Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Loving Generation

This youtube video The Loving Generation, touches on the hardships mixed raced people face in this country. About 50 years ago, it was illegal for interracial couples to be married. A black women, Mildred Jeter and white man, Richard Loving challenged the US Supreme Court and after a tough battle, won their case. From that point on, interracial couples were allowed to marry. When you think about it, this was not too long ago. In a sense, children born before the court case would be considered illegal. Since interracial marriage became legal, there was an increase in biracial children being born soon after. This is what they call “The Loving Generation”. This video focuses on the main topic of checking boxes. A lot of mixed people have trouble selecting their race on forms. In the United States, if you are black and white, you are automatically considered black. Some are ok with this but others feel as if they are dismissing their white side. There are some mixed people that can pass as white but are often told they are not black. Even light skinned African Americans sometimes have their blackness questioned. The video does a great job of telling their stories. Being a dark skinned African American, my blackness has never been questioned. This video gave me some more insight into the other perspective. There was a movie that came out about two years ago that covers this historic court case, I definitely recommend it!

Substantive Post 2: Marginalization of Women in Andean Farming Communities

“We women must learn to go out into and feel
comfortable in local and global spaces equally, in order to represent our
peoples” – Quote from Pachamama, 2000

This week I wanted to incorporate marginalization of women in Andean communities outside of Bolivia. I came across an article by Sarah Radcliffe, Nina Laurie, and Robert Andolina, titled The Transnationalization of Gender and Reimagining Andean Indigenous Development (2004), which incorporated marginalization of women in both Bolivia and Ecuador.

What I liked most about this article was how the authors related the issues back to the economy and local/national governments. They discuss capital and the roles of both men and women in indigenous and peasant households.

Specifically, they discuss stressors particular to women and use quotes from women that talk about some of them. For example, one quotes states:

““Women’s most specific problem is poverty. They [development
experts] talk about our right to health, to mental well-being. But how
are we to have this if we’re worried about sending our kids to school
without lunch? What will I cook? The lack of understanding in the home
[between spouses] is our problem too, because there is no shared work
and . . . there is violence”

The authors also discuss the types of divisions of labor between men and women in the Andes. Women are usually tasked with agricultural aspects that are “undervalued or unacknowledged” (p. 392). Although majority of women work, only few actually get paid. It is typical for “village leaders, policy makers, and governments” to not “acknowledge” the work of those women (p. 392). Other issues include education, language, and domestic violence.

Women can attend school. However, very few actually do and the quality of the schools available for them to attend is poor. Poverty and cultural norms usually keep most women from attending.

“Indigenous women in the Ecuadorian highlands receive just 1.4 years of
schooling on average, compared with 2.4 years for indigenous men and
seven years for Ecuadorian women on average” – Radcliffe, Laurie, & Andolina, 2004, p. 392.

Another interesting aspect of this article was that more men than women are fluent in Spanish, which presents problems because its the language most widely used throughout the area and present in educational facilities. Women’s roles are said to be in “maintaining values, language, and cultural identities” (p. 393). There is tension between progressive indigenous women who want to move toward European/feminist approaches regarding roles (mainly to deal with marginalization issues) and those who resist that movement, often caused by issues of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence remains one of the most contentious issues for indigenous gender politics and is also coincidentally one of the
themes where indigenous women draw on international initiatives to clarify
their own perspective” – Radcliffe, Laurie, & Andolina, 2004, p. 393-394.

Though the most interesting part of this article, in my opinion, was the article about indigenous women and social movements. According to the authors, the women in these communities are those who “most have their identity, most have their vision” (p. 395). Therefore, they believe those women are crucial when it comes to social movements because they can “recuperate cultural identity” (p. 395).

Source: Radcliffe, S.A., Laurie, N., & Andolina, R. 2004. The Transnationalization of Gender and Reimagining Andean Indigenous Development. Signs Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29(2):387-416.

Sex Trafficking and the Illicit Massage Business in the US







The Polaris Project has been documenting the use of trafficked women from Asia in the illicit massage parlor business in the US. There are about 9,000 of these places operating in the US in rural areas, suburban strip malls and the inner cities. Their total profits annually are around 2.5 billion dollars. They are seldom investigated by police and operate with impunity, in part because many in the US see them as “harmless.” Yet the women who work in them, largely from Asian nations, especially China, were recruited falsely with the promise of jobs in restaurants, hotels, etc. When they arrive, traffickers take their passports, drive them to other parts of the country so that they do not know where they are, and then put them into massage parlors where they quickly learn they are expected to perform sex acts. The living conditions are horrible–many never leave these parlors, sleeping on the same massage tables where they are forced to have sex. They are told that if they leave or go to the police, they will be put in prison for being illegal. Even more shocking is that in a study of the clients, the Polaris project found the majority were white men, many of whom were well educated, and most of whom had been sex tourists in other countries. They often said in justification that “these things are looked at differently in other countries,” “It is not big deal over there,” “this is harmless–just a little fun.” But is it fun or harmless for the women enslaved in this trade? There are also web sites that rate these massage parlors and provide a guide to men traveling to different cities about where to find them. Police turn a blind eye–seeing these massage parlors as less serious than other crimes they have to deal with. If they do conduct a raid, they most often arrest the women for prostitution but not the clients using the services. Not surprisingly, these women, many of whom speak little English, are afraid to speak up. North Carolina is home to a large number of these operations, especially around our military bases. The question is: what can be done to stop these practices or are they indeed less serious than other types of trafficking?

–Holly Mathews

Human Trafficking and the UK Modern Slavery Bill: Substantive Blog Post #2

With my paper being on human trafficking and the influence that policies can have in the Europe, I have found a piece that specifically looks at a bill proposed by the United Kingdom, a self-proclaimed leader in the fight against modern slavery. Based on notions that assumed that slavery could not be possible in our more modern era, the UK government was reluctant to support the United Nations “Palermo Protocol,” which targeted the prevention, suppression and punishment of trafficking people, especially women and children. It was revealed that there was significant ignorance in the British Parliament about their knowledge of the trafficking. As evidence grew, the United Kingdom began their first real attempt at combating trafficking by creating the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) in order to collect and monitor data to report to the government about the extent of human trafficking. The UKHTC received 3000 referrals that year from First Responders at the location to which victims seek rescue and rehabilitation. Additional organizations contributed to the growing knowledge of human trafficking and enslavement, revealing new forms of slavery within the UK including “the imprisonment of young (often Vietnamese) men by Chinese gangs to manage cannabis “farms”, the severe physical and sometimes sexual exploitation of domestic workers by wealthy businessmen/women and diplomats, forced begging and theft by young children trafficked or smuggled into the UK for this purpose and the suggestion, although as yet unsubstantiated, that some people had been trafficked into the UK for the purposes of organ harvesting.” 


With all of this overwhelming evidence and pressure from prominent organizations, the government finally published a draft Modern Slavery Bill, appearing in December of 2013. The Bill faced intense criticism because of how weak it had been considering the United Kingdoms intent to be the world leader on the issue. After a grueling process of examination from multiple parties, scrutiny and critiques, the final Bill was published and sent on for the process in which it becomes an Act of parliament.


While the awareness of modern slavery continues to grow, the Bill’s primary focus is on human trafficking despite the early debates that made an attempt to create wording that would include all possible offenses. Another key focus of the Bill is on the protection for the children that are impacted and while the focus on trafficking remains the center of the Bill, the main focus has been on sexual exploitation. The biggest concern of the author is the lack of attention paid to the issue of trafficking as a means to use victims for labor exploitation or forced labor. Although forced labor is in itself a criminal offense, the cases of forced labor brought to the courts are low. A case made notable by the author is one that was dismissed by a judge because they argued that if the victims were able to move around freely, they could not be considered slaves. This completely negated the emotional or psychological impacts of victims in the case.


Fortunately, the government has taken steps towards combating forced labor by requiring companies to take responsibility for exploring slavery within their supply chains although the Committee did not take interest in protecting the domestic workers to the same extent. The government has also been pressured to widen the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to extend its focus on just three industrial sectors to more, if not the whole of the labor market.


It is important to observe the ways in which different countries in Europe attempt to combat  human trafficking within their own country and throughout the rest of the world in order to get a better understanding of unforeseen impacts of their methods. While the United Kingdom hopes to be the leader in combating against modern day slavery, it easy to gage from this article how difficult it is for their government to produce legislation that can encompass the broad spectrum of human slavery.


Craig, Gary. 2015. “Human Trafficking and the UK Modern Slavery Bill.” Social


Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men?

In a new article published today by Mother Jones, the wage gap is broken down. This is something that we have looked at over and over again in our own society, but this article looks at one of the most egalitarian countries in the world-Denmark. Though the Danes are relatively equal in most areas, the wage gap still persists. Wanting to know why, researchers have looked into it further and have concluded that it has something to do with child-bearing. Analyses looking at wages, hours worked, participation, and earnings all indicate that after a woman has a child, there is a substantial set-back in her earning impact. Men, on the other hand, seem to have little to no change in their earnings trajectory once they have a child. Women who remain childless, however, continue to increase their earning impact, potentially surpassing men. Denmark is a great country to look at in regards to the wage gap because they have closed almost all gender gaps, so it is easier to control other variables that might impact earnings, such as education. Though we do not have access to similar data in the US, we do know that the wage gap does seem to occur mostly between the ages of 25 and 35, which are prime child-bearing ages. The author of this article suggests that more research needs to be conducted to draw any conclusions for the US.

The Unequal Division of Labor in Wedding Planning

This semester, I will be researching how wedding traditions reinforce heteronormativity and gender inequality. In this post, I will be sharing Tamara Sniezek’s article, Is It Our Day or the Bride’s Day? The Division of Wedding Labor and Its Meaning for Couples. The abstract is provided below:

Based on qualitative interviews with southern California heterosexual engaged 

couples, I examine how wedding planning work is divided between the bride and 

the groom and how couples meaningfully interpret the division of labor. I find that 

couple’s wedding planning work disproportionately falls to women, especially that 

labor that is invisible. Wedding work, in many respects, is another form of unpaid 

and unappreciated women’s work, not that unlike housework. Yet, couples do not 

understand wedding work as an unequal pursuit. Couples use an assortment of 

interactional strategies to interpret wedding work as a joint and equal enterprise.

Surprisingly, according to the author, the first sociological study of weddings was not published until 1999.  Sniezek argues that this is partly because sociology is male-dominated and wedding planning has not traditionally been important to them. Overall, “critical examinations of sacred heterosexual and patriarchal practices have historically been resisted.” However, wedding planning is indeed important because it sets the stage for a couple’s interpretation of the future division of labor.

In her interviews with engaged couples, Sniezek found that women often reported that the wedding planning work was equal and a joint effort. But, when she questioned them about specific tasks, she found that women performed an overwhelming majority of the legwork. They rationalized this unequal division of labor by attributing it to complimentary personality styles (the woman is better at it), the woman’s more flexible work schedule, a fairer division of labor than that of other couples they know, and a woman’s greater interest in weddings overall. In instances where the bride-to-be did express frustration with the unequal work, she blamed it on the “industry” or the general “stress” that a wedding entails – she never expressed blame or resentment towards her fiancé.

Sniezek believes that wedding work is comparable to other forms of housework and that it prepares women for their future traditional roles. Therefore, for a future bride to question the unfair division of labor in wedding planning, she may consequently feel compelled to question gender role ideology in general and maybe even the couple’s compatibility. That would open a Pandora’s box of cognitive dissonance at a time when the couple’s harmony and compatibility is supposed to be celebrated.

This leads to the most striking finding from this study: how the couples used discourse or “a language of equality” to construct a reality in which the division of wedding work was in fact equal and satisfactory. When interviewed, they emphasized and shifted the focus of the conversation to the few tasks that they did complete together. Taking a symbolic interactionist perspective, we can see how the language surrounding women’s stereotypical roles masks gender inequalities in wedding work. Additional research on this topic – separate from other forms of family work and housework – would bring these inequalities to light.



Sniezek, Tamara. 2005. “Is It Our Day or the Bride’s Day? The Division of Wedding Labor and Its Meaning for Couples.” Qualitative Sociology 28(3):215–34.

NC Sex Laws- Substantive Post #2

This scholarly article written by Christopher R. Murray discusses the need to reassess the legislation surrounding sexuality in the state of North Carolina. Murray uses the case study of Teresa Pope to argue that the vague nature of the statues allows for considerable wiggle-room for the court’s interpretation of a crime, even when case law sets precedent. As Murray explains, the state of North Carolina views sex as an act between a man and a woman, vaginally. All other forms of intercourse are considered crimes against nature. Here, a simplified chart to categorize sexual actions and the severity of their punishment:


Figure: North Carolina’s Conduct- Differentiating Solicitation Laws

Vaginal, Heterosexual Sex Form of Intimacy All Other Forms of Intimacy
(not criminalized) Conduct Alone Crime Against Nature
(felony under N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 14-203)
Solicitation of Solicitation of the
Conduct (enticing Crime Against Nature
or encouraging) (misdemeanor under State
v. Tyner)
Prostitution Commercialization
(misdemeanor under (offering or receiving
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14- conduct for money)

The basis for Murray’s argument is that essentially any intimate act can be punished in North Carolina, even if it is consensual. He refers to a famous court case throughout the test, Lawrence V. Texas, because in that case, the Supreme Court ruled that “it holds unconstitutional statutes that would criminalize a choice between forms of sexual intimacy.” This ruling only relates to sex between two consenting adults. As Murray posits, “In short, Lawrence stands for the proposition that the state cannot interfere with an individual’s liberty interest in choosing between forms of physical intimacy. Rather, the state may only regulate sexual activity with respect to other considerations, such as the consent of the participants, the public location of the conduct, or the commercial element of intimacy-for-hire.” Therefore, minors, those who cannot legally consent (eg, those who are mentally inept, in the case of an authority balance, etc.), sex in public locations, and prostitution are not challenged by this ruling. North Carolina, however, has such vague laws that this case cannot effectively be used to justify sex between two consenting adults.


Murray believes that the General Assembly of North Carolina has the responsibility of taking on the task of clarifying these sexual laws so that people may have sexual freedom in consensual circumstances without fear of prosecution. I, myself, agree. I think that if most of us really examined our sexual histories, or the sexual histories of those we know, most of us could potentially be charged with felonies. I think that it is about time that the state stop trying to punish consensual sex and they clarify or recreate existing legislation to effectively reduce non-consensual sexual encounters and to stop punishing those who are engaging in intimate relationships consensually. What are your thoughts?




Who Knew “I’m With Her” was a band?

I’m With Her: ‘We’re about camaraderie, not Hillary’

I ran across this article about a band titled “I’m With Her” that had its name well before Hillary coined the phrase for her 2016 presidential campaign. Despite not being associated with the campaign, it seems their messages are similar. I’m With Her (the band) discusses their challenges as female musicians in the bluegrass world. Despite their years of training, they have still faced discrimination and road blocks on their journey. It was particularly interesting that one of the band members discussed how she had frequently received praise when she had not performed well, just because she was female. I don’t think this is a dynamic that we often think about. It’s a form of unwelcome courtesy to clap and praise simply because someone is part of a marginalized group. Just like many successful male musicians, these women expect to earn their success, not just have praise handed to them because someone feels sorry for them.


Has anyone else ever experienced special treatment because of membership in a marginalized group?


-Marah Barrow

Final Paper Post #2

The second article I chose for my research paper is Understanding the Complexities of Responding to Child Sex Trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia. According to the researcher Davy (2014), child sex trafficking takes place in all Southeast Asian countries. There are higher numbers of child trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. This includes countries such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc. The reason for such increase of trafficking is due to the high demand of child brides, cheap labor, child porn, etc. Child vulnerability also plays a key role. In the article, Davy (2014) mentions that a common practice in Southeast Asian countries is debt bondage. Parents who owe others money, sell their children to pay off their debt. These children can be eventfully turned over to recruiters, entering the vicious cycle of sex trafficking.

Davy (2014) mentions that Cambodia is one of the most affected countries when it comes to child sex trafficking. Due to pervious war conflict and its growing sex sector. After the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, populations under 20 years old found it difficult to find stable jobs. This helped induce human trafficking within the country. Davy (2014) also credits “the rapid infusion of foreigners with large sums of money that followed the entrance of both UN military forces and civilian officials…” to the increase in sex trafficking. Cambodia is known as a destination for sex with children. About 51% of Cambodian girls lost their virginity to a tourist (Davy, 2014). Virgin girls are in high demand.  Girls as young as five years old have been said to be working within the sex industry (Davy, 2014).

In Thailand, there has been a long history of human trafficking as well. Davy (2014) makes it a point to refer back to its history. “In Lanna Thai history, the king owned all farmland and if the people were unable to pay their taxes or owed any other debt they could choose to place themselves, their wives, their children or their junior kind in debt bondage” (Davy 2014). The sex industry increased rapidly due to the Vietnam war. There was a huge influx of soldiers in the surrounding areas. With war comes economic hardship. People found it hard to be financially stable and turned to the sex industry. This has continued to what is seen currently in Thailand. While there have been laws put in place to combat human trafficking, laws are not fully enforced. Traffickers have been known to buy their way out of punishment.

There have been many Non-Governmental Organizations that have been committed to fighting against human trafficking.  For example, the UN Inter-Agency Project on Trafficking (UNIAP). This NGO seeks to implement programs which include to protect and provide rehabilitation for victims while also trying to hold governments accountable.

Davy, D. (2014). Understanding the complexities of responding to child sex trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 34(11/12), 793-816. doi:10.1108/ijssp-10-2013-0103

Conflicting Interpretations of the Bible

Conflicting Interpretations of the Bible

Substantive Blog Post #2

Biblical Feminisms: Knowledge, Theory, and Practice in the Study of Women in the Hebrew Bible

I have selected Biblical Feminisms: Knowledge, Theory, and Practice in the Study of Women in the Hebrew Bible by Esther Fuchs as the second article for my final paper. In this article Fuchs (2008) frames her argument around the idea that there are a variety of “feminist” approaches to interpreting the Bible. Her research questions consist of the following: “What is a feminist approach to the Bible? What is the difference that a feminist approach makes? What are the major theoretical debates in the field? What is the relationship between the production of feminist biblical knowledge, and the politics of its guiding theories (Fuchs, 2008)?”

Historically speaking, much of the feminist literature on the Bible has been excluded as a result of the male-dominate epistemology on the topic (Fuchs, 2008). With the use of feminist theory from various theoretical perspectives, such as postmodernism, theological, and academic feminist theory, Fuchs (2008) underscores the necessity of converging each theoretical approach into one, all inclusive theoretical reflection on the topic.

To further elaborate, postmodernism as a feminist theory approaches the Bible with a lense of exposure, which seeks to point out any evidence of a dominant discourse (Fuchs, 2008). “Theological feminism” uses the lense of Christianity to reflect on various interpretations of specific verses. Whereas, “academic feminism” approaches the Bible from a context of interpretative differences which motivate biblical literature. Fuchs intention is that each of these approaches both respect their differences while willingly being inclusive on one another, a major implication for practice (Fuchs, 2008).

By generating a theoretical approach that encourages inclusivity and intersectionality, the feminist epistemology on the Bible will become more widely accepted as a Biblical literary interpretation (Fuchs, 2008). This will allow women to make headway in combating the predominantly male discourse, that is about maintaining power based on a male interpretation of the Bible, and thus could have major impacts on gender inequality that results from Biblical gender roles (Fuchs, 2008).


Fuchs, Esther. 2008. “Biblical Feminisms: Knowledge, Theory and Politics in the Study of Women in the Hebrew Bible.” Biblical Interpretation, 16: 205-226.

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