Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Interactive State of the Union Crossword Puzzle

In honor of George W. Bush's 2004 State of the Union Address, I'm pleased to present my first interactive crossword puzzle:
State of Disunion crossword puzzle.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


In my country, there are well over one million unmarried adult females. Within this spinster surplus, there are many who have neither a respectable suitor nor a decent push-up bra. Rachel Greenwald wants her female readers to acquire these items post-haste. If both activity and bosom are elevated, she promises, a girl can find herself a husband in just 12-18 months.
Speaking from her home in Denver, Colorado, Greenwald, author of The Program: How To Find a Husband After Thirty, says “I do think all women can benefit from the purchase of a push up bra.” Although, she is quick to point out, this garment is not as vital to the search for a husband as is strict compliance to a 15-step marketing action plan.
A former marketing executive and Harvard Business School alumna, Greenwald is also a wife, mother and professed romantic. She is, therefore, uniquely qualified to articulate an idea whose awkward time has come.
The Program, which has recently found its way onto the New York Times Best-Seller list, represents the self-help intersection of commercial and intimate life. “You, the reader, are the ‘product,’” she writes, encouraging her husband hunters to create a Personal Brand. Her Unique Selling Proposition is, oddly, that we must each devise our own Unique Selling Proposition.
Quarterly performance reviews, packaging, telemarketing and budgeting are all techniques to be employed in pursuit of a husband-consumer. Greenwald, who also offers seminars and personal consultations in her curious breed of commerce-as-therapy, is adamant that these are useful tools.
While studying for her MBA, Greenwald began to her refine her marketing warfare techniques. By means of creative Event Management, she conquered a bloke to whom she today remains a preferred brand.
After Harvard, she worked extensively in marketing. At one time she “was the US Marketing Manager for Evian water.
A lot of people joked that if I could market a premium priced bottled water I could market anything”. Anything, including her own gender.
Business school and broad work experience “ gave me classic training to apply those principles to something more meaningful.”
She decided that guiding her sisters toward matrimonial bliss was much more fulfilling that peddling spring water to rich people. And so she became a Private Dating Coach and public speaker.
As Greenwald tells it, victory with her clients came so often and abundantly that a wildly successful book was inevitable.
With achievement, of course, comes critique. While Rachel Greenwald’s book has captured the notice of many strategic singles, it has also earned her harsh reviews.
“The media has marketed the book as an anti-feminist document. “ says Greenwald, who insists her intention is to help readers cultivate practical self-esteem and, in so doing, find A Man.
“When the book is really about is finding qualities that are unique and attractive about yourself and marketing those accordingly”, she explains.
Despite these pure motives, she has found that her instructional manual has polarised opinion. “If you look at the reviews for the book, you’ll find comments ranging from ‘a waste of money’ to “five stars, it changed my life”.
Indeed, this and other media rage with assessments of Greenwald’s emotional business-management theory. Women seem to either love or hate the book that seeks to quantify a return on romantic investment.
Ironically, she says, polarising opinion is precisely NOT what devotees of The Program must do. In researching and developing her personal brand “a woman should generate a brand that has a broad appeal Women should not aim to polarise because the idea is volume.”
“If she has a polarising brand then fewer people will want to meet her.” Says Greenwald. “A high volume of prospects means that the odds are greater that one of those will be right.”
So, women should strive to offend as few, and please as many, men as possible. Difficult, unseemly or unladylike behaviour is forbidden in The Program.
Despite a liberal use of marketing industry terminology and the author’s assertion that she is anything but anti-feminist, the text does seem at times to ethically veer into the mid twentieth century. The good Greenwald student must be a perky people pleaser disinclined to argue and disposed to visit places like Antique Car Shows, computer expos or DIY furniture workshops in the hope of finding an eligible gent.
A Program Lady must be agreeable. (And not averse to the idea of fly-fishing, either.) Greenwald, a champion of mass-marketing, advises “If someone offers to fix you up on a blind date and you find out in advance that this person [is] wrong, you will still go on that date” . Each blind date is a chance to promote your brand.
In the pages of The Program, she warns readers that your “future husband may be divorced, he may have kids of his own, he may be shorter than you”. In short, stop whining, be grateful if a tiny polygamous bloke with a tribe of children looks at you twice and, above all, don’t be such a fussy britches.
The Program has emerged in its home country as arguably the most influential Find-A-Husband-Quick text since The Rules, written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, was published in 1995. Fein and Schneider, in all their playful enthusiasm for body-suits, blow-waves and girlish deceit in general, quickly and justifiably became the least popular writers amongst feminist women since Norman Mailer.
Greenwald is eager to distance herself from The Rules. “The Rules is a set of tricks and gimmicks and its about acting in a false way to attract men. My book helps women think of creative and strategic way to meet more men.”
These strategies might include, for example, mass delivery of a Direct Mail campaign in the form of a photograph of the husband hunter accompanied by the greeting “This year, I would like to find someone wonderful to spend my life with. Do you know any single men you could introduce me to?”.
The Rules, and other manuals of the kind are “a deception” says Greenwald. Hawking your image to hundreds of people and begging for a date, by contrast, is an honest and creative tactic.
It’s simple, of course, to evaluate a book like The Program within a feminist context and find it ideologically wanting. The fact is, many women would quite like to find a nice bloke and no book providing advice on this topic is ever going to read like a manifesto for social change.
The truly striking thing about The Program is not its antique sexual politics. Nor is its most salient feature the stink of humiliation and despair that permeates many of its exercises.
What makes this book remarkable is its elocution of marketing and the emerging place this has in the personal sphere. That a popular work can easily talk about the development of a Personal Brand is significant. And mildly terrifying.
That anyone, male or female, can begin to think of themselves as a product competing for attention in the marketplace of love is troubling. If we begin to define ourselves in the terms of commerce and relative value, it is surely possible to lose sight of a commodity like love altogether.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Claiming Your Human Rights on MLK Day

For just one day let there be no progress. Let us not find a new way to convert seemingly worthless pieces of earth into technological slaves that fulfill our every whim. Let us not alter the chemical composition of this substance to turn it into something new, something nature never thought of, that will come back in the fish as a poison lasting millions of years. Let us not bring the fossil fuels up from the ground so that we can burn them, their particles rising into the air to return back to us in rain water. Let us not re-engineer the rice so that we get three crops a year instead of two, but are forever dependent on the manufacturers of the rice seed, because it is a sterile, patented product now. Let us leave Mars to the science fiction writers and give up thoughts of permanent homes on the Moon.

For just one day, let us be something less than what we could be. Let us have something less than what we could have. Let us look at what is possible and say, "no thanks," in favor of what is preferable. Let the moon be for poets who make meaning out of its reflection on a lake. Let all things be as they are born and enjoyed just for that. And may you too be loved and embraced just as you were born, needing no embellishment or proof of your worth. May the animals be safe from brutality so that you have no need to prove your intellectual superiority over animals just to insure yourself against similar abuse. Let how we treat the least among us reveal a societal identity we are proud to claim, one that leaves each of us feeling safe and secure even as we rest in the pure essence of our being.

For just one day, let us not earn our keep. Let us instead be still and listen to the birds sing in the trees, watch the wind blow in the leaves, feel that same breeze against our skin, and laugh at how lucky we are to be living on Earth. Today marks the holiday for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who dedicated his life to the freedom and dignity of all people, just as they were born. He was slain by an assasin's bullet, but you still live. There remains a hope that if you dare, if you have the courage and the conviction, you may claim your life as your own and set yourself free. This is an invitation. Be still and know that you are God, that God is all there is, and that that is good enough.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Aunt Jemima has left the building

Blogger and new mother Dawn Olsen is perturbed about a poster of presidential advisor Condoleezza Rice being circulated in liberal circles. Dawn believes the poster communicates contempt for black conservatives.

"Oh, I think I understand what's going on. See, if you are a person of color AND conservative then clearly your race can be used against you, because heaven forbid you not follow the stereotypical party-line of liberalism. If you are a conservative and also a minority in this country, then you have CLEARLY sold your soul to the "white devil" and have made a mockery of your race. It couldn't possibly be that you have educated yourself to the various political paths and ideologies and chosen the one that you feel best represents your values, beliefs and faith.

. . .There seems to be a vast left-wing conspiracy going on here. It seems that certain liberals are trying to keep conservative, free thinking individuals, who happen to also be of a different race than whites, DOWN. Why is that?

Maybe it's just me, but I find it kind of duplicitous to call into question someone's race in a derogatory way just because their philosophy differs from your own, but then use that same race as a benefit when it suits your agenda.

It's no secret that Liberals traditionally have championed the dignity of minorities and their right to equal treatment, and then when some members of those minorities turn conservative they turn around and make slave jokes."

My initial response to Dawn's entry was as a civil libertarian: Rice is a public official. She is helping make decisions that impact millions of lives, both in America and abroad. People have the right to criticize public officials and public figures because of the power such persons hold. Indeed people should criticize the powerful, since that is one of the few forms of accountability they are subject to.

After more thought, I decided Dawn may have a point regarding the 'fighting for whitey' language. I believe what Rice is actually doing is helping the oligarchy that runs the country. It does not include or concern itself with most of the citizenry, including most white people. So, accuracy has been sacrificed to catchiness in the slogan on the poster. Do read the rest of Dawn's entry.

Note: This entry also appeared in a column at Mac-a-ro-nies.

The guilt of a Westerner.

This afternoon I had the luxury of watching an episode of Oprah. Usually I'm busy at school or with other things and I miss her show. Today I had enough time to sit down and watch an episode before dashing off to the gym.

It wasn't an easy show to watch.

No, she didn't have on any cheesy celebrities gushing about their extravagant life, or some expose of a social scandal.

Today's show was a special report on women's issues around the globe -- particularly in India and Ethiopia.

The first part of the show focused on Bride Burning in Bangalore, India. Every year around 1200 women are burned in these "kitchen accidents" -- which really are purposeful actions by the husband to burn his wife, usually over dowry issues. The clips showed faces of countless women, burned over 60-70% of their bodies -- all over issues of greed. One interview featured a woman and her 5 year old daughter, both burned alive when the husband/father poured kerosene over them while they were cooking.

It's beyond words what these women experience -- they'll never be accepted again in society, and will forever be labeled a "burden" to their families -- over something that wasn't even their fault.

Women don't usually talk freely about being burned by their husbands when their families can't pay dowries, because they fear being killed. Many women say they are burned because of a stove burst, but that is usually far from the truth. On any given day, at least three or four women are admitted to this hospital with more than half of their bodies burned. Lisa said the stench of their flesh was overwhelming and the sound of their pain was heartbreaking. "From the second I walked into this room, I felt like I was in a place where a war had struck," Lisa says. "The fact is that many of them will not live to leave the hospital, and this happens everyday."

The second half of the show detailed the life of one extrodinary woman, Dr. Catherine Hamlin. She is amazing, in every meaning of the term. She is such a selfless person, and she's given her life to helping the women of Ethiopia -- performing surgeries to fix fistulas and then enabling them to enter society once more.

From Oprah's website:

Fistulas are holes that develop in the tissue that separates the vagina from the bladder and/or rectum. They can occur in expectant mothers who have difficulty during labor due to small pelvises, or a poorly positioned fetus. In the United States, obstructive childbirth is often treated by a caesarian section. But in many developing countries, poverty prevents women from getting proper treatment.

Dr. Hamlin explains. "Imagine a little of the unfortunate five percent of all the women in the world that get into obstructive laborÂ…She doesn't know when she starts her labor, nor do the village women know... They encourage her (to push) day after day after day. After five days she delivers a stillborn baby. The only reason she can deliver is because the baby inside the mother gets smaller when it's dead, and she can push out a dead baby.

"But she wakes up to a worse horror: Finding her bed soaked in urine and sometimes bowel content as well. All of that pushing has created that holeÂ…so everything is coming out, without any control." The odor of the nearly constant drip of urine and waste remains. The young woman is often shunned by her husband, and sent to back home to her parents. Dr. Hamlin says the women are then shunned by their families.

Dr. Hamlin has spent almost 50 years of her career serving these women. In 1999 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but she didn't win. I think the prize that's in store for her is worth more than anything she could receive by a mere mortal organization.

But as I watched these stories about women a half a world away -- I couldn't help but feel guilty for all that I have. I want to do something, tangible, to help women who are persecuted in these ways. But what can I, a broke student, do to make a difference?

It's not enough for me to sit here outraged at what happens -- watching shows like this make me want to board a plane tomorrow to serve people less fortunate than myself.

One day, I will do something. I don't want to be the type of person that's moved the 60 minutes she watches a show and then goes on with her day like nothing's happened.

(also posted at grrrl meets world)

EDIT: Right after posting this, Dr. Phil's show came on. Somehow getting tips on how to haggle down prices on material goods isn't appealing to me. Watching a woman buy an $800 bracelet somehow made me feel sick at our level of materialism, compared to the rest of the world -- especially considering that amount of money would almost pay for 2 women to have their fistula problems fixed.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

A different flash on feminism.

I sat down this afternoon and finished "The Adventures of Flash Jackson." (See previous post.) I couldn't put it down.

As the story pointed toward its closing, an older woman/mentor (Miz Powell) gives spunky, sassy, wild girl/woman Haley (AKA Flash Jackson) some advice that I just can't help sharing here:

"Don't be afraid to be all the things that a woman can be.... [snip]

"You can be a mother and still be Haley," she said. "You can cook dinner for your family and still be free. I'm not saying your life is going to be independent of the people involved in it. You have to make the right decision. But you can have a baby and still be yourself. You can fulfill traditional roles if you want to, without letting them define you. Who you are will change when you have childen, of course, but you could let it be an improvement, not a detraction."

"I don't mean to be rude, but how do you know all this? I
[Haley] said. "You never did any of those things."

"No," she said. "What I have done is be a woman, with all my feminine qualities intact, in a world that was run completely by men. And you know something? They appreciated it. They didn't exactly move over and make room for me --I had to carve out my own space among them, but that was nothing different than any of them had had to do. That's something some women don't seem to understand. Nobody is accepted right away. Everyone has to prove themselves. The world will never make room for you-- you have to make it yourself. You have to make your own place, and stick to it. And there's nothing weak whatever about those same feminine qualities, Haley. That's what I want you to recognize. They are not a liability. They are a strength."

One would think that this novel was written by a woman, given the right-on Croney point of view, but it wasn't. And adding to my delight in the book, the author, William Kowalski, brings my favorite myth, Lilith, into Haley's final learning curve as the girl confronts her fear of snakes.

"The snake, she'd [Miz Powell] explained, is the oldest symbol of feminine power in the world. It's not a FEMALE power -- it's a FEMININE power. Miz Powell was very clear on this point, because men and women alike have feminine energies within them -- as well as masculine ones. People were too obsessed with gender these days, she said. Really, there weren't nearly as many differences between us as we like to pretend."

Who was this Lilith anyway? Miz Powell, ever the walking mythological dictionary, was only too happy to explain.....


"Lilith has been many things, my dear," said Miz Powell. "There are goddesses similar to her in Hindu culture. The Israelites knew about her even when they were nothing more than a bunch of simple nomads, thousands of years ago. She is everywhere. She has a JOB."

"Which is?"

"She is that which does not surrender," said Miz Powell. "She is indomitable."

"In other words," I thought, "she is Flash Jackson."

Lilith and Kali. Miz Powell and Haley. And aspiring Crones. In Haley's own terminology: LEGITHATA (ladies extremely gifted in the healing and telepathic arts).

Why not?

(Posted here as "No Flash in the Pan," but I thought it followed nicely after the previous post here on Blog Sisters.)

Reading The Third Wave

So third wave feminism is important to me, to my dissertation, and I've been trying to figure out what it is so that I can write about it in said dissertation. Basically, the idea is that there have been three distinct "waves" of feminism. The first wave is considered to be early feminists-- a big long historical group starting roughly with women like Mary Wollstonecraft and moving into the 1900s with suffragettes and suffragists (yes, there is a difference--one is more radical, one more conservative. I just can't remember which is which.)

Second wave feminists
are the ones we are most familiar with-- women and yes, men, of the 1960s to the present who fought for equal pay rights, equality in the workplace, an end to domestic violence (even just as a "to the moon Alice" joke), sexual freedoms, such as birth control rights, and increased representation of women in ALL walks of life (politics, medicine, sports, etc). These second wavers are still actively engaged in feminism-- many of them are my mentors. Third wave, then, is defined as women and men who have come to feminist thinking with it always there-- those of us born since, say, 1964ish. But what, you say, beyond this rather simplistic concept of "waves" is the third wave of feminism?

We correspond roughly with Gen-X (although we don't often like to admit that.) A while back, on my other website, we did a collaborative review of a book that helps define third wave feminism better than I can do in a brief blog entry. Check it out. Also check out a couple of websites with some good definitions and arguments: here and here.

Third wavers have been called post-feminist, and disparaged as creating division within feminism where there should be none. Second Wavers have said that third wavers are selfish, that we feel a sense of entitlement.

"Well, geez" says I. "Wasn't us being entitled to freedoms and choice part of what you fought for?"

The Onion wrote a bit a while back titled "Women Now Empowered By Everything a Woman Does." They mean it as a joke-- a way of poking fun at the way feminism has been co-opted by things such as the Luna bar and cereal. But the thing is-- the Onion is partially right! Women today can be and are feminists without having to march on Washington in big groups waving signs. It's not just about big political movements; it's also about being free to choose to not think about it! The freedom for women to just live their lives today IS a feminist act-- because of feminists, women can choose to live their lives without being forced into things they don't want to do, or given no voice. Even the choice to NOT be a feminist can be seen as a feminist act. You are allowed to not think about it, to stay home and be conservative, and still enjoy certain freedoms as a woman that women of the past, women of other countries, do not have. Think about the women being beaten with a stick by the Taliban for going out in public without a man to accompany them, and women who have to ask for political asylum to avoid having parts of their sexual organs cut off, and you will realize that ALL women in the US and other "first world" countries have a lot to thank feminism for.

Just in the daily clothing choices we make, and our choices of whether or not to be stay at home moms or high-powered attorneys, of whether to teach our toddler sign language or dress them in pink and blue, we can define ourselves as feminists. Like to wear short, short leather skirts and spike heels? Like to wear PANTS? Like to cut your hair? Like to use a condom to prevent pregnancy and/or disease? Like to READ? You have a feminist to thank for that. At one time, you would have been punished for those clothing choices. The Onion can make fun of a woman wearing a "Slut" t-shirt, but by doing so, a woman is potenially redefining what those labels which have kept us controlled mean to us. A word only has power over you (think of any slur you can) if you let it control you.

As a blog I recently discovered put it, feminism doesn't exist-- feminismS do. There is no monolithic theory upon which we all agree. I can't define it very well right here. I'll have to do some work and really write a clear, coherent description of feminism, including third wave sorts of it. But that, of course, would mean I'd be working on my dissertation. So. For now, know that third wave feminism is a fact and will be around for a while. That doesn't mean we're trying to destroy those who have come before us-- nor that we don't realize we, too, will eventually be last year's news.

originally published in slightly different form @Kim Procrastinates.

For ballet fans

I'm sure lots of the women on this list took ballet lessons as girls. Well, so did I--in fact, I did a lot more than that. Recently, I saw "The Company," the new Robert Altman film about the ballet, and I posted some reflections. An excerpt:
A lovely dancer is jump, jump, jumping to demonstrate to her understudy the proper ballon in a classical solo. But then: Up, down, up, down, up, SNAP!, crumple. She falls in a heap on the floor, grabbing her ankle. Silent at first. Speechless. You'd think that someone who's just snapped her Achilles' tendon would be squealing in pain. (I mean, my god--look at the high-drama show those football players put on every Sunday.) But no. She just sits. And you know why? It's the shock. Not the physical shock. The emotional shock of knowing, in an instant, that your career is probably over. After a lifetime spent striving, bleeding, breathing, crying to do this one thing, it's done. And there's nothing she can do about it.

That image will stay with me forever. Because despite the fond memories, it's that very instant that defines my own dancing life.
To read the whole thing, go here.

Fun with names

Last night we watched part of Hollywood Squares while eating our spaghetti. Not as much fun as Jeopardy, because I never know who the darn celebrities are. But the fun part last night was that the contestant was identified as "E-Bo". Usually they only say the first names of the contestants, so I have to assume that is her first name.

With a name like that in front of us, we let go of Hollywood Squares and started playing the marriage game about her.
If she married Beau Bridges, they'd be E-Bo & Beau.
If she married Bo Diddley, she'd be E-Bo Diddley.
If she married J.Lo, she'd be E-Bo Lo.
If she married Hedy Lamarr, she'd be E-bo La Marr.
If she was a martial arts specialist, she'd be Taibo E-Bo.
If she likes to buy things at auction, she'd be known as Ebay E-Bo.
If we never find out her last name, she will have to be known as E-Bo Doe.

The winner: "If she married David Bowie, she'd be E-Bo Bowie."

Note: This entry also appeared at The Harmonic Convergence.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Parents are greatest peril to children

It has happened again. Another baby will not live to see her first birthday and her mother appears to be at fault. The Associated Press reported the details.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A woman has been charged with murder in the death of her 10-month-old daughter, who deputies say was bitten and violently shaken because she was crying.

Sashine Howell, 23, was being held without bail Sunday.

Broward County sheriff's deputies said Howell gave conflicting stories, first saying a boyfriend shook her daughter, Faith, and then admitting that she didn't have a boyfriend and that she shook the child herself.

According to sheriff's reports, Howell shook the baby and bit her because the infant was crying and had bonded with her father during a recent visit.

The infant had a bite mark on her back, intercranial bleeding and a swollen bruise on her head. She died Saturday at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Why am I blogging about an occurence so commonplace? Because, I was recently reminded the message that family members, friends and acquaintances are more likely to abuse children than strangers has not sunk in with many Americans. David Flanagan, a blogger with ties to Free Republic posted an entry lauding women for being naturally good parents.

. . .Even more impressive is the fact that Moms everywhere seem to have formed this unofficial child safety pact that I never knew a thing about until just recently. That was the day my wife, Julie, was in a children's clothing store in our local mall and lost sight of our oldest for about ten seconds. Julie called out, no response. Then, with the slightest edge of panic in her voice, she called out again for our daughter. Immediately, every woman in the store stopped what they were doing and began looking for our daughter. Suddenly, all those Moms of various ages, races, and creeds were as unified and focused as any military force preparing to do battle.

It took only about 15 or 20 seconds before a woman from the back of the store called out that she had located our daughter. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, then went back to whatever it is they were doing just seconds before, almost as if nothing had happened.

In a sense, nothing had happened. A fellow Mom needed help locating her child, and the other Moms responded as instantly as if it were their own child. Once the child was successfully located, they all went back to what they were doing. This extraordinary community of women acted naturally, responding in a coordinated fashion to help protect a child. When my wife told me about this incident I was, to say the least, impressed. More than that, it underscored to me one of the wonderful differences between men and women.

Do you think a bunch of guys would have reacted in the same manner if it had been a shop mostly filled with men? I think not! What you'd probably see is that the men who heard my wife's slightly panicked call for our daughter would just continue doing what they were doing. A few fathers might slow down a bit and glance quickly around them before resuming. Maybe one or two out of a dozen might have begun to look around actively. But, unless it were their child, I don't think the majority of men would have acted in the same coordinated way as those women did on that day.

Women, I believe, are the nurturers of society. Whether its social, biological, or both, they feel compelled to comfort and protect in a way that men do not. I'm not saying that men can't do it, but I don't think its a skill that comes as naturally to us. . . .

And so on. He titled the entry "The League of Extraordinary Women." When I first glanced at the title, I thought I was going to read about women who had accomplished impressive feats in politics, industy or the arts. Instead, I learned that if I hear someone yell, 'Erin, get back here this minute!' at Target and look behind the display of towels I'm examining in case a kid is hiding there, I am extraordinary. Thanks, dude, but I'll pass. If someone is going to give me props, I would prefer it be because I've really done something superb, not because I was born without a Y chromosome and some people believe that makes me a natural nurturer.

But the condescension toward women is not what bothers me most about Flanagan, and others, urging on this myth. I told him so in a comment.

David, I guess you intend this entry as what we called a 'bright' when I was in the newspaper business. But, I think we need to look at the issue of child abuse in a more balanced way. Most child abusers are women. That is mainly because women do most childcare, I guess. Believing women are natural nurturers can actually make child abuse less likely to be recognized. I watched a woman verbally abuse her two young daughters on MAX (our train system) a few days ago. She didn't do anything severe enough to have the police intervene. But, if I had been wearing 'Mommies are all good people,' blinders I would not have recognized the abuse for what it was. I fear the kind of piece you've published may actually do harm to the cause.

The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect has the most recent data on child abuse and neglect.

In 2001, 3 million referrals concerning the welfare of approximately 5 million children were made to CPS agencies throughout the United States. Of these, approximately two-thirds (67 percent) were screened in; one-third (33 percent) were screened out. Screened-in referrals alleging that a child was being abused or neglected received investigations or assessments to determine whether the allegations of maltreatment could be substantiated. Some of the screened-out reports were referred to the attention of other service agencies.

. . .Approximately 903,000 children were found to be victims of child maltreatment. Maltreatment categories typically include neglect, medical neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological maltreatment. More than half of child victims (57 percent) suffered neglect; 2 percent suffered medical neglect; 19 percent were physically abused; 10 percent were sexually abused; and 7 percent were psychologically maltreated.

. . .Most States define perpetrators of child abuse or neglect as a parent or other caretaker, such as a relative, babysitter, or foster parent, who has maltreated a child. Fifty-nine percent of perpetrators were women and 41 percent were men. The median age of female perpetrators was 31 years; the median age of male perpetrators was 34 years. More than 80 percent of victims (84 percent) were abused by a parent or parents. Almost half of child victims (41 percent) were maltreated by just their mother, and one-fifth of victims (19 percent) were maltreated by both their mother and father.

According to the data, 12.4 per 1,000 children were reported as victims of abuse in 2001. About 1,300 children died of abuse that year. More than eighty percent of abusers were family members. Nearly 60 percent of abusers reported were women.

People may find two myths, the naturally nurturing nature of women and the evil stranger who lures children away and harms them, reassuring, but neither is well supported by research. An estimated 4,600 children per year are abducted by strangers. Most are returned very quickly unharmed. The other 300,000 children kidnapped each year are taken by family members, friends or acquaintances. Law enforcement pays particular attention to stranger abductions because they are more likely to result in murders, but, obviously, many children live in homes where they are more imperiled.

If the epidemic of parental child abuse is ever to be stanched, we must acknowledge it exists. I hope publishing factual information on the topic will help achieve that goal. But, I was unable to pierce Flanagan's armor of self-satisfaction. He assured me that I didn't know what I was talking about in that 'get on with you, gal,' tone so many Right Wing men have. That's life.

Note: This entry also appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Long time from around here

Well, I did it. I left the country of western Massachusetts and moved to California. Money, income, job advancement was the reason, and to live near my son again. He's grown to quite the man, I did well.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Public Service Announcement

Happy new year to all my Blogsisters!

For those of you who are interested or who used to read my blog on and off, my shift from Blogger to Moveable Type is just able complete and I've started 2004 off with my first ever post on my new blogsite.

If you used to read me and even to link to me on your blogroll, please adjust your links to:

and please title the link 'Glovefox'

Thanks so much and once again, happy new year!!!

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...