December 26th 2004:
- An earthquake off the coast of Indonesia causes a tsunami that devastates Southeast Asia, claiming 227, 898 lives in 14 countries.
- Every month 150,000 Africans die of AIDS related illnesses.
- That’s a tsunami every two months.
- Each day, 1,000 babies are born with the AIDS-causing virus, HIV.
- Without treatment, half of them will die before the age of 2.
But there is hope…
- For around $.40 a day, a pregnant woman with HIV can receive antiretroviral (ARV) medication that reduces her risk of passing along the virus to her child.
- With proper treatment, babies born to HIV positive moms have a 98% chance of being born virus-free.
Here’s where you come in:
- By 2015, the number of babies born with HIV could be down around zero.
- You can help make this goal a reality by partnering with (RED) to help administer these life-saving ARVs to pregnant women who are HIV positive.
- This holiday season, take the pledge to give one (RED) product as a gift.
- Many major retailers carry (RED) products: Apple, Gap, Nike, and Starbucks to name just a few!
You have the power to fight AIDS and save lives. Will you use it?
As allegations of whitewashed sexual abuse at Penn State make national headlines, a furor of public outrage calls for answers.
PSU football coach Jerry Sandusky has been indicted on charges of molesting at least 8 young boys over a 15-year-period. Perhaps even more upsetting than the ongoing nature of the abuse is the fact that 2 Penn State administrators and as many as 6 other staff members had personal knowledge of Sandusky’s crimes yet failed to alert proper authorities. Though witnesses and survivors alike have begun to come forward, the question still remains; why has this matter taken 15 years to pursue? Unfortunately, this type of situation is not at all unique. Statistically, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. And while the individuals involved in this cover up deserve to be held accountable for their inaction, when we look at these statistics, we as a society, must also shoulder some of the blame.
So often, we choose to remain silent about such unsavory encounters, because we expect a certain amount of anonymity that’s often unfeasible. We view abuse and other atrocities with an attitude of avoidance, because we fear the negative repercussions that may follow the decision to speak out. Upon first blush, this theory seems downright sensible. Covering our own behinds has become second nature to us, out of self-preservation. But when we truly examine the consequences of our silence, it suddenly becomes unconscionable.
Childhood sexual abuse has been linked to many antisocial tendencies: substance abuse, alcoholism, and suicidal behavior to name a few. An estimated 85% of the prison population has reportedly endured some form of abuse during formative years. The causal link between abuse and social deviance, when such traumatic instances run so rampant in society, does not lend itself to generations of well-adjusted adults. As they say, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
Similarly, domestic abuse is a taboo topic of conversation. Many witnesses feel as if what happens behind closed doors is none of their business. While it may seem respectful to remain uninvolved, the truth of the matter lies in the danger of what is left uncontrolled. Often, witnesses forego intervention out of fear for themselves and their safety, without considering the fact that their inaction allows another to remain in harm’s way. The CDC estimates: every day in America, 3 women and one man will die at the hands of an intimate partner. Yet perhaps what we fail to realize, when viewing these statistics is that it so rarely starts that way. An abuser doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to kill their partner. There is a point at which the abuse becomes tangible to the outside world. As Andrew Willis co-founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign explained, “There’s a well documented cycle of violence. Most abuse is a part of a pattern of control.”
If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we must recognize that so many of these situations have ended in tragedy because those who saw it stayed silent. As Edmund Burke once put it, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Each time we witness, or even so much as suspect abuse, and overlook it, we send a message to perpetrators that their behavior is acceptable. We tell victims that their suffering is inconsequential. It’s really no different from the silence that’s been held by Penn State staffers all these years. Choosing to be a bystander is certainly much easier than standing up for the most vulnerable among us, but are we willing to accept the consequences? Can we honestly experience a good night’s sleep, knowing that where we could very well stop abuse, we’ve chosen by default, to let it continue? How many lives must be destroyed before we choose to get off the bench?
It’s a story as old as time: Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl engages in oral sex with boy behind the gymnasium during study hall while a fellow classmate takes video. Okay–so maybe it’s not as old as time, but when a clip of this very indiscretion made its way onto twitter, it certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
As if the world isn’t tough enough for a 14-year-old, with the lack of anonymity afforded by the internet, it’s arguably more difficult now than it ever was for generations past. The young girl in this scenario is no exception.
When the video went viral, Amber Cole faced a litany of internet backlash via nasty blog posts, tweets, and a smattering of YouTube videos hurling insults; we’re not even comfortable repeating. The target on her back left her with no other choice but to uproot and switch schools. But her ordeal is far from over.
You see, despite the fact that there were three people involved in this incident, society has solely chastised and publically humiliated Ms. Cole—who was not responsible for distributing the video. Unfortunately, this scenario has become all-too-common as of late. A girl who engages in sexual activity is branded a slut, while her male counterpart is often applauded for his sexual conquests, or dismissed under the notion that “boys will be boys.” To make matters worse, it’s these blanket ideologies that perpetuate the kind of sexism that makes it acceptable for boys to videotape sexual encounters and broadcast them on the internet.
This isn’t to say that the two boys who concocted and executed this little ploy haven’t faced any consequences. They’ve been arrested and charged with distribution of child pornography. However the repercussions are not likely to follow them into adulthood, given their ages and the fact that their names have not been released to the public. Unfortunately for Ms. Cole, her cross to bear will forever be the fact that the internet has a way of immortalizing our mistakes. While the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue seems to be, “What was this girl thinking?” We seem to forget that there are two other individuals who are just as much to blame in this scenario, if not more so–as it was they–and not Ms. Cole, who posted the video online.
Once the issue of culpability is made clear, we as a society, are forced to step back and examine what sort of messages we’re sending to teenagers, that allow for this kind of deviation to become just another societal norm. And if we truly examine our collective conscience, we must realize that a passive approach to this issue is simply not an option. On a fundamental level, these kids have engaged in, produced and distributed child pornography. Yet many seem to question the categorization of it as such, due to the ages of those involved. If a child takes a gun to school, shoots and kills a classmate, is the victim any less dead because another child pulled the trigger? Absolutely not. And if we continue to ignore the blatant sexualization of children, we’re in essence, turning a blind eye to a generation.
We seem to think that kids are unaware of what they’re doing, when they do things like this. Yet our culture has given them all the ammunition they need, to step up to the plate and say, “If adults can do this, we can too.” The fact that kids today possess the ability to behave in such a calculated manner, regardless of age, is downright terrifying. Combine this with a sudden onslaught of teenage hormones, and we have a ticking time-bomb on our hands. It’s not a joke. It’s not a harmless prank, and it needs to be dealt with in a manner that conveys the seriousness of the issue, while maintaining a level of protection befitting any high school freshman whose budding sexuality has been fostered by a society that’s failed to express the importance of self-control.
The attitude we’ve taken to teenagers and sex is basically the equivalent of leading a child to the side of a swimming pool, telling them all about the fun that’s to be had, and walking away without ever expressing the importance of safety and a healthy respect for the water. Unfortunately for these kids, the damage has been done. You can’t un-ring a bell. But by dealing with it, we accept responsibility for failing to educate young people, and in turn, make the best of a bad situation.
Expressing the importance of self-respect amongst teenage girls is so very necessary in this day and age. It sets the stage for boys to respect them as well. Perhaps more importantly, we need to stop treating children as though they are adults. Exposing a child to adult behavior does not make them an adult. And kids are very much influenced by what goes on around them. They gauge their behavior by what they see from the adults around them. If we continue to integrate them into society as adults, without equipping them for it, we’re going to continue to face the same issues.
Who is Amber Cole? She’s your sister. She’s your daughter, your next-door neighbor, your classmate, your child’s babysitter.
If we take the time to invest in the next generation, we can remedy the ills of our oversight. If not, how many more Amber Coles will there be?
*Special thank you to Issa Luckett for her helpful insight on this matter.
…And other things you never knew about living on your own.
Well its about damn time! You’ve finally given into the fact that you’re a fully-functioning adult with self-sufficient capabilities. Congratulations. Maybe you’ve just finished your summer internships that scored a kickass job. Maybe you’re just tired of your mom instituting “quiet time” after dinner so your little brother can study hard enough to finally pass Algebra I. Either way, you’re finally in a place where you can afford to support yourself, and you’re just itching to spread your wings and take flight from the confines of your childhood bedroom. You’re oddly excited to pay rent, and not have to account for your whereabouts, every damn moment of the day. If you’re a guy, you’re probably hanging out in your parents basement with all your buds, talking up this sick the bachelor pad (read: man cave) that will be rigged with a big-screen and the “NFL Sunday Ticket”. If you’re a chick, you and your girlfriends are probably all hanging out in the bedroom you can’t wait to shuck, scouring Pier 1 for the perfect vase to put on the hypothetical breakfront that will eventually occupy the foyer of your new digs.
While these dreams are easily attainable for those fortunate enough to have well-paying jobs, or those who plan on funding their step into adulthood with the help of Mom and Dad; for everyone else, a dream home is more of a process. Another not-so-fun realization that’ll smack you in the face pretty quickly, is that you had absolutely no clue what you were getting yourself into.
As CitS writers who’ve personally taken that terrifying plunge into self-sufficiency/co-habitation, we’ve decided to shed a little light on the reality of it all with a list of the things we’d been more prepared for:
- Food is really freaking expensive. Now most of us know the basics; a steak is clearly going to run you a little more than a pound of chop-meat, but when you still live with your parents and you aren’t buying groceries you tend not to notice prices. So when you are budgeting and think that $200 a month for food is sufficient, understand that this means you will be eating more Ramen noodles and Chef Boyardee than anyone would ever want.
*Helpful hint* Plain pasta is really inexpensive. Same with rice. You can save yourself a few bucks with eat trip to the supermarket if you skip the Rice-A-Roni and Pasta Sides envelopes and simply season up the plain stuff to your liking.
-Another expense we totally underestimated? Cleaning supplies. Namely soap. Laundry soap. Dish soap. Soap soap. Laundry soap is about $4-$6 for a decent sized jug of a cheaper brand. If you want a more “high-end” detergent like Tide, you’re looking in the $8-$10 region for a small bottle depending on size, scent, and whether or not it has any kind of “boost”. Same goes for dish soap, especially dishwasher detergent. Cleaning solution for windows and floors are usually less of a strain on the budget, as most people don’t do dishes and wash windows with the same frequency.
*Helpful hint* Dollar Stores have laundry detergent. Your clothes will get just as clean as they would with more expensive soaps, but the dollar store soap may not have the extra fragrances or softness. You can save money by buying dollar store detergent and then spending a couple bucks on a pretty-smelling fabric softener.
-EVERYTHING Requires a deposit. Everything. When you go to turn on your water, electricity, cable, internet, etc. you’re facing more than just installation fees. When you connect your electricity for example, you need to pay a deposit equal to one or two months of the average amount of electricity used by the previous tenants. Simply put, if the previous tenants had a high-ass electric bill, you’re gonna have a high-ass deposit.
*Helpful Hint* By signing up for auto-pay (monthly payments taken automatically from a checking account) many companies with lessen the deposit amount, and some will even waive it if you have good credit working in your favor.
-Choose your leftovers wisely. Let’s face it: you’re going waste food. If you make a dish that you won’t eat reheated, don’t save the leftovers. Don’t kid yourself, you’re not going to eat it; once you have your own place, it is now your responsibility to get rid of that nasty-ass 2-week-old tuna casserole.
-It’s always a good idea to have a “backup box” of sorts. This should be used in case of financial emergency. Fill it with a couple of rolls of toilet paper, hygiene products, napkins, and maybe even a small bottle of detergent. That way when you run out of it during a tight pay period, you don’t have to spend the last of your cash on it.
-You don’t have as much stuff as you think you do. One bedroom’s worth of furniture does not translate into a furnished house/apartment. If you try to finance a whole living room and dining room set, I promise you that you will be paying $100+ every month for years to pay it off. Yes, you’ve seen the apt. of your dreams in your head, and you just want to go crazy up in the home decor sections of EVERY store, but you should pace yourself. Try setting goals: aim for one new thing per paycheck, or set a spending limit (like $50 a week) so that you can get a few things at a time. It’ll add up more quickly than you think.
*Helpful hint* You can find nearly all of the staplse you need on Craigslist, and they can then be dressed up with new things. Worn-out couch + slip cover = new-(ish) couch! Beat-up dining room table? No problem! That’s why they make table cloths! Or, if you’re feeling super adventurous, you can even try sanding it down and refinishing it. A mirror can be repainted. Wal-mart, Big Lots, and Target have some solid pieces of furniture for under a $100- as well.
-Okay last one. You need more little things than you think. Imagine everything your mom had in the medicine cabinet, in the junk drawer, in the utility closet. We recommend walking around your parents house (room by room) with a notepad to write down everything you see that you might need. You can prioritize your list accordingly.
*Helpful hint* Little things, like brooms, flashlights, aspirin, and napkins can be found at dollar stores. Dollar stores are like cheaper versions of K-Marts and Wal-Marts, and just as their selections vary, as do the selections in the dollar stores.
When it comes down to it, moving out is always more stressful than you anticipate. No matter how prepared you try to be, you will always end up kicking yourself for forgetting batteries, or blowing that $50- on a shitty Ikea knockoff. Try to remember, though, that masochism is never the answer when you can tap into Google and get a shit-ton of lists that can help you remember everything you need to know about everything. You can often draw ideas from “first-time-homeowner” and “dorm readiness lists” as well as skimming through Yahoo answers. (Although we tend to save that last option for when you’re really desperate/ feeling masochistic.)
And To Those About to Move, We Salute You!
What do you get when you take Hollywood’s most outrageous, yet down-to-earth couple, their high-power glamorous careers, a home tanning bed, a poorly trained dog and roll it all into a reality show? (…Aside from a headache.) Quality entertainment, that’s what!
Check out our new favorite thing on E! Sunday nights at 10:30/9:30c.
It was a dark and stormy night. My boyfriend Jay and I were snuggled up on the couch, watching a Saturday Night Live rerun on VH1. Suddenly, a massive thunderstorm caused some kind of interference, rendering the show unwatchable. We were immediately stricken by crippling panic! Did this mean we were going to have to …talk to each other? Thankfully Jay remembered that we had a few things DVR’d and crisis was averted.
The lightning flashes dimmed, the thunder rumbled softly away, and the steady downpour tapered off into a delightful mist, as we sat in comfortable silence watching Criminal Minds.
With the DVR emptied of its contents, bedtime grew ever-closer and we stepped outside for a smoke.
Then we heard it–a low, loud, oscillating whine. At first, I thought it was an air-raid horn. Then I remembered it’s 2011. What was that noise?! It was coming from the bedroom! Upon stepping inside to seek out and destroy the offending cuplrit, the noise grew louder and more legible…
“Oooohhhhhh Myyyyyyyyyyy GAAAAAAWWWWWWWD – uh!!!”
I stiffened immediately and stopped dead in my tracks. Jay (ever-courageous) shooed me behind him with all the speed and dexterity of Stephen Hawking. Slowly we crept down the hallway, then mustering all our courage flung open the door to find the rabid… human?
Overcome with so many thoughts–so many emotions, we stood there open-mouthed but silent, absorbing the pervasive horror that permeated the realm of sleepy consciousness we had left smoldering in a purple ash tray on the porch. But remaining in the wake of the unanswered gut-twisting migraine-inducing questions was the sobering realization that “music based television” had yet again, unleashed a load of toxic waste in an attempt to bolster the campaign to forever exalt spoiled, orange, overly-groomed people who have an aversion to pronouncing the letter ‘r’.
Being a native of New York, this particular”genre” of shit-ertainment annoys the crap out of me for so many reasons. Combine that with my Italian-American heritage and I am not only annoyed but outright offended. Perpetuating cartoonish exaggerated accents, blindingly white highlights and Cheeto-powder tanned fists pumping into smoggy strobe lights in time with techno-music with respect to those of Italian descent is–dare I say it? …Racist!
The latest offensive show to get stuck in my craw? Mob Wives–the new regurgitated by-product of Vh1′s battle with MTV over trumping the mind-parasite “Jersey Shore” inflicted upon us, post-My Big Friggin’ Wedding. It’s a cross between Tool Academy and Jersey Shore with a matrimonial twist–whose premise needs no more elaboration, as I fear that speaking of it fuels its power and makes for its ever-stronger, triumphant return. Like Voldemort, or Dr. Phil.
The show follows four women from Staten Island, showcasing their “glamorous” lives and aspirations afforded by the Mob affiliation of the men in their lives:
*Renee Graziano – daughter of Anthony Graziano, current consigliere of the Bonanno crime family. Ex-Wife of “Junior” who is consistently in and out of prison. She is a self-proclaimed “loud, foul-mouthed drama queen.”
*Karen Gravano – daughter of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, a former underboss of the Gambino crime family, and federal informant. She is also the ex-girlfriend of Drita D’Avanzo’s husband, Lee (spoiler alert-dramatic women incite drama surrounding this). While in the federal witness protection program she was implicated in a drug ring and served three years of probation.
*Drita D’Avanzo – works as a freelance make-up artist. She is married to Lee who is in and out of prison for such crimes as drug dealing and numerous bank robberies–and coincidentally dated Karen Gravano before marrying and industrial solvent’s namesake.
*Carla Facciolo – daughter of Louis Daidone (born February 23, 1946) a former acting boss of the Lucchese crime family, who is spending the rest of his life in prison. *Lavish lifestyle brought to you by funds stolen from unsuspecting senior citizens.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, these sound like really classy, fun, interesting women who probably lead lives I would envy”, then STOP IT. Now. Right Now.
These shows are a blight upon America’s collective conscience. Stereotypes are unavoidable, yes. However it seems as if the entertainment industry seeks to glorify the obnoxious and turn up the volume on the unflattering, in order to rake in the big bucks. Why is it that labeling an ethnicity has become the rule, rather than the exception?
Can you imagine the criteria set forth by these producers in the wee hours of the morning? Their crew gathered around the infamous fax machine from Office Space, set atop a cheap folding table that doubles as a conference room–hands fused to their foreheads and cheeks? Who gives these people television shows? “Make them more orange! They need to roll their eyes at least 12 times during their personal interviews!” “Oooh Oooh make sure you can fit your fist through the earrings!”
The best way to combat this kind of television programming is to simply not watch it. Do not let your children watch it. I can promise that you probably don’t want them exposed to it anyway. We understand it can be tempting–like watching a car wreck, or skipping the gym for a month–but these things are detrimental to your well-being. So please, please, please: Take the scenic route to work. Get a gym buddy. And kill your TV.
Every Level-Headed Person, Everywhere
Over the past 100 years, society has come a long way in equalizing gender roles. In fact, this progression has gone so far as to make it difficult for younger generations to understand what it’s like to live in a world where women’s rights are secondary to men’s—which is something of a double edged sword—but I’ll get there. The Roaring 20’s brought about the institution of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Birth control became readily available, widely used and socially acceptable, and women started entering the workforce. Cut to a 21st century society where these rights are taken for granted, and the struggles from which they were borne, often overlooked, and you can start to see the second blade. But when social norms have become as they are today, we have to wonder if the pendulum of uniform rights for the fairer sex has swung too far from where it originated, or not far enough. I’m talking about rape—or more specifically, rape culture.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “rape culture,” it’s a phrase that was coined in the 70’s to describe society, and mass media’s normalization of violence against women. It is often used in women’s studies, and feminist circles. The rationale behind this “social shrug,” as I like to call it, is broken down and perpetuated by two equally disturbing elements: the first being the old moniker, “boys will be boys.” The second is that for any one of a number of reasons, a woman can open herself up to being raped. As ridiculous as this rationalization may seem, it has been successfully employed as a legitimate defense strategy in criminal trials.
Back in February, a Canadian judge’s ruling allowed a man to dodge a rape charge, sentencing him to two years house arrest, because the victim wore revealing clothing. “Sex was in the air,” the judge said of the 26-year-old single mother’s flirtatious demeanor on the night in question. He went so far as to call the defendant a “clumsy Don Juan.”
Not to be outdone, the New York Times published an article on the brutal gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in a rural Texas town. The article featured several quotes from locals, doting over the fact that the five suspects, ranging in age from middle schoolers, to a 27-year old man, had their lives turned upside down, all because this little girl wore makeup, hung around teenage boys and dressed in a manner befitting “a woman in her twenties.” To make matters worse, the assaults were videotaped.
Perhaps too many people have forgotten what it’s like to be 11-years-old. Why else would such an esteemed publication as the New York Times broadcast the fact that this child wore makeup, and disturbingly, use it as a makeshift springboard to launch a defense for five older boys who violated a child?
There is reason why a woman’s sexual history is inadmissible as evidence in a rape trial in the United States. So how can we in good conscience, justify the rape of a little girl because of a coat of lip gloss? Arguably, such atrocities are feasible by virtue of the fact that women are deemed physically equal to men. The fact of the matter is that an 11-year –old girl is extremely limited in her defense against five older males. And perhaps even more important than her physical response to the attack would be the issue of consent. If a woman does not give consent, if a woman cannot give consent (by virtue of her age, level of intoxication, mental state, etc.) –if a woman will not give consent, if for any reason, consent is not given, any and all sexual encounters that follow the lack of consent are not only unethical, but illegal.
So do these misguided perceptions on sexual assault stem from the ideology that women are physically equal to men and comparably in charge of their own bodies? Or the fact that women are inferior, and consent is subsequently a non-issue when “sex is in the air”? You decide.