences? He’s never getting out. Sadly, we actually do stuff like this in the American justice system. It’s not just a metaphor for idiocy.

Getting arrested for prostitution and subsequently convicted of prostitution is like a life sentence. It’s a criminal record that will stick to a person for the rest of her life, like an unfortunate tattoo. If a prostitute isn’t already convinced that she has no other alternatives available to her before her first conviction, then she’s certainly convinced afterward. She sees no opportunity for redemption. What decent company would take her on? She probably can’t pass the background test for McDonald’s.

What happens when we prosecute for solicitation instead? Well, I imagine that you see a lot of men go to jail and pay fines and experience severe punishments. A lot of these men will be married men with families and some might lose their families. They will quite possibly lose their jobs. They will be publicly humiliated. They will lose friendships. And after all of that is over? They will think twice before paying $20 to a stranger on the street for a blowjob. Why are consequences more effective for the buyer in this case? That’s because the buyer has more to lose.

The way to combat prostitution is to penalize the people who perpetuate it. We need stiffer sentences for human traffickers, pimps, madams, and customers. This should go hand in hand with programs to provide housing and educational assistance to sex workers as well as freedom from prosecution for prostitution. I would propose that we expunge past records for prostitution so that sex workers can apply for decent work and have the chance to get it.

This is a no brainer, and there’s nothing inherently sexist about it. If a woman is purchasing sex, then she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law just as a man would be. And for those sex workers who are boys and men the same principle should apply as to female sex workers.

April 6, 2011 at 12:32 am 11 comments

International Women’s Day

International Women's Day rally of the Nationa...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is, apparently, International Women’s Day, and CNN’s website and The Huffington Post and Time all have feature articles involving that in some way. The Huffington Post, especially, has a lot of articles on global injustice toward women. There are blog posts by Marlo Thomas and Annie Lennox, amongst others, bemoaning the sad state of feminism today.

We need to shed light on injustice in the world. We still have such a long way to go towards achieving gender equality. The collective rape of women in the Dominican Republic, and the “corrective rapes” in South Africa, which may be the rape capital of the world, as well as the brutal gang rape of an 11 year old girl by at least 18 men in Texas are featured articles in the news today. There’s also mention of the importance of “V Day,” which is I guess what some feminists are embracing as the celebration of Eve Ensler’s vagina monologues in a tie-in with Valentine’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong. Human rights violations based on gender are disturbing and appalling, and we should work to bring attention to them and, hopefully, towards the end of such cruelty. However, sometimes I wonder if the whole label of “feminist” has become associated with victimization rather than power. How often are we demonizing men instead of really helping women?

On International Women’s Day I think it’s important to remember:

Yes, women were once banned from receiving an education or a higher education, but some men worked to change that policy. And then those same men taught some women in their chosen subject of study.

Yes, women were once banned from owning property or receiving an inheritance or holding a mortgage note, but some men worked to change those laws and policies. And then those same men gave women property and approved loans for women.

Yes, women were once largely banned from the workforce with the exception of teachers and nurses and secretaries, but then some men thought that wasn’t right so they hired women for other jobs. Then those men trained those women on what they needed to know to do their jobs.

Yes, women are victims of sexual violence more often than men, and men are more often the perpetrators, but some men thought that wasn’t right. Those men made laws to see that justice could be applied so that women could be safe. Some men even risked their lives to enforce those laws.

Yes, women once couldn’t vote, but some men thought they should be able to vote so they passed a law so that women could vote, too.

Yes, women can give birth, but they haven’t figured out how to do it yet without some form of contribution from a man.

We’re here where we are today in large part because of some extraordinary men. Don’t forget to put the accomplishments of the women’s movement in perspective. We didn’t do it all by ourselves.

March 9, 2011 at 12:04 am 4 comments

Proof That Atheists Believe in God

Angry man

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t known that many atheists, let alone been close to them. But the ones I have known, frankly, didn’t seem like true atheists to me. They still seemed to acknowledge God’s existence. They just seemed angry or bewildered at God. They spoke of God and their frustrations with Him and their perplexity at the dichotomy of a cruel world and a loving God. They spoke of their disappointment and disillusionment with the God of their childhood.

Finally I have “proof” that atheists actually believe in God. An article I read yesterday on CNN is about a study on college students that will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Students of all religious backgrounds were studied, and they reported having felt anger toward God. Not towards fate. Not towards the deck of cards they were dealt. Not towards The Force. Not towards Xenu. Towards God.

I ask you, logically, how do you experience anger towards someone who doesn’t exist? Well, you don’t. The fact is that whether you choose to believe that God created man or that man created God, God does exist for you if He’s real enough for you to be angry with Him. And anyone can start there.

January 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm 18 comments

Al Pacino’s Public Service Announcement

Cover of "Dog Day Afternoon"

Cover of Dog Day Afternoon

CNN has posted a video of Al Pacino talking with Larry King. King asks Pacino about his alcoholism, and Pacino admits that he’s not sober. Pacino is definitely sober in the interview, or at least he’s not a slurring lunatic. His hair is curled and flipped and bouffanted as if he were a stately actress of his age, rather than an actor.

He talks about almost turning down Dog Day Afternoon. He says that his mentor Charlie Long talked him into an abstinence from alcohol. His agent or manager also worked on him until he agreed to quit drinking. He quit drinking for two days, read the movie script and managed to get back the part that he had turned down.

King asks him when he quit drinking, and he hems and haws and doesn’t answer the question. He says it’s a gradual thing and a gradation, and that quitting drinking is “unscrambling the brains.” Well, I think I can relate to that.

Pacino says that the reason that alcoholism is currently such a vilified disease is solely due to drunk driving. He quotes Laurence Olivier and generally makes being an alcoholic seem like a cool thing or like it’s an essential thing for a career in the arts.

I just have to say that I have very little respect for Al Pacino. For one thing, alcohol abuse affects the health and finances and relationships and family dynamics of millions of people who aren’t millionaire actors. To give them the impression that as long as they don’t drink and drive, it’s not so bad is pretty irresponsible. The message I took from his interview is that sobriety is not something that’s required and that alcoholism is a time honored tradition that makes you a hep cat. Yep, I used the phrase hep cat. Al Pacino in an old lady bouffant calls the phrase to mind.

Well, sobriety’s not required if you can drink sensibly. If you can drink sensibly, then you probably aren’t an alcoholic. You can stop with one or two. But can you?

December 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm 3 comments

Video Pranks

Man in an electric chair.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s interesting to me how with social media nowadays people have so very many more ways of embarrassing other people, sometimes quite literally to death. The Huffington Post today reported on two different instances of video “pranks.”

The first story involves a gay student from Rutgers University who was pranked by his roommate. The roommate, after hearing that the subject of his video wanted the use of their apartment until midnight, set up a web camera in his roommate’s room and recorded sexual activity between his roommate and a same sex partner. He then used Twitter to spread it all over the internet.

That doesn’t seem so funny to me. I think I missed the joke. The kid is now facing a felony conviction for his “prank.” He should be looking at the electric chair, if I believed in the death penalty, that is. The kid who was recorded in the sex tape killed himself, in embarrassment. And now an eighteen-year-old boy has lost his life over a “prank.” Gee, that’s so funny I forgot to laugh.

The second example isn’t as tragic. You might even view it as funny, but the joke is on the wrong person in this instance. A young man named James O’Keefe decided to punk a CNN reporter who was doing a story on him. James O’Keefe is a conservative  most famous for taking undercover video that discredited the activist organization, ACORN, in a stunt that involved him posing as a pimp. The CNN reporter asked for a private interview with O’Keefe, and O’Keefe granted her that interview.

The reporter’s name is Abbie Boudreau, and she has great credentials, but O’Keefe referred to her as a bubble-headed bleach blonde and was planning to video tape her “seduction” on a boat that he had outfitted with dildos and lube, among other things. Click on the link to take a look at O’Keefe. One wonders who he would actually be able to seduce, even if he didn’t come across as one freaky-deaky son of a bitch. His “prank” was blown out of the water by one of his own people, who confessed to Boudreau what she could expect if she boarded the boat where O’Keefe had agreed to set their private interview.

This prank is funny, alright. But the only reason it’s funny is because it shows what an arrogant, lame brained twit O’Keefe really is. Take the sexist, misogynistic nature of the “seduction” out of play and just leave O’Keefe. Really. Look at that picture. Is there any woman who would possibly want to sleep with that man? Sure, he could get laid at a gay club. Some gay men like twinks.

So, to conclude, video “pranks,” not so funny. Or funny, but not perhaps in the way you intended them to be.

September 30, 2010 at 12:34 am Leave a comment

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