There's an interesting video making its way through cyberspace. It features a young woman who expresses her strong opinions about Beyonce's new video - Run the World.
Check out the video, THEN take a moment to check out The B(E)-Girl Manifesta's blog response - Why I Like My Feminism Gray. It's a great feminist critique of the ways that feminist critique one another. Make sense?
Be sure to check out the "Blogroll" on the left. It's a great list of complementary blogs and websites that can further our thinking about feminism and media.
Enjoy - and critique lovingly!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Original article can be found here:
By Diane Loupe
Monday, May 23, 2011
The problem of child sex-trafficking is widely associated with foreign countries such as Thailand and India. Advocates hope new sex-trafficking laws like the one passed in Georgia will focus concern on U.S. girls.
ATLANTA (WOMENSENEWS)--When a young woman here tried to escape her pimp in April 2010, his retaliation was swift and brutal. He ordered four other sex workers to beat the runaway until her eyes swelled shut and a bottle pierced her head.
Then the pimp locked the 21-year-old woman in a 3-by-5 foot dog cage overnight, bragging about her debasement by texting photos of the caged woman to other pimps. Police, tipped off by someone horrified by the photos, searched a hotel until they found the woman alive and arrested the pimp and prostitutes.
A new law here, aimed at helping protect victims of sexual trafficking, will likely change the way such a case is handled.
Georgia legislators in April set higher fines and longer sentences on pimps, with a 25-year minimum prison sentence for coercing sex from anyone under 18. Buying sex with a 16-year-old carries a five-year sentence. The new statutes also protect adult women who were coerced into prostitution, such as the caged woman, from prosecution.
An estimated 250 to 300 underage teens and girls are sexually exploited each month in Georgia, says Kaffie McCullough, campaign director of A Future. Not a Past, a campaign to reduce juvenile prostitution in Georgia.
Many Georgians associate child sex trafficking with foreign countries and aren't aware that it's happening in their own state, says McCullough.
Malika Saada Saar is founder of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a group based in Washington, D.C., that works to prevent violence and exploitation of women. She echoes McCullough's complaint that U.S. child exploitation gets ignored.
American Girls 'Not Recognized'
There's support for "girls in India or Thailand, girls from fractured families, who have endured abuse, who are very vulnerable, who have been lured or kidnapped into being trafficked for sex," says Saar. "But girls from those same situations from American circumstances are not recognized as victims; they are cast down as bad girls making bad decisions."
McCullough says the new law allows prosecutors to seize the illegally gained assets of pimps and to use them for law enforcement and to provide minors with victim compensation funds to provide counseling and residential treatment.
State laws on human trafficking are relatively new so their effectiveness is unproven. But Saar wonders how effective the new laws will be, given what she sees as a failure by authorities to prosecute existing laws against statutory rape.
"The commercial sex industry has ceased to be an industry of adults," says Saar. "It's about buying girls. You talk to any pimp. He wants young girls; young girls make more money for him. Demand that exists is for very young girls."
This market demand is fueled in part by the larger society's hypersexualization of young girls, Saar says.
Saar wants to prevent girls from winding up in detention centers where they face the risk of further sexual harassment or violence.
"There's no opportunity to heal from the intense trauma that has been done to them…We have a long way to go in terms of reforming our juvenile justice system and our child welfare system," she says.
Saar supports a coordinated campaign to ask law enforcement to make prosecution of buyers an equal priority to the prosecution of traffickers.
McCullough agrees. "To me, if we don't stop the demand, we won't ever stop this issue. There are always going to be 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls out there," she says. "We need to start making it not okay to buy them."
Way to Escape Criminal Charges
Kirsten Widner, director of policy and advocacy at the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School here, helped draft the law. She says it provides ways for prostituted adults and children to escape criminal charges if they can demonstrate they were coerced into sexual servitude. Forms of coercion include threats and providing drugs or shelter in exchange for sex.
Like the privacy provisions of a rape shield law, this aspect of the law prevents prosecutors from using the sexual history of an exploited girl or woman against her in a criminal trial, says Widner.
Georgia State Sen. Renee Untermann, a Republican insurance executive, has championed the latest Georgia law, along with previous laws against child trafficking. A Democrat wouldn't have gotten far in the Republican-controlled Atlanta legislature, Untermann says. Even she had to work to persuade her conservative colleagues that girls were being victimized in their state.
"People don't want to hear about 50-year-old men having sex with 12-year-old girls," says Untermann.
In Georgia, Wellspring Living provides 45 beds for exploited girls and teens, the largest number of any state. But it's still not much "for a state of 8 million people," says Untermann.
She has received help from several large Christian churches and has worked with the National Conference of State Legislatures to pass model legislation on the topic.
New laws on sex trafficking are bringing the problem to light, says Samantha Vardaman, senior director of Shared Hope International in Washington, D.C., which is compiling a report card of such laws. But the nation, she says, "has a long way to go."
Diane Loupe is a freelance writer based in Decatur, Ga. She has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri and teaches writing and communication at the Interactive College of Technology in Chamblee, Ga.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The campaign to assault the self-esteem of Black/African women and girls has been a long sought one. Fought on the terrain of the shapes and size of their bodies, the texture of their hair, the Aquiline quality of their noses and the shade of their skin, Black/African women and girls have struggled to carve out a healthy psychological concept of themselves and their physicality in a society determined to use it as the mark of the “un-beauty”.
The May 15, 2011 publication of, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive than Other Women?”, by Satoshi Kanazawa on Psychology Today’s blog, The Scientific Fundamentalist, is the latest iteration of this campaign. Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, reports that based on his findings, irrespective of intelligence and body mass index (BMI) measurements, Black women are less attractive than their White, Asian and Native American counterparts and that comparable findings are not evidenced among Black men. His concluding thoughts suggest that Black women’s lack of beauty may be due to their higher than average testosterone levels, though he did not measure or report hormone levels of the study participants.
Assuming Kanazawa’s research on the Psychology Today blog may have been abbreviated for space and content considerations, as a psychologist researching and working with Black/African girls and women, I have methodological and ethical concerns about this work. Several methodological omissions make it difficult to contextualize the findings. For example, Kanazawa does not describe his sample. We do not know the age or race or the number of “Add Health” respondents. Further, “Add Health”, which appears to be a measure of objective and subjective physical attractiveness, is not adequately defined. The strength and validity of the measure are questionable as, physical attractiveness, a subjective construct, is not operationalized. Kanazawa may have considered examining the content, construct and criterion validity with regard to the physical attractiveness variable to legitimize his findings.
The study design is also problematic. Apparently the physical attractiveness of the respondents is measured “objectively” on a five-point scale by an interviewer over “seven years”. Again, Kanazawa does not describe the interviewer, and this becomes important as one’s racial identity, level of internalized racial oppression, multicultural competence and self-esteem, may likely influence the aesthetic to which they attribute beauty. Within a Western context, the concept of beauty varies tremendously from an African aesthetic (Welsh-Asante, 1993). Consequently, for this work to be considered valid these factors should have been considered.
Perhaps, what may be most troubling of Kanazawa’s work, and until recently (the blog has since been removed from the Psychology Today’s website), wide dissemination of his findings, are the ethical concerns it raises and the socio-cultural and political considerations it engenders. As Black/African girls and women have historically been challenged to form healthy psychological notions of themselves within the context of a “White Beauty Ideal” (Banks, 2000; Boyd-Franklin, 1991; Greene; 2000; Rooks, 1996; Williams, Frame, & Greene, 1999), Kanazawa’s work can be viewed as scientifically irresponsible. Guideline number four of the APA Guidelines for Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice and Organizational Change for Psychologists (2002) states.
Culturally sensitive psychological researchers are encouraged to recognize the importance of conducting culture–centered and ethical psychological research among persons from ethnic, linguistic, and racial minority backgrounds.
Beginning at the formation of the research question and the theoretical and/or practical intentions of this work, one may wonder: What is the purpose of this research? What body of knowledge does it seek to extend? Guthrie’s (2003) seminal work suggests that psychological science has long been misused to legitimize and justify racist social and political policy. Further, that the gender-bias of the findings are presented as findings rather than limitations, suggest that the measure, already deemed inappropriate, may not capture its dependence on, not only a “White Beauty Ideal” (i.e., correlations with BMI), but also may play into racist sexual politics relative to Black/African masculinity (Collins, 2005). This is also problematic.
The public outcry toward Kanazawa’s work and Psychology Today’s swift removal of it from their website speaks to the power of giving voice and putting productive action behind outrage in response to injustice. Even so, the post continues to circulate as one “Tumblr” writer has posted it in its entirety on her site. Juxtaposed by photographs of her, I cannot help but wonder whether these pictures are her argument for Black/African women’s beauty. I am personally saddened by the fact that she may even believe she must defend it.
Wendi Williams, Ph.D.
American Psychological Association (2002, August). Guidelines on multicultural education, training, research, practice and organizational change. Retrieved August 13, 2008 from http://www.apa.org/pi/multiculturalguidelines/homepage.html.
Banks, I. (2000). Hair matters: Beauty, power and Black women’s consciousness. New York: NYU Press.
Boyd-Franklin, N. (1991). Recurrent themes in the treatment of African American women in group. Women & Therapy, 11, 25-40.
Collins, P. H. (2005). Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, gender and the new racism. New York, NY: Routledge.
Greene, B. (2000). African American lesbian and bisexual women. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 239-249.
Guthrie, R. (2003). Even the rat was White: A historical view of psychology. Allyn & Bacon, Inc.
Rooks, N. (1996). Hair raising: Beauty, culture, & African American women. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Williams, C. B., Frame, M. W. & Green, E. (1999). Counseling groups for African American women: A focus on spirituality. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 24, 260-273.
Welsh-Asante, Kariamu (1993). The African Aesthetic: Keeper of the Traditions (Contributions in Afro- and African-American Studies). Greenwood Press.
This week, a great number of women around the country used their voices, Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles and emails to respond to a disturbing article published by Psychology Today. The article asked why Black women were less physically attractive than other women. There are several problems with the article, from the scientific merit of the author’s methodology & unsupported interpretation of the resulting data to the widespread dissemination of an individual philosophy that promotes negative race-based evaluations. Though the article has since been removed from the publisher’s website the outcry is far from over.
In response to those calls for action, FemPop is publishing a series of ‘talk-backs’ to explore this issue. We look forward to an active discussion and hope that this will be but a first step toward using our skills to combat media and ideas that devalue women, and promote those that elevate us.
Let's get started!