Archive for February, 2006


Just Not the Gays

The military has lowered its standards again to try to boost recruitment and I worry about the kinds of people fresh-out-of-high-school recruits might be serving next to, especially when the military is giving guns to people with a past including criminal misconduct such as making terrorist threats (to allow the Army to cash in on the Michigan Militia crowd). The enlistment age has been raised to 40, we’re giving out a lot of medical wavers, and a past of drug abuse (to cash in on the stoner crowd) and alcohol addiction is no longer a problem (so our soldiers might not be the most fit). High school drop-outs are being accepted (so much for the smart-soldier argument). We’re allowing all of these people to enlist in the military even though they have some serious problems that could put themselves and the soldiers they serve with in danger. But if you’re gay, you’d better keep it quiet or you’re going to be discharged.

And you guys are telling me that homosexuals are thought of and treated as equals? The message being sent here is that they are worse than criminals, alcohol abusers, and athsmatics. We should be ashamed.


No News

There’s something very disturbing to me about people who never watch the news or don’t think the news is important. I know that it’s difficult to care when you’re just trying to put a roof over your head and food in your body, but government policy effects your ability to do that, and you hear about government policy in the news.

My students only have one TV in each dorm, and you can pretty much bet it’s not tuned to the news. It didn’t occur to me that they were missing out on information until a student came in yesterday and saw the Corretta Scott King funeral program on my desk. He was surprised to find that she had died two weeks ago. He hadn’t heard anything about it.

High school is when students really start to get interested in the world around them, especially if they are guided by an adult to find things that they’re interested in and read about them. Kids are naturally curious, but teenagers are naturally self-absorbed. Public schools do a pretty good job of keeping students into he loop about what’s going on (as long as it’s not political or religious), but I think boarding schools in America (I’ve worked at several) are doing a huge disservice to their students by not encouraging them to read the newspaper, watch the news, or check it on the Internet. For my part, I’ll be requiring an opinion essay on a news story once a week, and I feel remiss in not having done so before.


Something You Should Know…

Special thanks to Sarchasm

17.6 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. Of these, 21.6% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32.4% were between the ages of 12 and 17. 64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date.

Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police.

African-American women are more likely than others to report their victimization to police.

The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.

The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years. Men perpetrate the majority of violent acts against women.

Every 90 seconds, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.

According to the 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey, 62% of rape and sexual assault victims knew the perpetrator. Sexual violence is associated with a host of short- and long-term problems, including physical injury and illness, psychological symptoms, economic costs, and death.

About half of all rape victims are in the lowest third of income distribution; half are in the upper two-thirds.

Domestic violence occurs in approximately 25-33% of same-sex relationships.

Boys who witness their fathers’ violence are 10 times more likely to engage in spouse abuse in later adulthood than boys from non-violent homes.

An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds.

A University of Pennsylvania research study found that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to low-income, inner-city Philadelphia women between the ages of 15 to 44 – more common than automobile accidents, mugging and rapes combined.

At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are “missing” from various populations, mostly in Asia, as a result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect.

Globally, at least one in three women and girls had been beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime.

In a recent survey by the Kenyan Women Rights Awareness Program, 70% of the men and women interviewed said they knew neighbors who beat their wives. Nearly 60% said women were to blame for the beatings. Just 51% said the men should be punished. 4 million women and girls are trafficked annually. An estimated one million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year.

In Bangladesh, 47 % of adult women report physical assault by a male partner (UNFPA)

In a study of 475 people in prostitution from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia): 62% reported having been raped in prostitution. 73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution. 92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately.

So-called “honour killings” take thelives of thousands of young women every year, mainly in North Africa, Western Asia and parts of South Asia. In 1999, more than 1000 women in Pakistan were victims of honour crimes.

More than 90 million African women and girls are victims of female circumcision or other forms of genital mutilation. (Heise: 1994)

In Uganda HIV infection is 6 times higher among young girls than boys with the difference in rates beginning as early as 9 years old and reaching a peak for the age-12-19 years old. This is due to old men seeking young girls for sexual exploitation with the belief that they are free from HIV.

In Canada, 62% of women murdered in 1987 died at hands of an intimate male partner.

In Zimbabwe, domestic violence accounts for more than 60% of murder cases that go through the high court in Harare.

A study in Zaria, Nigeria found that 16 percent of hospital patients treated for sexually transmitted infections were under 5.


Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.

Lately the major issue to reduce the limitations on civil liberties facing homosexuals in this country has been gay marriage and civil unions, but we forget that there are other issues at stake, especially one that is infinitely more important. If we are living in a tolerant society in which everyone has equal rights, why is it that a gay soldier cannot make his or her orientation known? There are events in which spouses are invited to attend, as well as normal office conversations centered around husbands and wives. Why must homosexuals be excluded from these events and discussions? How does that show that we are one of the most tolerant nations in the world? More importantly, why can’t gay and lesbian soldiers enjoy the same freedoms they are fighting for and may die defending?

At Harvard Medical School a group of students gathered to protest the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy of the United States Military. At the military school nearby, any student who engages in homosexual activity, no limited to the act of sex itself, is to be immediately dismissed. It is a major insult to be called gay. But yet, we continue to pretend that we live in a society where all Americans are treated equally.


Goodbye Betty, Not-So-Crocker

Today I mourn the loss of a woman who was a source of many discussions at my Women’s College. Betty Friedan’s book, “The Feminine Mystique“, inspired the Women’s Movement in the United States and encouraged women to fight for such controversial rights as equal pay, maternity leave, and abortion. Betty Friedan helped women begin to think outside the box and realize that our worth lies in much more than our ability to get married and have children. It is difficult to grasp the immensity of what Friedan and other prominent women have done for me, especially for men who have always had the rights my gender had to fight for. My meditation for today will focus on the struggles of women in our country as well as the extreme difficulties facing women around the world. For more information on how you can help women, visit the bipartisan National Council of Women’s Organizations.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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