A Redefinition of Family Group 7 Agenda


This is a letter to the United States Government which is calling to attention the disregard for alternative family systems and their importance in our society. Current members in the government have stated that "Family definitions play a major role not only in programs, but in virtually every policy arena". Our governmental definitions of family not only affect the benefits individuals are entitled to, it also affects the emotional status of unrecognized family members. The plutonic family systems of the 1950's has been proven to only encompass portion of our society and as we see more and more alternative family units emerging we must have new definitions to ensure our support for those families. There are several ways that family is currently defined in our government and our own government affirms this by stating that "Families cannot be defined simply or universally for purposes of Federal programs and policies. Much variation is due to the complex nature of the family itself and to the specific purpose of the Federal program". Although this acknowledgement of the complexity of family we would like to propose a list of inclusions for our government to consider when proposing new legislation that affects any aspect of family.
 Family includes both genetically and non-genetically connected family members.
 Family transcends ethnicity and nationalities, families can have allegiance to many flags and be comprised of many different skin colors.
 Family is needs community, if you protect the family, but harm the community systems around it such as schools, libraries, and parks, then you inherently harm the family unit.
 Families need support and daycare is expensive, and we cannot undervalue the importance of raising our future generations in healthy environments.
 Families may be composed of many sexual orientations. This does not mean that parents that are gay, lesbian, transgender, or other sexual orientations are any less valuable parents. We need to value and support all parents for their hard work as being parents.
 Families may be comprised of single parent households. These parents need extra support for their work and dedication. Child care should be made freely available to these parents as well as government aid no matter their gender.
 Families do not have age restrictions, old and young adults help raise children in many different situations.
 Families are very dynamic and change all of the time and assistance to families should be dynamic and not dependent on social class.
 We should have legislation that speeds up the process for parents seeking to adopt, children who spend long periods of time in foster care suffer extensively. We need to ensure the child's safety and well being.
 Family policy should be written by mothers and fathers, not by accountants. Family policy should not be victim to budget cuts and tax raises.

Group 7... I think...

Agenda, group 1: restrooms

our agenda addresses feminist and queer family values concerning public restrooms. here are some exploratory proposals for gender neutral restrooms that are not too radical, and surely not meant to offend or completely disparage traditional family values, but to allow for new possibilities concerning the way we understand "family" or "gender" and relationships between people in public space. our ideas centered primarily around the questioning of prohibitive and ill-conceived constructions of gender and the merging/uniting of gendered spaces, while still allowing for *private* spaces -- thus communal, or collective, restrooms, and private restrooms. we acknowledge that the models depicted have their faults -- and appear to demand quite a large space -- however, they are only models, proposals, and tentative suggestions towards an uncertain, yet optimistic, future of shit-fulfillment....


group participants: mary, matt, kathryn, carlyn, will, ellen

Group 4 PIC Agenda

PIC Agendasm.jpg

View and download the full size flier here.

DE #10

After reading, I have notice that the difference between the erotic and pornographic.
It seem to me the same. The Author said Erotic is derived from the Greek words eros, which is the personification of love in all of its aspects and creative power and harmony"
Another author Lord said Pornography "is a direct denial of the power of erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling" (570).

Some final thoughts and a note of thanks

As the title indicates, this course has been about contemporary feminist debate. Taking a somewhat unconventional approach, I structured the course around the belief that debate is not about winning an argument or rigidly defending one's position. Instead, it about "living with contradictions" (Jaggar) and staying perpetually curious (Enloe) about problems--what they are, how we frame them, and what strategies we can develop for responding to them.

I selected readings that were meant to highlight the complicated and contradictory ways in which a wide range of feminist thinkers approach key social issues. The readings were also intended to take all of us out of our comfort zone and encourage us to dwell in a space of unknowingness, where easy answers about "what is to be done" aren't possible. While I find this space of unknowingness to be unsettling (and oftentimes exhausting), I also find it be invigorating. Staying in that space of unknowingness allows me to remain curious and fosters my desire to always ask lots of questions about the limits and possibilities of any approach to an issue. In my vision of feminist movement (and my list of feminist values), curiosity, openness and asking lots of questions are central.

Now, I want to be clear here. I am not suggesting that staying in a space of unknowingness is all that anyone, particularly feminists, should ever do. As Anna suggests in her comment to this entry, curiosity, even if it is a feminist curiosity, is not enough. We also need to think strategically and constructively about how to respond to our most pressing issues. But, I wonder, what questions are left unasked and what possibilities get foreclosed when we move too quickly out of our unknowingess? Indeed, what political, critical and ethical value can come out of safeguarding that space? To conclude this reflection, I want to paraphrase, and slightly modify, a passage from Judith Butler in her book, Undoing Gender: While asking questions, remaining uncertain and being curious are not all that feminist movement is or should be, I can't imagine feminist movement without them.

Thanks for a great semester. I truly appreciate how willing you all were to stay curious. And I appreciate how much you all embraced the blog. Have a great summer!

This is a Feminist Issue: Water

I think someone posted about access to safe water a while back, so I thought this article could build on that. "The Burden of Thirst" was a feature story in National Geographic last month. It talks about access to water and how the lack of safe, easily accessible water keeps women out of the public sphere. Girls do not go to school with the boys because they have chores to do. The article says that the average American uses one hundred gallons a day just in their home, and that can be contrasted with the woman interviewed in the article who gets by on just two and a half. If water were more accessible girls would be able to go to school. This is absolutely a feminist issue, and one that deserves more attention. Once again, the article can be found here. You can also check out "Freshwater 101," which is a brief slideshow about freshwater use and includes links to other useful articles.

Prisoner Correspondence

From what we've learned in class I think we can all agree that our prison system does not intend to rehabilitate. The "tough on crime" era was the beginning of a major expansion of the prison system motivated by profit and racism rather than a benevolent desire to "serve and protect." The prison population soared and the crime rate was not affected by the increased rate of incarceration (as we learned in the Angela Davis reading). Because of their size and pervasiveness corporations began taking interest in them and prisons became increasingly privatized. Corporations were interested because money could be made - prisons had to be built, foods, goods and services had to be supplied, and prison labor became an important resource to exploit. The emphasis on money, control and power leaves out the human element and prisoners are exploited and dehumanized. Instead of focusing on rehabilitation people are locked up and forgotten about.

This is where correspondence comes in. As people outside the prison system we have the ability to help restore humanity and hope to a population that many, including their families and friends, forget about. As you can imagine this forgetting happens for a variety of reasons, but part of it has to do with the unwillingness to face something so devastating and overwhelming. When we talk about big problems like this it can be frustrating to hear things like, "if you just do this one simple thing we can..." And it's true, writing letters isn't going to topple the system, but I think it's a good place to start. The dehumanizing nature of prisons can leave those inside feeling totally disconnected from the community. When a person feels like an outsider or a deviant rehabilitation is a joke; it's just not going to happen. Letters from the outside can restore hope, inspiration and will. Many prisoners have been behind bars for years and have not heard from anyone on the outside. Maybe after awhile you start to forget that there is an outside. Writing a letter is a simple and worthwhile way to connect with someone and maybe restore their sense of belonging and worth.

Below are a few websites that offer additional information on prisoner correspondence.

This is the first result that comes up when you search "prison correspondence." It's a very comprehensive site - they offer a lot more than just a pen pal service (such as ways to donate both money and things like books, legal support, and help finding work for prisoners).

This is run by former offenders. Their site says they give prisoners a chance "to announce their existence." They have a fact box with prison statistics that changes as you browse.

This site lists prisoners on death row.

By the way, "In 29 years, 1973 - 2002, 103 death row inmates were found to be innocent and set free." Source: http://www.writeaprisoner.com/prisoner-statistics.aspx

Also, if the death penalty or people who were sentenced to death and later found to be innocent interests you, I highly recommend the story of Cameron Todd Willingham. It's a long, heartbreaking read but it does an excellent job of illustrating how our emotions and need for justice can get in the way of a fair trial, which is why something as final as death should not be an option for punishment.

You can (and should!) read his story here.

The Aspects toward Pornography: Positive vs. Negative



Pornography is a battlefield in U.S. law. For decades, courts have struggled to find a middle ground between opponents of obscenity and defenders of free speech. This debate began to shift in the 1970s as feminists introduced new theories.

Pornography, as defined by Wikipedia, is "the explicit depiction of sexual subject matter with the sole intention of sexually exciting the viewer". This means it excludes erotica, which some purists insist on, because erotica is different in that it has an interest in doing more than merely providing sexual excitation.


1. Sexual freedom
2. It allows people to view different sexual lifestyles.


1. Porn is a drug that leads to addiction.
-Men often consume more and more porn, which can lead to distancing themselves from their loved ones, losing their jobs, etc.
2. Porn is a form of sexism.
-Women are commoditized and objectified in porn, which puts them on an unequal footing with men.
3. Porn portrays all women in one of four degrading, dehumanizing categories.
-It gives you the most insidious view of women.This can lead to an inability to form meaningful romantic relationships and even violence against women.
4. Porn cultivates a single standard of beauty that no real women can live up to.
-This leads men to be mistakenly dissatisfied with reality as it pertains to sex.

This is a feminist issue because...Godzilla Weeds

Yesterday there was an article in the New York Times about how excessive use of herbicides, such as RoundUp, has caused some weeds to become immune to the poison. Because an increasing number of weeds do not die from traditional does of herbicides, farmers, in turn, are spraying even larger amounts of the stuff. The poisons in herbicides are very harmful to living things. As a feminist, I find it troubling that it will be the poor immigrant farm workers, who are exposed daily to herbicides, and wildlife that will become ill from our society's chronic consumerism. spritze_gross-1.jpg

Today you will get into your groups and develop an agenda for Feminist Family Values or create a response to the Sex Wars. Here are two examples that might inspire you:

ONE: Feminist Family Values
During our discussion of gay marriage, we read the statement by BeyondMarriage.org. Here is their agenda:


TWO: Sex Wars
In her entry, Anna discusses The Sex Workers Project.. They have a press kit that you can download, which has a lot of valuable information, including a values statement. Here's a blurb from that statement:


Group 6: Caitlin, Danielle, Yein, Heather, Ava, and Abby

Our group decided on making a flyer that would address the problem of dehumanizing prisoners; we then decided to present different outlets and resources to create contact, increase education, and ultimately remove the stigmatizing label of "prisoner" and have them be seen as people.

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The Smitten Kitten


The Smitten Kitten is a feminist-owned adult sex toy/equipment boutique located on Lyndale and Lake in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. SolutionistTwinCities.org describes the Smitten Kitten as, "Valuing "human dignity and the creative expression of gender, identity and desire," the Smitten Kitten is more than a sex toy boutique; it is an open source for information on issues of sexuality, sexual health, and feminism."

Staffed by a team of Sex Educators, the Smitten Kitten is committed to selling only the safest products to its clientele. Jennifer Pritchett, the founder/owner of the Kitten formed the Coalition Against Toxic Toys in 2005, a non-profit that aims to create awareness of the hazardous materials and production practices of the existing sex toy industry. CATT can be found at BadVibes.org.

The Smitten Kitten is an open, accepting environment offering toys, books, zines, DVD's and more to a widely representational audience in the GLBTQ community as well. In addition to their product catalog, their website hosts an events calendar and blog filled with great resources for anyone wanting to explore sexuality in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

The site (and the store!) give a much better look into their mission/vibe/general awesomeness than I could ever do here, so check them out!

The Smitten Kitten

Feminist Issue- Barbie's Dimensions


The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my friends about girls bodies and how some girls can be so lucky to have such a proportional body. This conversation led on to talking about Barbie's body in relation to our body, since I have heard that the relation was really messed up. If Barbie were real, she would have a 42D chest, 32 inch hips, and an 18- inch waist. This is CRAZY! Barbie impacts so many little girls' lives, and it is disheartening to know that little girls look up to Barbie, and want to look just as pretty as their dolly. I wasn't a huge Barbie fan as a little girl, but thank god I wasn't. My body image could be very distorted. I think this is a feminist issue because no little girl should have that "Barbie looking" image for themselves. I hate that our society is so much about pretty, skinny girls. It's not reality. It's reality to be healthy and happy, and that is all that really should matter.

Single Parent Adoption Summary


Our group (Sammy, Kathryn, Alyssa) decided to track the issue of single parent adoption because we knew that discrepancies existed in this area but we were unsure of the specifics. We already knew that it is "easier" for a couple to adopt a child than it is for a single. However before we began tracking the issue, we did not know the laws behind single parent adoption, how race and gender play into the issue, or the differences between domestic vs. international adoption or infant adoption vs. foster adoption.

As far as the laws behind single parent adoption go, it is completely legal in every state of the United States for a single parent to adopt a child of any age domestically. This was not always the case however, due to discrimination of single parent families. In 1958 the Child Welfare League of America put out a release stating that adoptive families must be comprised of a mother and a father. It wasn't until 1965 that the first group, the Los Angeles Bureau of Adoptions, fervently recruited single parents nationwide.

The Los Angeles Bureau of Adoptions was also the first organization to seek out single African-American parents, so that they could match African-American children with parents of the same race. Now, when the state places children they tend to place couples with same-race children. Also, according to Adoption Choices of Oklahoma, most adoptions cost between $28,000 and $34,000, while African-American adoptions range from $25,000 to $30,000, and the average waiting time for a potential adoptive parent to be matched with a birth mother is six months, but the wait is much shorter for parents willing to adopt African-Americans. When looking at local adoption agencies, white, middle-class, heterosexual men and women dominate the photos, giving the impression that these agencies mainly cater to this one group of people.

When the state is responsible for placing children, they tend to give single parents "hard to place" children, such as children with disabilities, or who are older, etc. Single parents are responsible for 25% of all special needs adoptions. Often, single parents are recommended to foster homes, as they will have a better chance at being placed with a child in this fashion, rather than being picked by a birthmother to adopt an infant.

Single parent adopters are an untapped resource that should be utilized to place children into loving homes. Single parent adoptions are just as successful as couple adoptions, often because single adoptive parents often seek out resources and build support systems more vigorously than couples do. These resources include finances, which single adoptive parents are able to bring and make ends meet for their family. No significant differences in terms of educational development of the children have been noted between single and two parent adoptive families. Also, single adoptive parents have reported less use of mental health services than two parent adoptive parents.

Overall, the main issue seen in the practices of adoption is how society views different family units, as well as how society places different values on different children (i.e. foster children, African-American children, etc.)

Feminist Issue- Dove Commercial



No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

This is the dove add that was released a few years ago to made us aware of the media and how the gorgeous women and men are portrayed differently than they actually are. This television commercial takes an everyday average girl and puts make- up on her, curls her hair, then takes her picture onto a computer and photo shops her entire face and hair. By the end of the commercial, she looks like a completely different girl than what she started as. I think this is a feminist issue because the media is showing us people who don't really exist, and we are trying to live up to these fake standards. It makes me sad that some people really do feel the need to be as pretty as people we see on ads and magazine covers, when really it is all fake. Why should women (and men) have to be portrayed like this?

End of Year Event: Lavender Celebration & Awards Ceremony

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally (GLBTA) Programs Office on the U of M Campus celebrates 2010 graduates and award winners this Thursday at the Lavender Celebration and Awards Ceremony!

Time**, Date, Location, and more details are in the flier below!

**this conflicts with our class on Thursday (May/6). I am personally committed to being there and understand that most will not be able to make it to the celebration for this reason.


Prostitution Summary

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The feminist movement is divided on the issue of prostitution and sex work. We chose to explore some of the differing opinions surrounding sex work and prostitution including local impacts, international perspectives, history, and feminist debates. Our interest was sparked by the perspective of Live Nude Girls Unite!, and Chapkis' article The Emotional Labor of Sex, and our own differing opinions as prostitution as a feminist issue. Here are some of the various feminist perspectives we compiled from our tracking of the issue.

• It would benefit everyone to regulate sex work and legalize prostitution. Sex work can be viewed as a legitimate skill set. (Chapkis)

• Women should be able to do whatever they choose with their bodies. We should respect individual choices when it comes to using their bodies.

• Sex work is a choice.

• For those who don't necessarily choose sex work, they shouldn't be treated as criminals, but as victims.

• Sex work is a part of a patriarchal system that objectifies women.

• Sex work can have traumatic effects on the workers through post-traumatic stress disorder or health effects, as such it is not healthy.

Sex work and prostitution are fairly widespread, even in our local community there is a lot that goes on under the radar because it's illegal. While some feminists believe sex work can be a choice and a lifestyle, others see it as more complicated. Is the idea of choice coming from a privileged position? It cannot be denied that many people are coerced into sex work and abused or taken advantage of. Even for people who consider it a choice, they may be influenced on patriarchal opinions of sexuality. Could this be reinforcing the idea of how sexuality should be treated or commodified?

With its first season coming to an end, "Cougar Town," a television sitcom, has made a rather interesting impact on the economy. The show follows a newly divorced 40 some year old mother in her quest to reenter the dating arena and rediscover her sexuality. According to Reuters, lingerie sales among women above the age of 40 have increased dramatically since the premiere of the show, along with the release of "Sex and the City 2" which also concentrates on women in their 40s and 50s and their relationships.

This is a double edged issue - on one hand, it is brilliant that through these forms of media, women of all ages are reexamining their own bodies and trying to mend their relationships with their own bodies. However, the issue arises of whether or not lingerie is the proper facet through which to reclaim one's body. It would be interesting to see whether or not things like gym memberships and spa treatments among women over the age of 40 have also increased - if this trend is solely related to lingerie, or perhaps related to a larger trend of older women taking the time and effort to take care of themselves and perhaps pamper themselves a little.

Regardless, the facts are facts, and one lingerie saleswoman says "With women's 40s being touted as the new 20s, and lingerie designers stepping up to the mark to feed this demand, it's a market we expect to see grow further in the future."

Tracking the Issue: Raunch Culture Summary

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Our group (Tamar, Adam, Julia) decided to investigate raunch culture as a subset of sex wars.

First, we needed to find out what raunch culture is. Ariel Levy (since she essentially coined the term) gives us an explanation. Raunch culture is the idea that being sexy should be public, and being sexy means some very specific things. The current societal standard for 'sexiness' means participating in wet t-shirt contests, learning how to pole dance for fun, wearing revealing clothing, etc. Things that some feminists critiqued as degrading are now being embraced as the ultimate realization of female sexuality. It's a recent phenomenon - even 30 years ago, the societal reaction to hearing that someone took a pole dancing class would be very different than it is now.

Before learning anything about raunch culture, we were all interested in the idea, but knew very little about it. Researching and learning more about raunch culture has brought up a lot of interesting issues for us, and made us curious about the idea of what our society prescribes as "sexy" and how this affects peoples actions.

There's a fair amount of academic research that has gone into the 'raunch culture' phenomenon, on both sides of the issue. Some people think that it is sexually liberating for women, and a method of escape for puritanical ideals for sexuality - others think that it forces a conformation to one particular type of sexual identity.

Here are the main controversies in the issue:

1. Is acting "raunchy" a way to reclaim female sexuality from the male gaze, or is it playing into a male desire for public, degrading sexual practices? (lap dancing, wet t shirt contests, etc)
2. Can it ever be empowering for women to participate in raunch culture?
3. Does raunch culture narrow the sexual options available to women, or broaden them?
4. Is it "feminist" to ever critique a certain sexuality/way of being sexual? If feminists do critique certain types of sexuality, does that mean that feminists are making a new "charmed circle"?
5. Does the exchange of money make a situation empowering or degrading?
6. To what extent is the rise of raunch culture (in many ways, a product that can be marketed) due to capitalist profit motives?

All in all, the rise of raunch culture is a relatively new phenomenon. We think it's important for people to be curious and critically think about the ways that raunch culture relates to feminism and women's well being, but we think prescribing a certain "solution" is a bad idea. What is empowering and satisfying to one person is different than what is empowering and satisfying to another person, and we think people should strive to find out what REALLY makes them happy, and follow that, regardless of whether or not it has been approved by society.

Oklahoma just passed an abortion law which I find extremely disturbing. It has several parts:

1. Anyone who goes into a clinic to get an abortion, including victims of rape and incest, need to watch an ultrasound of their baby and hear a description of the fetus.
2. Women cannot sue doctors who misinform them about the health of their fetus.

This is shocking to me. No one WANTS an abortion, and no one makes the decision to get an abortion lightly. So people who go to get an abortion in Oklahoma may not be deterred by seeing a picture of their fetus, but they will certainly be emotionally harmed. It's much more difficult to come to terms with "killing" a baby if you can see a picture of it. While it's unlikely to deter women from actually getting a baby, it does inflict a lot of emotional pain and suffering on them. People don't get abortions because they think its fun - they get them because they are in a position in their life when having a baby is not a good idea. Making them go through a strenuous emotional ordeal seems like a dangerous subversion of the hippocratic oath.

Additionally, I think it is totally unacceptable to make it illegal to sue a doctor who misinforms you about the health of a fetus. This demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for women's knowledge and choices - how can you make an educated, informed choice about whether or not to have an abortion if you don't have reliable information about the health of the baby? If the baby is going to be born with some horrible genetic condition that makes its death inevitable, I definitely think women should be aware that their baby is not going to live long - imagine the emotional devestation of going through the process of preparing for a child and then realizing that your baby has only a little while to live - and your doctor knew this all along. I can think of very few things that would be more difficult to deal with than that.

Fundamentally, I think this law incentivizes fraud and emotional damage, and I think it makes it impossible for women to have a real "choice" concerning abortion - how can they make an educated decision about their body and their future without trustworthy advice from their doctors? Abortion is a moral and religious issue - it should never, ever be made into a medical issue. Doctors are necessary to keep us healthy and safe. We should be able to trust them.

Girl Germs on Radio K!

I co-host a radio show on the University's student-run radio station, Radio K. It's called 'Girl Germs', and we play "the best in groundbreaking female artists- from rap to riot grrrl, rock & roll to soul". We put an emphasis on local musicians as well as national musicians, from bygone eras up to today. We broadcast each Tuesday from 9-11pm on 104.5 FM in the twin cities and on radiok.org.
A friend and I started this show in February, and we've featured in-studio performances and guest dj sets so far, along with some really awesome music made by ladies (and bands that feature/support ladies). We have previous episodes streaming and playlists available on our blog. If it sounds like something you'd like, check it out!

This is a feminist issue because....Immigration


Clintion made a good point in this article when she states that the new immigration law in Arizona was made out of frustration. I think she was dead on. However, I don't know if I necessarily agree with changing its fundamental purpose, which is giving the police more of an opportunity to check for documents. I believe the difficult theme of this law is that the problem has ethnic origins. It is how people are entering America from a different ethnicity. How else are to you combat this illegal action without tip-toeing on racial profiling. I don't think you can. And I also don't think it is right for people to get away with committing a crime just because they are a different ethnicity. If I were to go to a different country and they had laws in which I had to register to visit, and I didn't I would accept to be pursued by their authorities and face the consequences. I wouldn't expect it to be alright because they chose to stop me because of the color of my skin. It is what it is.

I do feel bad for the american citizens who are going to be checked for papers simply because of their skin color. It will happen, and it is unfortunate. However, just like in other aspects of society, the innocent sometimes have to bear the consequences and be inconvenienced by the actions of the people committing the crimes. Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal. So why isn't it a problem when people ask other people for their ID? Isn't this the same issue of discrimination, only based on age rather then skin color? If I do recall, both are even protected classes. So why is one form of discrimination deemed acceptable by society while another isn't?

Sex Wars: Sex Workers' Advocacy Groups

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(Tracking the issue: Prostitution)

In tracking the issue for sex work (more specifically, prostitution), I have come upon many web communities that focus on advocacy for sex workers and the rights of sex workers. Like Wendy Chapkis' discusses in her chapter "The Emotional Labor of Sex," these advocates call for recognition of the "labor" aspects of sex work, and demand that sex work be de-stigmatized and recognized as legitimate labor in order to support those who engage in sex work. The following is a PSA put together by Sex Work Awareness, and it is a product of a day-long media training conference they put together for sex work advocacy:

The clip itself and many of the comments shared by users on the site emphasize the well-roundedness and realness of the women who engage in sex work- they aim to de-shame sex work and to break the silence of sex workers.

The Sex Workers Project organization is somewhat less politically charged: their aim to improve rights and protection for any and all sex workers. Their mission statement claims that the Sex Workers Project "provides legal services and legal training, and engages in documentation and policy advocacy, for sex workers. Using a harm reduction and human rights model, we protect the rights and safety of sex workers who by choice, circumstance, or coercion remain in the industry."
Their focus is on improving the rights and safety of every sex worker, but their recognition that people who engage in sex work by choice exist alongside people who are likewise there "by coercion" is a bit disturbing.

Like much of the movement surrounding sex workers' rights, the focus of these organizations is very based upon the individual sex worker. Language about individual rights and freedoms prevail. Because so much of the debate is focused on individual rights, the implications that sex work can have for the broader community are left out. Issues about worker exploitation and the negative impacts sex work could have on clients and workers alike are skirted around entirely. I'd like to see an organization that advocates for sex work address these issues intelligently--not enough evidence is presented about the negative aspects of sex work for their arguments to be convincing.

Further Reading:

This documentary is, at first glance, just about the movie business. Before I watched it, I assumed it was a documentary on how they decide what gets rated what. Instead, it talked about why movies get rated NC-17 and also talked about how secretive this board that determines what gets produced (basically, an NC-17 ends up meaning that no one will stand behind the movie, because it's not marketable) and who's allowed to watch it, is completely secretive. The members of this group are not allowed to talk about who they are and what they do, and even after they leave, they still are not allowed to talk about how the board rates movies, or they are sued by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). That's not so much the feminist issue (I just found it rather interesting), as the reasons why movies are rated R or NC-17. The movies they discuss about getting rated NC-17 specifically get rated as such because of how the romance in the movie is shown. They continually talk about the denial of female pleasure. A few of the movies they talk about were given NC-17 ratings because the orgasm of the female was too long, it's not even that there was nudity, but that when the camera was focused on the woman's face during intercourse, she looked like she was having an orgasm for longer than the MPAA preferred. Another one of the more ridiculous reasons that the MPAA gave an NC-17 to one of the movies the documentary discusses is due to the fact that during a sexual scene in the movie, for a split second, a woman's pubic hair could be seen. The movies that the MPAA gives out NC-17 ratings for are movies that are only portraying what we all know to be true. By the time almost any kid is 15 or 16, they already know all about sex, not just biologically, but also the actual act, the different positions available, etc... The fact that the MPAA is denying those ideas in movies just seems unnecessary. They are much lighter on violence in a film than sex, and I would hope, that most people have seen more sex than violence first-hand. I'm not sure if changing the rating system would change anything, but I think it would be incredibly beneficial to the film industry( and those watching the movies) that violence be seen in a darker light than sex.

I had just gotten off of work and was waiting for my friend to pick me up when I noticed this bathroom and the graphic that was plastered on it.


I know our unit on family values was a few weeks ago, but I felt compelled to take a picture of this because it sparked some questions in my mind... How are small, everyday actions, visuals, and words perpetuating our views on family? How does this picture create curiosity and destroy curiosity at the same time? It leaves out so many family types... and is even the color white. It leaves no room for variety and is overtly stating what the "real" family is supposed to be. How can other places and organizations be more conscious of what they are really portraying and who they are leaving out?

Through the years, scientific studies have been used by individuals, institutions and governments to support positions on both sides of sex war debates on pornography. Studies have produced seemingly opposite conclusions at times giving each camp ammunition for their own side, and leaving the curious individual to wonder if they can really be used to draw any conclusive evidence about pornography at all.

How to Use a Study:
The first reason for the problem we have in conflicting studies, is because of the tendency to take a study out of its context and draw more conclusions from the results of a study than we are really able to. Epidemiological studies often study the effect of something on a population, but stress that assigning the root cause is a very complicated matter. Over-simplifying the results of a study by making simple one cause-one effect conclusions is an error of logic. But, sadly this is the way that many sides approach studies in an effort to support their arguments. Often, many more follow up studies are needed to determine the actual cause of the result in a study, or to rule out and consider other factors present. For example: "The Effects of Pornography: An International Perspective" was a large study that found that the rate of sex crimes dropped with the legalization of pornography. This influenced the legislation of some governments who then believed that pornography was not having a negative effect on their populations, but this has been critiqued as an error of logic and misuse of the study because other factors were also present at the same time that significantly contributed to a reduction in sexual crime, such as increased targeting by law enforcement. These other factors were not accounted for in the study, and no follow up was done to determine the specific cause and effect relationship.
Not All Studies Are Equal:

The second problem with the use of studies is the assumption that you can compare their results equally. Each study approaches its experiment or question in a particular way. With the question of pornography and violence, scientists have a number of factors to contend with when framing a study.

One: A situation in a lab is very different from a real life experience, so how do scientists get data that will most accurately translate to real life? Experiments vary in their ability to accurately assess real life data.

Two: Because of the nature of the study, (exposing men to varying degrees of sexual content and violence, and then measuring their aggression towards women, and measuring their change in arousal patterns) there are ethical concerns in what the men are exposed to, how to test their aggression to women, and the inability to test on adolescent youth who might be most responsive. These ethical issues inform the studies and limit the studies at the same time from getting the most accurate information. It takes careful thought and creativity to address these issues.

Three: The number of variables accounted for in a study is an indicator of the quality of the study. As shown earlier, the more cause and effect factors you are able to account for the more accuracy you are likely to have. Many of the differences between results in studies on pornography are simply a difference in number of variables. For example: A study linking pornography use to violence will result in high numbers if the sample population is taken from a group of prison inmates. Where as, a group of middleclass white college students might result in a low link between pornography and violence. The study in each case would be flawed and highly unreliable in its ability to give us a true picture of the effect of pornography because of the low number of variables.

Meta-Analysis is a useful method that combines multiple studies and compares data using statistical analysis to give us a more accurate picture of study results than any one study could give us by itself. Once again, not all studies are equal, so which studies you use are important, but if you put in balanced studies with multiple variables, then you will get the most accurate data from the combined results of all the studies put together. I read the results of a meta-analysis by N.M. Malamuth, T. Addison, and M. Koss looking at the results of 16 experiments on pornography and sexual aggression. They were especially concerned with this issue of inaccuracy in interpreting and conducting studies, and they wanted to know if there really is any hard proof one way or the other on pornography. Their article is called "Pornography and Sexual Aggression: Are There Reliable Effects and Can We Understand Them?" (Warning: this link is to download the pdf, and this is a long dense article, but it is wonderful material).

There was too much material to include in this blog entry, but I will summarize some of the results of their meta-analysis. First of all, they found over 50 variables that were likely to contribute towards sexual aggression, coercion and violence against women. Pornography (whether it was soft, hard, rape/violent) by itself was the largest single variable contributing towards aggression against women (12%), but this could increase depending on the factor it was combined with: delinquency, sexual promiscuity, child abuse, social isolation, group dynamics etc. Each man has many factors influencing him and some of those combine to result in aggression towards women, while other men who use pornography while having a 12% increase in their likelihood of aggression towards women, never actually display this behavior because they do not have enough other contributing factors. Interestingly, nudity was found to be distinct from pornography, and had the effect of lowering aggression.


Do you see that thing? It's not a joke. Here is a link to the commercial if you don't believe me.

There several aspects about this that make feminist issue. But at the forefront, its capitalism at its finest. Massive corporations are profiting from slowly killing the people who consume their products.

Some might say that it is wrong to accuse the companies of any wrong doing, after all, they aren't forcing anyone to buy it. "Of course, it's sort of a foregone conclusion, a rigged game. This vile meatwich is crammed like a grenade with sodium, sugar, fat and chemicals. Ergo, the testers, presumably people with taste buds devastated by years of cramming similar compost into their guts, thought it was pure nirvana. And then their colons exploded".

Read Mark Morford's original article from the SF Gate here.

Prostitution Academic Sources

In The Economics of Sin: Rational Choice or No Choice At All?, Samuel Cameron writes in section 10 about prostitution. The part I found most interesting was the table he put together speaking about the legality of prostitution around the world (his book was written in 2001 so it may not be completely up to date). He found that in many instances, while prostitution is legal in some countries, they still struggle with illegal aspects. "They may stand to gain from tax evasion and offering higher-risk premium services (i.e. no use of condoms) which are prohibited in the legal market. Further, the prostitute who has failed a health check is now under pressure to work illegally to sustain their income"(186). So it is not fully legal in any country, just simply tolerated more. It's interesting to find out more about how prostitution is understood and dealt with around the world. Cameron also makes mention of the "World Sex Guide" which is a great internet source for a quick rundown of sex work around the world. He used this guide to help him form the table.

Cameron, Samuel. The Economics of Sin: Rational Choice or No Choice At All. NorthHampton Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. 2002. Pg 183-200.

Another article I came across was an interesting prostitution research paper examining the experiences of 475 prostitutes in 5 different countries. The authors make it known they believe prostitution supports violence against women, so they interviewed and documented the ideas and feelings of male, female, and transgendered prostitutes from South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia. One difficulty they noted in their research was the obstruction of the interviews due to outsiders such as brothel owners, pimps or boyfriends. This illustrates the little control the prostitutes themselves have. Overall their findings show definite widespread abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Their findings showed that these issues are not particular or dominant to specific countries. "The traumatic experience of prostitution is a more potent variable than race, gender, or state where one was born. These findings suggest that the harm of prostitution is not a culture-bound phenomenon." This is an interesting idea to consider and makes me curious for further investigation surrounding the comparisons of sex work and the emotional labor culturally.

Farley, Melissa, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, and Ufuk Sezgin. "Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" Feminism & Psychology, 1998, Volume 8(4). Pg. 405-426. Google Scholar. 29 April 2010.

How Pornography hurts women and everyone


My group has chosen to focus on porn. I am taking the stand that porn, as well as prostitution, are ways in which women are further victimized and hurt by men. Why do we call it "prostitution" when "sex" that is the product of coercion and/or the threat to one's life is legally defined as rape? This is something that as a feminist I am truly bothered by. I am not opposed to sex positive thinking for women, but what I am opposed to is the commercialization of women for the pleasure of men.

The myth that porn is just and image and doesn't affect other women is not true-
21% of women subjected to abuse, (rape, and battery) knew the harm was a direct result of the perps use of porn, meaning when women are assaulted by their partners there is a link between their viewing of porn and the harassment and assault of the woman or man. Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler are delivered to over 200 million homes annually becoming informal sex education for young men which gives them a great start as seeing women as objects and not subjects.

The Myth that women choose porn is also often misunderstood
One of the most famous women in porn is named Linda Marchiano aka Deep Throat. During the filming of this porn classic a gun was held to Marchiano's head, she also received NO MONEY from this film even though it is the largest grossing porn film ever made. Women are photographed and videotaped without their knowledge and then these videos are played on the internet. Systematic childhood abuse provides conditioning for continuing abuse in porn/prostitution- 75% of women in porn are incest victims. Porn justifies and reinforces rape myths that women enjoy and deserve pain, humiliation and violence.

Andrea Dworkin makes this very apparent in her essay which we read in class. Dworkin says, "Porn is the institution of male dominance that sexualizes hierarchy, objectification, submission, and violence." This creates inequality.

In an essay written by Rebecca Whinsnant she writes about how porn hurts women and what we all need to do to confront it and stop it. In 1972 porn was a 7 million dollar business. By 2000 it has gone up to a 12 billion dollar business- that is a thousand fold increase- this cannot be a good thing even if it means women are making money from this. Because of porn's effect no persons understanding of sexuality or experience of sex can be unaffected. Large companies like GM and AT&T own the companies that make and produce porn; they are the ones making the money off of women, not the women.

We need to start listening to the men and women who are hurt by porn. This is not a free speech issue, not when people are being hurt, battered, humiliated and raped. Not when it reaffirms men's idea that women WANT to be treated like objects. MEN- Stop using porn- Throw it away and start dreaming your own dreams about women and men- don't think that by saying you don't watch the bad stuff that makes it better- it is all bad and harmful. Look at these women in these videos! Do you really believe that they WANT two penises in the anus at a time while another one is in her mouth! Challenge friends who use porn! Tell them you don't want to be a part of something that hurts women and men and makes it hard for all people to see sex as something healthy and consensual. Women- Don't lie to yourself and think that it is OK because it is her choice- Have the ability and the courage to see that this is not choice- all women are subject to this treatment and we do not need porn reinforcing this attitude towards sex.
Porn is getting more and more violent as more men are not satisfied with regular old male dominated sex- there has to be an extra kick. For feminist who worked against porn know that this is such a deep form of violence and contempt against women- As a whole it is a form of hate propaganda whose effects are especially powerful because it bypasses rational thought and goes straight for the jugular conditioning the viewer to respond sexually to a repressive sexual ideology.

wtf is up in az... ???!!!



wanna turn this into a link too? :)

not sure what to post this under, but please read!

Raunch Culture

Raunch culture is largely considered to be incredibly seedy, and a phenomenon that is confined specifically to overtly sexual realms as in strip clubs or pornography. However, as an avid blog reader, specifically fashion blogs, I can see numerous parallels between raunch culture to some of the most acclaimed fashion bloggers on the internet. For example, Rumi Neely is the creator of the blog Fashion Toast. rumi.jpg Her posts are primarily pictures of outfits with a spattering of text, and this style is incredibly effective. Immediately, the reader is presented with photo upon photo of this beautiful female in sky-high heels and dangerously short skirts/dresses/shirts/etc. She herself refers to her own style as mostly "trashy crap". Her daring habits have gotten her features in Nylon Magazine, CNN, Teen Vogue, Vogue Paris, and numerous other internationally recognized publications.
Another example is a fashion blog called TwistedLamb. Instead of a personal blog, TwistedLamb features different photographs of fashion. While it is not as obvious as Fashion Toast, a general theme of sexuality pervades throughout the posts. Many of the models are wearing little, if any clothing. However, there is more of an ambiguity to the sexuality. Raunch culture plays upon more heavily entrenched norms of beauty where women are more voluptuous in certain parts of their body and thin in other parts. ambiguity.jpgTwistedLamb displays photos, which play with these norms and generally display a more innate type of sexuality instead of the overt sexuality that fishnets and stilettos convey. Many times, the gender of the model is entirely ambiguous, yet the photographs portray raw emotions of sexuality. ambiguity 2.jpgIn addition, we see that in many other photos oh TwistedLamb, that take raunch culture and twist it in a way which almost negates sexuality in terms of body parts normally considered sexual like breasts, and displays them in such a manner that pushes the reader to focus more on the clothing that the models are wearing. Visible body parts only serve to enhance their beauty.
Thus, these internet bloggers are taking the blatant sexuality that the term raunch culture connotes and using it as a backdrop for the things they are really blogging about - clothes.

Raunch Culture - Local

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Ariel Levy describes the impacts of raunch culture in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, and we see its effects not just in Hollywood and in the media, but on a very local level in addition.

The University of Minnesota claims home to hundreds of clubs and organizations, advocating interests from aircraft construction to skydiving. However, there is one which exemplifies the idea of raunch culture: Kinky U. It's purpose? Its supposed benefit for the community and the University itself states that "Kinky U educates people on the culture of kink, as well as technique and safety. This group helps those new to the community as well as caters to interesting discussions to those who are well-informed in kink." The organization sponsors field trip to places around the Twin Cities area with sex-oriented themes, explores sexual "kinky" acts and members demonstrate proper safety techniques upon participating in such acts.

The club has received much negative response from the community who claim that their use of school money is a waste of resources. Bryan, a member of the club responds by saying that "We're talking about it and being explicit about what practices there are and how to be safe [...] It's removing the stigma. It's allowing people to accept themselves. It's being realistic about what is actually going on."

Your Choice Entry: Single Father Adoption


As I began to track the issue of single parent adoption, I soon found that while it is legal in every state of this country for a single parent to adopt a child, internationally or domestically, it is ultimately up to the adoption agency to decide who qualifies to even be considered to adopt from their agency. I found several questions posted on forum communities by single males who want to adopt a child but have been turned away from adoption agencies from the start. I also came to discover that many adoption agencies would consider single fathers for foster programs that can eventually turn into adoption, or the adoption of older children but not infants or even toddlers.
I decided to do a bit of digging myself. I found a website with a list of domestic adoption agencies and randomly selected some agencies and requested additional information on their contact form. I wrote to several adoption agenceis:
Hi, my name is Alyssa Smith. I am looking into single parent adoptions and I
am wondering if your agency participates in single parent adoptions,
particularly single father adoption. If so I would also like to know if there
are any regulations on this type of adoption, such as the age of the child,
domestic vs. international adoptions, or if a single must begin the adoption
process through a foster program.
Thank You
Within a few hours of sending this message to numerous adoption agencies I received several interesting replies:

"Hello Alyssa-
My name is Brenda Compton and I am the Senior Adoption Consultant for International Family Services. I was told of your interest in adoption and I would be thrilled to email you a great deal of information about our program options and to answer any questions you might have. Before I do so though, I did need to verify that you were asking about you adopting as a single mother, correct? In your request you asked if we can work with single men's adoptions, but unfortunately we do not have any programs in place at this time that are open to this. If you are interested for yourself, as a single woman, please let me know and I will send information on to you about programs you would qualify for. And if you are asking for a single male friend or relative, while IFS could not help him with an adoption, I would be happy to email you some other options he might want to check into, in case any of them would work for him."

"hello Alyssa. I'm sorry that single fathers seem to be the ONE segment of
the population who cannot adopt internationally. no country will allow it
as far as I know. Sorry."

"Love Basket does not accept singles at this time. In the past we have
worked with single women however we found that the wait time was very
long and they were incurring more fees as they updated paperwork
throughout the process. I'm sorry that we can not be of further
assistance to you but do wish you well in your search for an agency."

"Our agency 's adoption services are currently focused upon infant adoptions.
In such cases, the surrendering birthparent is coming to us seeking a two
parent home for her child.
As a single parent, your best opportunity may be in adopting a child through
the foster care system. In doing so, I would recommend you check with the TN
Dept. of Children's Services in your area."

There were also adoption agencies that sent auto-responses, so they detailed their process to begin an adoption but did not specifically answer my questions. There were also a response that explained what their company does is interview anyone looking to adopt and place them with an adoption agency which fits their specific needs, but does not participate in the adoptions themselves. I thought a process like this could be very useful under the current adoption system in which agencies can choose right off the bat who they are willing to work with. However, I do see flaws in the current system that should be looked into.
When it is legal for a single parent to adopt a child, do you think it is ethical for an adoption agency to refuse its services with no further investigation as to how fit to parent this individual may be? What if a different type of company was refusing its services to a particular group of people, like a store clerk who will not sell certain items to certain races of people? Why is it unacceptable to companies to refuse service to groups of people, but when it comes to adoption single males are often not even given the opportunity to begin the adoption process with a home evaluation? Is this practice in the best interest of the children being given up for adoption as well as the birth parents, or is it discrimination?

Sammy, Kathryn, Alyssa

Prostitution-Local Impact

When I think of popular cities for prostitution, the first that come to mind are LA, New York City, and Las Vegas, not Minneapolis and St. Paul. I was surprised to learn that Minnesota is home to a large prostitute population. Here are some quick facts about prostitution in Minnesota:
-Minnesota is known to some as "the factory" for the number of prostitutes it produces (1).
-The FBI has reported that 10% of the teen prostitutes in Las Vegas are from MN (1).
-more Minnesota teens have been arrested for prostitution than Massachusetts, Maryland and Michigan combined (1).
-There are 6,000-8,000 women in prostitution work in Minnesota (2).

While these statistics are shocking, it is also important to know that our community has started programs to help women change their situations.
One such program, PRIDE (PRostitution to Independence, Dignity, and Equality), is a "nationally recognized and highly successful program to help women get out, and stay out, of prostitution." PRIDE is a part of the larger organization, Family and Children's Service, which strives to create healthy and strong families and communities. PRIDE provides court advocacy, outreach, and support groups for survivors of prostitution (3).

Another group, Source, is a faith-based non-profit that provides mentors, life skill training, and transitional housing to at-risk and alienated youth:
"Our holistic approach of being a FRIEND (serving physical, emotional and spiritual needs) and a VOICE (communicating God's love and forgiveness) allows us to reach those who are coming out of devastating and troubling histories, skeptical of the mainstream, and would not come into a church for help or answers. Our goal is to be a Missional Community embracing the lambs and looking for the *prodigals who want to return home - existing at the crossroads of culture providing hospitality and impacting this hurting, skeptical, and diverse culture through prayer, urban outreach, the Fallout Arts Initiative (Fallout Urban Art Center & Art Co-op), transitional homes and Urban Ministry Trainings" (1).

Kwanzaa Community Church in North Minneapolis is planning to open Northside Women's space this month as refuge to women in prostitution where "women could wash up or use a phone, take light refreshments and connect with community resources. They could sign up for health classes, counseling, job search support, chemical dependency referrals, HIV/AIDS services and spiritual direction, if desired" (4).

It's reassuring to see so many groups reaching out to prostitutes in the area, seeing them as victims and not criminals.

1- http://www.sourcemn.org/
2- "Race and Prostitution in the United States" - Donna M. Hughes http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/pubtrfrep.htm
3- http://www.everyfamilymatters.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B06C4C9B8-8DA9-4AFE-BA8C-658065E23661%7D
4- "North Minneapolis church hopes to offer refuge for victims of prostitution" by Cynthia Boyd. 2-22-10. MinnPost.com. http://www.minnpost.com/communitysketchbook/2010/02/22/16099/north_minneapolis_church_hopes_to_offer_refuge_for_victims_of_prostitution

Victor K. Groze and James A. Rosenthal's Single Parents and Their Adoptive Children: A Psychosocial Analysis is a study that compared adoptions completed by single versus two parents of special needs children. Children with special needs, accoring to Groze and Rosenthal, are those "older children, physically handicapped children, children of mixed or minority ethnicity, children who are members of a sibling group, and children with emotional or behavioral problems" (67).

The authors use a table to lay out for the reader the interesting findings in regard to the demographic of adopted children for single and two-parent homes. Something interesting to note when analyzing the demographics is that single parents were more likely to have adopted older children, children with special needs, and girls (70). The authors note, additionally, that "The finding that single parents more often adopt girls contrasts with previous reports...[It] should be considered in the context that most single parents (84%) are women and that single parents tend to adopt children of the same sex as themselves" (70). The table additionally shows that single parent families are more likely than two parent families to be comprised of children of minority races. What does this say about two parent families that they are less willing than single parents to adopt children of a minority race? What message does this send to society?

In terms of the children's emotional and behavioral functions, Groze and Rosenthal rated the children by utilizing the 113 behavior problems in the Child Behavior Checklist (CBC). They compared children who were utilizing mental health services of some kind "clinical group," and children who were not receiving any mental health treatment "nonclinical" (71). In both the single and two parent families, the percentage of adopted children in the clinical range exceeded the corresponding percentage of the nonclinical sample (72). The authors also noted that "differences between the special needs and sample and the nonclinical sample were modest among 4 to 5 year old children, but more pronounced among the 6-11 and 12-16 age groups" (72). It makes sense that the behavioral problems would be more prevalent in children who were older when they were adopted, as the children likely experienced less stability in their daily lives.

The study also examined the educational functioning of the children. An interesting finding, note the authors, is that "no significant differences between single-parent and two-parent families were found regarding attendance, grades, or enjoyment of school. Most children performed well in school and, according to parents' reports, enjoyed school" (73). In particular, this finding supports the idea that single parents are just as suited as two parents to assist in the intellectual development of their children.

The last area of functioning that the study covered was ecological, where the adoptive family was examined based on their use of mental health services. The authors state, "statistically significant differences in the number of in-person meetings with the social workers between one and two parent families were noted" (72). Interestingly, single parents reported fewer visits after being placed with their child than did two parent families. If both the educational data and the ecological data suggest that single parents are just as qualified (if not more) than two parent families to raise a special needs child, why, then, do some assert that singles are unfit to adopt a child?

Groze and Rosenthal discuss the possible reasons as to why single parents experienced fewer emotional and behavioral problems than did two-parent homes. "Perhaps the intensity of relating to two adults on an intimate basis results in more difficulties after placement than does having to relate to one adult caretaker" (74). Furthermore, the study also revealed that in regard to adoption smoothness, "although differences were noted in the child's emotional and behavioral functioning and in the social and ecological functioning of one and two parent families, no differences were found in their evaluation of adoption smoothness" (75). This further suggests that single parents are just as suited as two parent families to adopt a special needs child.

In conclusion, Groze and Rosenthal assert that new adoption policies, with the goal of securing permanent homes for children, should target such nontraditional candidates as single parents for adoption. Furthermore, the authors state "Singles make up a significant portion of the population and a number of single people are raising children on their own. Single adoptive parents are not only a feasible but an untapped resource to provide homes for children with special needs" (76).

Groze, V. K. "Single parents and their adopted children: A psychosocial analysis." Families in Society 72.2 (1991):130.


A Brief History of Prostitution

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Prostitution is supposedly the oldest profession in the world. The ways in which society has viewed prostitution has changed over history. The 18th century BCE Code of Hammurabi included laws protecting the inheritance of prostitutes because they typically had no male figure, such as a father or older brother, looking out for them. In ancient Greece and Rome prostitution was legal and at times even state-sanctioned. There were three types of prostitutes. The first two, sex slaves called pornai in Greek and freeborn prostitutes who worked the streets, could be either male or female. The third class included only females. These educated prostitute-entertainers, called hetaera in Greek, were some of the wealthiest women in ancient Greece. State-sanction brothels included mainly inexpensive pornai, so that all men, despite income level, could afford to have sex.


As Christianity came about prostitution began to be seen as impure. In the 590s CE, Spain had laws punishing women who sold sexual favors by whipping them 300 times and forced them into exile. The men who exploited these women for their 'goods' were never punished. During medieval times, prostitution was so common in large cities that it was hard for kings and queens to outlaw it completely, instead it was heavily regulated. In England, single women could only be prostitutes brothels were inspected weekly. In the 1300-1400s in Italy, prostitution was seen as an integral part of life and many state-sponsored brothels were in operation. In the early 1800s in France, a government agency called the Bureau of Morals was created to inspect brothels to be sure that other criminal activities were taking place. During World War II, the Japanese government abducted between almost 300,000 women and girls from its territories and made them serve as sex slaves in brothels to serve Japanese soldiers. In India, laws have restricted legal prostitution to specific areas in large cities. Today, India's Kamathipura district in Mumbai is home Asia's largest brothels.


In 1971, Nevada passed a law allowing its counties to decide to criminalize prostitution. Of the 17 counties, 11 have legalized prostitution. In 1999, Sweden, calling prostitution a crime against women outlawed the buying of sex while still allowing the selling of sex.

Head, Tom. "History of Prostitution - Illustrated History of Prostitution." Civil Liberties at About.com - Your Guide to Civil Liberties News and Issues. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. .

Hickenbottom, Iris L., and Melanie Ulrich. "Women's History Then & Now - Prostitution." Digital Writing and Research Lab. 18 May 2002. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. .

Tracking the Issues Categories/Presentations

To make it easier to use the blog as part of the Sex War presentations, I made sub-sub categories for the three Sex Wars groups: Pornography, Raunch Culture and Prostitution. Please file your entries under the appropriate sub-sub category.

Here is another way to organize your entries for your presentations: Use your summary entry as the format for your presentation. Make links to all of your entries in the summary so that you can access them quickly. Put them in the order that you want to discuss them. Check out one example of how I used a summary page to organize my presentation. Here's a screen shot of my summary entry (note: since it is a screen shot, the links below won't work. Click on the "one example" link above to access the links):


Tracking- Single Parent Adoption

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Tracking the Issue
Single Parent Adoption
Local Impact

Single parent adoption is as much a local issue as it is a national or global issue. Adoption Minnesota is a Minneapolis-based adoption agency which touts being a welcoming agency. "There are no rules requiring you to be of a certain age, religion or race, nor do we eliminate adoptive parents based on weight, marital status, number of children already in your home or physical disability," the web site says. Though there are no rules, it is pretty clear that the site is aimed at white, middle-class folks, whether it is the birth mother or the prospective parents. This is saddening because the people willing to adopt- whether single or as a couple- may not fit this cookie-cutter image. What is more, is that the entirety of the staff appears white and middle-class. Private adoption agencies, such as this one, have the luxury of tailoring their services to a particular group of people. This perpetuates traditional conceptions of what the ideal family is, regardless of contemporary standards or changes. This creates one more hurdle for single parents, hopeful parents of color or disability- the hurdle to overcome preference. Minneapolis is a wonderfully diverse metropolitan area, and the impact that an adoption agency that caters to white, middle-class can deter potential parents from adopting. Not to say that there are not avenues- such as state agencies- to adopt as a single parent. However, the process is long, emotional and expensive. According to the Department of Human Services, adoptive parents may pay for fees for agency serves, certain birth parent expenses, legal fees and court costs related to adoption, fees to U.S. citizenship and immigration services, fees to people or agencies related to international adoption, and travel costs. Depending on the type of adoption a parent is trying to arrange, the parent(s) may be obligated to pay for medical costs for the birth mother as well. The expense of child rearing and the adoption process can be costly, which is a drawback of adopting as a single parent. However, as the "Single Parent Adoptive Homes" study (in a related post for Tracking the Issue) explains, the parent usually finds a way to work things out where finances are not a grave concern. After searching for more adoption agencies and delving further into the topic, many testimonies read that the mother or father, or both as a couple, find a way to work finances out. Even with half or less than half the income of a couple, single parents who adopt manage.


When reading about adoption and the rights of the birth mother, it was apparent that the father plays a limited role. I was curious to know what rights he has and so I explored the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry. Based in St. Paul, the Minnesota Father's Adoption Registry is a valuable resource for paternal fathers whose child is or may be involved in adoption proceedings. The registry is free and is primarily utilized by courts so they can find the father to participate in adoption proceedings. A father can register as a putative father (recognized father) within 30 days of the child's birth. This is important to do if the father thinks he may want to contest adoption. When discussing single parent adoption, so much attention is placed primarily on the mother or father about to receive the child, secondly the birth mother giving up the child, and rarely is a substantial amount of attention paid to the birth father. In any adoption, single parent or otherwise, considerations should be made for all parties involved. It is acknowledged that in some occurrences the mother does not wish for the father to be involved, and safeguards are established within the state to prevent the father from finding information about the mother when he establishes paternity.

Understanding not only the values placed on the families in the adoption process but the legal issues as well is imperative to taking a critical look at the roles each member of the situation plays.


I know when our group looked into surrogacy, we started to talk about outsourcing surrogacy to make the process cheaper, but I didn't realize how big of a problem it was until I actually saw it referenced in an almost brand new show, Lie to Me. In episode 8 of season 1, the main character and his colleagues discover that a US official has been illegally bringing women into the country on the premise that all they have to do is be a surrogate and get paid for it. Obviously, this scene is over-dramatized and fairly irrelevant to the issue, however, at one point in the show, the biological mother of the surrogate's child specifically says that she went through an agency because it was 60,000 dollars cheaper than American surrogates. This is the big problem with outsourcing surrogacy, it is far cheaper than to keep the surrogacy within the United States, and it preys on the poor that do need the money being a surrogate mother brings to them. This obssession with having a child that's biologically yours is being outsourced, like this article says, just like so many industrial jobs are, but is it really the right thing to do? I do think surrogacy should not have laws against it in the United States and women should be allowed to sell their bodies if they want to - however, this would (and may already) be a problem in the United States and is already a problem in India because impoverished women get stuck in this position, whether they like it or not, because the payment they receive will pull them out of the lower class and put them at least into middle class, if not higher, which doesn't sound like a bad thing, but is it really worth having women sell their bodies away and put themselves in a very risky health position for nine months?

Secret ICE Castles

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thought I would share. very much related to the current outrage at the AZ bill.

if only if i knew how to link it, this would be so much more cool :)


Tracking- Single Parent Adoption

Single Parent Adoption
Scholarly Source

Joan Shireman's "Single Parent Adoptive Homes" is a longitudinal study of single parent adoptions beginning in 1970 and followed for the course of approximately 14 years. The results of the study found that single parent adoptions can be just as successful as two parent adoptions. What is most interesting about the study is not the outcome, but what the author notes throughout the 14-page article.

She begins by explaining a history of ambivalence toward single parent adoption- fears that the children will turn out dysfunctional as a result of a lack of resources and role models had previously stifled single parent adoption. "Professional adoption workers were concerned about the child's intra-psychic development in a one parent household, and concerned that a single parent would not have the resources and support to raise a child," (p. 23). This soon changed though, as the growing number of children in need of homes led agencies to utilize requests for children from single men and women. "Pressure from the community, both agency boards and single parents who wished to adopt, and pressure from numbers of children needing adoptive homes, overcame this professional reluctance," (p. 23).

When selecting children to be placed in the home, what preference is given to single applicants? "The married applicant, of an age to bear children and with the resources to raise a child, is accorded most favorable status in adoption and is most likely to receive a same-race, healthy, infant. More marginal applicants, such as single parents, are unable to obtain these infants and receive children who are more difficult to place- older children, children with physical and emotional handicaps, children of color. Thus the most difficult children are placed with those with the fewest resources to care for them," (p. 26). This places a great emphasis on what is considered ideal, and thus, what is constructs the ideal family. Could it be that the adoption agencies did not think that single parents who were adopting could ever be an ideal family and that is why they were given "hard-to-place" children? What does this say about worth- that children who are older, perhaps disabled, perhaps of color, are not as worthwhile as healthy, white babies? The complexities of adoption are furthered when children are ranked in the adoption process and given last pick to applicants who are not married. This displays a contemporary standard for the ideal family structure and family value- the "best" families have a mother and father (since GLBT adoptions were generally not granted at the time of this study), and a same-race infant.

Concerns about race and health were not the only factors affecting the adoption process for single parents. "Early concerns about single parent adoptions focused on expected difficulties in the development of appropriate gender identity," (p. 29). Gender identity is a concern in single parent adoption because the lack of a parent of the opposite sex means that the child potentially misses witnessing a second gender role. This concern is born out of a traditional perception of a family structure consisting of two parents teaches a child its gender role. We have discussed in class how binary gender roles can be problematic and restrict a child's freedom of expression. For this study, though, single parent adoption was compared to that of two parent households with the notion that two parent households are "normal." This concern over gender and direction turned out not to be substantive enough to differentiate between single and two parent households. "At age 14, gender identity was measure with a standardized scale; responses were similar to the distribution in same-race, two parent adoptive homes. Thus, the evidence we have suggests that up to early adolescence, children are having the opportunity develop appropriate gender identity," (p. 30). (Personal curiosity: What is the "appropriate gender identity?" And what is this standardized scale gender identity is measured with? Can it even be measured?)

Finally, the result of the study concluded that single parent adoptions are just as successful as two parent adopts. "There has been little writing or inquiry from the perspective of the strengths of the single parent adoptive home. Rather, under the assumption that two parent homes were best, single parent homes have been examined to discover the extent to which they look like more traditional families," (p. 30). (Another personal curiosity: What does the "traditional family" look like?) A particular strength for single parent homes is something that perhaps cannot found in two parent households. "The simplicity of relationships in a single parent home has been noted as a potential strength for some children who come from complicated and disrupted backgrounds," (p. 31).

Overall, the research found that, "single parent adoptions do look, in the long run, a lot like two parent adoptions," (p. 33).

Shireman, Joan F. (1996). "Single Parent Adoptive Homes." Children and Youth Services Review, 18(1/2), 23-26. Accessed April 29, 2010 at http://www.sciencedirect.com.floyd.lib.umn.edu/science?_ob=ArticleListURL&_method=list&_ArticleListID=1316919909&_sort=r&view=c&_acct=C000032378&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=616288&md5=eff4569daddc6354a1f08f7d93c2bbfc

Tracking the Issue: Raunch Culture Academic Source


I researched the article "Empowerment and the Pole: A Discursive Investigation of the Reinvention of Pole Dancing as a Recreational Activity. It was authored by Kally Whitehead and Tim Kurz, and it can be accessed by going to lib.umn.edu, finding the Sage Journal Subscription package, and then searching for this article in "Feminism and Psychology."

Pole dancing came into being in the 1970s. It was considered another tool for erotic dancing. The pole was used as a prop to perform tricks and spins, and its use was strongly associated with strip clubs. Recently, the pole has been repurposed. Pole dancing is an aerobically strenuous activity, and women (and men!) have begun signing up for pole dancing classes as a form of fun, sexually liberated exercise. However, this form of exercise has not lost its sexual background. Australian advertisements for pole dancing classes include phrases like "Strength and femininity", "power and beauty" or "Sex appeal comes from within". Whitehead describes the activity as similar to an aerobics class. The selection of classes ranges from "flexibility" to "fat-burning". There are a number of poles in the room, each women selects one, and then follows the movements of the instructer, who has her own pole at the front of the room. Some women wear exercise clothing, while others choose to wear high heels and clothing which is more stripper-esque.

Whitehead and Kurz believe that pole dancing as an exercise activity represents an ideological dilemma. On one hand, who are we to judge the healthy (literally) choices women make? Using sexuality for health certainly seems empowering, and since these aerobics classes are not monitored by men, it seems difficult to make the argument that pole dancing for recreation is consumption of women by men. On the other hand, the sexualization of exercise and the rise of "porn-chic", where the trendiest new enterprises are also the most risque, may represent a movement towards the hypersexualization of women. When stripping and pole dancing is the only type of sex-positive imagery we can conjure, what does that say to the thousands of women who live subtler, more demure sexualities?

Whitehead and Kurz did a rhetorical analysis of the way that customers and teachers talked about pole dancing. They found that broadly, people thought it was empowering because the focus was on fun and fitness, and less on sexuality or "attracting" men to come into a club. One woman pointed out that because she was the one paying to take the class, she had the power. Dancing was an active choice she was making. She believed that when strippers were payed to dance, it made dancing a forced choice for them, because they had to do it for their livelihood.

Another group indicated that they thought pole dancing for someone you loved would be different that dancing for a stranger. They indicated that dancing for a stranger requires no emotional connection - the stranger merely sees a body. Dancing for a significant other means that they already know the person behind the body, and see the act as an example of confidence or playfulness.

Whitehead and Kurz were concerned by some of the statements that women said. Particularly, they thought the dichotomy between dancing for a boyfriend and dancing for a stranger was troubling. What if men said, "It's ok for me to objectify her, because I love her?" Using love as a justification may allow all sorts of degrading and objectionable activities.

Single Parent Adoption--History

Since the mid-nineteenth century, when the first adoption laws were passed, singles have legally been allowed to adopt. However, single individuals looking to adopt have faced a substantial amount of adversity in order to be seen as positive parents and candidates for adoption.

During the 1900's, families began to take a different shape. Divorce and children out of wedlock became more common; however, this did little to affect the opinion on single parent adoption. Some state welfare agencies even went so far as to enact regulations that made it "difficult or impossible for agencies to place children in the care of single individuals" ("Adoption History Project" 1). Single parent adoption was so rare that until the 1960's, there was no way of knowing the amount of adoptions that were occurring. Though it happened, experts believe the number was very small. In fact, single parents were so discriminated against that in 1958, the Child Welfare League of America put out a release stating that adoptive families must be comprised of both a mother and a father ("Adoption History Project" 1).

Efforts to recruit single parents for adoption picked up in the 1960's, in part due to advocates of special needs children up for adoption ("Adoption History Project" 1). The argument for single parent adoption was that children, despite any mental, physical, or emotional handicaps, should have the right to grow up in a loving, caring home. According to adoptioninformation.com, single parents now account for around 25% of all adoptions of children with disabilities.

The Los Angeles Bureau of Adoptions was the first group nationwide to fervently recruit single parents, beginning in 1965. They were also the first organization to seek out single African-American parents, so that they could match African-American children with parents of the same race. Over the course of a few years, 39 single mothers were placed with children, and only one father. Why did adoption agencies assume that mothers would make better single parents than fathers?

Eventually, in 1968, the Child Welfare League conceded that single parent adoptions were permissible when "exceptional circumstances" were in place that would prohibit the child to be adopted to any other family. Why, if a parent is willing to provide a loving home for a child, would an agency deem the adult to be unqualified, simply because of the fact that the candidate is without a partner?

Today, single parent adoptions are more prevalent (about 1/3 of the total adoptions, according to the Adoption History Project). However, the dim hierarchy of preferences still exists within the system, and single parents are largely adoptive when the child has no other choice. The History Project states concisely and dismally, "They are as unwanted as the children they take in." Nevertheless, some point to the potential benefits of single parent adoption, such in the case of a child who may need a more focused, close relationship, or, in the case of single father adoption, where the child needs a strong male figure who is also loving.


Adoption History: Single Parent Adoptions." University of Oregon. 11 July 2007. Web. 30

Apr. 2010. .

"Single Parent Adoption - Adoption Information. General Info on Adopting a Child."

Adoption Information - Services, Centers, Home Study, Situations, Open

Adoptions, Attorneys. 22 Jan. 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2010.


PIC-Restorative Justice-Your Choice

Your Choice

Couldn't Keep it to Myself by Wally Lamb

wally lamb.jpg

PIC-Restorative Justice History

Contrary to the current model of the justice system that relies on prison, restorative justice has been the dominant model through most of history. Ancient Arabs, Greeks, Indians, and Roman societies all used restorative models. The rise of punitive models came in the 16th century concurrently with the rise of the nation state. Crimes were seen as committed against the monarch's power structure and not against individual community members. In turn, the nature of punishment changed; the word roots of guilt have the meaning of 'payment for wrong doing.' The retributive and restorative views of justice both existed in the same time period but have constantly been in tension with one another. Throughout history, Christianity has been in favor of restorative practices consistent with their emphasis on forgiveness; however, with the rise of the Inquisition and power structures in the Catholic Church, retributive practices became the accepted norm. There are still few examples of restorative justice in the world, for example Nelson Mandela led the Ubuntu movement in South Africa, which is beginning to take off. Unfortunately, the main model is still the harsh retributive model exemplified by the Prison Industrial Complex.

PIC Agendas

In class today you will be developing agendas for responding to the Prison Industrial Complex. I thought it might be helpful to offer an example of one group's response/s to the PIC: INCITE! and their national project on stopping law enforcement violence. Their site for the project provides a detailed description of the project and why it is necessary:


They also discuss their goals, other organizations that are a part of the campaign and how to get involved. You can download brochures, tool kits, and posters that offer more information about their project at the site as well. 


Remember: If you and your group decide to post an agenda on the PIC, it must be posted by Thursday May 6 to receive full credit.

PIC summary

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group members: Chloe, Mary, Sara, Jeffrey

Prison map.png

points of contention:

capitalist hegemony
production of criminals: human monsters; social waste (deviants)
production of citizens
justifying prosecuting power
-- (as Dean Spade says, targets of the system become reasons for the system)
"Safety" and fear

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The New York Times wrote a great article today about Oklahoma's decision to make women who are considering having an abortion have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus in an attempt to dissuade them--even in the instance of rape or incest. Another part of this new law says that women who have given birth to children with serious birth defects cannot sue the doctors for withholding this information because they did not want the woman to choose to have an abortion. Another part of these laws wasn't to make it mandatory for women seeking abortions to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about why they are choosing to have an abortion and then post their information on the internet. Also, they are looking into how the state can restrict certain insurance policies so to make it unable for women to use them when seeking an abortion.
I really could go on and on about this but I think you get my point. If it isn't already hard enough for women to make these decisions lets just step it up 10 fold and force them to put their life choices on the internet. I am so, so sad about this and I can only hope that feminist can rally behind this and make sure that this ridiculous nonsense does not come to fruition.

Being public while brown


This is an intresting article that discusses what we talked about today. If we create a profile for what we believe to be a criminal and then apply it to people who are not criminal we have a problem. Who decides what a criminal looks like? Does it only have to do with the way people dress or is it more about the color of their skin? I am having a hard time trying to figure out how this idea can be justified or even presented by elected officals as having some sort of merit.

PIC summary for Sarah, Ava, and Courtney

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The Prison Industrial Complex immediately sparked our groups attention as a feminist, and all around human issue. Coming from a psychological schooling background, I found the phenomenon of caging criminals up together in hopes of later rehabilitating them into society fascinating. In Wally Lamb's book, "Couldn't Keep it to Myself", life in prison was discussed, examined, and then published. It was a first hand account of how women ended up in prison, and what it was like during and sometimes after. Our group leaned towards restorative justice, because of a personal impact it had on one of us. Rather than separating the victim, community, and offender, restorative justice engages them all in finding a plausible solution. Since forcing criminal offenders into cages like wild animals seemed unsatifying to us, we decided to research restorative justice.

According to Howard Zehr, one of the founders of the modern restorative justice movement, "restorative justice is an acknowledgement of the Western criminal justice system's "limits and failures" and is often part of the response to the belief that "the process of justice deepens societal wounds and conflicts rather than contributing to healing or peace" (3).

As part of a way to address some of the issues and frustrations that only seem perpetuated by the Western system of punishment and incarceration, there has been successful implementation of restorative justice principles locally and internationally. As Sarah pointed out in the local importance/impact post, the principles can be applied to a minor indiscretion, like underage drinking, or other larger crimes. In this instance, instead of being 'punished' for minor consumption, she was given the productive task of creating a transfer student club that served a larger purpose and community.

Taken to a much larger scale, New Zealand in 1989 "made restorative justice the hub of its entire juvenile justice system" and has done so successfully. Also, "building upon the experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, efforts are being made to apply a restorative justice framework to situations of mass violence" (4). The Prison Industrial Complex is a relatively new phenomenon, and has begun running an immense scale. However, entire nations are beginning to resist the PIC system and finding alternative methods of justice, which is promising for all.


• Crime is a violation of the law and the state vs. crime is a violation of people and relationships.
• Violations create guilt vs. violations create obligations.
• Justice requires the state to determine blame (guilt) and impose pain (punishment) vs. justice involves victims, offenders, and community members in an effort to put things right.

CENTRAL FOCUS: offenders getting what they deserve vs. victim needs and offender responsibility for repairing harm.


Criminal Justice: What laws have been broken? Who did it? What do they deserve?

Restorative Justice: Who has been hurt? What are their needs? Whose obligations and responsibilities are these? Who has a stake in this situation? What is the process that can involve the stakeholders in finding a solution?

(All found on page 21 of Zehr's book)

Those alternative approaches to justice can and are found and implemented throughout the world. They serve to inspire us to imagine justice differently. Zehr cautions us that "true justice emerges from conversation and takes into account the local needs and traditions" and that we should be wary of a "top-down approach". Rather than having a system that relies on a higher power passing on judgment and punishment; there should be a system of collaboration between offenders, victims, and community. "Restorative justice requires us to change not jut our lenses, but our questions". Lastly, "above all, restorative justice is an invitation to join in conversation so that we may support and learn from each other. It is a reminder that all of us are indeed interconnected" (63).

Awareness of existing alternatives to modern PIC standard operations offers some hope, and perhaps one of the most radical accepted responses offered within the system. The United States has yet to implement wide spread initiative expanding restorative justice principles. Whether or not the perpetual cyclic criminalization largely of societal debris and people of poverty continues to make industry profits and how we respond as a society is up to us. Feminist? I think so... humanizing criminal bodies that have been/ are/ will be incarcerated is necessary for us to see the true inhumanity and deeper societal ills perpetuated by our modern PIC.

Is restorative justice a feminist oriented practice/philosophy? Can it be 'feminist' if it is about all criminals being afforded more humanity? Even possibly violent criminals, rapists, and murders? Where is the line for a 'feminist' response and articulation of restorative justice's efforts? Can its objectives actually counter feminist values?

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