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Amendment

Amendment

2008

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Virginia Commonwealth University

2008

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Amendment promoting social change through artistic expression

Fall 2008 Virginia Commonwealth University Student Media Center

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Staff Editor in Chief Celina Williams

Faculty Advisor Liz Canfield

Managing Editor Danielle Shutt

Production Manager Mary Franke

Senior Editor Heather Marie Cohu

Student Media Director Greg Weatherford

Editorial Staff LeaAnne Eaton Kristen Hall Antwain Jackson Lane Russo Kristin Vamenta

Business Manager Olivia Lloyd Lauren Geerdes Cover Artist Shawn Yu, Fishes

Amendment is an annual student publication funded by student activity fees. Amendment accepts rolling submissions year-round and offers workshops for writers and editors. We encourage submitted works of creative essays, personal narratives, short stories, one-act plays, poetry and prose. We also welcome artistic media including drawings, paintings, photography, and other forms of fine and applied arts. For submission guidelines, please visit our website www.studentorg.vcu.edu/amendment or contact our editorial staff at amendmentvcu@gmail.com. You may visit our office in person or mail submissions to: Amendment, VCU Student Media Center, 817 West Broad Street, P.O. Box 842010, Richmond, VA 23281-2010. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission of the VCU Student Media Commission and the editors of Amendment. All materials copyright 2008 by Amendment. All rights reserved.

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Mission Amendment seeks to

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provide thoughtful conversation and communication concerning issues of gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, identity, and any other oppression the student body sees fit to discuss;

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extend and equalize publishing opportunity for VCU students and other emerging writers and artists;

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inspire writers and artists to seek knowledge through artistic and critical expression while increasing awareness about social and political issues.

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Acknowledgements The issue of Amendment currently in your hands would not have been possible without the following allies in our mission to provide a forum for students, faculty, alumni, and other emerging artists and writers to share their thoughts and ideas. First and foremost, the editors would like to thank all of the people who submitted to Amendment. Whether or not your piece was chosen for publication in this issue, the very act of submitting your personal work(s) to a panel of strangers is a brave one. We hope that you are not discouraged if your piece was not published, and we are happy to offer constructive feedback and encourage you to keep writing, keep creating, and—most of all—keep sharing with others. We also appreciate the support of the faculty, staff members, and other individuals who posted flyers outside of their doors, forwarded emails to their students, spread the word about Amendment, and offered space for meetings and events, specifically Dr. Diana Scully, Dr. Deirdre Condit, Gay Cutchin, Dr. Jennifer Fronc, Dr. Patricia Perry, Margaret Altonen, Thom Didato, Dr. Sarah Jane Brubaker, Dr. Ann Creighton-Zollar, and Dr. Elizabeth Cramer. We would like to give a special thanks to our faculty adviser Liz Canfield for her unwavering support and enthusiasm for this little journal that could. Thank you, Liz, for being a voice of encouragement. We would like to thank the following academic departments for helping us with promotions and assisting in the development of the artists, writers, and critical thinkers who make up the greater portion of our submissions, particularly English, Women’s Studies, Mass Communications, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, and the School of the Arts. We cannot go without expressing our sincerest gratitude to the many people in the Student Media Center for their patience and support. Thank you, Greg Weatherford, for the advice and reality checks. Thank you, Mary Franke, for making the image we had of this issue happen. Thank you, Olivia

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Lloyd, for answering all of our financial questions as we were learning to be just as good with numbers as we are with words. We would also like to thank our fellow student media The Commonwealth Times, The Vine, WVCW, and specifically Poictesme for the mutual back scratching. Thank you to the Student Media Commission for your support and enthusiasm for student media. Last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank the student organizations, leaders and activists out there who are fighting the good fight and bringing important speakers and events to the VCU campus. College wouldn’t be quite as interesting and thought-provoking without you.

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Introduction On July 12th, Suzanne Pharr came to Richmond as part of Equality Virginia’s Annual Activist Conference. Her talk focused on how oppression is systematic, and how, through homophobic, sexist, and racist rhetoric and action, those in power hold onto that power. She spoke to a packed room of activists from all over the state of Virginia. Her personal style and sense of humor, along with her incisive analysis and call to action, inspired a group of people to continue their work fighting for social justice in Virginia and further afield. One of the greatest strengths of her work is it shows how oppression is systematic and how all social justice movements are connected in their struggle for an equitable society not yet realized. It is hope for this better world that inspires us all, and it is this hope that calls us to action. As the summer heated up, so did the election coverage. Because this election is so often discussed and debated in the mainstream media, it opens up an opportunity for us, not only to evaluate where we’ve been, but to plan and dream about where we might go. While Suzanne Pharr spoke to a room of activists and presidential candidates toured the country on their campaigns, a small group of dedicated VCU students and their allies were building the journal you now hold in your hands. This is the fifth issue of Amendment. This journal started as a way for students in my Feminist Literary Theory class to publish their critical and creative work. The first issue was created and produced out of a local copy shop. As Amendment grew, so did its mission. This issue manifests that expanded mission with its numerous quality submissions, and speaks to the hope and possibility that Pharr mentioned in her talk. Amendment is a student-created, student-run publication. This issue exemplifies student agency, creativity, and thoughtful critique. I hope you enjoy it!

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“Hope is the heart of revolution. Without hope, no change is possible. Hope is the absolute predicate to possibility.” —Suzanne Pharr from her March lecture at VCU

To submit to Amendment, or to get involved with the journal, email the editors at amendmentvcu@gmail.com. To read more about Suzanne Pharr, and to see the full text of the above quote, visit her website at http:// suzannepharr.org.

Liz Canfield Faculty Adviser

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Contents c

Fishes Shawn Yu

Staff

Mission

Acknowledgements

Introduction Liz Canfield

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Oh world, oh world look on “we” Shola Walker The Zine Fiend Project RVA Zine Fiend Good Thing Anonymous A Societal Plateau Daniel Michaud The Potency of Pot in America: Past and Possibilities Heather Marie Cohu

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Contents 28

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My (Father’s) Nose Celina Williams Loathsome Perfect Laura Kerfoot Two Hundred and Six Pieces Shauna Fecher Full Moon Maya Goldweber The Doubting of Me Neal Gwaltney Mascara & Mirrors Laura Ashworth Trapped Cassie Mulheron Doloris Shawn Yu Silence Laura Ashworth

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Contents 39 Suicide Bomber

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Neal Gwaltney Origin Eva Wilson Ink Laura Ashworth Slight Maya Goldweber Living on a Landfill Shayne Thomas the pak mun dam Shayne Thomas

59 United by One Color

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Olivia Ngadjui Sex Workers Art Show Patricia R. Arans Female Genital Mutilation: When Culture and Human Rights Conflict Jade Conner

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Contents 81

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The Seaward Shauna Fecher Boleyn Laura Ashworth The Etiology of Palinism Jeremy Clemmons

94 E Pluribus Unum and Then Some

Celina Williams

96 Agana Na Quay Do

Anonymous

97 Peace you’d die for

Danielle Shutt

98 A Note on a F.A.Q.

Celina Williams

100 Contributors 104 About the Student Media Center of VCU

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Oh world, oh world look on “we” Shola Walker Oh world, oh world look at me and smile I am the youngest of Mother’s children A beautiful African child We shout we dance to rhythms That pulsate in our bones We children laugh and beat our drums In many different tones Oh world, oh world we love our home Full of life, love and riches On which we’ve grown Cassava fills Mother’s belly With more bursting from her sack Plantains, papayas and pineapples roll From her head across her back Oh world, oh world Mother treats us just fine Washes us with sweet rains Kisses us with sunshine She watches us in the daytime She whistles while we rest Takes pride in all our strength and work So each day she gives back her best

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Oh world, oh world come abide with us There’s room in our land And goods in surplus It’s very nice to greet you You’re welcome in our home Our mountains, rivers, deserts, and bush Are free for you to roam Oh world, oh world you want us to leave? Our dear sacred Mother In whom we were conceived? In our land you joined us; in yours we have no choice With lash, or rape, and English verse We slowly lose our voice Oh world, oh world don wan cause we no pain We wan you hear us see us and know Our heart still beat da same We tink you tink we chupit We gramma you call broken Yet before we crossed dem far far shore You language we not spoken Oh world, oh world don hush our cry Pickni mus return to Momma Fah des where dem mus diee

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We Momma holla plenty She no longer protected Not only fah she pain but She pickni feelin’ rejected Oh world, oh world lashin’ stop? Wha next? Why not tink of ways to love we Instead of ways to keep we vex? We pretend to speak your language With a culture not our own Now we strive for things we know not While our heart awaits our home Oh world, oh world we’ve stayed too long We’re searching for our drum Quick! So we don’t forget our song Now when we visit Mother We barely know her face We’ve come to know another land To which we return with haste Oh world, oh world Mother says “There’s a chance” When we cook and sing And show you our dance Our purpose is not trouble Yet we might make some fuss We’re black forever, it will not change So be is what we must Amendment

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Oh world, oh world we were upset We must forgive But never forget We know it’s not you all But the few did spoil the lot We have faith & love to guide us ‘Till we carry out our plot Oh world, oh world be filled not with fear Our choice is not vengeance So let us be clear We’ve been talking to Mother And she gives us good advice She says “Lay down your burden child Because wrath still bears a price” Oh world, oh world Mother loves us still She did at our birth And forever she will She’s teaching us our language Because this “English” makes her laugh She turns the sun to warm us And draws new water for our bath Oh world, oh world you ask me why we smile? Because Mother reminds us We are her precious child

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Sorry to be in such a hurry But now we have to pack Our beautiful Mother has given plenty Now it’s time that we give back Oh world, oh world while our time wasn’t splendid We have learned life’s lessons And our tenure here has ended Want to know what we will do there? I’ll be quick, I have to run First I’ll tell my siblings “I love you” So we all return as one Then I’ll tear down makeshifts of shanty town Build houses of wood and clay Sing a sweet song for the people ‘round That we are all here to stay Plant trees for Mother’s backyard Harvest gardens below the sky Reconciling may be quite hard Yet our heart bears reasons to try Give the Queen a new education Clothe the poor within the States Spread the Mission of our Salvation Officiate Love, not greed and hate See our Mother shared a secret Whispered from our Father above Amendment

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For those years we must not regret But now gird ourselves with Love So world, so world want to abide with us? Then let’s build a relationship One of Love and Trust Oh world, oh world look on we and smile We are the elders of Mother’s children Teaching Love to the African child.

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The Zine Fiend Project RVA Zine Fiend The Zine Fiend Project is something I thought up as part of my coursework for an independent study on zines. “Project” may be too heavy a word for what I have done, but the other word choices I toyed with— “experiment” or “endeavor”—seemed a bit affected, and “The Zine Fiend Action Plan” sounded too much like something you’d see in an infomercial. I hope that this project provides a useful model for other shy or new zinesters who are ready to test the water. Basically, The Zine Fiend Project is how I’ve chosen to characterize the method of distribution for my zines as well as my attempt to give folks in Richmond a glimpse at zine culture. There are three components to the project: 1) Creating/Defining Identity Unlike Pagan Kennedy and many other zinesters, I have a hard time cultivating a writerly persona that strays too far from how I think or write in my daily life (although I think I’m a more confident person on paper). Nevertheless, I’d probably be one of those kids that surprise zinester Alex Wrekk with how different (read: awkward and boring) I am in real life. I also struggle with the question of how to identify myself for contact purposes. I’m not yet comfortable with using my full name or giving out a snail mail address, and in some of my zines I leave out contact info altogether. Although the idea of an alter-ego looks very attractive and fun to me, I feel too much like myself all the time, and for now I’m finally at a place where I’m mostly okay with that feeling. So, I came up with a simple way to play with identity: I created a new e-mail address, rvazinefiend@gmail.com. I plan to Amendment

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use this address for all of my future zine-related correspondence. This seems like a safer option to me than using my personal e-mail address, and it gives me the flexibility to identify myself in the zines however I choose. 2) Distribution In the past, I’ve been quite terrified of sharing my zines with people I didn’t know. Even after spending countless hours on them, I still felt a great deal of nervousness about “putting myself out there.” Due to the intensive nature of my independent study, my insecurities became less important the harder I worked and the more I revised. After my visit to the Barnard College Library Zine Collection, I realized that the relationships that grow from swapping zines brings happiness to a lot of shy and lonely people, as well as people who are marginalized by systems of oppression, whose voices are not valued in more mainstream, commercial outlets. The more zines I read, the more I wanted to be a part of that community, so I decided to swallow my fear and take action. I left my zines all over the city. I put some on counters at the Kinko’s on Broad Street and spread them around VCU’s Monroe Park campus. My favorite activity involved sticking zines inside of books at the Broad Street Barnes & Noble and inside Cabell Library. From memory, I put zines in the following titles: Orlando by Virginia Woolf, How to Think Like an Engineer, Approaches to Art Therapy, The Collected Poems of Edwin Morgan, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image, and Wicca and Witchcraft. Surprise! Upon request, I also donated two copies of each zine I made for the independent study to Special Collections and Archives in Cabell library. If you have copies of your zines to spare, I recommend getting in touch with Special Collections. They currently have people on staff who are really supportive of zinesters and enthusiastic about expanding their Richmond Zine Collection. 8

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3) Paying-it-forward In most of the zines I left around Richmond, I included a businesssized card that said, “What you’ve found is a zine. Make one and pass it on!” and included a link to http://www.zinebook.com as a resource. The card provided a simple way to communicate my intentions, so that unsuspecting readers wouldn’t think their books had been hijacked by mistake. I know that I haven’t reinvented the wheel with this project, and I don’t have any ambition for the ZFP to go global. My highest hope is that I’ve contributed something to the Richmond zine community. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that maybe a few people who are reading this will make a zine of their own or be inspired to learn more about zine culture. I’m the kind of person who gets really excited when I see that someone left behind his or her grocery list in my basket, so I hope my zines find people who feel the same kind of giddiness and want to keep the cycle going. KEEP THE CYCLE GOING!

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Good Thing Anonymous Good thing I wasn’t Pocahontas I’m not very diplomatic And I’d have pissed off the English And probably lost us even more land When I would have tried to high-five the king And turned down John Rolfe’s proposal Lucky I wasn’t Sacajawea I can barely read a road map Lewis and Clark would have fired me And maybe the West would have been left alone At least, until they found some other Indian woman to help them out So I guess it’s good that I’m just some kid Who tries to be a girl version Of Sherman Alexie

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A Societal Plateau Daniel Michaud The next best thing to hit the streets That new gizmo, hairdo, or unmatched beat Will be the rage for about a week Then become forgotten and obsolete And then we’ll move on to something else Perpetuating we have status and wealth By buying things to give us a sense of self Just place your emptiness next to that fad on the shelf This vicious cyclone will spin and devour us whole Leaving everyone dizzy and doomed to repeat the show Until we have reached that societal plateau Where we’re unable to evolve, listen, and grow The day will come soon when we’ve exhausted all the hoopla and trends But because we move so fast we won’t realize just when this begins Instead we’ll be multi-tasking while waiting in line to get our new best friend But an iPhone can’t fulfill that role—it comes and never stays in the end Nevertheless, countless teenagers will buy one and join the cool cult Becoming slaves to a product that makes them feel so used, yet so adult They will worship it, oblivious to what goes on in front of their eyes But awake when they crash into someone who subsequently dies Parents, no doubt, will not pick up on this graphic tip They, too, will inevitably become slaves to a product that makes them feel Amendment

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hip They will lose their grip and forget about sharing dinner at the table Thus, their kids won’t care and, in its place, watch cable The key solution to this dilemma is for everyone to take a breath Materialism is a volatile, lonely death Because if we continue on this path they’ll be nothing new and vibrant Everything will be done too soon and the world will be stagnant Overall, society will be a much better place if we don’t bleed it dry It will age appropriately with us and not destroy us in shrouded lies The truth is that we should be fluent in what the past and present holds Then our essence can’t be bought and sold

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The Potency of Pot in America: Past and Possibilities Heather Marie Cohu If you take a little trip down the road of America’s past, it becomes quite apparent that our nation has had a very love/hate, on again/off again relationship with drugs. Marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug within our society, has been particularly susceptible to Americans’ capricious feelings. While some believe marijuana to be a relatively harmless drug akin to alcohol or tobacco, others believe it to be a threat to the success of our society as a whole; many others still fall somewhere in between, viewing marijuana as totally irrelevant within the framework of their lives or approaching it hesitantly due to nearly a century’s worth of negative propaganda about the drug. Aside from where you fall within the pot perspective spectrum, marijuana use in America is a relatively widespread reality that shows barely any signs of subsiding from our culture. Even beyond that, research has shown that marijuana may have a wealth of medical applications. Whether you see pot through the eyes of Harold and Kumar, Reefer Madness, or you just don’t know what the hell to think, it is wise to examine the history behind our varied perceptions about marijuana, as our current views of it are rooted in misperceptions about drugs spread by politicians and popular media rather than scientific research and rational discussion. We will begin our journey through perceptions at the turn of the century, a time when people were just beginning to look at drugs with a critical eye. Marijuana, virtually unknown to suburban, white-collar Americans at the start of the 20th century, would not join the demonized drug club until the 1920s; nevertheless, changing opinions about drugs that were popular at the time set the stage for negative feelings regarding marijuana to develop. Anxiety about drugs became the norm, replacing the public’s formerly nonchalant Amendment

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attitude towards all things pharmaceutical. The lack of drug regulation in the 19th century created scores of people addicted to opium, heroin, morphine, and other such drugs that were marketed as over-the-counter remedies for everyday ailments. According to Martin H. Levinson, an Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, when government statistics indicated that drug addiction was on the rise, there was much concern that “ruinous drug effects” were afflicting the nation and that it was time for drug regulation (14). Sympathy for drug addicts began to wane as the view that they were “unproductive and a drag on the economy” prevailed (14). Views like this were facilitated by the growing pace of industrialism in America; high productivity levels became priceless and businesses could not afford to lose workers to drug addiction. It must also be noted that safer drugs such as aspirin were developed, so the public no longer saw the need for the use of addictive substances to treat medical problems (Musto 20). Drugs that were once considered miraculous by everyday people quickly became regarded as devilish substances that should be avoided at all costs. Like drugs themselves, minorities became feared by white Americans and were perceived as perpetuating the use and spread of drugs as the 1920s unfolded. Rudolph J. Gerber, a former judge for the Arizona Court of Appeals, suggests in Legalizing Marijuana that current negative perceptions of pot in America stem from feelings of racism and xenophobia that surfaced during this time period. An increase in the influx of Mexican immigrants after 1910 along with the introduction of marijuana to the south by West Indian immigrants helped create a fan base for marijuana that drew in “African-Americans, jazz musicians, prostitutes, and the underworld” (3). Marijuana was thus in no position to win over the public since it was introduced by groups of people many Americans felt hostile towards. Mitch Earleywine, an associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York in Albany, highlights the impact that negative attitudes towards immigrants had on future policy decisions regarding cannabis in Understanding Marijuana: “Discrimination against Mexican and African immigrants may have contributed to later cannabis prohibition. 14

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Few people in the United States actually used marijuana at the turn of the twentieth century, but those who did were not members of mainstream, Protestant, Caucasian society” (23). Though marijuana was initially seen as undesirable because of its association with unpopular minorities, its spread to white society proved to be inevitable. It was easy to blame outsiders for pot’s gradual spread, but in reality, prohibition policies condemning alcohol as 1920 approached were greatly to blame for marijuana’s growing popularity. When the 18th Amendment went into effect marijuana became a viable alternative to alcohol, bringing the drug subtly into the limelight, though its use was not prevalent enough to cause much of a stir (Gerber 3). Nonetheless, according to Earleywine, the rate of marijuana use increased after alcohol was prohibited (23). Anti-drug sentiments spewing from members of reform movements and strict anti-alcohol laws were ultimately not enough to keep drugs out of the hands of Americans—the attempted abolition of one drug merely led people to cozy up with another. In this case, that drug was marijuana. Xenophobic beliefs led some Americans to irrationally elevate marijuana’s status as a drug considered to be used by small, marginal segments of society comprised of “petty crooks, the avant garde, and Mexican immigrant agricultural workers” to that of a drug that there should be great alarm about (Levinson 18). The composition of America was changing during the Roaring Twenties, and some Americans embraced these changes; it was not uncommon to see young white people at jazz clubs mingling with minorities, for example. However, many Americans were miffed by these changes. Gray calls this time period in America a “xenophobic hotbed,” and such a great degree of intolerance towards outsiders likely fostered Americans’ willingness to scapegoat people of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities as the primary purveyors of drugs in society, even though this was not necessarily the case. According to David F. Musto, a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, marijuana use was very limited until the 1960s, so marijuana did not pose any real threat to society before that time (25). If America was not Amendment

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exactly poised to experience a marijuana crisis of monumental proportions, then the burgeoning fuss being stirred about its minute presence within society seems quite unfounded. Marijuana continued to gain a bad reputation not because it was causing societal problems, but because of its connection with immigrants and races that some Americans felt threatened by. Forces in the 1930s further sealed marijuana’s fate as a substance thought to be “ ‘the worst evil of all’ ” through the use of a very effective weapon: sharp rhetoric (Speaker 215). Using foreboding rhetoric to scare people into submission and prevent them from using marijuana was not a new concept, but rather a recycled tactic from prohibition times in America, as Susan L. Speaker, a historian for the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine, states that alcohol was dubbed “ ‘Demon Rum’ ” and the “ ‘great destroyer’ ” to curb its use (204, 211). Similarly, in the 1930s marijuana was portrayed as the “ ‘killer weed’ ” with anti-drug propaganda films like Reefer Madness extravagantly exaggerating its effects (215). The peculiar thing about the raging campaign against marijuana in the 1930s is that it had no basis in “any lengthy or broad experience with the plant” like the campaign against alcohol had (Musto 27). In Depression-era America, the use of drugs like opiates and cocaine had drastically declined and general disdain for drugs was ubiquitous (Musto 23-5). If America was devoid of a marijuana problem or any other drug problems, then why was a fully-fledged campaign raged against it? It seems that the sensationalist claims and scare tactics were mainly used to prevent racial and ethnic mixing among whites, especially since marijuana’s actual effects were little known to science at the time. Most of what was known about marijuana was that Mexicans, who were considered “an unwelcome minority,” grew, used, and sometimes profited from the plant (Musto 25). Americans felt threatened by members of other minorities as well, whether they were blacks in the south, Hindus in New York, or Chinese workers in California. Harry J. Anslinger, the leader of the Federal Narcotics Bureau from its creation in 1930, helped propel such racist and xenophobic sentiments, 16

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claiming that “fifty percent of the violent crimes committed in districts occupied by Mexicans, Spaniards, Latin-Americans, Greeks, or Negroes may be traced to this evil [of marijuana]” (qtd. in Speaker 215) as well as that “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes” (qtd. in Gerber 9). A study conducted in 1939 by the New York Academy of Medicine refuted many of the exaggerated claims that had reverberated throughout the decade, finding that marijuana did not cause crime, violent mannerisms, personality changes, addiction, tolerance or overt sexual behavior (Grinspoon 26-7). The findings of this research panel were largely kept under the surface by the Bureau of Narcotics since they had the potential to divert attention away from the government’s firm anti-marijuana stance, thus instilling many Americans with a one-sided, extremely negative view of pot. To the Federal Bureau of Narcotic’s credit, insecurity was rampant in the economically hard times of the 1930s and using harsh rhetoric was a fairly sensible route to drug prevention in that it was cheap, but it cannot be ignored that the anti-marijuana campaign likely stemmed more so from racial and ethnic tensions between Americans than from the actual existence of a drug problem. Though it may seem our society has progressed exponentially since the 1930s, we will later see that history has a thing for repeating itself. As time passed fears about marijuana lessened. Americans had more pressing issues to deal with, such as mobilizing for World War II and getting through the Cold War that would follow. Marijuana remained of little concern to people until it made a comeback in the tumultuous 1960s, a time marred with clashing between people of different generations, races, and genders. In the midst of American society grappling with issues like the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the controversial Vietnam War, marijuana became “a powerful rallying symbol for antigovernment attitudes” to a significant portion of young adults who felt disillusioned towards as well as alienated from the surrounding society and adult decision makers (Gerber 140). With social upheaval taking place, marijuana likely provided young adults with a means to transcend current conflicts in order to achieve some semblance of Amendment

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cohesiveness and common experience; the exact opposite of the climate of division, fear, and moderation in which their parents had grown accustomed to during the earlier part of the century. Though young people developed more tolerant views about marijuana and constructed new meanings for the drug, older generations were not so willing to embrace it. Norman E. Zinberg, who was a professor at Harvard Medical School specializing in drug abuse treatment, states the telling results of a poll conducted by Time magazine in 1969: Over 90 percent of [parents] questioned associated drug use with moral corruption and decay. 42 percent of the parents questioned were willing to turn their own children over to the police if they used drugs; and 73 percent of parents said they would report a son to the police if they knew that he was selling marijuana to his friends for a profit. (29-30) Looking solely at the results of this poll, it seems as though the parental generation’s views about marijuana were in sharp contrast with their children’s views. Zinberg describes the parental generation as “terrorized by the uncertainties of [WWII] and their childhood memories of the Great Depression; they accepted security and life without risk as basic values” (69). On the other hand, young people in the 1960s were distanced from their parents’ experiences and “had the need for different goals and meanings” (69). As young people began to embrace fellow peers regardless of their race or ethnicity, so too did they welcome marijuana into their lifestyles. Unlike their parents, many baby boomers did not perceive marijuana to be connotative of danger or abhorred minorities, which they typically did not abhor in the first place, being considerably more open-minded than their adult counterparts. Would the long standing misperception that minorities were infecting the nation with drugs like marijuana finally become outdated? Our nation, unfortunately, was not ready to scrap the anti-marijuana propaganda that had been vehemently fed to the public over the course of the 1920s and 30s. Fears about marijuana resurfaced for reasons beyond its sudden 18

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proliferation among young people. Such qualms concerning marijuana could have been squelched if past studies, such as the one conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine in 1939, had been reported to the masses. Since scientific information about marijuana was not disseminated through the media, parents “assumed […] because marijuana was against the law, that it was as dangerous as heroin and cocaine” (Levinson 20). It did not help that information about drugs like marijuana was suppressed during the 1930s, as it was feared that discourse about drugs would encourage use among young people, leaving parents during the 1960s with a faulty foundation of knowledge about drugs. With addictive drugs such as heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates, and cocaine being casually used and shared like gum, parents were rightfully concerned that marijuana could pose a similar threat, but government agencies did little to provide the public with scientifically-based information about the drug. Accordingly, marijuana continued to be viewed as a highly dangerous drug among the general public. By 1970, most adults were in a panic about the state of young people, prompting President Nixon to refer to drugs as “public enemy number one” (qtd. in Speaker 219). While some segments of the population felt increasingly laissez-faire towards the use of marijuana, many of the voices that counted, i.e. the voices within the government, remained fearful of its mounting use. But as the 1970s played out, it became obvious that the public had grown rather impartial to marijuana use, with Oregon decriminalizing the drug in 1973 and the American Medical Association as well as the American Bar Association rallying for laxer marijuana laws. Such a disconnect between the American people and the government concerning opinions about marijuana led President Jimmy Carter to jump on the decriminalization bandwagon, though political scandal ultimately reared its ugly head; Carter’s advisor on drug policy, Dr. Peter Bourne, was accused of using cocaine and falsifying a prescription so he could obtain tranquilizers (Levinson 25). The case for marijuana decriminalization was thus hastily closed, as Carter feared that his reputation would be scarred if he followed through with a decriminalization Amendment 19

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campaign that was recommended by an advisor who likely had a personal stake in it. While many Americans had come to the conclusion that marijuana was not the horrendously dangerous substance that leaders in the past had painted otherwise, political circumstances such as the decriminalization scandal got in the way of marijuana use being considered by the government in a rational manner. The 1960s had shown that the widespread use of marijuana did not have disastrous affects on society, especially in comparison with other popular drugs, yet the government was still unable to relinquish its anti-marijuana position. Views about marijuana would shift dramatically again during the 1980s. As the counterculture movement died out, so did the use of marijuana and its relative amount of acceptability within society. In 1980, the Gallup Poll found that 53 percent of Americans supported the legalization of small quantities of marijuana, while by 1986 only 27 percent of people still held this view (Musto 26). What could have made 26 percent of those polled in 1980 change their minds about pot a mere six years later? Ronald Reagan’s ascendancy over Jimmy Carter in the presidential election of 1980 may provide some answers. Reagan made it clear from the outset of his term that he would step up the “War on Drugs,” using two-thirds of its budget for law enforcement, increasing efforts to halt drug trafficking and organized crime, and creating the “Just Say No” program for school-aged youth (Levinson 26-7). Carol Jenkins, a medical anthropologist, attributes the sharp rise of anti-drug fervor in America to news stories and politicians that exploited the limited use of crack cocaine among certain black communities as if it was a national epidemic (49). Craig Reinarman, a sociology professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz along with Harry G. Levine, a sociology professor at the City University of New York, note that “like other demon drugs, crack became a scapegoat—it was blamed for a range of enduring and intensified urban problems that its use sometimes exacerbated but did not cause” (8). Though it is easier to conclude that drugs such as crack or marijuana directly cause societal problems like 20

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increasing crime rates, the complicated truth is that other forces often have greater influence. In the case of the so-called “crack epidemic,” that force was hard economic times for blacks in poor neighborhoods due to a decrease in jobs; thus, crack provided these poor blacks with potentially lucrative job opportunities that would facilitate the spread of the drug. The media was in headline heaven as the “crack epidemic” began to unfold in 1985, bombarding Americans with daunting stories about “crack babies” and “instantaneous addiction” that paid no attention to the reality that crack use was not a widespread phenomenon (Levine and Reinarman 3). Fears about crack in the 1980s can be compared to fears about marijuana in the 1930s in that both drugs posed a threat to a very small segment of society as well as in that politicians along with government officials played a considerable role in constructing these “epidemics.” It can also be said that our perceptions about marijuana are frequently influenced by politicians’ interpretations of current events and the media’s subsequent frenzy in response to their interpretations rather than by existing realities. Ultimately, Reagan’s conservative administration combined with irrational worries about crack in the mid-1980s drastically decreased liberal feelings towards drugs, including marijuana. Conservatism and drug issues continued to go hand-in-hand under the administration of President George H.W. Bush during the late 1980s. According to a poll conducted in 1989, about 65 percent of Americans felt that drugs were a pressing issue in society, while only 10 percent of people felt that way one year later, as political discussion and media coverage about drug issues waned (Heath 136). Public opinion was not swayed by some drastic drop in drug use or drug problems, but by the absence of dialogue about drugs. When Clinton took over, drug issues were pushed entirely into the backseat, with issues like the economy, diplomatic relations, and health taking precedence (138). Since 1996 there has been a movement in states such as California and Arizona to legalize the use of marijuana for medical circumstances such as AIDS wasting, nausea from chemotherapy treatments, glaucoma, and pain Amendment

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relief (Levinson 30). The medical marijuana movement has been met with resistance, but voters in these states have shown that they believe the medical use of marijuana to be acceptable within society. It is not new knowledge that marijuana has potential medical applications; Gerber testifies to this, noting that marijuana was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as an acceptable medicine between 1840 and 1942, not to mention that it was used by reputable individuals like George Washington and Queen Victoria (2). Research conducted by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in 1999 points to marijuana’s medical benefits, stating that “scientific evidence for the potential therapeutic value of THC [the active ingredient in marijuana] for pain relief, nausea and vomiting control, and appetite stimulation” in fact exists, but at the same time the researchers concluded that smoked marijuana does have some nasty, health-threatening side effects, such as “increased risk of cancer, lung damage, and poor pregnancy outcomes” as well as a small risk of dependency (Fisher 76). Whether or not the benefits of marijuana outweigh the costs is still debatable, but it should be considered that many prescription and overthe-counter drugs carry risks with use as well. It seems obvious that more research needs to be conducted in order for us to better understand the complexities of marijuana and its potential medical applications, but an editorial featured in Scientific American highlights the difficulties that researchers often face when they wish to obtain marijuana for study: “The government may […] have a stake in a certain kind of result. One scientist tells of a research grant application to study marijuana’s potential medical benefits. NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse] turned it down. The scientist rewrote the grant to emphasize finding marijuana’s negative effects. The study was funded” (qtd. in Fisher 83). The possibility that the government gives priority funding to researchers that want to explore marijuana’s negative qualities is further bolstered by the fact that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and its Drug Czar John Walters have skewed information about marijuana in the past. Walters once declared that according to the IOM report “smoked marijuana did not have any long term 22

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medical use” when the report had actually stated that “for certain patients, such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks [of smoked marijuana] are not of great concern” (77). Nowhere in the report did it state that smoked marijuana should never be used as a long-term medication. Gary L. Fisher, a director at the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies at the University of Nevada in Reno, charges that the government’s blockade on marijuana research is wrong and unnecessary, and he goes on to claim that “the barriers to research are puzzling and lead to suspicions that federal officials are afraid the results that would come from solid research would be contrary to their beliefs” (83). As long as government officials and agencies distort information about marijuana, the American public will have distorted perceptions about the drug. The logic behind blocking the doors to medical marijuana research is questionable, especially when the recreational use of marijuana is hardly understood. It must be kept in mind that marijuana made the transition between a naturally growing plant to a feared, illegal substance in the 1930s not because it was causing mass societal problems, but because politicians and leadership figures decided to capitalize on the minimal use of marijuana in order to undermine racial and ethnic minorities, thus keeping the dividing line between whites and “everyone else” exceedingly clear. As the civil rights movement played out and whites began to mix with blacks, marijuana began to spread from the so-called margins of society into mainstream culture. Though levels of use have fluctuated over time, marijuana has proved to be anything but another fad of the 1960s like hippie communes or LSD. According to Earleywine, in 1999 about 1/3 of Americans reported that they had tried marijuana at least once. If marijuana is here to stay, then why not conduct research to better understand its recreational effects as well as its potential medical applications? Unfortunately, such research is scarcely pursued due to government agencies’ unwillingness to embrace the possibility that pot may be something other than a menace to the American populace. Amendment

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Though cannabis use is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States, drugs like marijuana have been used for thousands of years and societies throughout time have fashioned an array of meanings for them. Writer Aldous Huxley once said: That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradises seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and always has been one of the principle appetites of the soul. (qtd. in Goldberg 44) Huxley presents the idea that drugs can never be completely eradicated from society because they are always desired by human beings. Huxley’s position holds quite a bit of truth, as anti-drug campaigns and harsh punishments have barely put a dent in drug use across the globe or within America. Huxley is not alone in his thinking. Dwight B. Heath, an anthropologist at Brown University, discusses how it has been “postulated [that] a universal human need for occasional changes in mood and perception” exists (139). This makes a lot of sense if you think about the amount of people in America who enjoy drinking alcohol or coffee, smoking cigarettes, or using other drugs from time to time, including prescription drugs. Once you eliminate every individual who uses at least one of these substances, the population of America would probably fit into the state of Delaware or Rhode Island. Earlier it was noted that around 33% of Americans have used marijuana at least once during their lifetime, which is a staggering amount considering the illegality of the drug and the potential for citizens to incur steep fines as well as jail time if caught using, selling, or merely possessing the drug. U.S. drug laws then seem much more idealistic than realistic if such a substantial amount of the U.S. population has broken them. If so many people have tried marijuana, then why do citizens across “various socioeconomic groups agree on the evils of drug use, seeing in it the seeds of destruction for society and of the breakdown of normal standards of decency and self-control” (Zinberg 36)? What about the “War on Drugs” rhetoric emphasizing an “us” vs. “them” 24

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position? Is the non-drug using “us” really so divided from the drug using “them”? Heath claims that American perspectives about drug users often do not add up with reality: Those who were ‘on the other side’ in the war on drugs were generally portrayed and perceived as being black or Hispanic, poor (or unjustly rich), unwilling to work, too quick to resort to violence, and in other respects deserving of collective condemnation. Such a stereotype of addicts is regularly contradicted by national surveys of drug use and by enrollment in drug treatment programs, both of which reveal that regularly employed middle-class whites predominate in both categories. (136) Since our commonly held beliefs about who uses drugs have been proven wrong, it seems likely that the “War on Drugs” as well as our general philosophy concerning drugs is somewhat illogical and misdirected. If we lack understanding about the drug use situation in our country, then it does not seem possible that we can rectify the situation that actually exists. Ted Goldberg, an anthropologist and sociologist who has conducted an abundance of participant observation research about the drug culture in Stockholm, believes that “to understand the effects of drugs we must learn to see society in narcotics” (3) and that unless societal problems can be eradicated, drug use and abuse will always be a reality for some (8). Ultimately he suggests that instead of looking at drugs as these chemical substances that wreak havoc on unsuspecting members of society, we should understand that the crux of the problem rests in societal conditions and human relationships rather than in drugs themselves (14). Goldberg’s “society in narcotics” approach, asserting that societal problems often lead people to use drugs, greatly contrasts with the U.S.’ point of view, which asserts that drug use causes “the high dropout rate in schools, slow learning, teenage pregnancy, accelerating unemployment, falling productivity, the cost of social welfare, and a host of other aspects of contemporary life that people find annoying and discouraging” (Heath 14950). Which perspective holds more truth than the other is beyond the scope of this paper, but it must be pointed out that the way in which we initially Amendment

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view drugs may have an impact on what roles drugs eventually play within our society. American society, both in the present and past, has tended towards viewing societal problems as a product of drug use, but it may be wise to be open to other possibilities, especially when it comes to marijuana. Viewed as inherently bad before it was even popular, marijuana has been robbed of its chance to prove itself beneficial to the American people, but it may be time to give it that chance. Mixed messages about marijuana abound within popular culture, with high-profile politicians such as Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore, and Newt Gingrich all admitting to smoking pot in the past. When Bloomberg was asked if he ever smoked pot, he enthusiastically responded “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it� (qtd. in Gerber xvii). What then are we supposed to believe if important public figures take the drug lightly, while newspapers publish stories about studies linking marijuana use to schizophrenia and certain groups like the Marijuana Policy Project dispute such studies’ findings? Who the hell, not to mention what the hell, are we supposed to believe? Marijuana has been around for long enough that such discord about it should not exist. Our current perceptions about marijuana stem from misperceptions spread by politicians and popular media in the past rather than scientific research or open, logical discussion concerning the drug, which should raise red flags about the validity of some of the negative perceptions we believe to be true today. Marijuana use remains legally unacceptable within America, even in regards to its potential medical applications. By refusing to be open to the possibilities that pot may hold outside of the recreational realm, we may be doing our society, and thus ourselves, a great disservice. Rational thought and scientific study must lead the way in order for us to gain a greater understanding of marijuana and the medical benefits that these powerful green plants just may hold.

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Works Cited Earleywine, Mitch. Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Fisher, Gary L. Rethinking Our War on Drugs. Westport, CT: Praeger Publushers, 2006. Gerber, Rudolph J. Legalizing Marijuana. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. Goldberg, Ted. Demystifying Drugs. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Gray, Mike. Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out. New York: Random House, 1998. Grinspoon, Lester. Marihuana Reconsidered. Oakland, CA: Quick American Archives, 1994. Heath, Dwight B. “The War on Drugs as a Metaphor in American Culture.” Drugs: Should We Legalize, Decriminalize, or Deregulate? Ed. Jeffrey A. Schaler. New York: Prometheus Books, 1998. 135-54. Jenkins, Carol. “Ethnicity, culture, drugs and sex.” Sex, Drugs and Young People: International Perspectives. Ed. Aggleton, Peter, Ball, Andrew and Purnima Mane. New York: Routledge, 2006. Levine, Harry G., and Craig Reinarman. “Crack in Context: America’s Latest Demon Drug.” Crack In America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice. Ed. Levine, Harry G., and Craig Reinarman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Levinson, Martin H. The Drug Problem: A New View Using the General Semantics Approach. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002. Musto, David F. “Opium, Cocaine, and Marijuana in American History.” Drugs: Should We Legalize, Decriminalize, or Deregulate? Ed. Jeffrey A. Schaler. New York: Prometheus Books, 1998. 17-28. Speaker, Susan L. “Demons for the Twentieth Century: The Rhetoric of Drug Reform, 1920-1940.” Altering American Consciousness: The History of Alcohol and Drug Use in the United States, 1800-2000 Ed. Tracy, Sarah W., and Caroline Jean Acker. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004. Zinberg, Norman E., and John A. Robertson. Drugs and the Public. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972. Amendment

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My (Father’s) Nose Celina Williams If the stars could grant me a do-over I would become the Star Pupil on the day the teacher drew a nose with chalk on the board because he said our witchy half-triangle noses were unrealistic and, expecting a ‘no,’ he asked one of the Melissas if her nose looked at all like a beak, but she said, ‘yes,’ and the other three— they giggled, and we all laughed when someone oinked at his drawing, and then we all oinked and yelled, ‘here piggy,’ loud then louder until I didn’t know whether we were yelling at the chalk-nose or at Mr. Art Teacher, 28

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who looked like crumpled construction paper brick red, showing his weakness, he couldn’t even glare should a tear fall, so he must’ve decided to retire at that moment because I never saw him again, and I wanted to tell him that was the first nose I ever saw that resembled mine, and now I can’t stop drawing it in my margins.

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Loathsome Perfect Laura Kerfoot I bite my lip with relish when I remember how skin cuts so smoothly like paper onions, peeling back the layers to let the crimson stain spread so someone will notice. Is it really a loss of humor if I lick this delicious juice straight from the vine? I don’t even have to touch my skin for it to blister: it hates itself as I do, an uneasy alliance since birth, an awkward war that rips itself at the very seams and crow feet of beginning. I bleed with ecstasy and this maniacal grin on my loathsome face because I am different. My entrails are spread before you— because of this I win. Because, unlike you I’m not just skin and scarlet rivers and pretty curls tossed to coyly cover up flittering eyelashes.

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I am ugly face and nose and brains and guts and tears and scrapes, and bruises, and sores. There is dirt on my knees; not from bowing to you, but from the work it takes to cast aside my paper umbrella and drop the blade from my wrist to earn every inch in the ell.

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Two Hundred and Six Pieces Shauna Fecher I am puzzle pieces of a woman Puzzled pieces of a woman assembled piece by inter-locking piece. I am shifted and turned and forced together by my own impatience. I am the combined efforts of years of medical training of student loans, of endless cups of coffee I am Alice through the looking glasssculpted hips and perfect tits poised on shaking stilettos. I am digging red acrylic nails into my thigh, again their voices aren’t quite low enough. I am Frankenstein’s monster gawking up they gasp in wonder. She’s alive.

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Full Moon Maya Goldweber

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The Doubting of Me Neal Gwaltney

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Mascara & Mirrors Laura Ashworth Amendment08.indd 35

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Trapped Cassie Mulheron

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Doloris Shawn Yu

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Silence Laura Ashworth Amendment08.indd 38

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Laura Ashworth

Suicide Bomber Neal Gwaltney

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Origin Eva Wilson Amendment08.indd 40

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Eva Wilson

Ink Laura Ashworth

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Slight Maya Goldweber

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Living on a Landfill Shayne Thomas “even though i feel so disconnected from all of you, it’s nice to know that on the other side of this glowing screen there is a long, long wire that connects me to you. these words are crossing continents and oceans…” In 2007, I received the Women’s Studies International Experiences scholarship, as well as the VCU Education Abroad scholarship, and spent the fall 2007 semester studying globalization and development with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) in Khon Kaen, Thailand. I was attracted to the program because of its emphasis on active and experiential learning. I was excited to ditch my books on theory and get the opportunity to talk to real people about how globalization has affected their lives. The entries that follow are an excerpt from my blog, which can be found at http://globalshayne.livejournal.com/. I chose to leave them unedited and as they were because I was a rollercoaster of emotions: excited and on the edge of my seat all the time and I wanted to document that. As for the format and language, I tried to write as simply as I could; I wanted my blog to be accessible so that anyone could pull it up and be able to read and understand it. Most of the blog entries featured here concentrate on my time spent working with Ban Kambon Noi, a community that lives and works at the municipal landfill in Khon Kaen. Kambon Noi villagers are aiding Thailand’s recycling efforts while at the same time asking citizens to rethink the modern mentality of materialism. One of the biggest problems facing the community is their lack of visibility. Most Khon Kaen citizens have very little knowledge of what happens to their trash after they dispose of it, and even less knowledge of the important role that Kambon Noi community members have. Amendment

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I spent the end of my semester working with two other students on a collaborative photo project with Ban Kambon Noi community members. For the project we gave community members (3 adults and 4 children) cameras to allow them to document what they wanted to show others about their work and their lives. Each photographer chose their favorite pictures to be enlarged and displayed at a human rights festival held at Khon Kaen University. The images were accompanied by the photographers’ profile, as well as photo descriptions. The photo essay was meant to encourage individuals to question their consumption habits, ponder where their trash goes after they dispose of it, and realize that trash not only affects the environment but also plays a crucial role in the lives of many. Aug. 21st, 2007 hello all my sweet dumplings! i’m in Bangkok! i arrived last night at 11 p.m. thai time and 10 a.m. your time. i got to the hotel around 1 a.m. and went to sleep immediately.  i woke up at about 6:30 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep so i just took a shower and wrote in my journal and read for a bit. it’s 9 a.m. right now and 8 p.m. for you!  i miss you all already! there are so many things i wanted to say and now i can’t seem to remember any of them. well, one sad thing: there are so many cute dogs sleeping all over the place and i can’t pet any of them because they ALL HAVE RABIES! we have orientation at 10 a.m.  in a couple of days, we are leaving to do home stays with families in slum areas + landfills.  originally, i thought that these were just people who were living by the landfills, but now i found out that these people are living off of the landfills.  from what i read this is what i gathered:  they are called scavengers, and they make their living by going through the khon kaen landfill and sorting out recyclables that houses and 44

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businesses forgot to separate out of their trash. they sell the recyclables to a middle-man who makes a profit by selling it to a recycling factory. what is really amazing is that the scavengers have lengthened the landfills life by about 5 or 6 years by removing the recyclables! they are really providing a great service, and of course aren’t recognized or protected at all despite all of the dangers. i really am in awe of people who utilize their land/bodies/and whatever else is available to create opportunities to survive. here is the problem: the landfill will be full soon and they will have to open a new one.  the government says they are planning to offer the families of scavengers jobs at a new recycling facility, but this isn’t insured.  also, these people were autonomous workers who set their own hours, rules, and decided how much they would collect; thus how much money they made reflected how much they decided to collect.  all of that will change at recycling centers.  there will be more and more middle-men to go through and bosses to answer to.  and despite how much they collect they won’t be guaranteed even a minimum living wage we are fucked... Aug. 22nd, 2007 maybe this is just culture shock but... bangkok at night is so different from bangkok during the day.  i was walking down the street, and someone asked me if i wanted to see “ping pong.” i’ve read about all of this in books—women doing tricks with their vaginas, like shooting ping pong balls out and such, but it is so different being here. i guess i just feel very overwhelmed.  just now there was a 7-year-old girl dancing and humping the ground while some older woman stood by and collected money.  there was also some white dude taking pics of it all with his camera phone. i knew it was going to be like this, but i just feel so ... so everything. Living on a Landfill Shayne Thomas

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p.s. on a good note, i went to a bar where this thai band did a cover of an oasis song. Aug. 25th, 2007 i’m better! my stomach is still having a hard time adjusting to everything, but i always kind of have a sensitive stomach. last week i went on a beautiful 2-hour hike through the jungle and saw lots of bamboo and waterfalls! they keep us soooo busy. i have only been here a little over a week, but it seems like a month! i am on a rollercoaster of emotions. one second i feel on top of the world and ready for all new things, and the next second i feel very alone and frustrated and home sick. but that’s normal, right? i am on a home stay right now, and it was very stressful at first because we didn’t/don’t understand each other at all. my host krab kruaw (family) are very nice, but they try and feed me too much! the first night they took us to the night market, which was so wild. i even saw a very small, sad elephant! they take me to school on a motorcycle, which is probably my favorite part of every day because i get to see the area and feel the breeze in my hair. last night things got much better with my home family. my host meh (mom) got out my mong saow (little sisters) english book, and i got out my thai book and thai dictionary and just went to town. i found out that my paw (father), who was there on sunday but has been gone since, works as a mechanic at the nike factory. my meh works at home. i have seen her sewing Kraft (the company) uniform shirts. the program is really amazing and is broken into several units: urban, food, water, land, and movements & trends. in each unit we spend time in a village. for example, next week is urban and we go to the slum community and landfill community. then for food we will be staying in a community and helping our family set up stands to sell produce at the market. before each stay 46

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we have a briefing on the unit/community. after the stay we have a check-in where we just reflect; then we have a workshop which is facilitated by different students each time. i just like how much this program is hands-on. for the most part, we don’t sit in a classroom and study how globalization has affected thailand. no, we go directly into communities and live/exchange with villagers to see how globalization has directly affected their lives. at the end of each semester they have one big group project. last semester, they wrote a human rights report. i hope we can do something i am proud of. it will be interesting because some people on the trip don’t seem that into the program. this one kid was like, “i didn’t know this program has so much emphasis on activism. i mean, they send me to these communities to hear these people’s sad stories, but i didn’t come to thailand to change the world.” i thought the program description was pretty accurate. oh! something interesting! no one uses toilet paper! most bathrooms are just a porcelain hole in the ground and you squat. there is a tub with “clean” water in it and a bowl. if you poop you have to put some water in the bowl and splash your bum and wipe with your hand until you are clean. it’s hard to get used to. also, you normally shower the same way—by putting water in the bowl and pouring it on yourself. p.s. one of the program facilitators said the weirdest thing they ever ate here was cow placenta!!! whoa! hello pepto bismol! Sep. 12th, 2007 sa-wa-de-kaa! greetings from the world wide web! it’s only 10:30 p.m. here but i am so, so tired. my brain feels like mush. before i hit my hard flat bed, i want to tell you all about the communities i stayed in during our urban unit. Living on a Landfill Shayne Thomas

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first i stayed in a slum community—i felt weary about using the term “slum,” but they have sort of reclaimed the word and embraced it. they said they don’t like the term “squatter” and actually prefer to be called pioneers because they were the first to settle on the land a long time ago. i stayed in mittrapat (friendship) community, but before i talk about my experience there, i want to talk a little about the slums here in thailand. slums are a direct example of globalization and development here in thailand.  i am in khon kaen city, and it has quickly become known as the capital of isaan (the northeast).  most jobs and services, such as schools and hospitals, are all easily accessible in the city—the problem is that the government didn’t plan space for people to live before they started to rapidly develop the city.  people were forced out of their homes in rural areas and into the cities to find jobs. because there was nowhere for these people to live, they built homes on government-owned land.  most slum dwellers do not own/rent/lease their land—and technically live there illegally.  most of the slum communities i have learned about—both here in khon kaen and in Bangkok—are located on the Railroad Authority of Thailands land (RAT).  most of the homes are located within forty meters of the train tracks (very noisy). the 4 Slum Community Network along with other organizations have drafted the “Slum Bill,” which basically asks that those in authority enact a bill that will grant slum dwellers somewhere to live.  the bill doesn’t ask the government to expropriate land for slum dwellers but just recognize their right to their slum dwellings and also allow them some say in decision making.  this seems so basic to me. i mean a lot of communities don’t even want their land for free. they just want to be able to buy it for a fair price, and if they do have to be evicted from their homes, they just ask that there be a new place still in the city. sometimes RAT offers communities the option to lease for 3 years. most communities are split about whether or not to lease.  some community members think that leasing will guarantee them some renters’ rights and also 48

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kind of legitimize their homes.  other communities (including the one i stayed at) don’t see the point in taking out a large loan for only a 3-year lease; it’s just too risky. my community would only consider leasing if the RAT offered them a thirty-year lease (what they offer businesses) for a fair price. mittrapap had the most amazing sense of community. it was so inspiring to see the way they live/work/make decisions/organize together.  whenever an issue or problem pops up they announce over the loudspeaker and have a community meeting to discuss it and make a decision collectively. my meh and paw worked at the market, and i had 3 little brothers: chem, bass, and boy. i felt like i had so many parents and siblings—i could just walk from house to house and find someone to talk to or feed me and feel totally welcome. actually when i first arrived, i wasn’t sure who my siblings were because there were so many kids at my house. mittrapap has sixty households and has existed in this location for twenty-six years.  before that, most community members lived in another slum community, but they were evicted because investors planned on building a department store.  they were threatened with eviction once fifteen years ago but protested at the main train station and have not been bothered since. one thing i think is so neat is how autonomously these communities function. collectively, they save money for both immediate and long-term needs of community members.  they circulate short-term, no-interest loans that can be used by community members if they fall on hard times.  this is really important because it is much better than borrowing from a third party that charges very high interest.  these funds are also available to buy land for the permanent resettlement of communities when the time comes—if that’s even what they want. during each community stay, we have an exchange.  in the exchange, all of the community members, the students, and a translator sit around in a circle and talk. we ask each other questions to better understand each other’s issues and lives. it’s really very beautiful. Living on a Landfill Shayne Thomas

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i will write about the landfill tomorrow! i have to sleep! Sep. 14th, 2007 i am going to take a bit of a break from telling you all the things i learn and try and describe to you some of the things i see and do and think about, so maybe you can feel like you are here with me. the word for foreigner is farang. all of us farangs stick out in khon kaen—people want to wave to you and have you hold their babies and stuff. it’s weird. everywhere i go i hear “insert-random-thai-words farang more-words-i don’t-know farang.”  it’s really frustrating.  sometimes i think: what makes me any different than other tourists soaking up thai culture?  i have to be really aware of it when i am out.  i see so many things that i want to take pictures of to share with you, but i can’t do that—i’m in the market and i see a whole pigs face, and i want to take a picture, but i can’t. this isn’t crazy to them; this is their life. so normally i just wait for other people to look like an asshole, and then take a picture and i ask for a copy later. haha. speaking of ”haha,” the word for the number five in thai is “ha.” if you are watching television and the subtitles are on and there is laughing, it says “5-5-5!”  i love that! i also love pumpkin (faktone). i eat it steamed almost everyday.  i also eat a lot of crap. seriously, everything is fried, and here is the straight up sad truth: i don’t get much exercise. we sit and talk so much. i have found an amazing vegetarian (jae) restaurant that i frequent. they have awesome mock meat.  i really enjoy the red curry and also the fried morning glory.  i also eat a lot of som tom (green papaya salad) because the northeast is well known for it.  everything i eat has those dangerous tiny red chili peppers. every time i get an accidental real bite of one my lips turn bright red and swell up. it’s actually really gross. thailand is a “democracy,” but they are crazy about the king. everyday 50

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at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. the national anthem (which is basically a tribute to the king) comes on tv and the radio, and if you go see a movie they play it before the previews. there are also pictures of him—huge pictures of him everywhere! i don’t know if you can tell but he has sweat dripping from his nose. this was at a school we visited. there are pictures like this at all of my home stays—it’s so odd. there are also designated colors for every day of the week and you can get these weird polo shirts in each color and wear them on that day—but most people only wear the colored shirt on the day they were born. the king was born on a monday, so on mondays you see ridiculous amounts of people in pale yellow polo shirts. it’s also illegal to criticize the king. you actually couldn’t use YouTube for awhile here because someone made videos where they made fun of the king, but the person issued an apology and so now we can all use YouTube again. Sep. 15th, 2007 reduce, reuse, recycle girls in thailand are obsessed with their weight (western influence?) there are weird scales everywhere, and they play a loud song when you get on it. i walk out of 7-11 with chocolate and a soda, and i hear that damn song and look over and see this tiny tiny thai girl weighing herself. weeeird. anyway, i want to write a little about the landfill. i think the people are just so incredible. but it’s just so much to have to organize my thoughts and then type them on a keyboard—it’s very hard—but here goes... paw come, one of the community leaders, took us where the medical waste from the hospital is taken. needles, bandages and gauze are all sitting in open bins. there was blood still in needles and iv tubes. it seemed so dangerous. the landfill community is very concerned about how dangerous and unhealthy the incinerator that the government uses to burn medical waste is for them when they turn it on.  two people from my program went back to Living on a Landfill Shayne Thomas

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talk to villagers, the guy who runs the incinerator, and the municipality. here are some of the really scary things they found out: every day they burn about three tons of medical waste in the incinerator. the incineratory is about five feet away from the water tank. whenever they turn it on, thick black smoke comes out and pollutes the area around the incinerator, aka the village where the scavengers live.  what is really fucked up is that sometimes liquid waste drips down on to the villagers homes.  paw come said that when this happens the whole community has to run to the highest tip of the landfill to get away. when we first arrived at the landfill paw come told us that there are sixty families that live in the landfill community.  then he took us on a tour.  it was really intense. there were mountains and mountains of trash. from far away it was almost beautiful because it just looked like a big fluffy hill, but up close it wasn’t so pretty, and the smell was unlike anything i have ever smelled before. i almost threw up once.  i’m trying to be honest here because while i was there, i tried to be really aware of my facial expressions because i didn’t want to be rude. we also helped them scavenge for a little while.  i found some pretty gross stuff—dead animals, needles, intestines...the list goes on.  they told us that just a month ago they found a dead baby.  all of the medical waste from the hospital goes to a separate spot (a wide open spot nearby—a place kids could easily find,) but all of the trash from private clinics that aren’t run by the state goes here too.  it’s so scary because hardly any of the scavengers wear gloves or boots; they scavenge with their bare hands and wear flip-flops. they said they don’t wear gloves because they go bad too fast and it slows them down. you’d think it would be easy to find recyclables, but it’s not. everything is covered in shit and food. you have to open bags and dig through them to try and find the good stuff. after we scavenged for a bit, paw come told us that he really appreciated how we didn’t hesitate and just dug right in.  he said it really meant a lot 52

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because a lot of people come and won’t get out of their cars or they wear face masks. he said it makes all of the workers feel really bad about what they’re doing, like they’re dirty and gross.  his eyes just looked so sad and sincere that i almost cried, but i didn’t want to be that farang.

The slums of Khon Kaen While Thailand developed, people were forced from rural agriculturebased areas to urban ones, causing cities like Khon Kaen to become overcrowded. Most of the houses in the slums (seen on the left of the image) are within 40 meters of the train tracks and are on land that is owned by the Railroad Authority of Thailand.

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My host dad in Sisaket His family was affected by the construction of the Pak Mun dam. Prior to the dam’s construction, he fished like everyone else in the community. Now they raise cows and make brooms. The Pak Mun Dam is a run-of-the-river hydropower dam that generates electricity. The dam cost $240 million U.S. dollars and is supposed to generate 136 MW of electricity but is only operating at 40 MW. More than 50 fish species found in the Pak Mun River have gone extinct since the construction of the dam because their habitat in the rapids was destroyed, and because their migration routes for breeding were blocked by the dam gates. It was predicted that 241 households would be displaced by the dam, but the world commission of dams report found that 1,700 households were actually displaced and that 6,000 more had their livelihoods destroyed by the dam’s effect on the fish population, which in many areas caused a 50-100% decline. The Pak Mun River was really important to my host dad. He took us to this waterfall for us to swim and enjoy. He wanted to share with us something he was proud of and loved.

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Irrigation canal in Rasi Salai The community in Rasi Salai was affected by the construction of a large dam built for irrigation purposes. In this photo, you can see one of the irrigation canals that were built and can no longer be used. These irrigation canals proved to be beneficial only for people who were located right next to the river. The Rasi Salai dam was also determined a failure because the water in the river was ruined by the dam. The underground of the Rasi Salai area is rich in salt deposits. Before the dam’s construction, villagers would dig deep holes to extract and sell the salt. Unfortunately, the heavy dam began to weigh down on the ground, forcing the salt into the water. Saline contaminated water destroys crops, so the community’s rice fields have been ruined by using water from the now dammed river.

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Paw Come at highest point Paw Come is at one of the highest points of the landfill. As one of the key organizers in the Kambon Noi community, Paw Come regularly attends meetings with the municipality and with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation in Bangkok. When he goes to these meetings as a representative from the community, his income often drops because he has to stop working, but he told me it is worth it because he gets to hear how others are planning to solve the problems of the poor as well as give his own input. He told me he takes the information he gets and spreads it to his fellow community members.

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Scavenging the landfill Of course you find lots of gross things scavenging in the landfill, but you would be surprised at all the neat things you can find. At the end of the semester, while I was working on the photo project with the community, I also worked on an art project with the children that live at the landfill. We collected non-recyclable trash from the landfill and used it to make art—everything from a really awesome mural to some pretty impressive mobiles and masks.

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10/2007: the pak mun dam Shayne Thomas so you cast your net out like a deep sigh and you wonder where all your stories will go when you die will they go in a big big box at the river bend? or will they blow on by with the wind? can you whisper it in a cow’s ear? or just swallow it down like a beer? cause the fish won’t come home and the river won’t flow, no

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United by One Color Olivia Ngadjui I stood amid a myriad of people. Different shades and blends. Various styles and ethnicities. Each person stood out. The crowd resembled the definition of the word “diversity.” The scenery shifted and the people looked as if someone had stirred them all together in a mixing bowl. Together, among the different shades, the mixture formed a strange shade of red. The funny thing is I could only see the color red, so I knew for sure that my eyes were deceiving me. I rubbed them in frustration, hoping that my vision would return to normal. A lady appeared mysteriously, everyone looked at her. I wondered why they all gawked at her because with my magical “red” vision, she looked like everyone else. I knew something had to be wrong, rubbing my eyes, I looked to the sky: It was blood red. A drop of water landed on my forehead, finally there was something to clean my eyes. My vision returned, but soon after one drop of water, a million more droplets invaded the area. As the raindrops hit the faces and bodies of the people, Amendment 59

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I suddenly realized that it was raining blood. Women screamed and children laughed. There was a moment of silence after a minute of horror. Everyone began to look at each other; there were now no differences in color. Everyone was now of the same hue. United by one color: Red. The color of our blood: the substance connecting the human race. Red.

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Richmond Hosts Controversial Performance of The Sex Workers Art Show Patricia R. Arans I attended The Sex Workers Art Show last Friday. I did not know what to expect, and I happily attended and took a seat up in the front row, at which point I freaked out wondering if I had just entered into a live sex show. But then I calmed my nerves, and decided to give the show a chance. It turned out to be more than just theatrical entertainment; the show was abundant with metaphors, political messages, and symbolism. For all the disagreement surrounding the show, I believe that it is only fair that I was provided with something worth a little controversy. Dressed stylishly yet conservatively, Annie Oakley was the host of the show, and she aimed to prove that the workers of the sex industry are brilliant and talented artists. In her introduction of the evening, Oakley implied that sex workers don’t get the acknowledgement that they deserve for their talents because, she said, the industry is “silenced.” The sex industry exists, for the most part, underground. Oakley offered the audience some statistics about the undercover popularity and financial success of the sex industry and described how people seem to prefer the workers of the industry to remain anonymous. She described the phenomena with further detail, claiming that our nation’s consumers don’t want to know where a lot of our products come from. Our hamburgers, Oakley told us, are brought to our plates by “fairies from hamburger land,” reminding me personally of my own concern that we as American consumers may be purchasing products originating from sweatshop factories, which employ impoverished underage workers. The Show featured various performers displaying their talents in a series of one-act performances. At the beginning of the show, performer Amendment

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Dirty Martini was introduced by Oakley as having the richly deserved title of “Best Body in Burlesque.” Dirty Martini, an extremely voluptuous woman, displayed her award-winning body on stage in an artistic performance art piece which referenced symbols of America, money, and justice. The Sex Workers Art Show, although lacking in modesty throughout, featured several very elegant characters that seemed to compensate for the mature nature of the show. A performer whose legal name is supposedly The World Famous Bob appeared on stage in two separate acts. Her “sweet hometown girl-next-door” appeal was very refreshing, first in a monologue in which she described her personal experience and history in the sex industry, and then again in a demonstration of how to shake a martini with no hands. Many people who are concerned with the politics of body image would appreciate that the also voluptuous The World Famous Bob, who is not nearly as voluptuous as Dirty Martini, confessed to the audience that she refuses to starve for anyone. Erin Markey also brought class to the stage with her brilliant talent. She proved herself to be an exceptional actress of the sex industry. Some of the topless performers featured that evening were wearing classically tacky pasties, but not Erin Markey. Of course, it is not as though I didn’t expect some vulgarity. What would a sex worker show be without a little bit? In truth, the show provided some eye opening exposure as to what takes place within the Sex Industry. Asian Dominatrix Keva I. Lee wore pasties which looked like this: X X, and with the help of a member from the audience, her act turned out to be possibly the most enlightening one of the evening. Keva I. Lee expressed herself as not only a character in a sexual fantasy, but also as a human being. She publicized some of her experiences as a dominatrix, revealing to the audience some of her customer’s desires: to hear her speak in a language which they don’t even understand, saying what they want to hear (as opposed to what she is actually saying). Keva I. Lee teaches a lesson; don’t underestimate the intelligence of “exotic” foreign women. 62

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As for the rest of the show, I can say that the two performers who read some of their personal writing managed to equally bring both vulgarity and elegance to the stage. Chris Kraus and porn star Lorelei Lee are both writers who bravely read aloud some of their work for the audience. They combined vulgarity within their X rated stories with elegance, by representing themselves honestly, appearing onstage nicely dressed and, like all the performers of the evening, expressing sincere aspects of their characters. Lorelei Lee appeared in a revealing, sexy short pinstripe and lace trim dress. Chris Kraus looked conservative and stylishly poetic, appearing very “writerly.” All the performers should be applauded for their talent and bravery in exposing themselves and their silenced art. For the grand finale, Krylon Superstar made his grand entrance through the crowd, appearing in drag, and stripping down to reveal “FUCK BUSH” taped across his chest with red tape (evidently the same red tape Krylon used to tape up her platform shoes so that they would match the red leggings). It was not until towards the end of the show that Annie Oakley spoke to the audience in greater detail about some of the controversy surrounding the show. Not only was the show in Richmond not able to take place at VCU as originally planned, but schools in Virginia that hosted The Sex Workers Art Show were facing the threat of budget cuts. I don’t know for sure but I did hear that the show had a room reserved on campus. I missed the press conference, but the story I have constructed based on hearsay is that VCU cancelled the reservation, providing excuses for being unable to host the show and basically following the manipulative trend of rejecting The Sex Workers Art Show. In Virginia, I know that this type of conservative mentality of intolerance is the underlying reason for many broken hearts. People are different; people come from all kinds of different places and backgrounds. Anyone who has ever been excluded, shunned, victimized or targeted because they stuck out has an understanding within their hearts of how intolerance and prejudice Amendment

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hurts. Within our society, the focus on judging others, and the fear of being judged, remains threaded within the mentality of conformity. Call it an ongoing witch-hunt, if you will. The Sex Workers Art Show faced enough scrutiny in Virginia to feel the conservative sentiment against them. There were protesters, there were university bans, and controversy surrounded the whole ordeal of The Sex Workers Art Show, with disapproval stemming from various sources. The Gay Community Center of Richmond hosted the show for its Richmond performance, the final stop of their tour in Virginia. Despite the constant threat of public scrutiny against them, the Richmond performance of The Sex Workers Art Show turned out to be successful, and it looked as though people really did have a good time. I’m so glad that Richmond was able to host the show after all.

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Female Genital Mutilation: When Culture and Human Rights Conflict Jade Conner Female genital mutilation is the very crux of patriarchal dehumanization and oppression of women and children. The value, or lack thereof, placed on the bodies of females is representative of women’s global subordination. Ownership of women’s bodies is invaluable to patriarchy. There is no act more telling of this than the mutilation of young girls’ genitals from an early age and ultimately throughout adulthood. Girls and women are stripped of their womanhood. They live their lives with their inferiority displayed on their bodies and burned into their memory. The price that patriarchy has set on female chastity has become paramount in the lives of many, if not all, women on this planet. Despite its status as a human rights violation, this archaic and dangerous practice has yet to be eradicated. Through my research, I sought answers as to the origins of the practice and the beliefs that perpetuate it. I believe that female genital mutilation serves no purpose outside of the domination and regulation of female sexuality, and I will demonstrate that throughout this essay. What Do We Call It? There is much debate over the term that should be used to describe this cultural practice. Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is generally the accepted term in much of the research that I have done. Female genital cutting, or FGC, and female circumcision are two alternate names that have been used to describe this procedure. One reason to use alternate titles for FGM, on an international level, is that labeling the women who have undergone the procedure as “mutilated” stigmatizes them after having survived it. According to Suzanne Williams, Francine Pickup and Caroline Sweetman in Ending Violence Amendment

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Against Women: A Challenge for Development and Humanitarian Work, “The use of the emotive term ‘mutilation’ in the presence of women survivors, and the revulsion expressed by international activists who considered women who had undergone FGM to be ‘incomplete,’ or ‘disabled,’ appeared to be another form of abuse” (Pickup 16). Often, on the local level, the term female circumcision is used. In doing so, this likens the procedure to male circumcision. In actuality, female circumcision would be the equivalent of the removal of the penis and part of the scrotum. Male circumcision does not remove the organ itself, but female circumcision clearly does. In the United States, the Medical Times and Gazette refuted the belief that the clitoridectomy was the equivalent of male circumcision. The Gazette said that, “Instead of taking away a loose fold of skin it (clitoridectomy) removes a rudimentary organ of exquisite sensitiveness, well supplied with blood vessels and nerves, and the operation is occasionally attended with serious bleeding, in these respects it differs widely from circumcision” (Darby 161-162). One of the reasons that the term circumcision may be used is simply because the organ serves no reproductive purpose, so it may not be viewed as necessary. Female genital cutting is used many times by cultural relativists, but a clear understanding of the practice itself proves that it is much more than simply cutting. Referring to FGM as cutting minimizes the experience and impact of the procedure on the individual and the community. Mutilation involves the removal or destruction of a body part, which will impair the individual’s functioning. The removal of female genitalia, without a doubt, fits under the category of mutilation. Prevalence Next I’ll discuss the prevalence of FGM and the localities where it most often takes place. Female genital mutilation occurs on a much larger scale than most realize. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, it is estimated that between 100 and 140 66

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million women in Africa have undergone FGM. According to birth rates, roughly “three million girls who are at risk of some form of FGM every year” (UNICEF). FGM appears to be spreading as immigrant populations grow in industrialized countries. Despite passing laws that criminalize the practice, it is occurring at alarming rates in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Center for Reproductive Rights). As citizens of the United States, we have a tendency to remove ourselves from international affairs by feigning ignorance. Human suffering in the United States is nowhere near the levels seen in much of the world, leading to what I would call feelings of superiority. FGM is increasingly found in the United States despite its illegality under federal law. According to Ms. Magazine, “It’s estimated that in one year, nearly 200,000 women in the United States will be cut.” The rise in cases in the United States is a direct result of increased immigration from northern African countries where FGM is practiced. The lack of action on behalf of the United States speaks of the importance placed on the elimination of violence against women. Origins Female genital mutilation has taken many forms over the centuries in different parts of the world. First I’ll discuss the rise and spread of FGM throughout parts of Asia and Africa. The first historical references to FGM were found in ancient Egypt, 5th century BC, in the writings of Herodotus, who “was of the opinion that the custom had originated in Ethiopia or Egypt, as it was being performed by Ethiopians as well as Phoenicians and Hittites” (Taba, A.H.). According to Modawi’s article, The Impact of Social and Economic Changes in Female Circumcision, FGM is thought to have “diffused to the Red Sea coastal tribes, along with Arab traders, and from there into eastern Sudan” (Modawi, S.). Female genital mutilation may be of North African origins, but it also Amendment

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made a brief appearance in European and United States history with the rise of the Victorian era. The Victorian era saw the introduction of new ideas regarding women’s chastity and perceived lack of sexuality. Clitoridectomies began in the United States as a medical solution to problems of epilepsy, nervous disorders, masturbation and lesbianism (Darby 158). In 1894, Dr. A.J. Bloch wrote an article in which he described female masturbation as “moral leprosy” and described a surgery in which he removed the clitoris of a 14year old-girl. Allegedly, the surgery ultimately cured her of her nervousness and eliminated masturbation (Block A.J.). Clitoridectomies were not widely accepted and quickly became an unacceptable solution to problems that were psychological or imagined rather than physical. The procedure was eradicated when comparisons between clitoridectomy and the castration of the male arose. According to Robert Darby, in A Surgical Temptation, the largely male medical community did not approve of the practice because it suppressed female sexual appetite, which could produce “frigid and barren wives,” which was “too high a price to pay for whatever vices it discouraged and whatever diseases it cured” (Darby 158). It was also likely that doctors envisioned themselves in the husband’s place, because “a bride was supposed to be a virgin, and how virginal can she be if a surgeon had known her so intimately” (Darby 158). Rather than ensuring the health and happiness of the woman, doctors felt it was inappropriate because they imagined themselves as the sexual partners of the women undergoing the procedure. Despite the belief that the procedure was beneficial to women, men’s ultimate pleasure and happiness took precedence over something that was perceived to improve women’s health. Women’s health was never really a priority; rather her chastity and her husband’s ownership over her chastity were priorities. How is FGM done? Patriarchy has given women no mercy in regards to female genital 68

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mutilation. There are countless ways in which the “circumcision” is done, and all are incredibly dangerous and dehumanizing beyond belief. The U.N.’s World Health Organization gives a comprehensive definition of FGM, defining it as “comprising of all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious, or other non-therapeutic reasons” (WHO). The World Health Organization also gives an explanation of each of the types of FGM found in Northern Africa. The first involves excision of the prepuce, or the clitoral hood, that may or may not include excision of part or the entire clitoris. In her article “Female Genital Mutilation” in Women’s Rights, Human Rights, Nahid Toubia reports that “85 percent of all women who undergo FGM have clitoridectomies,” or type one (Toubia 226). Type one is by far the least physically damaging of the major types of FGM. The second entails the excision of the clitoris with partial or complete removal of the labia minora. The third major type, and most damaging to women’s health is type three, or infibulation. Infibulation is the removal of part or all of the external genitalia, including the clitoris and labia minora, and the stitching of the labia majora to create a vaginal opening often the size of a matchstick head. The complications that arise as a result of infibulation are extensive, and I will discuss those complications later. All other types of FGM involve the scraping of tissue or the introduction of corrosive substances to cause bleeding or in order to tighten or narrow the vagina. The tools used for the removal of the external genitalia are, in most cases, unsanitary and barbaric. Joan Silver and Kowser H. Omer-Hashi report that instruments such as “dull kitchen knives, rusty razor blades, or shards of unwashed glass” are often used without anesthesia (Omer-Hashi 62). Infibulation requires stitching which is typically done with “silk, catgut, or thorns,” and the girl’s legs are usually bound together for “up to 40 days to allow scar tissue to form” (Omer-Hashi 62). Female genital mutilation takes many shapes and forms, but damage done to the female genitalia cannot be viewed as more damaging or less damaging because it is all mutilation, which has serious negative effects on the individual. Amendment 69

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International Law The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has called FGM a “fundamental violation on the rights of girls,” saying that it is “discriminatory” and “violates the right to equal opportunities, health, freedom from violence, injury, abuse, torture, and cruel or inhumane and degrading treatment” (UNICEF). International law also gives women and children “protection from harmful traditional practices,” and gives the right to “make decisions concerning reproduction” (UNICEF). International law protects women and girls from genital mutilation, but very often international law can be difficult to prosecute against individuals, as it is targeted more towards governments or other institutions. In order for human rights violations to be prosecuted, the victim(s) must be aware of their rights and, perhaps more importantly, must be in a position to claim that their rights have been violated. Grassroots Activism Tostan is a nongovernmental educational organization located in Senegal that shows women methods for problem solving and educates them on human rights, usually introducing them to the idea of women’s rights. They organize workshops that empower women to work towards autonomy and, in doing so, have made significant changes regarding FGM. By educating the women, they have given them the necessary insight to question the practice, thus leading to a 20% decrease in the number of villages practicing FGM (Talbott 108). Both men and women are welcome at Tostan’s workshops, and after discussing some issues, in particular FGM, two men went village to village, educating others about the dangers of female circumcision. According to Vivienne Walt, many villagers gathered and vowed to never circumcise their daughters, enacting the “Diagoubou Declaration.” These programs teach women and men how to work for social change and the betterment of their communities and have been largely successful without being morally or 70

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culturally imperialist, which is a common critique of outside activism. Cultural Relativism vs. Universalism Activism on an international level is widely criticized on the part of cultural relativists who argue that “allowing international norms to override the dictates of culture and religion is a violation of state sovereignty” (Musalo). In patriarchal societies, culture and religion are used conjunctively as justification for the subjugation of women. Cultural norms often cater to the powerful and oppress the powerless, as is demonstrated with practices such as FGM. Karen Musalo, the attorney who worked on behalf of Fauziya Kassindja’s during her asylum case, says, “The cultural norms in a patriarchal society become a way to maintain the inequality of women.” She also compares patriarchal norms to the norms of a caste-based society or a racist society, both of which also use discrimination as a form of social control. When the United Nations was created after the Second World War, it was not legislated by the superpowers of the time. It was comprised of and was drafted by representatives from many nations of varying powers, who believed that there were certain rights that were universal. The U.N. ruled practices such as genocide and torture as violations of human rights, despite what the culture may believe, but FGM seems to be more of a touchy subject. Despite the fact that it is torture inflicted upon children who are incapable of consenting, it is justified on the grounds that it protects culture. When culture extends itself into brutality against men, it is a human rights violation, but when brutality is being inflicted on women and children, it is done for the preservation of the culture. Universality is the belief that human rights, which are “guaranteed in international treaties and conventions,” apply to everyone irrespective of culture or religion (Musalo). It is believed that the eradication of FGM is part of a western feminist agenda, but women’s movements have been taking place long before western feminists began speaking out about the practice. Oppression breeds unhappiness, leading to social change. The fight to end Amendment

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violence against women did not begin as part of a western feminist agenda. Wherever there is oppression, there will also be resistance. A problem with protecting the human rights of women is that the women themselves are often very unaware that they have rights and do not know how to make their voices heard in regards to their rights. Tostan, the educational organization I discussed earlier, enables women to make their own decisions outside of the cultural expectation, and in doing so, they have inadvertently advocated human rights without moral or cultural imperialism. Patriarchal structures use other institutions such as religion, family, culture, and marriage as forms of social and private control of women. In Which Rights Should be Universal?, William Talbott discusses the importance of recognizing patriarchy’s failure to truly justify the oppression of women. He says, “Once it is recognized that a culture with patriarchal institutions will almost surely have developed socially enforced self-serving justifications for them, the question of whether they are justified cannot be settled simply by citing the culture’s own answer” (Talbott 99). Cultural relativism does not go far enough in its attempt to refute universalism because the answer cannot be found within the culture when the problem is so deeply embedded in the culture. There are interesting critiques of developmental agencies that promote the idea of universalism yet claim cultural relativism when faced with the difficult task of confronting violence against women, in particular female genital mutilation. These organizations are often reluctant to challenge gender relations in the communities where they work, yet they are eager to challenge ethnic or caste-based inequality (Pickup 64). It becomes clear that women’s rights are human rights as long as they do not threaten the very core of patriarchal structures. Why does FGM continue? Despite its status as a human rights violation, FGM is practiced and defended by the idea of cultural and religious relativism. The reasons for 72

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the continuation of FGM are many, yet none of these reasons justify any argument used to perpetuate the practice. Each attempt at the justification of FGM leads, inevitably, to patriarchy’s need to control women’s bodies and female sexuality. One of the reasons for the continuation of FGM is that in order for patriarchy to thrive, men must dominate female sexuality to ensure women’s safety and morality. FGM reduces female arousal due to the removal of the clitoris. This loss in arousal, and often interest in sex, is thought to be necessary in order to maintain chastity and fidelity. Women’s clitorises must be excised in order to limit their sexual drive. Many times in rural areas, the men may leave for extended periods of time to work, and eliminating women’s sexual pleasure also ensures their fidelity. Even in cultures that recognize women’s need for sex, she serves the purpose of a reproductive vehicle rather than mutual partner. She has no right to her own pleasure or bodily integrity. Nahid Toubia compared infibulation to a chastity belt. She says, “With infibulation the radical shaving off of all sensitive tissue plus the folding away of the vagina can be seen as a metaphor for the more abstract denial of woman’s sexuality: her reproductive capacity is locked up with a chastity belt made of her own flesh” (Toubia 229). The women who undergo infibulation become their own tormentors. Infibulation causes the woman’s own body to betray her. Her genitalia, which should serve as a source of pleasure, become the source of her greatest pain. FGM is believed to increase male sexual pleasure, which is paramount in any patriarchal society. The removal of the external genitalia and the stitching together of the labia majora create an extremely small opening, which may or may not need to be sliced opened by the woman’s husband upon marriage. This giving of her virginity and her body is a representation of the extent of male control over women. In a study of the Kikuyu in Kenya, Nici Nelson found that Kikuyu women believed female sexuality was about “procreation for the patrilineage” rather than for mutual pleasure (Caplan 221). Sex for men is for pleasure and advances are expected to be met with complete Amendment

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acceptance by women, whereas a woman’s right to her own bodily pleasure simply does not exist. Nelson goes on to explain Kikuyu women’s sexuality, saying “Women are recognized as full sexual beings but their rights to indulge their sexual natures must take second place to the control of the patrilineage” (Caplan 237). She points out that in order for patriarchy to maintain control over women, they must have their clitorises excised to “limit their sexual enjoyment” (Caplan 237). Patriarchy goes to drastic lengths to subjugate and control women. Women’s sexuality is feared in many patriarchal institutions, and it is a belief, albeit a mistaken one, that women have little to no control over their bodies, despite that control having never actually been given to them. Patriarchal cultures have a tendency to create and enforce gender roles, by spreading the idea of a divine creator. Religion spreads and maintains the idea that women were and are second citizens. Rarely are women able to step outside of oppressive religions to even suggest working towards change, leading to acceptance of inhumane treatment, under the assumption that this is “god’s will”. Westerners often mistakenly believe that FGM is a requirement of Islam, because religion is so often used to encourage FGM. There is no major religious text, in Islam or otherwise, that makes FGM a requirement. According to Toubia, “Neither the Quran nor the “hadith” (collections of sayings of the prophet Mohammed) includes a direct call for FGM” (Toubia 230). As is the case with all religious texts, they are left open to much interpretation; many crimes against humanity have and can be committed in the name of religion. Due to many women’s acceptance of oppression on the basis of religion, FGM destroys the lives of the daughters of Africa. Culture and religion are fused in many societies, and untangling the web of subjugation that has been forced on women and girls is made difficult by myths that justify crimes against them. In cultures where a woman’s survival depends on marriageability and fertility, her health is of utmost importance. Female genital mutilation is believed to enhance fertility and the mortality of both mother and child. There are numerous implications of circumcision, none of which enhance fertility or 74

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mortality. According to UNICEF, the fatal side effects of FGM are as follows: “severe bleeding, leading to hemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock as a result of pain and trauma, and severe, overwhelming infection and septicemia” (UNICEF). According to Dudones, “35 percent of the women who undergo FGM die” either from immediate or long-term complications (Ms. Magazine). Those who do not die are left with a variety of psychological, emotional and physical side effects that often last a lifetime. FGM has been shown to cause “cysts; keloids; painful sexual intercourse; increased susceptibility to HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis, and other blood-borne disease; reproductive tract infection; pelvic inflammatory disease; painful menstruation; chronic urinary tract obstruction/bladder stones; and incontinence” (UNICEF). Sadly the belief that FGM is beneficial to women’s health persists despite the increased risk of infertility, and of death of the mother and the child. Women who are able to survive circumcision are still faced with a lifetime of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety and feelings of incompleteness (WHO). While midwives, birthing attendants, or others do many of the procedures with no medical training, the procedure is backed by some in the medical community in Africa. One suggestion for the eradication of FGM is to “legally designate a group that may be allowed to practice FGM” (Asefa 102). The idea behind this is that if doctors carry out the procedure, under sanitary conditions, the results will be better in regards to the health of the female. This quickly becomes a medical ethics issue. The Hippocratic oath says that surgical procedures must have medical benefits and must be done on consenting patients (Asefa 102-103). FGM is mostly done on children, who are clearly unable to give their consent. It also serves no medical purpose and inflicts injury and even death on girls and women. The practice of FGM continues despite its obvious negative health effects, because the women’s health is of little to no importance. The patriarchal lie that women’s health is improved by mutilation is beneficial to no one but the patriarchal system and those who support and maintain it. Next I want to briefly discuss the hygiene and aesthetic reasons that Amendment

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FGM is practiced. There is widespread belief, even in this country, that female genitalia are ugly and dirty. There is this whole idea of feminine hygiene, and there are dozens of products marketed towards women with the ultimate goal of achieving cleanliness. In countries that practice FGM, female cleanliness is achieved by the removal of the external female genitalia. Some cultures believe that the clitoris or labia will grow uncontrollably unless they are done away with. Women are kept in such a state of ignorance that they have no understanding of truth in regards to their bodies. The clitoris is likened to the penis, and it’s believed that it must be removed in order for a girl to become a woman. In order to preserve masculinity, women must not possess male characteristics and must sacrifice their clitorises in order to rid themselves of masculinity. Lastly I want to focus on the sociological justifications for FGM. Not only does FGM serve the purpose of controlling women’s sexuality and supposedly benefiting their health, it also serves as an initiation into womanhood and is thought to maintain social cohesion. The preservation of culture in the face of colonialism has become paramount in many North African communities. Many traditional practices have been lost, and there are some who feel it is absolutely necessary to adhere to these practices in order to keep some of their culture intact as globalization and colonization attempt to change them. Another sociological reason for the continuation of FGM is that, simply put, it’s profitable. The practitioners often make their living off of mutilating the bodies of young girls, and without other skills, they cannot survive. In a film I viewed in my women studies seminar, one woman was given a sewing machine but had no idea how to work it. These are often older women who have been circumcising for most of their lives and are very unlikely to desire an end to FGM, despite having seen time and time again the effects, because their survival depends on it. Toubia also points out that the “loss of prestige” for the practitioner forces many practitioners to defend the practice (Toubia 230). Women’s protection of FGM is a result of the idea of a patriarchal bargain. Girls who do not undergo this practice essentially become social 76

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pariahs. They are viewed as unmarriageable and unclean. Mothers, who have an understanding of the pain and other implications of the procedure, are faced with the difficult choice of mutilating their daughters or damning their daughters to a life of shame. According to Pickup, “It may be a rational – even loving – decision for a mother to decide to genitally mutilate her daughter in a culture where she will stand little chance of finding a husband otherwise and where there are few economic alternatives to marriage” (Pickup 22). In western culture, we view FGM as torture on the part of the community and the parents, but in the cultures where it is practiced it is often a decision that the mother must make to ensure the survival of her daughter. Economically a woman cannot survive without marriage, so she must conform, in this sense. A clitoris becomes a small price to pay for the luxury of survival. Women very rarely resist change because they must be loyal to the patriarchal institutions that have given them what they perceive to be a life based on their best interests. Upholding marriage in societies where it is economically necessary is of utmost importance to women even if it sustains and excuses violence against women or, in this case, children. They simply must be loyal to the institutions that protect them even if the bargain is not in their favor. Conclusions It is clear that female genital mutilation is never in favor of the woman, her health, or her bodily integrity. It is a tool used to systematically brutalize and oppress women from girlhood and to remind them of their place throughout adulthood. Female genital mutilation is an international crisis and should be dealt with accordingly. The eradication of this practice must begin at the grassroots level, due to the amount of mistrust between cultures who practice FGM and the international community. Cultural relativists will defend practices such as FGM on the grounds that culture is subject to interpretation, and one culture has no right to regulate the practices of another. Female genital mutilation is a human rights violation in every way, and cultural relativism has no grounds Amendment

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to declare it anything but. Genocide is related to culture, but it is not accepted and defended because it does not reward patriarchy. Men in patriarchal cultures benefit and enjoy the subjugation of women, because the need to control is priority. Women’s well being and happiness has not and will not be a priority in these, or any other, cultures unless there is grassroots activism and public condemnation of practices that maim women. Violence against women and girls is symbolic of the larger systemic war on women, and female genital mutilation is an expression of the contempt held for women throughout the world. It serves no purpose other than the gross dehumanization of hundreds of millions of women and girls, leading to a life of misery and oppression in order to ensure men’s happiness. Works Cited Asefa, Semra. “Female Genital Mutilation: Violence in the Name of Tradition, Religion, and Social Imperative.” Violence Against Women: Philosophical Perspectives. Eds. Stanley G. French, Wanda Teays, and Laura M. Purdy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998. 92-104. Block, A.J.: Sexual Perversion in Female, New Orleans Medical Surgical Journal (new series) 22:1-7, 1894-1895. Caplan, Pat, Ed. The Cultural Construction of Sexuality. New York: Tavistock Publication, 1987. Darby, Robert. A Surgical Temptation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Dudones, Jill. “The Unkindest Cut.” Ms. Magazine. Winter 2007. “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.” United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. 11 March 2007. <http://www.unicef.org/protection/index_ genitalmutilation .html>

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“Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Legal Prohibitions Worldwide.” March 2007. Center for Reproductive Rights. 11 April 2007. <http://www.reproductiverights. org/pub _fac_fgmicpd.html> “Female Genital Mutilation.” June 2000. World Health Organization. 14 February 2007. <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/> Modawi, S. (1974), The Impact of Social and Economic Changes in Female Circumcision, Sudan Medical Association Congress Series, No.1, Sudan Medical Asssociation, Khartoum. Musalo, Karen. “When Rights and Cultures Collide.” Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. 8.3 (1997) 18 March 2007. <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ iie/v8n3/rightsandcultures.html>. Omer-Hashi, Kowser H, Silver, Joan. “No words can express: two voices on female genital mutilation.” Canadian Women’s Studies. 14 (1994): page 62. Pickup, Francine, Suzanne Williams, and Caroline Sweetman. Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for Development and Humanitarian Work. London: Oxfam GB, 2001. Saadawi, N. el., (1982) Circumcision of Girls, Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children, World Health Organization, EMRO Technical Publication 2(2), Alexandria, Egypt. Taba, A.H., (1980), Female Circumcision, World Health. Talbott, William. Which Rights Should be Universal? New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Toubia, Nahid. “Female Genital Mutilation.” Women’s Rights, Human Rights. Eds. Julie Peters, and Andrea Wolper. New York: Routledge, 1995. 224-237. Wallerstein, F., (1980), Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy, Springer Publ. Corp., New York. Walt, Vivienne, “Village to Village: Circumcising a Ritual,” Washington Post, 7 June 1998, Outlook.

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The Seaward Shauna Fecher Sometimes Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m too many curves and words that make people squirm and turn to more conventional things, less sensational things like the stake in power that a phallacy brings. Or a Monument jutting out from the Mall watching over the pool that reflects it by dawn. In a city where I cannot find a seat or a House where they will just let Her be. Let her be. Let her be. Where did you learn Steinese? It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter, it would probably bore you to sleep.

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But youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll wake and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll fake your surprise when you see her grab that helm from your hands as she reclaims the seaward.

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Boleyn Laura Ashworth Private, he granted me that but I cannot say that I am grateful as I prepare myself for death with my red dress sitting on my skin the blood of the fabric sticking to the sweat of fear and I am queen until the head chopped off will roll and I do not know where they will put my body after the breath, leaving and he can only love when love produces a child I had, dead, and it is my fault that the blood fell and did not, stay, inside he said, until the guard comes.

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The Etiology of Palinism Jeremy Clemmons What will follow is mostly an abstract form of a theory or thesis on the virtual effect of the intentional reinterpretation of feminism by contemporary media and politics as evidenced by Sarah Palin. One of the crucial scenes of Mulholland Drive, David Lynch’s film of mangled influences—from Dennis Potter to Billy Wilder—occurs when Hollywood actress Camilla Rhodes, still in a fugue state from a recent car wreck, exits a shower. She glances at herself in the mirror, expecting, of course, to see her own image. In a twisted commentary on the MirrorStage, Lynch reveals the reflection to be not her own but, rather, that of Rita Hayworth—Gilda, the classic femme fatale. This is the name (“Rita”) she will assume from here on in the feature.  However, the film unfolds as a reversal of Hayworth’s epitomic role; the voluptuous, brunette Camilla is casted against typicality. Instead of wielding a power or agency within the show business, Rita wanders through Lynch’s dreamwork as a haunted, endless repetition of the latter moments in Gilda. In these crucial scenes, Rita Hayworth is trapped due to her sexuality and control over men. Thus, the Rita in Mulholland Drive is a catatonic interpretation of the stripped agency; she spends the first two-thirds of the film trying to find her identity. Consequently, the new Camilla Rhodes of Mulholland Drive who assumes the ability to attract, to subjugate, to possess the Hollywood system turns out to be a blonde. “This is the girl,” demand the studio executives to a director casting the lead role in an upcoming film. Opposite becomes apposite. Sarah Palin as sociological malady. Sarah Palin as a savior. Two dueling positions and parties—neighbors in the pathology apartment of the political hospital yet separated by an ocean. The stunt of tapping the Alaskan governor Amendment

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for Republican Vice President was just as much a form of mediated strategy as it was gender pandering. The cinematic moments of Obama’s speech at Denver’s Invesco Field were smothered by the next morning. The mass media immediately jumped on the opportunity to circumscribe the unknown woman—Sarah Palin. In these early moments she was always-emerging; every new fact and detail did nothing less than create a spectre of Sarah Palin. We begged her to be humanized, deconceptualized. As a columnist at Slate Magazine predicted, “after Palin steps down from the podium, TV commentators will fall over themselves with astonishment, feigned or sincere, at Palin’s brilliant performance.”[1] Let us remember the reversal, however—the oneric rendering of the recent political narrative. What must be taken from Palin’s comparison to the other Gilda, the one trapped in a dangerous replaying of Gilda’s confinement, isn’t pure synchronicity; the blonde Camilla Rhodes doppelganger, assuming all the (libidinal) liberation of what would be the (brunette) femme fatale, isn’t the spectre of Hillary Clinton or some other symbolic blonde. No—what must be precisely taken from Mulholland Drive is purely systematic and performative. The immediate liberal backlash against Sarah Palin is largely due to her antifeminist conservatism and ultra-religious zeal, that much is certain. And that much is somewhat acceptable; there is a ubiquity to these criticisms in regards to both endorsement by either gender. Sarah Palin’s political views shouldn’t come as surprise to anybody who actually has visited a place like Wasilla Main Street. However, what is singular about this election is the extremity of her—or her image’s—ability to proselytize, to convert, to offend particular affiliations. Casted in one role and then intensely rehearsed for another. But instead of this divergence solidifying political positions, Sarah Palin’s essence is perceived in continual flux—love/hate. She is polysemous—a multiplicity of meanings. Thus, there is a need for an appropriate language to discuss and interpret the performative effect of Sarah Palin. In Mulholland Drive, this apparatus is Club Silencio, a nightclub where both Rita (Camilla Rhodes) and her lover, 84

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Diane, drift off to one night. Club Silencio serves as the portal for transference into diverging realities; a common analysis is that Rita and Diane’s experience in Club Silencio returns them to the Real. However, as Mulholland Drive unravels this return is skewed by the fact that this reality is the same side of the coin—a Möbius strip. The cross between the two worlds creates performance of performance, or third-order simulacra. The Rita Hayworth channeled in Mulholland Drive is a “copy of an original that never existed”[2], much like Sarah Palin’s “hockey mom and a pit bull.” Consequently, there is not only a need for discourse for the logic of this matrix, but a dissection of precisely how this re-rendering creates a problematic study of  feminism’s role in this election. Let’s start with two corresponding ideas for reaching these objectives: The Media To redefine the election in terms of some analysis of how Palin reconfigures the essential figure of Woman seems to me entirely to be missing the specificity of what is happening in this election.[3] Palin is a virtual candidate, whose role in the campaign is to generate support for and increase the intensity of the McCain campaign by providing a source of potentiality and possibility onto which voters and the media can project their own beliefs and desires.  This virtual candidacy works by intensifying the affect of both McCain and Obama supporters, for whom the reality of Sarah Palin means and feels quite differently, and mobilizes and amplifies different premediated networks of practices, behaviors, and beliefs.[4] Both of these accounts discount the idea that this election is not exclusive. The challenges to feminism are thus media-centric and capital-centric, rather than psychoanalytic, Lacanian. Some critics see this as a widespread collapse of ideology, an inclination to form over content. Instead, we must see it as a continuation of the skepticism since the proliferation of information technology. The ability for a candidate to “[provide] a source of potentiality and possibility onto which voters and the media can project their own beliefs and desires” is a result of such an increase. The failure of psychoanalysis Amendment

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is, thus, not because of the lack of meaningful content, but simply because there is no way to understand the veracity of content without knowing how the message is being transmitted. Accordingly, a remapping of the female form—as has been suggested by many political theorists (and Lacanian thinkers [5]) as the significant effect of Sarah Palin’s nomination as the GOP’s Vice Presidential nominee—needs the latitude of extending beyond a particular historical significance. This does not mean that such a reconfiguration isn’t taking place; it just is noted that these are reactions, corollaries as opposed to being “moments” in themselves. In other words, what is being performed by Sarah Palin’s self-declaration of the quintessential working mother is all “stage,” subterfuge of the truth, in the sense that she boldly believes it even despite the fact that it’s a purely inaccurate routine. The virtuality of American Politics—from its inception during the Reagan gubernatorial years—has reached its highest point yet. The “affect of both McCain and Obama supporters” is exactly the sensation of this peak. This particular reading doesn’t mean the negation of the importance of Sarah Palin, nor feminism’s place within this election. We have reached the point where the decreasing credibility of news sources, online journals, and other web resources has resulted in the increase of the “premediation.” Environmental catastrophes—tornados, snowstorms, hurricanes—are predicted and broadcasted before their events. The plethora of scientific data from previous natural disasters allows for news stations to show footage of what’s to come, creating news stations as the new pattern of contemporary film production. Politics have the same ability; 24-hour news channels are able to consistently alter the character of the political candidates through nonstop coverage of their every step. With a new candidate, particularly one that enters late in a highly contested presidential race like Sarah Palin, these stations are forced to acquire a rapid amount of information and display coverage. The disparity between news sources creates a distortion during this process; coupled with the high-intensity of the information-influx and the subsequent partisan and bipartisan judgment, the previous political associations of voters are thrown 86

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awry. An informational gravity pull generates further dissociation between the two parties and exacerbated feelings regarding Sarah Palin. As far as Sarah Palin being a foil to feminism, the issue becomes that this type of unilateral discouragement is “amplified” and displaced by the sensitive matrix of mass media. The media acts as the same dreamwork as the unreality of Mulholland Drive. The new Camilla Rhodes, the Sarah Palin, is translated into incessant reruns of a reversal of her intended value. The classical brunette femme fatale was conceived as sexual vice; she would be a projection of men’s fully conscious desires for seduction. However, this much must be clear—“she” would never desire. The desiring qualities of Sarah Palin—her impression as someone wanting to be a projection of one’s political satisfaction, an answer—should be interpreted for their illusion within the media paradigm. In other words, the imprisonment of Rita Hayworth at the end of  Gilda was punishment not only for her allure but also because she does not desire—she simply is. This much is important. The re-rendering of the opposite of this performance skews the effectiveness of this psychoanalysis. The disparity between what liberals see of Sarah Palin and what conservatives see is because of the uncertainty of her form: which Rita Hayworth are we seeing? Class and Feminism The key moment in this Vice Presidential election was not the second-wave backlash against Sarah Palin because of her ineptitude during the prime-time television interviews but the reminder of class consciousness through the stock market crash and the subsequent bailout. During this time, Barack Obama recovered in the polls. McCain faltered. The American public quickly rushed to the opposite side of the room of the candidates, who were for once united in their unanimous support of the Congressional recovery plan. The Vice Presidential debate preceded the Presidential debate on only in occurrence but in the passing of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. While interpretation of the bailout bill ranged from “socialism Amendment

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for the rich” to a “jumpstart for the economy,” the simple fact was the message that both of the Vice Presidential candidates sent out was anti-populist. The American public had shown enormous disapproval of the bailout plan, and, moreover, the unapologetic, insouciant stand of Wall Street. The Chief Financial Officer of Lehman’s brother fumbled over a scripted apologia of his and his company’s actions. Accordingly, the debate became a socioeconomically defining moment in that Sarah Palin—and Biden—used a repertory of class-conscious phrasings and gesticulations. Therefore, their message was anti-populist populist, a sort of factual endorsement of one thing through the histrionic but persuasive backing of the image of the other. Sarah Palin used a variety of colloquial, small-town phrases (“Joe six-pack,” “darn right,” “Main Street,”) and facial movements (winking, folksy smiling) in order to create the appeal of being the working-class mother. It was a highly contested battle for empathy. The concentration on Palin reveals that her appeal for the credulity of the masses is female-centric, mother-centric…as indicative of class, a transposition of the traditional maternal role as populist. Pure substitution. Nevertheless, we must account for this being the continuation of identity politics that began with Ronald Reagan. The ability to wholly endorse one thing (an anti-populist economic policy) through the performance of another (white, small-town mother). Reagan’s presentation was an earlier form of this; he didn’t simply endorse a class-conscious ideal, but rather, he performed as through the television monitor, utilizing its uncanny effect to heighten the properties of the Presidential image. This increased movement is accounted for in J.G. Ballard’s influential pulp essay, “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan”: I saw a more crude and ambitious figure, far closer to the brutal crime boss he played in the 1964 movie, The Killers, his last Hollywood role. In his commercials Reagan used the smooth, teleprompter-perfect tones of the TV auto-salesman to project a political message that was absolutely the reverse of bland and reassuring. A complete discontinuity existed between Reagan’s manner and body language, on the one hand, and his scarily simplistic far-right message on the other.[6] 88

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The fallacy of image preceding reality is lost in translation through television. Or, as J.G. Ballard further writes about his essay, “[the] TV audience would not be listening too closely, if at all, to what he was saying, and indeed might well assume from his manner and presentation that he was saying the exact opposite of the words actually emerging from his mouth.” Is not the rift that Reagan benefited from, between “what he was saying” and “the simplistic far-right message,” the same as Palin’s usage? The latitude that Reagan benefited from, between “what he was saying” and “the simplistic far-right message,” was it not akin to the manipulation of Palin’s endorsement of the bailout’s bourgeois economic vouchsafing? Her moments of excruciating eyewinking and family anecdotes performed with staccato rehearsal appeared to compensate for the disadvantaged political inexperience she had going in to the debate. Many reviews were mixed, a likely result of the polarization of American politics, but her performance was greeted with much appreciation for her “authenticity” and “down-to-earthness.” Palin’s mollification of the hurt feelings that the masses have about the bailout bill came through her populist affiliation. However, there’s still the need to account for gender; the duality of Camilla/Rita is important here. The female gender in its most “effective” state in classical Hollywood cinema is a tool of omnipotent wielding. Montages in Mulholland Drive in the purported waking world show Camilla Rhodes as a lusted Hollywood actress. She has the attractiveness to simultaneously satisfy both men and women, much like how Gilda’s beauty is inherent to young and old. Within identity politics Sarah Palin is capable of assuming this ability to satisfy the masses with her femininity, her maternalism. Through the interwoven popular treatment of gender and class, Sarah Palin is able to remedy, or remediate, with emphatic remarks of her experience as a small-town mother. Joe Biden makes the case for the gender uniformity of “kitchen-table” politics through the self-sympathies of his personal tragedies (lost of his wife/ daughter, economic despair of his hometown); however, the polling after the debate reveals him as still being lost behind Washington parochialism. Amendment 89

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Contemporary, post-millennial feminism has the frontage of its detachment from class; or if that is conceded, then there is a principal impression that it must have the desire to do such. However, the “feminism” propagated by Sarah Palin is a sort of false-pragmatic feminism, a statement of assuming the onus or blame of her own mystique as indicative of misogyny. In other words, by professing the intricate blend of small-town, provincial politics and maternal, strong-willed female resilience, Sarah Palin recodes feminism as class-centric, or able to be manipulated in the same way as class. Much like the amorphous, yet mechanical efficiency of late capitalism, feminism engenders continuation in its current form—or to invoke Frederick Jameson, capitalism “which has a fundamental interest in social equality to the degree to which it needs to transform as many of its subjects or its citizens into identical consumers.”[7] Disregarding the Marxist connotations, this statement discloses that feminism’s drift towards capitalist centrality is programmatic and inherent. Sarah Palin is able to appeal to our want for egalitarian principles of anti-classism and feminism by simultaneously endorsing the desires of a ruling class. Roles are skewed, inverted, and collapsed through the translation into another reality, much like Rita/Camilla Rhodes in Mulholland Drive. Reinforcing the commonality of female roles in one dimension retracts the problem of the element of ruling class masculinity—in this case, the stock-market investment personnel. However, we must emphasize that these realities are mediated through their relation to identity politics. Sarah Palin is incapable of simply suggesting that we should support the bailout plan because she says so; instead, she is telling us that we can equate our class-based and feminist concerns through her embodiment of those ideals. It doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin isn’t even equitable to these elements—her views are largely anti-feminist, actually. With the careful manipulation of signified, affiliated gestures and appearances, Palin captures these ambivalent attitudes towards the bailout plan. Therefore, feminism hides behind virtuality in this campaign; it is unable to be realized because it is simply part of the populist instrument to garner political and ideological support. 90 Amendment

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With the concurrent ability to be both agent and victim, Sarah Palin reemphasizes the Möbius strip quality of Mulholland Drive. Her ostensible lack in one respect is the very device for exerting force in another. This doubling is portalic—it is reducible only to its inverse relation in another world. In order to retrieve agency in one world, Camilla Rhodes/Rita must ensure that reality has another person to assume the inverse translation. In Mulholland Drive, this person is Camilla’s ex-lover, Diane—a pathetic, unsuccessful actress who is obsessed with Camilla. In order for Camilla to be deprived of agency, the blonde Diane must be converted to an actress rife with it and vice-versa. Accordingly, in order for Sarah Palin to be emphatically supported by one group, she must be intensely despised by another. Part of this ability for dual occurrences is inherent in the dichotomy of American politics, but it’s also, and more importantly, the result of Sarah Palin being tapped for her performative function—her ability to galvanize a particular group. The actress always needs an audience. Works Cited [1] Timothy Noah. “Why success is foreordained for the vice-presidential nominee’s convention speech.” Slate Magazine. 3 Sept 2008. <http://www.slate.com/ id/2199322/>. [2] Jean Baudrillard. Simulation and Simulacra. The University of Michigan, 1994: p. 17-18. [3] Steve Shaviro. “An Issue That Won’t Go Away.” Pinnochio Theory. 13 Sept 2008. <http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=669>. [4] Richard Grusin. “Virtually Sarah Palin.” Premediation. 12 Sept 2008. <http:// premediation.blogspot.com/2008/09/virtually-sarah-palin.html>. [5] Jacques-Alain Miller. “Sarah Palin: Operation Castration.” Lacan dot com. <http:// www.lacan.com/jampalin.html>.

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[6] J.G. Ballard. “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan.” The Atrocity Exhibition. Re/ Search Publications, 1990. [7]  Frederic Jameson. “Dog Day Afternoon as a Political Film.” Signatures of the Visible. Routledge, 1992: p. 34.

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E Pluribus Unum and Then Some Celina Williams It was late, and I was up past my bedtime. We’d watched the movies and played the games, but we weren’t tired so we turned to conversation. Not overheard, not eavesdropped, but spoken to me: Adult talk—things I shouldn’t hear yet? Perhaps, but my parents think, “We learned too late” and “She’s mature for her age.” And so against all reason, they speak of all the drugs they tried, all the schemes they pulled, and all the battles they lost. E pluribus unum and why that never included them or me. Reagan and policies that pumped drugs into dark streets. Their laughter when drugs found the way to Suburbia. They ask me about school, what I learned of MLK Jr. and Malcolm X and Black Panthers. They smile at my textbook inaccuracies. My dad admits the autobiography of Malcolm X is the only book he’s read from start to finish. They talk about the possibility of another Jr. or X and how if he actually posed a threat… the dirt they couldn’t sling, the dirt that wouldn’t stick, would fill his grave.

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They speak until there is nothing but sun and silence. My mother smiles and says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want breakfast before bed.â&#x20AC;? We sit around the table and think of the night. Hiding a yawn, I wonder if scrambled eggs will ever taste this good again. And years later when change becomes an echo on a million lips, I will only sing, I want to believe. I want to believe. I want to believe.

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Agana Na Quay Do Anonymous I sing words that do not exist In a language that is not real Belonging to a people not of our world I sing in tongues though I have no religion I sing the world entire I sing my being sacred Agana na quay do Nashana do sumi sta Ogania gania kee sta day... I sing these words secret because my soul cannot be defined by an earthly language I sing my words secret to keep myself alive

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Peace you’d die for Danielle Shutt Maybe you’re right, heaven will be a hurricane that moves at your command. Young monuments fall from obelisk to granite curds. Love notes form huddles of pulp. This is an american storm: the night vision green, the breath you hear— not knowing if it’s heaven’s or from the bodies starched in fear-sweat along the shore. A storm to take out every asshole who ever double-bagged a loaf of bread or told you this won’t hurt.

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A Note on a F.A.Q. If you picked up this journal on a whim because it’s free and it caught your eye at one of the many locations we distribute on campus, you probably asked yourself “What is Amendment?” Maybe you’ve read the copyright, the mission, the intro and the content and have it figured out. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re looking to submit your work to or join the editorial staff of Amendment or our sister publication Poictesme, and you don’t quite get the difference. Both of these student-run publications have a variety of art and writings. At first glance, the difference between our journals and the necessity of having two art and literary journals may not be so clear and may even seem redundant. That’s when people look at me and say, “Tell me about this journal.” They want me to sell it to them even though our offering is free, but I just want to say, “Read it.” The easy and often repeated answer is that we are a journal and organization dedicated to providing a forum for students, faculty, alumni, and the Richmond community to discuss issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and identity through art, creative writing and critical essays. That response is a mouthful and difficult to repeat twenty times back to back at the student organization fairs, and it doesn’t provide an answer to the people who have read the journal already and still don’t quite get it, but it’s the only response I can give without doing what I am about to do, which is launch into metaphor and poetic waxing. These people are often asking for more than the “what.” They are asking about why it’s relevant to discuss these issues and how the content of the journal relates to the mission, and furthermore, how the pieces in the journal connect to each other. They are expecting some kind of cohesion and pre-planned fluidity. Considering the political climate of the world, the approaching 200th anniversary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the U.S., and that we have elected the first African American President of the United States 98 Amendment

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of America, I hope that our readers will not wonder at the relevance of a journal with globally, socially, and politically aware content. And while the submissions may not always blend together and transition into an overarching and obvious theme, there is a connection that may not be apparent when looking at just the text, just the image on the page. These poems, these paintings, these call-to-actions, these photographs document a struggle to understand and come to terms with the issues that we all grapple with and, hopefully, overcome. One piece may show the struggle with an abstract idea and the physical manifestation of it, while another piece may come from an artist who has conquered a problem and is calling to her fellow travelers, “Try this path.” This journal contains maps of trails that twist and bend down dark paths, and yet even the darkest paths hold a promise of light. This journal is an archive, and when you study it, you will see what many individuals struggled to understand in themselves and the world this year. If you look at multiple years of this journal, maybe you’ll see that the issues we have wrestled with haven’t changed that much at all. And yet we continue to record our battles in art and in writing and share our journey, and, perhaps, there is a kind of hope in that. Thank you for reading Amendment.

Celina Williams editor-in-chief 2007-2008

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Contributors Anonymous is a third-year VCU student majoring in English. She is a Richmond native as well as an American native, but the term “native” aggravates her, so just call her an Indian, for God’s sake. Dispense with the PC. She doesn’t have the patience for it. Laura Ashworth lives in Richmond, Virginia with her imaginary cat Stephen Primes. She is a graduate of VCU. She says the word “energy” too much. Her favorite color is Turquoise. Patricia Arans is a graduating English major at VCU. She is not sure what her next step will be after graduation, but she is open to the possibilities. Heather Marie Cohu is a twenty-year-old junior majoring in English and International Studies at VCU. When she isn’t busy with classes, she enjoys editing for Amendment and Poictesme, writing short fiction and poetry, reading the likes of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, traveling, and drinking wine--lots and lots of wine. Jeremy Clemmons was born in Richmond, lived in Texas, had a brief stint in Kentucky and France in between, and now resides, again, in Richmond. He is undeclared, unfortunately; his ambivalence as much the product of laziness as it is sleep deprivation. He is obsessed with “ethnographers of time”—Chris Marker, Marcel Proust, Alain Resnis—and believes that precious things such as the Olduvai theory and Sagan/Schneider models are way, way, way more important than this election. 100 Amendment

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Jade Conner, a 2008 VCU graduate with a B.A. in Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Studies, currently works at the YWCA Richmond as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocate and Hotline Specialist. She hopes to open her own domestic violence shelter accompanied with a transitional housing program. She is currently working on receiving certification as a paramedic. An avid reader and writer, Jade is also writing a memoir of her own struggle with abuse and mental illness. Shauna Fecher was born and raised for the first ten years of her life in New Jersey. She currently resides in the museum district of Richmond. She enjoys music, reading, writing, activism, feminism, Lost and Arrested Development. She is a Women Studies major who hopes to be able to afford grad school. Maya Goldweber is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Her work focuses on the human condition, body image, gender roles and communication. You can find more of her work at the following websites: www.mayagoldweber.com, www.merzbau7.etsy.com Neal Gwaltneyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work focuses on his interpretations of what he observes on a daily basis. Neal is curious about the decisions people make, his self included, when it comes to appearance. He is influenced by pop culture and media images, and he uses a variety of mediums and a variety of methods when working, depending on his ideas. He is in constant dialog with his surroundings, and he tries to translate this dialogue into his work. Laura Kerfoot is a senior in the VCU English Department. This means Laura has probably now gone insane. Amendment 101

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Daniel Michaud grew up in the tri-cities area and experienced a series of unfruitful jobs before he decided to move to Richmond to attend college and to improve his outlook. In 2005, he earned an AS in Business Administration and transferred to VCU where he had planned on majoring in Information Systems. However, after trying several other majors, he realized that his passion was in writing and reading and that he had unwittingly enjoyed the study of English his whole life. He is currently a senior studying toward a BA in English, while working for the Department of Taxation.   Cassie Mulheron is a junior double majoring in Photography and Women’s Studies. Identity ties all of her work together circling race, gender, and sexuality. Photography helps her tackle issues and release feelings she would otherwise bottle up. She hopes that by releasing some of her own feelings that she can speak to others like her. Olivia Ngadjui is a second-year Biology major with a Pre-Med Concentration. Incredibly humble when it comes to her writing, she just likes to write. Danielle Shutt graduated from VCU in May with degrees in English and Women’s Studies/Psychology. In her spare time, she lives. Shayne Thomas recently graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.A. in Women’s Studies. She works for the Women’s Studies department as a program assistant and is an intern at the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood. She really likes talking about/creating ideas and projects. Right now she is really into caffeine, cooking with pumpkins, StoryCorps, listening to This American Life, and the idea of camping.

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Shola Walker is a junior at VCU, where she began as an English major but changed to African American Studies to suit her personality better. She is a professional actress, a “licensed practitioner of faith,” and a part-time writer. Her endeavors in life include being an inspiration for healing the wounds of the African American experience through faith and the arts. She would like to be remembered for the people she inspired not saved, for maintaining her child-like wonder, the good food she cooked, and graduating before her children were born! Celina Williams is a recent graduate from VCU with degrees in English and Women’s Studies. When she isn’t wishing that vampires were real and that she possessed magical powers, she is an editor for Amendment, a graduate student, a future librarian/activist/zinester, and the envy of all the fanboys who wished they worked with the comic books in Special Collections & Archives. Eva Wilson received her BFA in painting and printmaking from VCU and currently lives in Philadelphia where she is working toward an MFA in painting. Currently Eva is tackling the boundaries of what “painting” can be other then what it is traditionally considered. By re-contextualizing the medium of paint into new environments/configurations, the paints identity becomes compromised thus opening up a raw potential of identity and exploration. Shawn Yu is a recent graduate of VCU’s communication arts program. He is currently living in Richmond, illustrating and selling coffee at Barnes & Noble. More of his work can be found at www.whaleboyart.com and Whaleboyart.blogspot.com.

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Enrollm resource recogniz to socia Common WVCU,

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The Student Media Center, part of the Student Affairs and Enrollment Services division at Virginia Commonwealth University, is a resource center for recognized independent student media at VCU. Current recognized student media include Poictesme; Amendment, another literary journal; The Commonwealth Times newspaper; Ink, a quarterly magazine; and WVCW radio. For more information, contact VCU Student Media Center, 817 W. Broad St., (804) 828-1058. Mailing address: P.O. Box 842010, Richmond, VA 23284-2010. E-mail: goweatherfor@vcu.edu

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Amendment 2008  

the 2008 edition of VCU's socially progressive literature and art journal

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