Vol. 14, Issue 1
the election issue 1
Horace Mann Schoolâ€™s publication for gender issues
letter from the editors
This issue features the artwork of:
Eliza Dunne ‘13 Greg Swong ‘13 Ariane Busse-Lee ‘13 Jillian Eisenberg ‘13 Gabriela Novogratz ‘13 Jessica Gartenstein ‘13
volume 14, issue 1
Editors-In-Chief Vivianna Lin Deborah Leffell
It stands for something real. A great fact of the world, To you it should appeal.
is the name.
is the percent of the population
Women represent. So that is why we called it folio51 For the women of the world, We will unite as one.
Table of Contents
Managing Editor Kiki Heintz
Copy Editor Halle Liebman
Layout Editors Edie Comas Brenda Zhou Justine Potemkin Shinil Kim
A Helping Hand: Sanctuary for Families, Tyler Bluel Dorothy Fosdick: A Pioneer, Grace Ackerman A Look Ahead at the Women’s Issues Club and Folio 51, Jessica Rile
Simone Aisiks Isabella Brodie Amanda Zhou Edie Comas Riya Satara
Jessica Gartenstein Greg Swong
Vol. 14, Issue 1
front cover by Jessy Gartenstein back cover by Eliza Dunne
Letter from theEditors Hello valued readers, In your hands is the very first issue of Folio 51 Volume XIV. Folio 51 is a very special magazine, focused on igniting discussion about gender issues and raising awareness about gender disparities. We cover topics in science, pop culture, politics and much more. The issue you are holding is particularly special: we have decided that each issue this year will contain a feature section, replacing a section in the magazine. Among these glossy pages you will find a feature section all about the presidential election! We have explored the gender issues implicated in the election and the ways that women are involved and affected. Thank you so much for taking the time to read our beloved publication. If you are interested in writing or contributing art to Folio 51 please feel free to contact one of us. Enjoy the issue! Vivianna Lin and Deborah Leffell Editors-in-Chief 2
Miranda Jacoby ‘13 Max Futterman ‘14 Edie Comas ‘14 Bertrand Shao ‘14 Haley Marber ‘13 Kylie Logan ‘14
table of contents
4 5 6
Vogue Italia Photoshops a Cover Girl, Nicole Fortune Myanmar’s First Female Minister, Claire Hayes Female Athletes Prove Themselves in London, Libby Smilovici Reproductive Rights: An Interview with Kiki Heintz, Morgan Raum
8 9 10 11
Female Leadership on the Horizon in the EU, Grace Ackerman Politics: A New Source of Strength for Women Around the Globe, Kylie Logan The History of Women’s Rights, Justine Potemkin Michelle Obama 2012, Natasha Moolji Are Women More Likely to Vote Democratic or Republican? Sarah Hirade
12 14 16 18 19
Rhythmic Gymnastics: Feminine or Simply Graceful? Ikaasa Suri Dance Moms, Sophie Dizengoff Unraveling the Mystery of Middle Eastern Women, Isabella Brodie The Gender Gap in Comedy, Valerie Bodurtha
20 22 23 24
Arts & Leisure
Science & Health
An Objective Look at Ovarian Cancer, Lauren Futter Women’s Health Issues in the Upcoming Election, Halle Liebman Skincare Products Verge on Breaking FDA Laws, Frances Kronenberg The Spirit Caught Her and She Fell Down, Jane Thier
26 27 28 29
Dorothy Fosdick: A Pioneer Grace Ackerman
A Helping Hand : Sanctuary for Families Tyler Bleuel
anctuary for Families is the leading nonprofit agency in New York State dedicated exclusively to serving domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children. Because the women and children at Sanctuary are protected from their abusers, they are frequently confined to the shelter. Therefore, Horace Mann students take monthly field trips to engage in fun activities such as making arts and crafts project, helping the kids take a break from their daily routines. Last November, we assembled turkeys out of pinecones, foam, and feathers for Thanksgiving. A group of Horace Mann students led by Mrs. Woods arrived at school in the morning and drove to the shelter. I was unsure of what to expect – how the kids would behave, how the facilities would be, and if the families would be welcoming towards us. We were told to be careful not to get too physically close, for that might trigger bad memories
for the children. I ended up having a great experience working with the children who were eager to play with us. When we go to Sanctuary, the kids are always ecstatic to see us, not because they are looking forward to an art project du jour, but because they get an opportunity to socialize with people closer to their age. The project becomes a means for interaction, a conversation starter. Spending time with the kids and knowing that something so simple could make them so happy is always rewarding. Even the mothers enjoyed talking to us and making turkeys! On the final trip of the last school year to the Sanctuary with the Women’s Issues Club, we decorated flowerpots and planted flowers. I hope that people reading this will join us this year and see how the flowers have grown.
Dorothy Fosdick and staff members with Senator Henry M. Jackson meeting with a military official, November 13, 1972
orothy Fosdick, a late Horace Mann alumna, was an American foreign affairs officer who had an extremely significant role in our nation’s politics. Since World War II, she had been involved with multiple politicians, national foreign policy and debate. Fosdick played an important part in shaping the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, and NATO in the 1940’s. Throughout her career, Fosdick worked with Adlai E. Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential campaign and was the chief foreign and defense policy adviser to Senator Henry M. Jackson from 1955 until his death in 1983. After attending Horace Mann, Fosdick, who lived in Montclair, NJ, attended Smith College and later acquired a doctorate in public law from Columbia University. After her education, she taught sociology and political theory. As the years passed, Fosdick admired and took as a mentor her neighbor and family friend, Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian who believed that evil is a tangible world force that must be withstood and dealt with. This doctrine ultimately guided Fosdick to her successes in her career. Nothing impeded Fosdick from advocating her beliefs. She always had strong opinions against the Soviet Union. Because she was such a powerful supporter of military strength, it was hard for people to believe that she was the daughter of a pacifist pastor, Rev. Dr. Harry
Emerson Fosdick. Fosdick worked diligently for the betterment of her country. When the United States was planning for the postwar world, she was present to offer aid. The State Department’s Division of Special Research recruited Fosdick to plan a postwar international organization. The HM alumna helped organize the Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco conferences, which laid the foundation for the United Nations, and served on the delegations for both. Furthermore, she attended multiple early sessions of the United Nations. In 1948, at the age of 34, Fosdick became the only female on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. This was an elite think tank of nine influential and intellectual planners who worked for George Kennan and later Paul Nitze. They helped shape what would become the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This was a huge accomplishment for a woman during a period not long after the Women’s Rights Movement. Dorothy Fosdick lived an influential and fulfilling life until the age of 83 in 1997. Though the world lost a great soul and a revolutionary female, her impact inspired many. Her sister, Elinor Downs, says, ‘’She had no personal ambition. She only wanted to save the world.’’
A Look Ahead at the Past Women’s Issues Club Dinner
Women’s Issues Club and Folio 51
he Women’s Issues Club is an organization that works to raise awareness for gender issues around the world and to help our local community. Along with holding meetings to discuss current gender issues, having guest speakers talk to the group, taking field trips, and offering support to the local community, the Women’s Issues Club hosts many events throughout the school year, most prominently including an annual Women’s Issues Dinner. Ms. Woods, a co-advisor of the Women’s Issues Club, claimed that the annual dinner is “our biggest event.” Halle Liebman, in her second year as co-president of the Women’s Issues Club, added, “Our themed dinner in April features a great panel of about five speakers and is open to all students, faculty, parents, and alumni. The proceeds of this dinner are donated to a charity for breast cancer.” The Women’s Issues dinner is a fun and educational event for the entire Horace Mann community to enjoy. This year’s theme will be Women Around the Globe, to take place on April 3 of next year. The Women’s Issues Club also has the opportunity to help the community by volunteering its time to others off-campus on multiple field trips. According to Liebman, “WIC goes to Sanctuary for Families, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, once a month with a group of about five to six volunteers, to play and interact with both the kids and their mothers. We bring lots of fun, themed arts and crafts projects and baking projects. We love having both male and female student volunteers. It’s great to
show the children great male role models that are often lacking from their lives.” At the same time, many members of the Women’s Issues Club are involved in publishing Folio 51, a magazine that discusses local, national, and global gender roles. Folio 51 has won many awards and according to Ms. Woods, “It is a great outlet for our students’ ideas, creativity, and energy.” Liebman adds that Folio 51 features many interviews with alumnae and people outside of school whose stories are related and interesting to the Women’s Issues Club and the Horace Mann community. The Women’s Issues Club and Folio are looking into new topics and events for the year to come. Liebman says, “We’re hoping to finally host a self-defense class this year. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a couple of years, and hopefully it will come to fruition in the next few months.” The Women’s Issues Club and Folio editors are, as always, looking forward to acquiring new members this year. Ms. Woods says, “New members are new ideas, and that’s great! I love that freshmen come in and open our minds to possibilities we hadn’t thought about before. For example, one year a freshman said that we should go to Sanctuary, and now we go once a month to work with the toddlers.” As the year progresses, the Women’s Issues Club and Folio 51 will address any interesting and thought provoking topics regarding gender issues in our community as well as around the country and the world.
Myanmar’s First Female Myanmar Appoints First Female Minister
Photoshops a Covergirl Nicole Fortune
ogue Italia is one of the most influential international fashion magazines there is today. For a magazine of this standard and importance most people would expect high quality and authentic pictures. However, the cover of the 2011 Italian Vogue September issue does not quite meet this standard. The cover features Stella Tennant, a 40-year-old supermodel, wearing an elegant and stylish black gown. The only problem with this picture is that her already-tiny waist was Photoshopped into a thirteen-inch waist. This unnatural photo of the human body easily attracted the attention of many
people, especially during the Italian fashion week when this issue of the magazine was published. Some may say that Vogue Italia did this just to be unique and eye catching, but the message that they are putting across is not a good one. Not only does this cover display an unbelievable representation of the model’s body, but it also impacts the way women everywhere view their bodies in comparison to high-fashion models. The fashion industry has a lot of responsibility when it comes to how they represent their models and how the models appear to the average person. Many young girls look up to fashion models and even idolize them. When teenagers and women see images like this one of a dangerously and unrealistically skinny model, they believe that they need to look this way in order to be accepted by society and think they must have impossibly thin waists to be considered attractive. Young women may even develop cases of harmful disorders such as anorexia or bulimia in order to lose weight and be skinny like the models that appear in magazines and advertisements. The fashion industry can’t take all the blame for women developing these disorders, but studies have shown that there is a strong connection between the two. This misleading cover photo demonstrates how easy it is to make something or someone look incredibly different with a few simple clicks of a mouse. Many fashion brands and department stores also feature models that don’t exactly have the most typical body type. These brands and stores often prefer to use women that are very thin rather than muscular, full figured women. Whether or not the final published pictures are what the models actually look like is very hard to tell. There are many cases of Photoshopped pictures being published, no matter if the change be small and hard to notice or big and dramatic like the one on the cover of Vogue Italia. In our current generation, the public is still being exposed to plenty of false advertising, which can have a strong impact on our society.
or over half a century, the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar – formerly Burma – has usually been in the news for its record of crushing human rights. Recently, however, Myanmar made headlines across the world for appointing its first woman to a Cabinet position in over sixty years. As reported in his official website, President Thein Sein officially announced that Myat Myat Ohn Khin has been named Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. In fact, the President made changes to nine of 33 Cabinet positions – the biggest cabinet reshuffle since taking power in March last year -- and a move to help him consolidate his power and continue the country’s evolution towards a full democratic government. A doctor by training, Myat Myat Ohn Khin’s responsibilities will range from Child Welfare Services Rehabilitation of Vagrants to Rehabilitation of Ex-drug Addicts. She was the formerly the deputy Minister of Health. Even though Dr. Ohn Khin is the only woman Minister in the President’s Cabinet, four other women were named into deputy ministerial positions –another important sign that the President is serious about including women in key positions to help drive change in Myanmar.
Female Athletes Prove Themselves in London
very four years, the world is graced with the Olympics, an international sporting event rooted in over 2900 years of history. The games spark a nationalistic pride throughout the world, and for the first time in its history, the Olympics had female representatives from every participating country at the London 2012 games. Not only were there female representatives from every nation, but also, 44 percent of athletes were women, setting a new record for female representation in the games. It seems befitting that from the same culture in which democracy was created, the games now fully represent both genders. Another historic achievement in the games is that for the first time, women were competing in all the same sporting events as men. Boxing was the only event in which women were not participating before the London games, but for the first time, the opportunity was presented for international female boxers. Women’s boxing also racked up a gold medal for the U.S., won by 17 year old Clarissa Shields. Not only was Clarissa’s medal a great success, but also for the first time on the U.S. Olympic team, women had received more medals than men. However, the American team was not the only team to have benefactors in these Olympics. Dalma Rushdi Malhas and Wojdan Shaherkani of Saudi Arabian were the first female athletes to participate in the games for their country since the law, which had forbidden Saudi Arabian women to compete in the games, was repealed. One of the two athletes, Malhas, won an Equestrian bronze medal. Women’s representation and victories during the games served as inspiration for female athletes around the world. This goal of entering the Olympics is now more accessible than it has ever been in the history of the games. It took almost 3000 years, but the games have reached gender parity, and have leveled out the playing field for all athletes in years to come. This great success for the female athletic community did not come without criticism. Some believed that the games portrayed women as more masculine, but this did not change the mindset of the athletes. Although this Olympics was one of an outstanding female turnout, female athletes still have many hurdles to overcome. During the opening ceremony, Saudi Arabia’s first female athletes did not walk amongst their male competitors,
Libby Smilovici but behind them. Assimilation between male and female competitors, especially with Middle Eastern athletes, is still a work in progress. Also, Japan’s female soccer team sat in coach during their flight to the games, while the male team sat in first class. Despite this discrimination against female soccer players, many from different countries around the world were given much praise during the games. Sport’s commentators asserted their disbelief surrounding how well the women had played. Even though these games had some minor drawbacks for the women participating, the cons did not take away from their experience, performance, and overall legacy. With every medal won by women in the games, the world has gotten one step closer to viewing women as equal in all sporting events. The London 2012 Olympic games have showcased that with dedication, any athlete, despite his or her gender, can become an Olympic champion.
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS An Interview with, Kiki Heintz ‘13
ecently, issues regarding reproductive rights have come into the spotlight, for the Democratic and Republican leading candidates of the November 2012 Presidential elections have conflicting views on the subject. President Barack Obama is pro-choice and believes women should have the right to decide whether or not they want an abortion. Governor Romney is pro-life and very against abortion. Chiara [Kiki] Heintz ‘13 is on Obama’s side concerning the topic of reproductive rights. She states “…it is still our generation’s responsibility to maintain the rights that our predecessors have won for us, particularly in the field of reproductive health.” Today it seems women are at risk on the matter of reproductive health and Kiki hopes her work will raise awareness about this problem. Kiki believes that societal and cultural systems influence women’s healthcare, along with the availability of birth control, emergency contraception, abortion, and sex-ed that isn’t abstinence-only. Studies have shown that in countries, like Canada, where contraception is readily available and abortion is legal, abortion rates are much lower. Countries where abortion is completely illegal, like Africa, have the highest abortion rates.
All across the United States, women are uninformed about reproductive rights and are tricked into thinking they have no say when they are actually entitled to making decisions about their own body. In many countries around the world women actually don’t have a say, so whenever a country has women’s reproductive rights, it should be made well known. Schools that teach abstinence-only sex-ed make up 40% of public school health classes in America. Without proper education on the subject, students don’t know how to prevent STDs and pregnancy, aren’t taught about protection and how to use it, and don’t know what to do in emergency situations. Though the internet and libraries are stocked full of reproductive healthcare knowledge and women’s rights on the matter, many students are not aware of the many dangers and don’t care to look up any information. Every day laws change and books become obsolete. But Kiki knows that reproductive rights should not change and that women need the ability to be granted a safe abortion. Sometimes it isn’t possible at the time to give birth to or raise a child and Kiki believes pro-choice is the right path for our country.
Female Leadership on the Horizon in the EU Grace Ackerman
ometimes, we have to pick reality over morality. The EU has recently passed a law saying that by 2020, at least 40% of board members on publicly listed companies must be female, but Malta has opposed that law. Currently, women hold only about 3% of the representation on the nineteen largest company boards. Specifically, Bank of Valletta (BOV), one of the largest companies in Malta, has 25% of its shares retained by the government. BOV currently has no women on a nineman board. In the public sector of businesses, though, women already hold around 40% of the leadership positions. The private sector is a whole other story. According to the European Union (EU) Labor Force Survey, 4,000 men hold leadership positions in small businesses compared to 1,000 females–a mere 25%. Yet somehow, 60% of all college graduates in Malta are female while they have the lowest female participation in the labor market of all the EU. Only 34% of the entire workforce in Malta is composed of women. In politics, women represent only 8% in the higher level, 28% in the lower, and only 6 women have been elected to the House of Representatives. With all of this low female representation in the workforce of Malta, one might believe that there is a lot of gender discrimination in Malta’s economic and political leadership roles. These low percentages are why the EU has taken action.
The justice minister Chris Said believes that it is too short a time and too much trouble to apply this law by 2020, though he does believe that women should have more leadership in companies. He says that Malta believes it should be recognized that women have more power in business than men do in Malta. However, such a quick solution, like the one proposed by the EU, is not the most effective way to implement gender equality.
Even more recently, England has also decided to oppose this law. After assembling a block minority of eight countries, they all wrote to Viviane Reding, the justice rights commissioner of the EU, and José Manuel Barroso, the commission president. In this letter, they strongly criticized the EU’s plans. England stated that, like Malta, it were not against the plans, but it thought it should be up to the national government of each country to make the decision to put more women on company boards, rather than a group of people deciding for all of Europe. This backlash has forced Reding and the rest of the commission to revisit their ideas and reform them so that the European parliament will agree. Once they have the support of the European parliament, Reding believes that they will be able to challenge the opposing governments and force them to back down. Once reasonable means are drawn for the law, women will have the power in leadership that they deserve without forcing these countries to do something that is completely unreasonable to their economic structure. The real question here is, is it really possible to be idealistic in a situation like this? Of course it isn’t right that female representation is so apparently low in leadership, but that is just the way things are now in the aforementioned countries. Look at the United States–we have never had one female president or vice president. Despite that, should our country be forced to elect a female president
because there haven’t been any in the past? Or should Americans be able to choose who they want as its leaders? It’s the same thing here–companies should be able to nominate their leaders based on skills, not genders. Said believes that there shouldn’t be any discrimination based on gender, but realistically, the EU can’t force women into leadership positions.
A New Source of Strength for Women Around the Globe Kylie Logan
or hundreds of years, women throughout the world have devoted their entire lives to unveiling the strength of women that so many have failed to recognize. From the dawn of time there have been gender stereo-types that we know of and that are integrated in our society. Even in households in which the father cooks and cleans, while the mother works long hours, the family is usually aware that their situation is quite unusual. Luckily, society has begun to question these stereotypes. This questioning, though, often turns into more of a gender battle rather than a rethinking of our society’s morals. This predicament occurs because these stereotypes are too restricting. It isn’t the fact that they are
considered loving caretakers that angers women, for this isn’t an insult; what angers them is when they are not thought of as anything else. The stereotypes are limiting to both genders, catalyzing the desire of women to break free. One manifestation of this desire was the formation of the Women in the World Foundation in 2010, led by Kim K. Azzarelli. The foundation was developed to organize events for women to discuss solutions for female gender issues and to take action. Gender stereotypes have a significant effect on everyone. Women’s organizations are frequently judged as melodramatic and are criticized by the media. A common viewpoint is that women taking part in these orgaallegroshops.com
nizations are against men out of jealousy. The reality is that one gender will put down the other for no justifiable reason. Although both men and women experience gender issues, they face different problems. For instance, the fashion industry has a feminine mark on it, which may hinder some men from succeeding in it. In fact, creative occupations in the fashion or even the culinary industry are often considered “feminine,” an undeniable frustration to men. Women, on the other hand, experience boundaries in different areas. This is where the issue comes in – because men have the stereotype of being powerful leaders and financial supporters, these titles are automatically restricted from women. It is seen as more difficult for women to attain a high role in society, and because of this restriction, it is almost as if they are considered “below” men. Although everyone does not believe this idea, society had once thought it true. If men were always in high leadership positions, it would naturally be difficult for women to enter their territory. Nevertheless, the fact that women aren’t as involved in high power roles as men turns into more of a moral issue rather than a gender issue. Many people want to lead a company, represent their state in the House of Representatives, or even become President of their country. Luckily, in this country, not one of these occupations is unavailable to a woman, but at the same time, the difference of women to men in these jobs is clearly unbalanced. For example, only 17% of the United States Senate consists of women. It is a challenge for the female population of the U.S., especially in politics. Of course, Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of U.N. Women, reminds us that in other countries, there are cases where, “Women do not have citizen’s rights. Women do not have land’s rights. Women should not be seen alone with a man in the street. You see women who are thrown acid in the face because they don’t accept a marriage proposal or are killed because they don’t give birth to a boy.” Female gender issues take on an extremely heavy moral undertone. That may be the reason why political involvement is the new hope for women across the globe. Politics employs the least amount of women, yet the most recognized and acknowledged for their leadership, strength, and intelligence are the women, exactly what had been lacking in their all too well known stereotype. On the FORBES “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list of 2012, the top three women are politicians. The list begins with Angela Merkel, the leader of the European Union who is fighting for the well-being of the economies of the nations of the EU and for the continued circulation of the Euro; second is Hilary Clinton, our U.S. Secretary of State, and third is Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil. Bach-
elet of the U.N. Women has said, “The biggest challenges everywhere are political participation and economic empowerment – and ending violence against women.” She mentioned the fact that women who do attain honorable positions have “sexist jokes and comments” thrown at them, because essentially, their leadership is just not as normal as men’s in society. Despite this hardship and the lack of women in politics, these women receive an abundant amount of attention and admiration for their good works not as a woman, but as a politician. The best way to strengthen the image of women is to become more involved in the area in which they are lacking the most. – The scariest, most intense, and most, well, male; politics is ironically where women have found their strength. Women are gradually exhibiting that their skill and drive can match the superiority of any male. Politics is a fine place for women to be noticed as well. As it is essentially the art of leading a nation, their rise to any position will be quite public. Most women would want to see their gender finally rising to full potential, and even most men would second the notion. It is a slowly moving process at the same time; there are still both men and women in the world who don’t believe women have the strength to help lead a nation. The only way to show the errors of this statement is to prove it wrong. This year, a record number of 294 women applied to be a part of the U.S. House of Representatives; women’s activity in politics is increasing. Although “the U.S. House of Representative remains far from representative,” says Mary Hughes, the founder of The 2012 Project, which was created to help increase the number of women in the U.S. House, the female gender issues are undoubtedly weakening. In fact, most women in politics today are a part of new nations on the rise, helping them develop and become internationally involved, much like their own movement of women’s rights to leadership and participation in the world. If women can show their ability by leading a project like Mary Hughes, or by representing a state in the U.S. House, they can prove their equal capability to men and eliminate their own limits. As said before, no one can take the blame for these social stereotypes, but women most certainly will regret if they don’t prove themselves otherwise. By becoming involved with politics and powerful new ideas, women can show that they can rule a nation, let alone make a difference.
The History of Women’s Rights Justine Potemkin
features 1916: First American Birch-Control Clinic Opened Margaret Sanger, a birth control activist and sex educator, opened a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, which promoted the distribution of diaphragms. Nine days later, Sanger was arrested for distributing contraceptives. However, in 1918, Judge Frederick E. crane issued a ruling, which allowed doctors to prescribe contraception. In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL), which catered to middle class women. In 1929, Sanger formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, which existed to combat restrictions on contraceptive usage. In 1946, Sanger helped to form the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
1955: Daughter of Bilitis Formed
1848: Seneca Falls Convention The Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, New York is often cited as the beginning of the American women’s rights movement. This convention was organized by women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. The conference lasted two days and included lectures and discussions about the role of women in society. Stanton shared the Declaration of Sentiments, a document modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which called for women’s rights in religion, and politics among other areas. The document received signatures from 68 women and 32 men.
1850: First National Women’s Rights Convention The National Women’s Rights Convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts. The topics discussed included equal wages, education for women, property rights, and marriage reform; however, the central issue was the right to vote. Both men and women spoke at the convention. In response to the Seneca Falls Convention, Paulina Kellog Wright Davis, Lucy Stone, and
a number of other men and women organized the conference.
1869: Creation of National Woman Suffrage Association Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman SuffrageAssociation (NWSA) to oppose the Fifteenth Amendment, which refused women the right to vote. In 1890, the association merged with the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). After the Civil War, the issue of woman suffrage reemerged. Anthony and Stanton opposed the decision of Republican lawmakers to address the rights of African Americans and hold off the issue of women. This association granted full membership to women only. In 1920 Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed into law the 19th Amendment to the Constitutions, granting women the right to vote.
The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the US. It served as a source of education for both lesbian women and gay men. Their focus was to support women who were scared to come out. The DOB focused on educating the public on the rights and history of gay men and women. Additionally, the DOB served as a replacement for lesbian bars where women could talk and dance, which often were subject to raids. The association was constantly a target of police harassment. They educated women about other lesbians and strove to increase the self-esteem many lesbian lacked as a result of their society’s views on homosexuality.
1964: Employment Discrimination Prohibited
1966: NOW Founded The National Organization for Women (NOW) is a feminist organization that was formed when the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women found reports of discrimination against women. Prominent founders included Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, and Rev. Pauli Murray. In 1968, NOW issued a Bill of Rights which advocated for equal job training for men and women, maternity leave rights, equal Social Security benefits, and child day care centers among many other things. It employed legislative public demonstrations, litigation, and lobbying.
2000 to Today: In 2005, in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that Title IX inherently prohibits disciplining someone who complains about sex-based discrimination. Additionally, it also states that this is the case when the individual who complains is not the one being discriminated against. In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on an abortion procedure known as the “partial-birth” procedure. This Supreme Couty decision was met which much opposition. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which allows individuals who are victims of pay discrimination to report the discrimination up to 180 days after their first unfair paycheck. The issue of abortion remains a major political discussion topic and was a theme at both the democratic and republican national conventions in 2012.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created to enforce Title VII. In the 1970s, sexual harassment in the workplace was also prohibited by the Act. Soon afterwards, the EEOC ruled that employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or transgender status was prohibited. http://aauwnational.files.wordpress.com/
features Are Women More Likely to Vote
MICHELLE OBAMA 2012
Republican or Democratic? Sarah Hirade
ichelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama’s most distinct physical features are her incredibly toned arms, surely representative of her strength and dedication. During her four years as First Lady, Michelle Obama left the stereotypical image of a passive First Lady in the dust. Mrs. Obama, with her eloquent voice, optimistic attitude and loyalty, is a perfect partner for her husband President Obama. She is the embodiment of a well-educated and driven woman. Past First Ladies championed social causes during their husbands’ presidencies. For example, Nancy Reagan educated American youth about drug abuse and Lady Bird Johnson campaigned to clean up parks and neighborhoods. Eleanor Roosevelt advocated human rights and equality worldwide. Michelle Obama has continued this tradition by starting the“Let’s Move”campaign in order to tackle child obesity. Her campaign provides healthier food for schools and encourages kids to be more physically active all over the country. In order to publicize her cause, Michelle Obama appeared on many popular programs such as Disney Channel and “The Ellen Show.” Along with her “Let’s Move” campaign, she partnered with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden in the “Joining Forces” campaign which helps American veterans find jobs after returning from years of duty. The campaign provides military families and members of the Army with equal opportunities for work and is a step towards President Obama’s goal of hiring 100,000 unemployed veterans and military soldiers by 2013. She hopes that the organizations will support military families, encourage national service, and foster healthy eating and living for children across the country. Her charitable attitude and well-driven motivation began even as a child.
he Presidential Campaign is nearing its end and both candidates are pandering to different demographics. These demographics are different races, religions, sexual orientations, and genders. Many of these groups are crucial for presidential hopefuls. Women, who in 2011 made up 50.8% of the population, are a key demographic that may even help determine the election. Both nominees must work hard to garner the female voters, but will one candidate have an easier time with this task? Women, no matter what their age, are much more likely to align themselves with the Democrats than Republicans. A Gallup poll in May 2009 interviewed nearly 150,000 people. It was determined that 41% of women identified with the Democratic Party while only 32% of men did. However, the gender gap between those who identified with republicans was much smaller. Only 25% of women said they were Republicans and 28% of men said the same. Men were much more likely to be Independents than women (34% of men, but only 26% of women recognized themselves as Independents). Based on these statistics women are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican by a 16% margin. Since 1980, women have given more support to the Democratic candidate; however, the gender gap has never been as large as it is now. In this year’s race, Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama in female voters by a significant margin. Romney’s and other Republicans’ policies on women’s health are alienating female voters. These policies oppose federal
Michelle Obama was born and raised in Chicago, attended public school there and went on to study at Princeton University, and Harvard Law School. Starting from the sixth grade, Michelle Obama has always taken accelerated courses. Her brother Craig said, “She has always been smart, driven, and motivated to do whatever it took to succeed.” Mrs. Obama graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University. At Harvard Law School she worked to include more minority students and teachers in the J.D. program. After attending Harvard, Michelle met Barack Obama while working at a law firm in Chicago. They were introduced through a mutual friend, and after a month they fell in love and got married in 1992. The fashion style of First Ladies has always held the public interest. Michelle Obama has seamlessly become a style icon. With her famously toned arms and trim physique, she commands attention with her sophisticated, chic outfits. She often favors American Designers like Tracy Reese and Narsico Rodriguez. Michelle Obama made Vanity Fair and People magazines’ best dressed lists for two years in a row. She is faced with many impasses daily, yet she always manages to look perfectly put together. During 2007, she cut back on her own professional life in order to support Barack’s presidential campaign. She has continually made appearances through Barack Obama’s term. Michelle is continuing to support her husband and working towards his re-election. Throughout the past year, Michelle Obama has been assiduously delivering speeches to gather support for another presidential term for Barack Obama. Michelle Obama is a strong, inspirational figure. Her dedication to so many causes and her support for her husband compels the American public to fall in love with her.
funding to Title X, Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, which offer a lot to women’s health. Joetta Baker, who participated in a USA Today poll, said that she does not like that the Republicans are trying to “turn the clock back on women’s issues and the gains we made.” Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, says that Mitt Romney’s harsh stance on certain polices regarding women shows that “American women can’t trust Mitt Romney to stand up for them.” Some do not believe that women will identify with the Democrats solely because of women’s health. In March, a Pew Research Center report claimed, “for more than a decade, women have been more likely than men to favor an active role for government.” Democrats support a larger, more active government than Republicans do; therefore, women are more likely to be registered Democrats. Women across the board, regardless of age, race, or location, are significantly more likely to vote for the Democrats. Today’s harsh policies that attack the institutions that protect women’s health are only widening this gap. The “war on women,” the name that some call the dangerous conservative ideas and policies, is widely debated. Some people believe it is a serious issue, while others doubt its existence. It is very clear that if Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans continue to alienate women with their policies, his campaign will have to work much harder in order to win the election.
arts & leisure
Feminine or Simply Graceful? Ikaasa Suri
raceful and poised, rhythmic and elaborate: these are the words used to describe what is today considered the feminine sport of gymnastics. In a male-dominant world of sports and athletics, it is surprising to see an Olympic sport practiced worldwide almost exclusively by women. Is finally finding a space in a primarily single-sex, masculine world of sports an achievement for women? Is it fitting that an elegant sport like gymnastics is reserved for females only? As far back as anyone can trace gender roles, men have performed the more physically difficult tasks. Biologically it makes sense as men are physically more muscular, and for millennia this notion of male-dominance was the founding basis for most civilizations. But as times are changing, so are common social roles of males and females. If it is now okay for a girl to hold the door for a guy, and to pay for the check after a meal without question, shouldn’t it be okay for a male to display his
strength and ability in a more elegant manner? The summer Olympics allowed us to compare sideby-side men’s and women’s gymnastics. The men perform six events verses women’s four. The male gymnasts tend to be on average older than the females: the entire 2012 US women’s gymnastics team aged 15-18 while the men aged 19-26. The only shared events between the genders are the floor exercise and vault. Men also perform on the steel rings, parallel bars, the horizontal bar, and the pommel horse, while the women challenge the uneven bars and balance beam. Female events are judged based on “artistry and grace” says critic Ivy Morris, while the men’s events “focus more on displaying strength. The floor routine for women is a dance – using elements of ballet and modern dance with music accompanying. The men perform their floor routines in silence flaunting their power. Evidently gymnastics is fairly even across the gender board.
arts & leisure 4.bp.blogspot.com
But what about rhythmic gymnastics? Many have never witnessed these spectacular performances. While gymnastics does incorporate dance elements, rhythmic routines are dances performed with hoops, balls, ribbons, or clubs. The official men’s rhythmic gymnastics site describes the gender gap best. “Rhythmic gymnastics is a competitive sport under the authority of F.I.G. (International Gymnastics Federation.) Currently, only the women’s portion of rhythmic gymnastics is by FIG – men’s rhythmic gymnastics is yet to get FIG approval. The possibilities and opportunities men’s rhythmic gymnastics presents are endless. It is up to each and everyone of us to work hard to make the dream a reality.” I n d e e d men are attracted to the sport, aiming to improving physical strength and health. Both adults and children have been working to compete in World Cups. Over the past twenty years, rhythmic gymnastics has gained popuchinadaily.com.cn larity and is now being incorporated into several international competitions including Junior Inter-Collegiate competitions and amateur championships. Now spread to seven countries, the
idea of rhythmic gymnastics is picking up globally. According to Mario Lam, a Canadian martial arts and gymnastics instructor, men’s events should emphasize speed and power because in his experience, it’s hard to recruit male gymnasts at a young age; young men simply do not want to be portrayed as delicate and weak. Lam calls the sport ‘martialgym’ in the hopes that more and more young boys will take interest. He seems to have the right idea as the sport is most popular in Japan where many elements are taken directly from martial arts. Rhythmic gymnastics is far more common in Asia than in the US. Americans attend meets in Japan but the numbers are far too few for a national men’s team. Will men’s rhythmic gymnastics ever be an Olympic sport? “I don’t think it would ever become anything too popular,” says rhythmic gymnast Julie Zetlin, the sole American to compete individually at the 2012 Olympics. “I think it should stick to [being] a women’s sport. I think that is today’s society, there are lots of different things for men and women, but I think it’s still better just for females.”
arts & leisure
arts & leisure
Unraveling the Mystery of Middle Eastern Women
Dance Moms Sophie Dizengoff
very year thousands of parents enlist their children into after school and weekend programs like football, little league, and painting classes. Forcing hectic activity-filled schedules onto elementary school children is a phenomenon only found in the US where parents begin thinking about college before the birth of their first child. Competitive dance has become one of the most popular children’s activities – but it has caused much more controversy than Tuesday afternoon ceramics class ever could. Although it has a cult-like following, those supporting the competitive dance are outnumbered by those opposing. Participants face far more than “healthy competition.” The judgments are cutthroat and dramatic. Extremely difficult routines and hyper-sexualized outfits are forced onto children barely starting kindergarten. Claudia La Rocco of the New York Times states that while these kinds of competitions provide “opportunities for youngsters who might otherwise have few chances to get onstage ... Children [are] being made to ape pop-culture stereotypes of adult behavior: boys as macho men, girls as sassy flirts. These [hyper-sexual] portrayals seem even more bizarre when you consider that their audience is comprised largely of peers and family members.” Girls as young as six strut on stage wearing pounds of makeup and glitter. Young female dancers often grapple with body image issues; all strive to have that prepubescent perfect dancer body. Few boys or fathers participate in competitive dance, perhaps for fear of the labels or taunting from friends. Many competition parents (moms in particular) are willing to live vicariously through their children. It is often questioned whether the dream of professional dancing is really the dancer’s,
or the parent’s. Adolescents encounter so much pressure from parents, teachers, coaches, and peers as it is. Why are we pitting young friends against each other and teaching them to risk anything to win? Tap dancer Jess Gersony, now an adult, says of her competition days, “the pressure of competitions helped me to be confident and technically strong, but now I view most aspects of the experience as unhealthy.” The recent Lifetime hit, Dance Moms, portrays young dancers (girls in particular) being pushed to both physical and emotional limits. The viewers watch as the moms and teacher stop at nothing to make sure the girls take home trophies from each competition. As a dancer myself I thought it would be interesting to watch Dance Moms, and for a while I was hooked on the intricate routines. After about seven episodes I stopped watching. I hated the way teacher Abby Lee Miller talked to the kids about their own mothers, and I hated how the mothers would yell in front of their children, but mostly I hated how these little kids were exposed to such unacceptable behavior- the name calling, the cursing, the backstabbing, and the secrets – all in the name of winning a crown. The girls watch as all the beloved adults around them act with such immaturity and set bad examples. Miller defends her behavior saying that she must be harsh and make her students so they truly deserve their crowns. Dance is a beautiful art form and it helps children grow and be passionate about art. Likewise, competition and is good for kids. Drama and overbearing parenting are not exclusive to competition dance; it comes along with many sports. Perhaps we as a society need to step back and be sure that our children are growing up in a newvideo.com sympathetic environment.
his November, “The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society”- a 256 page volume that took five years to perfect - will be published by Rutgers University Institute for Women and Art. It is an overview of the work of twenty-four contemporary female artists originating from the Middle East. The project has received grants from several different institutions including the NEA and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The spectrum of topics ranges from environmental protection to geopolitics. Each artist’s point of view shapes her work and makes it unique. The book is accompanied by a groundbreaking exhibition of the same name that will be held in several venues in New Jersey. Exhibitions will be available through October 19, 2012 at the Bernstein Gallery at Woodrow Wilson School and through January 13, 2013 at the Princeton University Art Museum. The duo aims to appeal to people of all ages, cultures, and interests by addressing widespread, common concepts and issues. The artists displaying their work in the exhibition use both visual and performing arts “to deconstruct stereotypes of Middle East[ern] women, [and challenge] the commonly held Western view of Middle East[ern] women as oppressed… while acknowledging existing social...restrictions that have caused many of them to leave their homeland,” says artdaily.org. While the works are political they are also creative pieces, drawing intrigued viewers deep into their subjects. The artists use varied media: some opt for paint or sculpture, while others choose photography and video. There are hands-on performances and presentations galore as well as community discussions and workshops for young adults. Shirin Neshat, posed for photos, stating “These photographs became iconic portraits of willfully armed Muslim women. Yet every image, every woman’s submissive gaze, suggests a far more complex and paradoxical reality behind the surface.” Parastou Forouhar says, “In my series of digital prints and wallpaper entitled Butterfly, the delicate form of these insects is contrasted with camouflaged scenes of torture. Only when viewers look at these images a second time, do they notice that the butterfly wings contain wounded and gagged human figures.” Ayana Friedman commented, “When I focus on women’s issues in my artistic practice, I seek to raise awareness as to the ways women have been – and still often are – mistreated. Through my work’s themes, I challenge society’s approach to women – an approach based on historical stereotypes.
The book supplements the exhibition, explaining the core meaning of the art on display, while the art serves as illustrations for the book. The plethora of topics being covered from the perspectives of so many women hope to relate the book and exhibition to a diverse group of people. There is something for everyone: historians come for explanations of Middle Eastern life, art lovers come to admire the physical works, and students, feminists, religious leaders, all those interested in the Middle East, religion, gender issues, and social issues come to learn. This combination book and exhibition has aspects all can relate to through its powerful stories and beautiful art. If it is impossible to see the exhibition, do read the book alone. It has great insight into Middle Eastern women’s views on daily issues. princeton.edu
arts & leisure
arts & leisure
The Gender Gap in Comedy Valerie Bodurtha
ince the release of “Bridesmaids” there has been much talk about the gender gap in comedy. The new movie “Bachelorettes” has had many saying that women can be “just as funny as men.” Many have brought up the vulgarity of the two movies and questioned females saying such things when it is “men’s territory.” I’ve always dressed manlier onstage. When I first started in stand-up comedy, I realized that people would find me funnier if I wore collared button-downs and jeans, instead of a flowery dress. It occurred to me naturally, because I figured you want to be a blank slate onstage, not wearing anything distracting so the audience can focus on the jokes. But there’s more than that. People find you funnier if they aren’t reminded of your sex. Why? Well, there are certain social stigmas saying that women aren’t funny. Christopher Hitchens (may he rest in peace) published a famous article in Vanity Fair stating outright that women aren’t funny. His claim was that humor is something reserved for males – an attribute that evolved to attract females. He argued that men who aren’t rich or handsome use humor to draw in mates while women don’t need humor because they already are attractive to males. There is, however, a key flaw in Hitchens’ theory: Does the same not apply to women? Aren’t there socially awkward females? Women nowadays nearly rival men in terms of attempting to attract the opposite
sex. I see no reason why evolution would only apply to one gender. I think that the reason women used to be in general less funny, is because they were not expected to do as much in the courting process. Times are changing though, and with new social rules about female courtship (even just in a flirting sense) comes female humor. I have my own conclusions, however, as to why women are less successful or popular in comedy. Women can be a lot more insecure than men. I’m not saying men are never insecure, and that women are neurotic crazies who are constantly asking if Tic-Tacs make them look fat. What I’m saying is that men can be more capable of stand-up and other types of comedy because they are more willing to make fools of themselves. A lot of standup is self-deprecating humor, which some women feel uncomfortable doing. In my experiences, at least, I’ve found that the men I work with are much happier going up on stage and talking about how fat, ugly, and miserable they are than the women. But as I said before, times are changing. Women are growing bolder with their growing position in society. There are an increasing number of women who are willing to go all out in comedy and make fools of themselves. The famous ones are Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy. Tina Fey is the queen of self-deprecating humor. I’m still kind of wishing that she and Louis C.K. will get together and form a “We hate ourselves, now laugh,” comedy duo. She constantly is talking about her laziness and gluttony on 30 Rock, and I applaud her for it. Not many have that kind of courage. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are more famous for their work in Bridesmaids, which was considered a breakthrough for feminism. The movie is more commended for its vulgar humor, which was hilarious, but beside the point. In the plane scene, Kristen Wiig makes such a fool of herself, and you can’t stop laughing. The same goes for Melissa McCarthy and the entire movie. So I say that though women are fully capable of comedy, or they will be as society progresses towards gender equality. My advice to starting female comedians, and to myself, is to stick it out. Keep pushing your stuff, because it can be funny. Eventually people will get that you’re hilarious, and if you have to keep on wearing baggy t-shirts while onstage, then that’s okay.
science & health
science & health
Women’s Health Issues in the Upcoming Election
An Objective Look at Ovarian Cancer
ur ability to wake up every morning feeling healthy and ready for the day ahead is largely due to advancements in the medical community. We can take vitamins in the morning, antibiotics when we have infections, and even prescreen for potential diseases. However, while these advancements in technology have allowed us to live longer, every type of technology will have drawbacks. The question is, are the risks greater than the benefits? Prescreen procedures for ovarian cancer recently came under the scrutiny of the United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF). The USPSTF looked at the ovarian cancer prescreening process and came out against screening in “asymptomatic patients.” These patients, commonly referred to as “D patients” not only do not show common signs of ovarian cancer such as bloating, irregular bleeding, lower back pain, loss of energy, and loss of appetite, but also do not have a family history of ovarian cancer or Lynch Syndrome, a disease that alters blood proteins and may lead to ovarian cancer. While screenings might inspire a “better safe than sorry” attitude, the USPSTF has found not only that it is superfluous to undergo such screenings if no symptoms are present, but also that screening might actually have a negative impact. Currently the most common screening is the CA-125 screening, which identifies mutated proteins in blood as signs of possible ovarian cancer. However, the USPSTF has found “the majority of women with positive screenings will have false positive results,” commonly due to pregnancy and changes in hormones.
However, women who receive a false positive result may undergo additional diagnostic tests that are unnecessary in the long run, because the realization that the results are false often comes too late. The USPSTF estimates that one-third of these women undergo oophorectomies, which unnecessarily removes their ovaries when they don’t actually need the surgery. A further 20% suffer from oophorectomy complications. The findings made by the USPSTF do not completely discourage Grade D women from seeking screenings if they deem one to be necessary. The USSPTF merely gives women further insight into a cancer screening process that, in some cases, might do more harm than good. Women still have the ability to make decisions concerning their health, including whether or not they want screenings since the FDA has not banned these methods of routine screening. Still, experts agree that it is vital to develop better means of screening. The current screening methods yield results that are too inaccurate, and for surgical complications to be reduced, new screening methods must be created to avoid unnecessary surgery. For now, however, the medical community has taken an important step in distancing itself from its love affair with new technology. It is beginning to take an objective look at the current processes and starting to scrutinize those processes in order to make sure that the most medically-qualified people receive the best treatment possible.
n the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election between Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan, women’s health issues have become a central and critical topic of discussion and debate. Currently, the nation is facing huge economic, foreign policy, and environmental issues, but regardless, healthcare, as well as the protection of women’s bodies and coverage of birth control, still remains at the forefront of many voters’ minds. So why are women’s health issues and rights being featured so prominently in the upcoming election? The Center for American Women have reported that the number of women voting in the upcoming election seems to equal or even exceed men; therefore, some believe that the reason women’s issues are becoming such a significant debate in the election is not actually because it is viewed as one of the most important issues by politicians, but because the candidates are trying to get the attention of the gender that simply votes more. Huffington Post College author, Casey Papuga, went as far as to claim that the behavior of these candidates is reprehensible for “trying to scare women into believing that by voting one way may take away their right over their bodies” because ultimately, there is so much resistance in congress towards banning abortion and birth control under health care that bills instituting them would be incredibly hard to ever get passed. Papuga continues on, arguing that affording birth control and health care in general is a problem directly related to the poor economy and unemployment rates. Fixing the economy would hopefully find resolutions for women struggling to afford these important services. Papuga believes that the presidential candidates should be focusing primarily on issues that affect the nation as a whole instead of issues that alienate and target women as part of a strategic ploy for votes. Regardless, others continue to claim that women’s health issues, deserve to be at the forefront of the election. In the wake of Rep. Todd Aiken’s recent and discredited assertion that “legitimate rape” rarely ever
leads to pregnancy and Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, who worked alongside Akin in the past to try and limit the definition of rape and even outlaw abortion for rape victims, many Americans believe that women’s health issues, and women’s issues in general, are an essential and key issue that needs to be addressed in the 2012 election.
science & health
science & health
Skincare Products Verge On Breaking FDA Laws
The Spirit Caught Her and She Fell Down Jane Their
ow many commercials have you seen advertising skincare products with “clinically proven” “age defying technology” that “firm skin and get rid of wrinkles?” Too many to count. What you may not realize is that the Food & Drug Administration has laws regarding what companies can claim about non-drug, classified products. Just this month, they sent a letter to Lancôme, cautioning the company to be more careful about what they advertise. Lancôme even made claims that products “boost the activity of genes.” According to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), any products that “affect the structure or any function of the human body” is considered a drug and needs to be approved by the FDA. Clearly “boosting the activity of genes” is changing a bodily function. The FDA, however, is not demanding that they review these “drugs” but rather that the company reevaluate its claims so that they do not violate the law. The FDA must think that the advertisements are greatly exaggerating the results. We here the word “clinically proven” nonstop, and to myself included it sounds like a convincing reason to buy a product. Turns out that the phrase has little meaning. In fact, genuine pharmaceutics and medical researchers that deal with real drugs shy away from the phrase. It is impossible to completely and totally prove a product’s effectiveness. Already, we can see that it is an invalid claim. Also, when testing a drug, most researchers will work with statisticians to come up with a probability value (P value) for the effectiveness of a product. A useful drug may have a P value of 0.001, which indicates that it works for every 999 in 1000 people. Drugs will write this information on pamphlets or website to make sure people understand how likely it is to do what it is meant to do. Saying “clinically proven” is a way to hide the results of the testing and cause people to use a product with false expectations. Next time you are in a CVS or RITE-AID, be careful about what products you choose. Understand that
most of them are not nearly as effective as they claim and may outright lie about what they do. Do some research, look at product reviews, and then decide what makes sense. Considering the FDA is not worried about testing these products as drugs, most of the products won’t cause damage, but you should be aware of what you put on your skin. After that, it is up to the FDA to try and solve the exaggerated advertising problem around skincare products.
n September 14th, 2012, The New York Times published an article entitled “Lia Lee Dies; Life Went on Around Her, Redefining Care.” For those who are unfamiliar, Lia Lee was a severely brain-damaged Hmong young girl, born in 1983. After copious bouts of seizures and nearly 100 visits to the hospital in the first four years of her life, doctors finally diagnosed her as an epileptic. She was issued medication, but her spiritually-inclined parents seldom gave her the suggested, fairly large amount. The Hmong term for epilepsy is “quag dab peg”, and traditionally, this illness is viewed as far more spiritual than disease-oriented in the Hmong culture. It is meant to describe a soul becoming separated from the body. This “quag dab peg” is said to be cured by a consultation with a shaman, one who attempts to reunite the body and soul. Eventually, Lee’s parents’ resistance to provide Lia with the medicine and follow through with the treatment that could ultimately save their child’s life confused the doctors. This was mainly due to the lack of a Hmong interpreter at their California hospital and consequently, her parents simply were not able to convey their spiritual beliefs and thinking behind their actions to the doctors. Communication between them was not an option, and so for the first few years of Lee’s life, the doctors could not ask her parents what precisely was wrong. But after some time passed, during which the medi-
cine was not administered to Lia by her parents, Lia was legally removed from their care, and placed in a foster home. After a short while, she was allowed to return home. The entirety of Lia’s story and life is reviewed and extrapolated on in Anne Fadiman’s book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, which was published in 1997, when Lia was fourteen. This book is deemed a revolutionary new perspective on the dissonance between standard medical procedures for brain injury, and the spiritual beliefs of signs conveyed by such ailments. Fadiman’s observance of Lia’s life with her family and experience in the hospital are displayed in complete and raw evidentiary form, and it continues to play a pivotal role in the evolution of such cases in the modern medicine. For this reason, the medical case of Lia Lee is very often assigned to medical students, in institutions such as Yale School of Medicine and Harvard School of Medicine. Will Fadiman’s novel be the very one to revolutionize the standards of medicine in comparison to the traditional fervent beliefs of given foreign cultures? As long as the millions of medical students around the world are reading this story with rapt attention, once they become the doctors of tomorrow, it is entirely up to them.