I'll always follow back.
Ask me anything
I never agreed to be a donor.
Honestly, I like my bits intact,
all of them.
But who needs blood vessels and a skeletal structure
when you have sweet death
in a factory farm?
It’s not like I presume to stand
when I’m dead.
Clearly you all need my pieces
more than I do.
Iris dog, please understand that
the fact that I, vegetarian,
will let you drag this foul
artifact of human barbarism around my house
is only because you are more dear to me
than almost all others.
I use my love for you, dog,
to explain away my hypocracy.
Yes, I believe in animal rights.
Yes, dairy and eggs are equally as cruel.
No, I’m just a vegetarian.
Yes, this is a filthy, fleshy bit of
Maybe even from a calf.
I’m veg, my dog isn’t.
(sound of plastic, smell of blood)
-where is my human?-
(sight of human, marrow bone in hand)
-please! i cannot reach! i cannot jump high enough!-
(succulent slice of ecstacy now lies on the floor)
-drag to safety, taste euphoria on my tongue-
(there is my monkey?!)
-maggie! what i really need for you to do is play with me-
Unless you can promise to love this
odous bit of toy/treat
and forsake all others,
up to and including:
monkey, peanut butter Kong,
and tennis ball,
I will drop this in the trash and you will never hear from it again.
This is not a poem,
It is the sound of choking
It is the silent sound of stability
This is a torture, a torment
It is the mocking spector of my romantic past
My brain was a fiery inferno
And damnit, I was scriptural sinner
Language was never a challenge
Who cares if it’s good, as long as it’s easy
Now I pray for each line like it’s my long awaited rapture
I see signs everywhere, small bits of validation hidden in the text
I may live to see the end times and the rebirth
This is not a reminder that I was language lost never to be found
It is not
It is my new literal genesis
In the case of Board of Education v. Earls the primary issue under question is the legality of mandatory drug testing for all middle and high school students hoping to participate in any extracurricular activity provided by the school. The suit was initially brought by two parents and their children who felt that this requirement was in violation of their 4th Amendment rights. The 4th Amendment clearly states that citizens are protected from unlawful or unreasonable search and seizure, unless there is probable cause to suspect otherwise. It further continues to say that a highly specific search warrant is necessary before proceeding. It is clear that the respondents strongly felt that the school had no specific cause for suspicion, and therefore had no right to demand blanket urine tests for all students. The dissenting minority felt that the policy represented serious overreach on the part of the school district for a number of reasons. The dissent states that of all the student population those participating in extracurricular activities were some of the least likely to use illicit substances and that if the school district was concerned with drug use, then all students should be tested.
It was the decision of the Court and the belief of the school district however, that urinalysis was a preventative measure taken to ensure a drug free environment for its students. It was also their belief that there should have been an assumption that because students were voluntarily participating in extracurricular activities, that their privacy expectations would be lessened. Furthermore it was the belief of the Court that urinalysis was a minimally intrusive request which allowed the school district to continue to safeguard against drug use and ensure the safety of its students.
By consenting to participate in after school activities, students are agreeing to the terms and conditions, including any waiver of privacy that may involve. The question is essentially whether those privacy intrusions are unfounded, excessive or discriminatory. The dissent contained a very valid point both about the discriminatory nature and the unfounded bases for the testing. The students were being chosen from the general population and being drug tested without any actual proof or suspicion of drug use. If the goal had been to deter or reduce drug use in the school district, then the entire school district should have been tested. The decision to administer these tests selectively almost displays either an indecisiveness or lack of genuine commitment to reducing the use of illicit substances on the part of the schools. As to whether peeing in a cup is an excessive invasion of privacy, I believe that the determination can often be found in the level of expectation. If someone were to be asked for a urine sample by a doctor to test for a medical condition, then this would appear to be a reasonable and expected request and therefore a very low, if non-existent, level of privacy invasion. If you were to argue the ‘probable cause’ aspect of the 4th Amendment, it seems to be clear to me that, unless I have missed portion of the case the indicates otherwise, the school district does not appear to have whole probable cause to suspect that every student participating in extracurricular activities is in violation of the law.
In Federalist Paper 51, James Madison as Publius, expressed his apprehensions and grave concerns about the inadequacies of the governing law in the newly founded American republic. Much of this stemmed from his belief that there were a great many weaknesses found in the Articles of Confederacy that made the country vulnerable to anarchy and the possibility of the populous to be left under the mercy or control of the whims of a faction or small minority. He was equally alarmed that the minority was left susceptible to the overwhelming power and ambition of the majority at same time. Madison’s primary concern was in ensuring the creation of a stable, balanced government that wasn’t constantly vulnerable to the passions and rapid of both majority and minority segments within the population. His fears and skepticism are very succinctly expressed by him, “But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” (Madison, 1788) He envisioned a system that was efficient, but also capable of governing with prudence and caution. Madison offered several solutions to counteract these potential challenges. The unique introduction of a division of the governing branches within the system was among them.
Madison’s vision of a system of a Separation of Powers is very complete in it’s definition. He felt that they should be wholly and unconditionally separate in their purposes, but as he states in Federalist 48, not so detached that they no longer possess the ability to regulate each other. Instead of a singular bureaucracy, he strongly advocated for a segmentation of the three most influential bodies: The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. He felt that “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the greatest difficulty lies in this: you must first enable to allow the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Madison’s vision was very much different to the one the United States sees before itself today. While there is still a Separation of Powers, it is not nearly as drastic or as uncontaminated as the one Madison envisioned. Because of the extreme polarization of political culture and overwhelming divided nature of government in the United States today, it is increasingly commonplace to see politicians moving across branch divides to delay or advance a common partisan agenda. Even on the least divisive of issues, party members throughout all branches of the government tend to respond uniformly and unanimously. Madison is highly unlikely to have condoned a Separation of Powers that was divided not by three branches, but by two overwhelmingly dominant political factions who operate with near impunity, a system which is becoming more and more entrenched in modern American politics.
Madison’s concern about the often devastating power of the majority is expressed as he states his case in Federalist 51. However, he is simultaneously wrestling with the possibility of the overthrow of majority rule at the hands of the minority. In Federalist 48, he draws from the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, saying that “One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one.” (Madison, 1788) One of the most vital roles that the government has regarding the protections of the rights of minorities or the oppressed can be found in the preamble of the Constitution where it is clearly stated that all citizens are entitled to certain inalienable rights. By allowing states and their citizens to vote on who is entitled to these rights, the rights of minorities are often dictated by the majority surrounding them, who in many instances were originally responsible for the denial of these freedoms. If the government had not advocated on behalf African Americans, women, and the LGBT community it is fairly easily imagined that it could have taken decades before the public decided to validate their equality and grant it to them. One other argument might be that certain types of discrimination occur more commonly in different pockets of the country, and to guarantee equal protection under Federal law, it is the responsibility of the government to intervene. Checks and balances within the government help establish that these rights are protected within the government itself by preventing a usurpation of power by majorities.
Madison argued that all three branches of government should be equally as powerful and equally as capable of ensuring that any branch did not grow to overshadow the others. Increasing transformations in American politics would have caused him immense doubt and consternation. The action of small portion of The House of Representatives effectively shutting down the entire government primarily because of a law that has been repeatedly upheld by all branches of government would be the very abuse of power that he would have sought to restrain. It could be argued that both sides should be able to compromise, however, if they chose not to, they are left with very few, if any options at their disposal. This most certainly indicates that the checks and balances have failed and one very small faction of the government has now become too powerful. Another major evolution in congressional tactics has become the extreme and merciless overuse of the filibuster. There is little doubt that Madison would have seen this as a devolvement and a highly effective (or ineffective) way for the minority to ensure that the majority get nothing done. In its original incarnation, he would have likely viewed it as a powerful tool for democracy to ensure that the voice of the minority was represented and acknowledged. Presently though, it is an abuse and continual jam in the process of the democratic process.
Just as the political system of the United States has continued to evolve and change since the publication of Federalist 51, it will continue still, to learn to accommodate, negate and ideally search to seek the balance that Madison so strongly envisioned and championed. The only other probable outcome would be the eventual degradation and gradual corrosion of it’s functionality and stability. If that dangerous and deeply undesirable situation were to unfold, it can only be hoped that the America would once again learn to appreciate and value the vision that men like James Madison had, and not forget it as they move further and further into the past.
Madison, J. (1788). No 48: These Departments Should Not Be So Far Separated As To Have No Constitutional Control Over Each Other. In C. Rossiter (Ed.). The Federalist Papers (pp. 307). New York, New York: Signet Classics
Madison, J. (1788). No. 51: The Structure of the Government Must Funish Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments. In C. Rossiter (Ed.). The Federalist Papers (pp. 319). New York, New York: Signet Classics
The filibuster is one of the most notorious and often abused legislative obstructionary tactics found in the Government today. It has a long and sordid history, the kind you would expect to give rise to one of the most unpopular and simultaneously depended-upon minority “delay and destroy” tactics available. Out of a series of poor foresight, derision and pure necessity, arose the filibuster. Even the word itself is indicative of the kind of damage it’s meant to do; its origin can be traced back to the Spanish word “filibustero”, meaning “a pirate, or one who plunders freely” (Word Origins, 2006).
To understand the origins of the filibuster, it is necessary to go back almost to the founding of the United States. Even then the filibuster was more complicated and nuanced than modern audiences give it credit for. In 1789, there existed a “previous question” motion in both the House and the Senate. In the House this meant that all that was needed to end discussion on a pending piece of legislation was a simple majority vote. However, in Defending the Filibuster, the authors, former Senator Richard Arenburg, Senate Parliamentarian Emeritus Robert Dove, and Mark Udall, relate the sentiments of Harvard Professor John Cooper, regarding the “previous motion” question and its use in the Senate.
The previous question as it existed in the early Senate of 1789– 1806 ‘was not designed to operate as a cloture mechanism … it was not in practice used as a cloture mechanism’ and ‘it is even improbable that the Senate could have used the previous question for cloture.’ It had the effect in the Senate of delaying consideration of a question until a later time. It seems clear that it was seldom, if ever, employed.
Instead, Cooper argues, the Senate met behind closed doors, and debate was ended by consensus (Arenburg, Dove, Udall., 2012, p. 19).
The most common method for reaching consensus was through the use of unanimous consent agreements. These served, and still do serve, a highly valuable place in maintaining the functionality of the Senate on a daily basis. These agreements may cover anything from structuring debate, regulating the number of amendments to be attached to a bill, and which Senator will speak and when (Arenburg, Dove, Udall, 2012, p. 86). It was the regular use of unanimous consent agreements that spurred the removal of the “previous question” motion, a rule which, in the Senate, essentially stated that once an item went to a vote and was passed by the majority, the discussion regarding the bill was dropped (Binder, 2010).
On March 2, 1805, when the then-Vice President and leader of the Senate, Aaron Burr, gave one of the most highly-renowned farewell addresses in the Senates history. He had just been indicted for the dueling murder of Alexander Hamilton, and decided perhaps it might be best to resign his post. (Arenburg, Dove, Udall, 2012, p.19 ). Part of the content of this speech would go on to lay the groundwork for what is recognized today as the filibuster. According to the firsthand account of John Quincy Adams, “He mentioned one or two of the rules … and recommended the abolition of that respecting the previous question, had in the four years been only once taken, and that upon an amendment. This was proof that it could not be necessary, and all its purposes were certainly much better answered by the question of indefinite postponement” (Arenburg, Dove, Udall, 2012, p. 20). Despite his treasonous behavior, Burr was still highly regarded among the US Senate, and his suggestion was quickly taken up and an amendment was made to the Senate rulebook. In the early days of US government, politics were far less divisive and polarized, and the idea that the removal of the “previous question” motion would possess the potential to create a runaway train, was a thought that didn’t appear to cross anyone’s mind (Arenburg, Dove, Udall, 2012, p. 19). The new change became effective on 1806 (Binder, 2010).
If the idea of this sounds messy, it often looks far worse in practice. The Senate allows recognition to any member seeking to be heard, as long as no other Senator is already speaking and grants that Senator the right to speak as long as he or she wishes, effectively removing any chance of dislodging a member or group of members who plan to stall and delay indefinitely.
The first proper filibuster wasn’t until 1841 and it didn’t take long to realize it would pose a problem. Henry Clay, of the Whig Party, proposed a banking bill which was incredibly unpopular with the minority Senate democrats. He knew immediately something needed to be done to stop the filibuster, but could do nothing. His efforts to alter the current rules to put an end to the debate were balked at by Democrats and were not supported by this fellow Whig party members. Defeated, Henry Clay withdrew his effort, and thus the filibuster claimed its first victim (US Senate, “Filibuster”).
If that wasn’t problematic enough, up until 1917, no rule existed on the Senate books to kill a filibuster, at all. Repeated attempts to bring back the “previous question” motion all failed, and Senate leaders were left to manage filibusters with alternatives like unanimous content agreements (Binder, 2010). This still didn’t stop Senators like Robert La Follette from conducting an 18 hour, 23 minute filibuster, in 1908, one that lands him in the top 10 longest in Senate history (US Senate, “A Deadly Drink”).
With the arrival of WWI, came a new urgency to finally find a way to halt the filibuster. Though the Senate had been trying to adopt a cloture rule since the beginning of the 20th century, the war gave added pressure to at last end the endless debate (Binder, 2010). Rule 22 was finally passed and with it came yet another slight bit of misfortune in the filibusters history. As a concession to the Republicans, who actually threatened to filibuster its passing, the Democrats agreed that instead of a simple majority, a supermajority of 2/3 would be required to end the discussion (Binder, 2010). Even this is no easy task, as will be explained later. However, despite its possibly shortcomings, Rule 22’s arrival could not have been more pivotal. The first invocation of cloture was probably one, if not the, most important uses of cloture to date; it brought an end to the filibuster of the Treaty of Versailles (US Senate, “Filibuster”).
The filibuster’s next big appearance was in 1957, when Strom Thurmond filibustered the 1957 Civil Rights Act. To this day, his 24 hour, 18 minute speech remains the longest on record. He wasn’t the only Southern senator to use the filibuster to his advantage; one of the most frequent uses of the filibuster in and around the 1960’s was to block the passage of anti-lynching and civil rights legislation.
This reached a fever pitch during the attempted passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was finally resolved with a cloture vote after 60 days of filibustering (US Senate “Filibuster”).
The 1970’s also saw their fair share of filibusters and attempts to reign in their destructive force. In 1975, the supermajority required for the invocation of cloture was changed from 2/3rds to 3/5ths (US Senate, “Filibuster”). The following year, 1976, Senator James Allen, one of the most renowned obstructionists in American Senate history, discovered an extremely clever loophole, that was both highly effective and incredibly obnoxious. The tactic, known as the “filibuster by amendment”, worked this way: after the invocation of cloture, he demanded roll call votes and quorum calls on all of the germane amendments (that is, amendments relevant to the pending bill) (US Senate, “Germane”) he had added to the legislation prior to the invocation of cloture, somewhere around 75 (Satterthwaite). At around 30 minutes a vote, the process dragged on for ages. Soon others began doing this, and patience with the filibuster began to wane (CQ Press). Only three years after agonizing introduction of the filibuster by amendment, lawmakers had already had more than enough of it and was time to put a reasonable limit on post-cloture debate once and for all. Originally set at an absolute maximum of 100 hours, the maximum number of post-cloture debate hours was reduced in 1979 down to just 30 hours (CQ Press).
Knowing all of this, perhaps a Senator decides that it would be in the best interest of her constituents to stage an old-fashioned talking filibuster. The ultimate goal is to be obstructionary or threaten to be as much as possible, in an attempt to strong-arm the sponsors of the bill into amending or withdrawing it. Once she begins all other business will grind to a halt, and if she is able to persist long enough, eventually the bill’s sponsors will have no choice but to concede if they hope to allow voting and discussion to resume on other important issues. The other option is to force cloture, or a supermajority vote, with the hope that the Senate will not be able to obtain the 60 votes it now needs to invoke cloture as a last resort. This is rarely done, as it is an extremely time-consuming and difficult process. Because of the structure used during the Senate’s legislative process, she will have multiple opportunities to force either cloture, an amendment, or a withdrawal (Political Glossaries, 2007).
The first chance will arise before the bill even reaches the floor, the Senator may place a hold, or threat to filibuster, with the Senate Majority or Minority leaders, if the bill is proposed for debate. If the hold is ignored and the bill brought forward, the motion to bring the bill to the floor for discussion can also be filibustered. If none of those methods work, the bill itself will move to the floor for open debate (Satterthwaite).
Once a filibuster has begun in earnest, the senator, who is now holding the floor cannot sit down or leave the floor for any reason, even to go to the bathroom, unless someone speaks in her place. During this time, Madam Senator will have an unrestricted library of material to chose from to fill her time. She may choose to quote poetry, recite aloud her favorite book, read telephone listings (which has actually been done), or simply just ramble on about nothing at all. At some point, if the bill’s sponsors have not relented, the rest of the Senate will probably grow sick of this political theater. Now it is time to deploy the fairly drastic and only option: cloture.
Two full days must pass from the beginning of the filibuster before there can be a motion to invoke cloture, creating another massive loss of time and productivity. A minimum of 16 Senators must then sign a motion to invoke. Once that has been signed, two more days must pass before a vote can be taken on invocation. It then requires a 3/5 supermajority to pass the motion. From that point on, an additional 30 hours still exists until the final roll call vote on the passage of the legislation. It is quite possible, that given the right amount of gusto, tenacity, strong physical constitution and legislative chaos, one obstructionist, or a group of like-minded obstructionists could easily bring the Senate to a standstill for a week just by filibustering the bill or simply by forcing the invocation of cloture (Satterthwaite).
Currently in the US Senate, all a Senator needs to do is cry “filibuster” and what is known as a “silent filibuster” is enacted. The silent filibuster is far and away the most common obstructionary tactic used in the Senate today. It begins right before a bill is brought to the floor for debate. Those opposed to the bill with place a hold, or threat to filibuster, with the Senate Majority or Minority leaders (Satterthwaite). After this, they skip straight to the cloture or supermajority vote. There are other options available to the bill’s sponsors when a hold is placed. They could include, forcing a talking filibuster by proceeding with the bill, allowing the alteration of the bill or, if they have nearly 60 votes, the bill’s sponsor may choose to negotiate with the opposition with the hope of bringing more Senators to their side. The Democratic Senate majority under President Obama has pretty consistently chosen to either invoke cloture, try and negotiate or just give up and shelve filibustered legislation that falls victim to the Republican minority (Sharma and Kalven, 2012).
Because of the ease with which this can be done, a movement is now under way to attempt to bring back the talking filibuster and make Senators work for their obstruction. One may ask however, why the majority in the Senate doesn’t just force the minority to stage talking filibusters and the answer is quite simple. If the minority has 40 like-minded senators in opposition to a bill, they could stage a fantastically time-consuming filibuster and because of this, it’s much more practical for the majority simply to just allow a silent filibuster (Sharma and Kalven, 2012). In Defending of the Filibuster, explain the possible hazards this way. “The filibusterers are able to take turns holding the floor, and since they can demand the presence of a quorum at virtually any moment, it is the majority that carries the heavier burden because they need to keep fifty-one senators (a quorum) nearby. If the filibusterers call for a quorum and it is not produced, under the rules the Senate must adjourn” (2012, p.146).
During the 2009-2010 Senate session, a mind-numbing 139 cloture motions were filed, 112 cloture votes were taken and cloture was invoked a jaw-dropping 61 times. This number has dropped very little since. This is especially over-the-top when you realize that until 1970, the number of cloture motions had never passed seven (Lindeman, 2013). It is hard not to wonder why, under these circumstances, why the majority party would not just force the minority to simply perform a talking filibuster, but as previously mentioned, this tactic can be even more destructive than simply forcing a supermajority vote. It would however, force those responsible to genuinely work for their obstruction. It is hard to imagine the minority staging over 100 talking filibusters each congressional term. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) brings up another advantage to forcing a talking filibuster, “It would achieve greater visibility … as to why things are jammed up in Washington” (as cited in Arenburg, Dove, Udall, 2012, p.143).
Recently, it seems, this unprecedented overuse of the filibuster has finally begun to experience the backlash that seemed to be looming inevitably on the horizon. In November of 2013, with Senate productivity and functionality at a seemingly the lowest in the nation’s history, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deployed what was considered to be the nuclear option. Frustrated after the filibustering of three qualified Presidential nominees to the Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit by the Senate minority Republicans, Reid presided over a 52-48 vote which would prohibit the use of the filibuster on executive- and judicial-branch presidential nominees. It also will allow nominations to pass with a simple majority vote, instead of a supermajority vote (Idrobo, 2013). It’s not hard to imagine that further filibuster reforms aren’t looming, and with increased political polarization, the environment where the filibuster is relied upon so heavily seems to be growing more ideal everyday.
The problem that has been and always will be the most relevant, when considering how to derail, control or restrain the filibuster is the unceasingly cyclical nature of the US Senate. No party will ever hold indefinite power, and despite the unmitigated misery caused by those in the minority who wield the filibusters power mercilessly, their time, will one day, come to an end. Any party hoping to disarm their enemy will inevitably wake one day to discover that they have also disarmed themselves, and now have found themselves at an increased vulnerability to those whom they once attempted to incapacitate.
In his address to the Heritage Foundation, the ranking Republican on the Rules Committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), eloquently expressed this sentiment, and summed up Senate Democrats’ worst fears, “Those who want to create a freight train running through the Senate today, as it does in the House, might think about whether they will want that freight train in two years when the freight train might be the Tea Party Express … The reform the Senate needs is a change in behavior, not a change in rules” (as cited in Arenburg, Dove, Udall, 2012, p.179).
When considering the filibusters life as a whole, its long turbulent history and its timely appearance at some of the biggest crossroads in American history, it is clear that this is one of the most empowering forms of offense the minority has to defend itself. It only makes sense that it in times of trouble, chaos or discontent, that often the country’s lawmakers and citizens would find themselves clutching more devoutly to their beliefs more than ever before, and that is why it is so necessary that the filibuster exists.
There is one fact that keeps getting overlooked, however. The filibuster is a weapon, not a tool, and it ought to be treated as such. An overuse of force often gives the impression that there is an unrelenting threat and it bears remembering that extreme political polarization is not that. There is a difference between claiming the sky is falling and choosing to drop the roof on your head. If the Senate wants to decrease the discourse, it might be wise of them, as Sen. Alexander suggested, to change the behavior instead of the rules. The use and abuse of the filibuster is a cause and a symptom of the Senate’s overall discord and sickness; it’s an illness that can’t be cured with the resentful imposition of reform, but only with open, productive, respectful discussion.
"Filibuster." CQ Press In Context : Future of the Supreme Court. CQ Press, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <http://www.cqpress.com/incontext/supremecourt/filibuster.htm>.
‘filibuster’ 2007, in Political Glossaries: A Glossary of US Politics and Government, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburg, Scotland, United Kingdom, viewed 04 December 2013, <from https://www.credoreference.com>
Henry Clay. (2009). In Speakers of the House of Representatives, 1789-2009. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.greatbay.edu/login?qurl=http%3A%2F %2Fwww.credoreference.com/entry/ghshr/henry_clay
Idroba, Marlena, (2013, Dec 04). NATION & WORLD. University Wire. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.greatbay.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1464781784? accountid=3779
Kapur, Sahil. “Nuclear Option Triggered.” Talking Points Memo. N.p., 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/harry-reid-nuclear-option-senate>.
Lindeman, Todd (2013, May 15). Is the Filibuster Unconstitutional?. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/is-the-filibuster unconstitutional/2012/05/15/gIQAYLp7QU_blog.html
Oloffson, Kristi. “A Brief History of Filibusters.” TIME.com. Time Magazine, 2 Nov. 2009. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <http://content.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1933802,00.html>.
"U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Historical Minutes > 1878-1920 > A Deadly Drink." U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Historical Minutes > 1878-1920 > A Deadly Drink. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013. <http://www.senate.gov/>.
"U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Origins & Development > Powers & Procedures > Filibuster and Cloture." U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Origins & Development > Powers & Procedures > Filibuster and Cloture. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013. <http://www.senate.gov/>.
"U.S. Senate: Reference Home > Glossary > germane." U.S. Senate: Reference Home > Glossary > germane. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013. <http://www.senate.gov>.
“For girls and women, education has the potential to also unlock the shackles of oppression and subjugation that prevent them from joining and contributing to society and living their fullest lives” (Kissane). Across the developing world, the gender education disparity is undeniable. There are countless factors that prevent girls and women from attending educational institutions, often entirely. These circumstances and factors are often religious, cultural, socio-economical or a combination of any of these and numerous other factors. It is not uncommon to see trends and patterns throughout countries that deny women the right to an education. Although the motivations may vary slightly, the overlapping theme tends to be a view that perceives women to be second class, physically and intellectually inferior, as financial commodities, or incapable of being self-sustaining. The result of this thinking is often very destructive and dangerous to the communities where these women live, and also to the world as a whole. In order for the necessary investment in the academic and psychological development of females to truly begin in third world and developing countries, there must first be a radical cultural transformation. If this is is able to occur, the impact of a women’s education is so far reaching and pervasive, it has the ability to alter every aspect of their lives, and those of the community.
Despite the initiatives, the investments and the overwhelming calls for change (which hail largely from developed and economically sound countries), it is almost as common now as it was a hundred years ago to hear horror stories about the denial of education to girls and women in developing and third world countries. This is because of a pervasive attitude in favor of marriage and motherhood at almost incomprehensibly young ages. There are millions of girls worldwide who can tragically relate all too well with stories like that of Yasmine, whose story is one of many documented on the World Education website.
“Please educate me if you love me,” was nine-year old Yasmine’s plea to her father. Yasmine, the second youngest child of nine, was about to miss the chance of enrolling in school again. Her youngest brother was already set to follow the path of her three older brothers, who have since earned technical high school diplomas. Her four older sisters did not receive any education…Like many girls born to rural families in Upper Egypt, Yasmine’s father believes that her place is at home. Her duty, as he sees it, is to help her father care for the field and help her mother with cattle and household chores. Her father is of the opinion that educating his daughters would result in harassment in the school or on the streets (n.p.).
Fortunately, workers were able to convince Yasmine’s father that to educate her would not just better her life, but that it would better that of her family as well (World Education). This example and so many like it are reflective of the dire need that exists to change the traditional dialogue that has persisted for centuries, or perhaps even a millennium about the value of educating girls and women.
To understand the implications of the under-education of girls and women in third world and developing countries, one must first examine the roots from which these inequities arise. When discussing the roles of tradition and culture, it is most often necessary to begin with religion. For as long as anyone can remember, Afghanistan has been struggling with education, for both genders, but especially their women. The country has been under the influence of strict Islamic (sharia) law, which is often a distorted misrepresentation of Koranic teachings. Many of these teachings are altered to emphasize the Koran’s expectation of a strongly patriarchal society.
To invest in the teaching of women, and therefore create an environment of empowerment for females throughout society, would stand in direct contradiction to these beliefs and also serve to directly undermined them in many ways (Kissane).
Girls and women are also taught that seeking an education is both an act of dishonor towards both them and their families, and because many girls and women in strict Islamist countries require a familial male escort to leave the house, it is highly unlikely that a young girl will be able to find someone willing to bring her to classes. If these daily challenges toward seeking an education were not enough, many girls face out-right violence during their attempts to attend. It is not uncommon in countries like Afghanistan to hear stories of young girls suffering acid attacks or being poisoned at school. One of the most well-known stories regarding the struggle to educate girls comes from neighboring Pakistan. Malala Yousafzai, a young school-girl was shot in the head by an assassin after she refused to stop attending primary school, under the order of the radical Islamic terrorist organization, the Taliban (Baker).
Not only do radical religious perspectives create almost insurmountable challenges for girls education, but long standing traditional and cultural practices as well. One very common reason girls are denied an education is because they are married at an extremely early age, some as soon as they begin menstruating (which is sometimes as young as eight or nine), often to men who are 20, 30 or even 40 years their senior. There are many different reasons why a family (or more than likely, the males of the family) may choose to marry their daughters off alarmingly young. At the root however is often finances. If an impoverished family is unable to feed, clothe and shelter its members, and marrying off their daughters is a very practical way to ensure there is one less person to consider. Families can often collect large dowries for their daughters, making their marriages highly lucrative. Practices like this are commonly found in agricultural societies around the globe, but more so in agricultural societies that are at the mercy of harsh weather and other severe conditions. “In the years when rains or crops fail, so-called ‘drought brides’ - who bring in a dowry while being one less mouth to feed - push numbers up dramatically” (Mark). It is not all that surprising, that many human rights organizations believe child marriage to be a form of human trafficking.
Because of the fact that girls marry so young, there is also a question of who her education would actually be benefitting. Many families believed that when they pay for the education of their girls, they are doing it for the benefit of her husband and his family, not for the benefit of those who raised her. Patrick Edewor, during his research interviews with undereducated male members of Nigeria’s Isoko tribe (a highly patriarchal society), who were between the ages of 20-39, found that that feeling is beginning to change. “It is not an uncommon feeling that educating a girl was a waste of money. Many families believed that when they paid for the education of their girls, they were doing it for the benefit of her husband and his family, not for the benefit of those who raised her” (65).
There is also the issue of child-birth. In most cases, child brides are expected to begin trying to conceive as immediately as their wedding night. This often has dire consequences, especially for adolescent girls whose severely under-developed bodies are not prepared for intercourse or to carry a child. In situations where the bride is still in early adolescence, this can be devastating. One such story reported in Yemen tragically embodies these consequences all to well. An article released by CNN shortly after the incident occurred, explains it in horrifying detail:
When reports emerged last week that a girl named Rawan, from the northern Yemeni town of Haradh, died a few days after being married off to a 40-year-old man, Yemenis were horrified.International outrage quickly grew, as the alleged incident highlighted once again the extremely controversial issue of child marriage in Yemen — a country where the practice is still legal. Residents of Haradh told local media outlets that Rawan’s cause of death was internal bleeding, believed to be the result of sexual intercourse that tore her uterus and other organs (Jamjoom and Almasmari).
In the country of Uganda, “The total fertility rate is one of the highest in SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa), at 6.7 children per woman, which is attributed to high incidences of early marriages and low contraceptive use.” (F. Muhangazi, H. Muhangazi, Bennett) Death and health complications for both mother and child are very common in situations such as these. “The consequences of child marriage do not end when child brides reach adulthood, but often follow them throughout their lives as they struggle with the health effects of getting pregnant too young and too often, their lack of education and economic independence, domestic violence, and marital rape.” (AllAfrica.com)
The very fact however, that women play such an integral part of their families lives is one reason that cultural thinking is beginning to change. A research paper written by Patrick Edewor about the changing perceptions in Nigerian education mirrors a common feeling found world wide, and provides one of the best possible chances for change; women are inherently the caretakers and what benefits them, benefits their families, especially aging parents and relatives . When interviewing members of the Isoko tribe, a common answer from educated women ages 30-49 sounded like this:
People have now realized that a daughter is more rewarding than a son. The moment a boy gets married, he would only concentrate on his wife and in-laws. But a girl would always remember her parents. Even though girls still get pregnant in school, when they give birth, they continue with their schooling. I know a girl in class 4 who got pregnant. After she had the baby, her mother had to take over the baby so she could return to school…. Many women who did that for their daughters who got pregnant in school are now enjoying the benefits (64).
Human rights organization Day of the Girl mentions some of the other familial gains regarding education: “On average, a girl with 7 years of education will marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children. A girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV. Children born to educated mothers are two times more likely to survive past the age of 5” (Girls Denied…).
The financial benefits are also as sweeping and remarkable in their impact. It stands to reason that the simple fact that educated women are far more likely to produce smaller families translates fewer mouths to feed. Furthermore, if a woman is able to get a job because of her education and the fact that she has fewer responsibilities at home, the family now has two sources of income instead of one, thus increasing the ability to care for all household members. With more food, better shelter, and a lessened need for physically demanding work the health of the family improves. Children are more likely to be sent to school and more purchases and trades within the community will help to bolster the local, regional and national economies; a rising tide lifts all boats.
When you give girls an education, you aren’t just teaching them, you are changing their lives. Most, if not all, of the horrible situations and scenarios mentioned previously, can and are avoided, simply by sending girls to school. Then of course, there are the less tangible outcomes, like increased self-respect and an increased respect from others. There’s also the effect it has in disrupting gender roles and stereotypes. It also teaches girls to be leaders, politicians, and business owners. A respondent from Patrick Edewor’s study summed up the changing sentiment well.
Another reason why it was thought that the education of a girl was a waste is that it was felt that her education would end up in the kitchen. While the boys went to school, the girls were made to stay home to look after their younger siblings. But now, we have realized the importance of sending girls to school because if you get to the offices and you see educated women neatly dressed and with a pen in their hand, matching round the whole place, you will admire them. One would not regret sending their daughter to school at all (65).
Despite the slowing changing perceptions, and apart from the cultural, financial and traditional reasons inherent in the struggle to educate girls, are the almost overwhelming challenges in providing schooling, even if the desire is there. Sadly, sometimes the reasoning has more to do with the difficulties with just getting to school that attending it. In many locations it is very dangerous just for girls to get to school. Many must travel exceptionally far distances, unprotected across unsecured routes. For girls living in war zones, this can lead to kidnapping, rape, mutilation or death (Jones).
Even if they do have relatively safe access to schooling, their families either can’t afford or can’t obtain the necessary or require supplies. Many impoverished countries do not offer access to free education, and it is not uncommon for children to sometimes miss large portions of the school-year because their families are unable to consistently afford classes. If they are able to attend, the curriculum and faculty at times betrays a strong gender-bias, which tends to portray girls and women very negatively. Instruction like this is very unlikely to be of strong encouragement or incentive to even girls who want to pursue an education, especially if even their instructive material is reinforcing the belief in female inferiority and is supportive of discriminatory practices (Jones).
Many parents and educators also believe that post-pubescent girls should not be attending co-ed schools often because of a fear of sexual assault or unwanted pregnancy. Sadly, it is rare to find schools in most rural, undeveloped countries that cater exclusively to females. It is also not unusual for male teachers to engage in unwanted and exploitive sexual relationships with their female students (Jones). Rachel Williams, a reporter from The Guardian, in her article about educating girls in India, discussed the extreme challenges facing girls as they attempt navigate these difficult sexual situations and what happens to them when they fall victim to circumstances beyond their control.
Meena (not her real name) didn’t tell her parents when the older boys started harassing her on the hour-long walk to school from her home in Madanpur Khadar, south Delhi – grabbing her hand and shouting “kiss me” – because she knew she would get the blame, as if she had somehow encouraged them. She was right: when her family found out, they banned her from going back to school, worried about the effect on their “honour” if she was sexually assaulted. The plan now is to get her married. She is 16 (n.p).
Lastly, the quality of education available to girls (and boys for that matter) is often wholly inadequate. Classrooms are crammed with children, and often, there are no teachers. School buildings are often unstable or in conditions so poor that they are often hazardous. In the same article about schooling in India, Rachel Williams described one girls experience this way, “…there are 70 pupils in a class at her school, and the teachers often simply don’t turn up. The drinking water tanks are so filthy the pupils bring their own water. ‘I have never gone to a toilet at school in all these years, they are so bad,’ the 14-year-old says.” (n.p.)
Despite the recommendation of the Global Campaign for Education, a world-wide amalgamation of 26 NGOs and teaching organizations, recommends that every country globally, spend at least 6% of their GDP on education, countries like India regularly fall well shy of this goal, and have been for decades. Most wealthy lawmakers who are in control of government-run education usually send their own children to private schools and institutions, simply because they can afford it, thus removing themselves and their children from the direct impact of the country’s failing schools (Williams).
Though tradition, cultural conditioning and necessity clearly play very strong roles in preventing a very large portion of the women and girls in third world and developing nations from gaining access to and completing an education, it is hard to truly understand what long-term gains are achieved as a result. The restraints that often prohibit girls from obtaining an education are cultural, and therefore the desire to change this thinking must be as well. Those portions of the population who continue to stay rooted in often unnecessary ancient traditions and beliefs that may have served them in the past, will begin to see their way of life become increasingly obsolete and unsustainable. One census conducted in Zamfara, Nigeria in 1998, found that out of a population of 3.2 million females, less than 4,000 were receiving or had received some form of education (Mark). How can a society or community possibly continue to exist with education numbers that low? How can it remain economically viable or healthy enough for the next generations? The consequences from many of these societal choices are ripples that easily become waves as they expand outward from their communities into the country, region and eventually the world, very much in the same way that relatively positive, small, simple changes might as well. Girls can’t make these changes on their own. They are dependent on their parents and communities to decide they are worth investing in. This is why it is so critical that a shift in culture and tradition take place, because without it, many of these girls are doomed from the moment they are born.
Baker, Aryn. “Malala Yousafzai.” Time 181.12 (2013): 15. Business Source Elite. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.
"Changing Attitudes Means More Girls In School." World Education. World Education Inc., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
Daily Outlook, Afghanistan. “Controversy Regarding Girls’ Education.” Daily Outlook Afghanistan (Kabul, Afghanistan) 03 Oct. 2013: Points of View Reference Center. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.
"Child Marriage." Day of the Girl. Day of the Girl-US, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
Edewor, Patrick. “Changing Perceptions of the Value of Daughters and Girls’ Education among the Isoko of Nigeria.” African Population Studies [Online], 21.1 (2006): n. page. Web. 2 Dec. 2013
Jamjoom, Mohammed, and Hakim Almasmari. “Yemen Minister on Child Marriage: Enough Is Enough.” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
ERIC. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.
Kissane, Carolyn. “The Way Forward for Girls’ Education in Afghanistan.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 13.4 (2012): 10-28. ProQuest. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
"Mark Day of Girl by Fighting Child Marriage - Child Brides Denied Education, Face Violence, Health Catastrophes Press Release]." AllAfrica.com Oct 10 2012. ProQuest. Web. 30 Sep. 2013 .
Mark, Monica. “Nigeria’s Child Brides Suffer as Tradition and Sharia Law Combine to Outweigh Official Ban: Outcry Over Practice Common in North: Child Marriage Likened to Modern-Day Slavery.” The Guardian: 21. Sep 03 2013. ProQuest. Web. 30 Sep. 2013 .
Muhanguzi, Florence Kyoheirwe, Jane Bennett, and Hosea R. D. Muhanguzi. “The Construction and Mediation of Sexuality and Gender Relations: Experiences of Girls and Boys in Secondary Schools in Uganda.” Feminist Formations 23.3 (2011): 135-52. ProQuest. Web. 30 Sep. 2013.
Williams, Rachel. “Why Girls in India Are Still Missing out on the Education They Need.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
Norma awoke shortly before her alarm radio abruptly blasted to life. It was 5 am and the drawl of modern country jolted her from the purgatory between life and unconsciousness. She rose like a zombie from a fresh grave and began taking uncertain steps to her bedroom door. Still recovering from sleep, she forced her unwilling legs down the short, white-washed apartment hallway to the bedroom her two young sons shared. Gently pushing the door open and savoring her last few moments of calm, she then moved cautiously across the floor, keen to take notice of any Lego landmines before stepping on them. When she reached the bunk-beds, she softly cooed to her sleeping babies awake while she tussled their messy hair.
“Henry, Davey, wake up boys. It’s time to start the day.”
Once she was convinced they’d awoke, it was now time for her to officially begin her day. Wandering to the kitchen, she got her morning coffee started, grabbed the boys’ fruity cereal from atop the fridge and set it down with two bowls, and two glasses. They could grab their milk, juice and spoons themselves. She’d stop and grab something quick to eat at McDonald’s on her way in to work. As the middle-schoolers emerged from their room, she returned to hers to start dressing. Ever the planner, Norma found everything she needed hanging at the ready in her closet: A long-sleeved white cotton button-down and a pair of gray dress slacks, which she completed with a pair of black pumps, which stood somewhere between comfort and fashion. She quickly brushed out her chin-length brown bob, painted her skin with some foundation exotically titled “Warm Sand” and dashed a bit of eye-liner and mascara around her wide brown eyes, and then carefully penciled in her thin brows.
The boys were now heading back to their rooms to get dressed, which freed up the kitchen for lunch-making. Ever the planner, Norma had already separated the leftovers from last night’s meal (some new recipe for casserole she’d read off a soup can) into to little Tupperware containers. Once they’d been tossed into lunch boxes along with a banana, a juice pouch, and some cheese crackers, it was time to stuff them into the kids backpacks, make sure they’d brushed their teeth, and get them out to the bus-stop. This was a slow morning, and after helping them into their boots and jackets, whisked them outside just as the bus approached the curb.
Gathering up her worn, navy blue faux-leather purse, tan coat, and dangerously hot coffee, she headed out to the family car: a red, 10-year-old Ford station wagon that she’d purchased shortly after she and the boys’ father had split up. Digging through her bag, she extracted a lighter and a half-smoked pack of cigarettes. Her routine was so exact, she knew she had just enough time to finish this little piece of heaven before pulling up to the drive-thru and purchasing her breakfast.
Six years back, new to the area and in desperate need of work to support two little toddlers, she had responded to an add in the classifieds. Thankfully, her future employers had been just as desperate as her. It was meant to be a temporary solution to a temporary problem, but now, more than half a decade later, she was still the make-up artist at A & D Mortuary. The pay was decent, and she and the boys received health and dental.
The job itself was simple enough, but often, the human cost was much too high. Norma pulled herself into her spot, just beside the rear entrance and made her way inside. In a small area just off the break-room, she hung her coat and purse and grabbed her yellow apron. Her bosses had initially balked at the idea, thinking it a bit odd and unprofessional, but eventually they came around. Though she was a generally unexciting woman, everyone needed a little ray of sunshine, especially in a place like this.
So far it looked like a slow day; only one customer, a Mrs. Elsie Mae Johnson. Mrs. Johnson looked to be a frail little piece of woman, no more than 5 ft tall with bones as delicate as a starling. Without life in her veins, her skin had taken a ghoulishly pale tone, and her head and face, nearly devoid of hair, only served to exacerbate this. If pressed to give an age, Norma would have placed her birth around the same time as the death of Lincoln.
Norma flipped open Mrs. Johnson’s file and pulled out a photo of the once living cadaver which now lay before her. The face that looked back at her left her dumbstruck at first. It was a family portrait,taken outside and there in the foreground right in the middle, sat a firecracker of a woman. Mrs. Johnson’s permanent had been fluffed and dyed an unnatural shade of golden orange, which had faded in places, and when combined with the presumably gray hair hiding beneath, made it appear lavender. Her cheeks were rosy-too rosy. Around her green eyes lie a thick circle of harsh purple eye-liner, complimented with baby-blue eye shadow and polished off with crunchy layers of black mascara, applied and reapplied to the few eyelashes that remained. Above that sat two penciled-in burnt orange eyebrows. Her lips, served as the final touch-frosted bubble gum pink. Elsie Mae, beamed, she glowed.
“Oh Christ,” Norma muttered. She was a good Catholic, but even Pope Francis might find himself struggling to maintain composure as the kooky face of death lie before him, daring him to paint it. With Elsie Mae’s spirit now gone to heaven, Norma knew it was now her turn to apply this dear lady’s final face. She started, then stopped. As hesitantly spread foundation from a bottle labeled “Warm Sand”, some of the life returned to Elsie’s lackluster complexion. She took one look at Elsie Mae’s nearly bald scalp and cringed.
Norma encountered situations like this regularly enough so that she planned for it. She had a box of hair, well rather, a box of wigs. This wouldn’t be much help to her however. Most of the dearly departed were not quite as coiffed as Mrs. Johnson. She opened the giant Rubbermaid and extracted a ginger red, shoulder-length bob. Best bet, Norma would tease the living hell out of it and it might just be passable.
With the most immediate challenge dealt with, it was now time for Norma to get this modest-looking little face all glammed up with the most demure drag make-up she was capable of. She herself couldn’t fathom leaving the house looking half as electric as the Crayola-colored face before her, let alone attending a funeral, but this party was Elsie Mae’s and dammit, by the time Norma was done, her casket would be bursting forth with radiance, compliments of the most sparkling eyes and lips she’d ever seen glued together. At times, Norma couldn’t help but feel like a child again, bedazzling the faces of one of her helpless baby-dolls, something that typically required more emotional investment and dedication, than it actually did technique.
Shortly after 4pm, Norma applied the final touches, added a few tweaks here and there, and stepped back to behold her client. It was far from perfect, but she felt like Elsie Mae probably would be sympathetic to her plight and flattered by all her effort. She hoped the family would take mercy on her and feel the same way as well. With a reflective parting glance, and a kind smile, Norma put her away, and began moving through her final end-of-day responsibilities. She’d be out a reasonable time today, and the boys wouldn’t be left waiting for her at after-school care for long.
After grabbing her things, she clocked out, and headed to her car. She unlocked it, hopped inside lit a cigarette and slowly pulled away. Tomorrow she’d return to the world of the dead, today though, had been one of the most lively and joyful she’d spent with anyone over the age of 12 in longer than she cared to remembered.
My little degenerate
Causes putrification of thoughts
Unsolicited visitors (you among them)
with little devil lips
you look sick.
You all do.
I’ve got the disease
and you’re rife with symptoms.
Everything was fine earlier
and will be again later as well.
it would be best
If you’d kindly
This is my ugliest look
Tonight I sleep
in my hug.
No one needs
me more than