Tag Archives: women

Is a Hard Life Inherited?

Is a Hard Life Inherited?

AUG. 9, 2014

 

Nicholas Kristof

“YAMHILL, Ore. — ONE delusion common among America’s successful people is that they triumphed just because of hard work and intelligence.

In fact, their big break came when they were conceived in middle-class American families who loved them, read them stories, and nurtured them with Little League sports, library cards and music lessons. They were programmed for success by the time they were zygotes.

Yet many are oblivious of their own advantages, and of other people’s disadvantages. The result is a meanspiritedness in the political world or, at best, a lack of empathy toward those struggling — partly explaining the hostility to state expansion of Medicaid, to long-term unemployment benefits, or to raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation.

This has been on my mind because I’ve been visiting my hometown of Yamhill, Ore., a farming community that’s a window into the national crisis facing working-class men.

I love this little town, but the news is somber — and so different from the world I now inhabit in a middle-class suburb. A neighbor here just died of a heroin overdose; a friend was beaten up last night by her boyfriend; another friend got into a fistfight with his dad; a few more young men have disappeared into the maw of prison.

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/08/10/sunday-review/0810KRISTOF/0810KRISTOF-articleLarge.jpg

Rick Goff, 64, of Yamhill, Ore., makes ends meet these days with odd jobs and his disability benefits. CreditSusan Seubert for The New York Times

One of my friends here, Rick Goff, 64, lean with a lined and weathered face and a short pigtail (maybe looking a bit like Willie Nelson), is representative of the travails of working-class America. Rick is immensely bright, and I suspect he could have been a lawyer, artist or university professor if his life had gotten off to a different start. But he grew up in a ramshackle home in a mire of disadvantage, and when he was 5 years old, his mom choked on a piece of bacon, staggered out to the yard and dropped dead.

“My dad just started walking down the driveway and kept walking,” Rick remembers.

His three siblings and he were raised by a grandmother, but money was tight. The children held jobs, churned the family cow’s milk into butter, and survived on what they could hunt and fish, without much regard for laws against poaching.

Despite having a first-class mind, Rick was fidgety and bored in school. “They said I was an overactive child,” he recalls. “Now they have name for it, A.D.H.D.”

A teacher or mentor could have made a positive difference with the right effort. Instead, when Rick was in the eighth grade, the principal decided to teach him that truancy was unacceptable — by suspending him from school for six months.

“I was thinking I get to go fishing, hang out in the woods,” he says. “That’s when I kind of figured out the system didn’t work.”

In the 10th grade, Rick dropped out of school and began working in lumber mills and auto shops to make ends meet. He said his girlfriend skipped town and left him with a 2-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son to raise on his own.

Rick acknowledges his vices and accepts responsibility for plenty of mistakes: He smoked, drank too much for a time and abused drugs. He sometimes hung out with shady people, and he says he has been arrested about 30 times but never convicted of a felony. Some of his arrests were for trying to help other people, especially to protect women, by using his fists against bullies.

In that respect, Rick can actually be quite endearing. For instance, he vows that if anyone messes with my mother, he’ll kill that person.

A generation or two ago, Rick might have ended up with a stable family and in a well-paid union job, creating incentives for prudent behavior. Those jobs have evaporated, sometimes creating a vortex of hopelessness that leads to poor choices and becomes self-fulfilling.

There has been considerable progress in material standards over the decades. When I was a kid, there were still occasional neighbors living in shacks without electricity or plumbing, and that’s no longer the case. But the drug, incarceration, job and family instability problems seem worse.

Rick survives on disability (his hand was mashed in an accident) and odd jobs (some for my family). His health is frail, for he has had heart problems and kidney cancer that almost killed him two years ago.

Millions of poorly educated working-class men like him are today facing educational failure, difficulty finding good jobs, self-medication with meth or heroinprison records that make employment more difficult, hurdles forming stable families and, finally, early death.

Obviously, some people born into poverty manage to escape, and bravo to them. That tends to be easier when the constraint is just a low income, as opposed to other pathologies such as alcoholic, drug-addicted or indifferent parents or a neighborhood dominated by gangs (I would argue that the better index of disadvantage for a child is not family income, but how often the child is read to).

Too often wealthy people born on third base blithely criticize the poor for failing to hit home runs. The advantaged sometimes perceive empathy as a sign of muddle-headed weakness, rather than as a marker of civilization.

In effect, we have a class divide on top of a racial divide, creating a vastly uneven playing field, and one of its metrics is educational failure. High school dropouts are five times as likely as college graduates to earn the minimum wage or less, and 16.5 million workers would benefit directly from a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Yes, these men sometimes make bad choices. But just as wealthy Americans inherit opportunity, working-class men inherit adversity. As a result, they often miss out on three pillars of middle-class life: a job, marriage and a stable family, and seeing their children succeed.

ONE of Rick’s biggest regrets is that his son is in prison on drug-related offenses, while a daughter is in a halfway house recovering from heroin addiction.

The son just had a daughter who was born to a woman who has three other children, fathered by three other men. The odds are already stacked against that baby girl, just as they were against Rick himself.

This crisis in working-class America doesn’t get the attention it deserves, perhaps because most of us in the chattering class aren’t a part of it.

There are steps that could help, including a higher minimum wage, early childhood programs, and a focus on education as an escalator to opportunity. But the essential starting point is empathy.”

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How Men on Tinder Reacted to Three Different Levels of Makeup

How Men on Tinder Reacted to Three Different Levels of Makeup

Verrrrrrry interesting…

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As Numbers Grow, Single Women Emerge as Political Powerhouse

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/single-women-midterm-elections.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=US_ANG_20140702&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1388552400000&bicmet=1420088400000&_r=2

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Study: Women Who Give Birth Later Live Longer

“…Those who got pregnant naturally and successfully birthed their last child after age 33 were twice as likely to live to age 95 compared to those who had their last child by age 29…”

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June 25, 2014 · 8:05 pm

Becoming Better Victims

When rape victims are told that it was their fault, when young women and girls are told that they must cover up their “distracting” skin and curves, when they are told to not walk home alone, when they are given pepper spray as presents for dorm life, we are teaching them that they need to become better victims.

When children are told to stand up to their bullies, when they are told to stop the personal expressions that attract bullies’ attention, when they are taught preventative self-defense, when they are given bullet-proof mats to protect them in a school shooting, we are teaching them that they need to become better victims.

When minimum wage workers, the unemployed, and the homeless are told that they need to use more ingenuity to get by, when they are told to manage their personal budgets better, when they are criticized for not being able to support their children, we are teaching them that they need to become better victims.

When LGBT individuals are told that their sexuality and gender expression is a choice, when they are denied their existence and livelihoods, when they are denied dynamic roles beyond the typical stereotypes in popular culture, we are teaching them that they need to become better victims.

When “minorities” are criticized for having high unwed birth and single mother rates, when they are seen as less capable of academic and financial achievement, when they are seen as dangerous criminals and drug addicts, we are teaching them that they need to become better victims.

When people are encouraged to use guns for self protection, when they keep hidden defenses in their purses and wallets in case they get abducted or kidnapped, when they switch to the other side of the street to avoid walking by dubious-looking others, we are teaching them that they need to become better victims.

 

Instead of examining why rape, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, and other forms of arbitrary discrimination exist and why society produces these horrors, we are placing the blame on the victims.

We are saying: it’s your fault you were targeted, it’s your fault that you have big breasts for a 13-year-old, it’s your fault that a multi-million dollar corporation does’t pay you a living wage, it’s your fault that your school district does not teach comprehensive sex education, it’s you fault that you’re gay, it’s your fault that American prisons are for-profit and have capacity quotas to meet, and it’s your fault that you couldn’t defend yourself during a mass shooting, a robbery, or a rape.

We are saying, you are the one who is wrong.

We need to turn around and instead examine why the rapists rape, examine why the bullies bully, examine why the CEOs don’t pay a living wage, examine why the homophobes are homophobic, examine why “minorities” are given unfair treatment in the eyes of the law, examine why the murderers murder, and examine why the kidnappers kidnap.

We need to fully examine an individual’s journey to victimhood and see if it’s actually the fault of the victim as we are often too eager to assume in this society. We are brainwashed into thinking that it’s the victim’s fault that they’re in the position they’re in. I’m arguing for deconstructing that idea and re-examing how they became victims, and then pursuing/punishing those whose fault it actually is. I would argue that, more often than not, it’s not the victim’s fault that they’re a victim.Victim-blaming just perpetuates the cycle and it needs to change, now.

 

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Western Art History: 500 Years of Women Ignoring Men

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.03.44 AM

“I think she’s really into it. Another set?”

“Yeah, she’s definitely really into it. Let’s play another set.”

shoulder

“Heyyyy.”

“Hi.”

“What are you doing?”

“Writing a letter.”

“Haha, yeah, I can see that, awesome, that’s awesome…who are you writing to?”

“My mother.”

“Right on, right on…” [stretches] “So what’s new?”

“I’m actually going to be busy for a while, writing this letter.”

“Sure, for sure.”

“Can’t really talk right now.”

“Oh, it’s no problem, I can wait.”

guitar

“Oh, my God, is he still there?”

“I don’t know, but — oh my God, don’t look up, don’t look at him, he’s going to start playing again. Christ.”

flute

“Okay, but did you like, really hear the difference between the two versions?”

“No, I definitely did, I totally see what you mean –”

“I’ll play it again.”Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.39.34 PM

“Oh, my God, Tess, don’t encourage him. You’re terrrrrible.”

“No, I’m serious! That was so good! Can you play another one? You’re, like, really good at this.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.40.21 PM

maybe if I pretend to fall asleep he’ll get the hint

flute2

“What? No, I’m just — it’s really good flauting. I’m just so impressed by how good it is, your flauting. Flaut some more.”

suitor

“I would love to go out tonight but I’m…I’m dying.” [coughs weakly into handkerchief]

“Oh, my God.”

“Yeah. It’s consumption, so.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“I will stay and nurse you.”

“No, you won’t.”creeper1

“Hi, I just wanted to tell you, I thought you looked really beautiful out there tonight.”

“Oh, thank you.”

“I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you that before, but I really felt like there was a sadness to your performance that maybe not everyone noticed, but I noticed it.”

“Thank you!…Sorry, how did you get backstage?”

“I just wanted to tell you, in case you thought nobody had noticed.”

“Okay, well, thank you — sorry, I think that’s my dress — I have to go finish dancing now.”

“Right, of course.”

“So maybe you should go back to your seat.”

“Oh, I’m fine right here.” chatty3

“I’m so sorry, I no speak ze English.”

“Ah! That is no problem to me, I also speak French.”

“I speak no French.”

“But I just heard you –”

“I speak no French, monsieur. Good day to you.”

creeper2

“Hey. Hey. Hi. Hey. Yellow. Girl in the yellow dress. Can you hear me? Hey. Hey. I’m talking to you.”

“Yes?”

“So do you come to court a lot or what”chatty2

“Hi, sorry, this is a women-only balcony.”

“Women’s balcony, sorry.”

“Male balcony’s over there, this balcony is all-women, sorry!”

chatty

okay just look like you’re listening and look at his eyebrows”

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June 12, 2014 · 5:23 pm

LEAN OUT: THE DANGERS FOR WOMEN WHO NEGOTIATE

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June 12, 2014 · 4:56 pm

Read This Poem and You’ll Never Laugh At Rape Jokes Again

read, this, poem, and, youll, never, laugh, at, rape, jokes, again,

 

“In case you missed it late last week, Patricia Lockwood’s poem in The Awl entitled “Rape Joke” became one of those brilliant pieces of art we get to read, digest, and pass around for free thanks to the wonders of the modern age. It’s not very often that something so emotionally naked, devastatingly honest and skillfully crafted gets our attention, and it is not just by virtue of its title, which of course recalls an issue we on the internet have discussed and struggled with over and over again. If you’re the sort of person who believes great art like this can be wielded as an instrument to change minds, the question becomes: what does this poem bring to the conversation that we have otherwise been struggling to say when discussing controversies like rape jokes and rape culture? The intention of the poem, of course, isn’t just to get us to feel bad all over again about rape jokes. It is, after all, heartbreaking and edgy and even darkly funny. Instead, what is compelling about this poem is its honesty and, within that brutal honesty, a call to redefine what we as a society understand rape to actually be.

Whenever rape is discussed on a website, the comments section quickly swells to an incredible size (the comments section of “Rape Joke” is currently no exception), often thanks to a vocal minority who take the opportunity to point how a particular story just doesn’t “cut it.” Look at the context, they say, do we really understand the context? The hard truth is that we men need to stop looking for ways to weasel out of the word “rape” and acknowledge that all rapes have contexts, and that rapes happen between men and women who know each other and, in certain circumstances, may even care for each other or love each other.

Rape culture is our collective refusal as a society to admit that while we in the abstract believe strongly that women should be free from the fear of sexual violence, we have not done enough to actually make the spaces we inhabit together (college campuses, for example) safer. It’s about being trapped in an old mode of defining rape and other forms of sexual violence and thus denying its existence in other forms. For most people rape is something that happens on Law and Order: SVU, CSI, an accuser and an accused (often strangers). This definition empowers a culture of rape apology on the internet and feeds the websites of Men’s Rights advocates. They want, by suggesting that rape is not rape unless you’ve gone to court, or that rape is not rape if it occurs within a relationship or a marriage, to delegitimize the very idea of rape culture. According to them, men like the one in Lockwood’s poem do not really exist, or at the very least, are not really rapists; rape is simply not something that can happen between a 19-year-old girl and her boyfriend. To them the world is divided between accuser and the accused, and that in today’s politically correct society the accusers are running rampant and more often than not are making things up. This is, at its core, the same pernicious meme that circulates among social conservatives as they struggle with the rape exemption when limiting abortion rights. The idea of “legitimate rape” or “forcible rape” is a means of limiting its definition to something is easily classifiable and only real when reported to the police. According to them, if the police haven’t heard about it, it’s “made up.” Yet, we know from study after study that in the vast majority of instances (the National Institute of Health says 80% of incidents) a woman knows her attacker and that reporting a rape is anything but a clear-cut situation.

The simple fact is, rape is always “in context.” As a human rights issue, that’s precisely the problem: rape is statutory rape and date rape and rape while intoxicated and prison rape, and worldwide it is rape as a war tactic and rape as child marriage. Now is the time to take the next big step and broaden our discussion of these issues. Like any civil rights struggle, each new level of progress is an order of magnitude more difficult to achieve than the one before it, like boring into the Earth’s crust. Cultures of sexual violence cannot be shooed away by legislating or litigating alone, they must be preempted. And we can start by having a discussion that is open and honest about how the vast majority of rapes actually happen.”

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July 29, 2013 · 10:36 pm

How To Fight Racial Bias When It’s Silent And Subtle

July 19, 2013 3:26 AM
Researchers say it may be possible to temporarily reduce racial biases.

Researchers say it may be possible to temporarily reduce racial biases.

Images.com/Corbis

 

“In the popular imagination and in conventional discourse — especially in the context of highly charged news events such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin — prejudice is all about hatred and animosity.

Scientists agree there’s little doubt that hate-filled racism is real, but a growing bodyof social science research suggests that racial disparities and other biased outcomes in the criminal justice system, in medicine and in professional settings can be explained by unconscious attitudes and stereotypes.

Subtle biases are linked to police cadets being more likely to shoot unarmed black men than they are unarmed white men. (Some academics have also linked theresearch into unconscious bias to the Trayvon Martin case.)

Calvin Lai and Brian Nosek at the University of Virginia recently challenged scientists to come up with ways to ameliorate such biases. The idea, said Harvard University psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, one of the researchers, was to evaluate whether there were rapid-fire ways to disable stereotypes. Groups of scientists “raced” one another to see if their favorite techniques worked. All the scientists focused on reducing unconscious racial bias against blacks.

“Within five minutes, you have to do something to somebody’s mind so that at the end of those five minutes you will now show a lower association of black with bad. And so this was run really like a competition to see which ones of them might work to reduce race bias and which ones don’t,” Banaji said.

The results were as surprising for what they didn’t find as for what they did. Teaching people about the injustice of discrimination or asking them to be empathetic toward others was ineffective. What worked, at least temporarily, Banaji said, was providing volunteers with “counterstereotypical” messages.

“People were shown images or words or phrases that in some way bucked the trend of what we end up seeing in our culture,” she said. “So if black and bad have been repeatedly associated in our society, then in this intervention, the opposite association was made.”

Banaji, who has been a pioneer in studying unconscious biases, said she has taken such results to heart and tried to find ways to expose herself to counterstereotypical messages, as a way to limit her own unconscious biases.

One image in particular, she said, has had an especially powerful effect: “My favorite example is a picture of a woman who is clearly a construction worker wearing a hard hat, but she is breast-feeding her baby at lunchtime, and that image pulls my expectations in so many different directions that it was my feeling that seeing something like that would also allow me in other contexts to perhaps have an open mind about new ideas that might come from people who are not traditionally the ones I hear from.””

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July 24, 2013 · 5:53 pm

Vaccine Against HPV Has Cut Infections In Teenage Girls

June 19, 2013 3:10 PM
A 13-year-old girl gets an HPV vaccination from Judith Schaechter, a pediatrician at the University of Miami, in 2011.

A 13-year-old girl gets an HPV vaccination from Judith Schaechter, a pediatrician at the University of Miami, in 2011.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

 

“A vaccine against human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and the cause of almost all cervical cancer — is dramatically reducing the prevalence of HPV in teenage girls.

The first vaccine against HPV, Merck’s Gardasil, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006. Cerverix, from GlaxoSmithKline, was approved in 2009.

In the first four years of immunizations, infections from the four strains of human papillomavirus targeted by the vaccines plummeted by more than half among 14-to-19-year-olds in the United States.

Federal health officials say they were surprised by the number since only about 1 in 3 girls in this age group has received the full three-dose course of the vaccine. About half have received a single dose.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledges that the number of girls who have gotten the HPV vaccine is “very disappointing” and “certainly not good enough.”

Still, Frieden says, “The vaccine works and works very well.” The findings of the CDC study were released Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The vaccine has been controversial, with some parents worried about possible health risks, and others worrying that vaccination could encourage earlier sexual activity.

The study didn’t find a decrease in the HPV strains covered by the vaccine in other age groups, a clue that the vaccine is responsible for the decrease among teenagers.

 

Researchers also didn’t find any decrease in sexual activity among girls in the target population that might explain why HPV prevalence is down, from nearly 12 percent to just over 5 percent.

 

The current recommendation is that girls get the HPV vaccine when they are 11 or 12, before the initiation of sexual activity, when the vaccine produces the best protection. Females up to age 26 are urged to get the three-shot course if they have not received the vaccine earlier.

The recommendation is similar for boys, in whom HPV can cause genital warts along with penile and anal cancers, except that the so-called catch-up vaccination is recommended for males only up to age 21.

The vaccine costs between $128 and $135 a dose, or around $400 for the full course, on the private market. Many insurers cover HPV vaccination, and the federally sponsored Vaccines for Children program provides it free of charge for qualified patients.

CDC officials say they intend to use the new results to press for wider use of HPV vaccines. The goal is to get 80 percent of adolescents fully vaccinated.

Frieden says the payoff will be tens of thousands of fewer cases of cervical cancers and deaths.

“Of girls alive today between the ages of zero and 13, there will be 50,000 more cases of cancer if we don’t increase the rates to 80 percent,” Frieden says. “And for every single year we delay in getting to 80 percent, another 4,400 women are going to develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes — even with good screening programs.”

CDC officials say that HPV vaccines have a very good track record for safety following distribution of 56 million doses in this country.

“We have a very clear idea of the safety,” Frieden says. “We’ve looked at all the adverse events that have been reported. Virtually all have not been serious. Among the serious events, the main issue has been fainting, redness and swelling at the injection site and other temporary symptoms.”

Last week Japanese health officials suspended their recommendation to vaccinate girls between 14 and 19 against HPV after some reports of pain and numbness following injection. Japanese officials say they want to investigate a possible link.

“The outcomes they were concerned about are things we have looked for in our data system here in the U.S.,” says the CDC’s Dr. Cindy Weinbaum. “We found a total of about a dozen reports that related to something like regional pain syndrome such as Japan was reporting.”

Weinbaum says the CDC found “really no consistency among them that would suggest anything specifically related to the vaccine.”

The CDC has investigated 42 reports of deaths among HPV vaccine recipients.

“The cause of these deaths has been very varied,” Weinbaum says. “It’s everything from cardiovascular to infectious, neurologic and hematologic. Again, there’s no consistent pattern of deaths that have occurred after vaccination that would give us any cause to be concerned” that the vaccine was responsible.”

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June 20, 2013 · 5:43 pm