Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Female Genital Mutilation...should it be acceptable based on cultural tradition?

Female Genital Mutilation

All cultures have the right to maintain their heritage, but there are some rituals that cross ethical boundaries. Honor murders, rape, slavery, polygamy, pedophilic practices, and mutilation, can be considered hazardous to a person’s health and well-being.  Things of that nature cross the boundaries of human law.  Traditions such as polygamy and female circumcision may be presented as a choice, and a right of passage, or an honor, but they have the characteristics of a cult, whereas the female has been herded into believing that somehow mutilation of a sex organ is empowering to them, and is their right as a part of their culture, this is what sets them aside from the rest of the world; their traditions.  The problem with “I’m entitled to my culture’s belief system” is that all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have long been abandoned.
Many of those that want to preserve their culture’s ritualistic traditions, accuse those against these outdated atrocities, as having cultural imperialism: that these “imperialists” want to subject the entire world to only one set of standards.  But it is more than just about what is acceptable to another society.  From a Health Culture and Society blog article, showing the adverse affects of female mutilation: 
The serious health complications associated with FGM are among the many reasons why this issue is so important. From a study of 871 women in Gambia with FGM showed that there was a substantial amount of complications rising from all types of FGM, even type I (the form of least anatomical removal). The results showed 34.4 % of the women presented with complications from FGM. These were either immediate complications consisting of infections (87.3%), hemorrhages (36.4%) and Anemia (38.2%) or late complications consisting of abnormal scarring (86.1 %)(Kaplan, Hechavarria, Martin & Bonhoure, 2011).”
Where there is smoke there is fire, woman are crying out that they are forced at a young age to perform these ritualistic acts. Our values for beauty do differ; from a 2002 article, “What About Female Mutilation” by Richard A. Shweder   where the practice of female circumcision is popular, including Somalia and the Sudan, it is widely believed by women that these genital alterations improve their bodies and make them more beautiful, more feminine, more civilized, and more honorable.” 
 There are many advocates for the preservation of a societies culture, and the cause about outlawing such practices is less about what we find as beautiful, attractive, or acceptable; it’s about physical and mental health risks to women. 
Many defenders of ritualistic genital mutilation compare it to the current trend for other forms of body mutilation (modification): tattoos, piercings, transdermal implants, and body art. The comparison is not valid because at the root of female genital circumcision is control of woman’s sexuality, in effect, controlling them. Female genital mutilation procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons are meant to eliminate any sexual pleasure and preserve a woman’s virginity.  It is often synonymous with docility and obedience.  
Nor can you compare it to a male circumcision.  While in some Jewish, Islamic, and other cultures, it remains a celebratory event; male circumcision has become a golden standard procedure set by our healthcare system. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states “…the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks:  easier hygiene, decreased risk of urinary tract infections, decreased risk of sexually transmitted infections, prevention of penile problems, and a decreased risk of penile cancer.”
We need to see female mutilation for what it is: an unjustified ritual that does not glorify women,  is a violation of women’s rights,  and cuts them to the core of who they are as sexual beings.  Just like we abolish horrible acts of slavery, of mass killings, of old societies ideals, we need to abolish Female Genital Mutilation.
 Works Cited

Hollenback, Sherina. Cornford, Michelle. Blog Article 8562849 Pub Health Culture and Society, Web. 2014.

R. Shweder, M. Minow, H. Markus, Eds. "Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies." New York:Russell Sage Foundation Press 2002. Print.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Are factions threatening to American democracy?

Are factions threatening to American democracy? The People’s best interests are being ignored due to partisan fighting in Washington and the division it is causing.

The Federalist Papers were a series of 85 essays that were written and conceived by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, and appeared in New York newspapers between October of 1787 and August of 1788. (Madison, James.) The essays were a means in which to urge New York delegates to ratify the Constitution. Federalist paper #10 in particular addresses how to guard the new government against factions, or groups of citizens with special interests. In a free society, some of the population are inevitably going to pursue their self-interests, but if the government takes away their rights to pursue these self-interests, it also takes away their political freedom. To protect America from that, Madison and the Framers wanted a limited republic rather than a democracy. The elected officials, not the people, would make the laws; this created a divider between people’s passions and making laws. Madison thought that competing interest groups were necessary for good government because it gave people a means for contributing to the democratic process, and it also prevented any single minority from imposing its will on the majority. Interest groups were thought to be an essential part of a good democracy. 

An analysis of modern day American Politics, with all of the political maneuvering in Washington, the best interests of Americans are being ignored and factions have become a threat to American democracy.

Pluralism is the idea a democracy consisting of various interest groups all working against each other, which balances each another for the common. It has been argued that interest groups have been overly successful; the term hyperpluralism best describes political systems that cater to interest groups and not the people. Too many interest groups lead to demosclerosis, which is the inability of the government to accomplish anything substantial; the government becomes paralyzed and can’t make any big changes.

Factions have taken control of our political system, the special interest groups have penetrated and subverted our political parties. The National Rifle Association (NRA), H, religious groups, real estate, oil and gas, insurance, and commercial banks interest groups heavily influence the Republican Party, while the AFL-CIO, trial lawyers, education, public sector unions, the health insurance industry interest groups heavily influence the Democratic Party. When corporations have full-time lobbyists that are pushing their agenda and are representing their interests more intensely than the general public can, political parties are then representing themselves and are not representing the people. Many of the core special interest groups spread their money widely among the legislators of both parties in both houses of the Legislature; this broadens their influence. ("Capitol Capital: Special Interests are Major Source of Funds.")

This is why everyone is so upset with our government. Democracies are supposed to be run by the people for the people, but instead, our democracy is being run by the Republican and Democratic Parties who have high-jacked the system. George Washington said, political parties “misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts…No alliance, however strict, between the parts, can be an adequate substitute” for the government as a whole. (Rademacher, Thomas)

Our country has increasingly become more polarized over recent years to the detriment of the country’s productivity because these political parties are slaves to the special interest groups. The U.S. courts have lifted limits on the size of political donations, and special interest groups in the form of super PACS are playing a larger role in how campaigns are financed. “The more concentrated the sources of funding to a political campaign, the higher the risk a politician will be influenced by special interests.” (“Media Relations and Communications.”)
The price tag for political influence is not trivial. The top interest group spenders in Washington in 2016 were: Amazon at $11.4 million; Exxon Mobil at $11.8 million; A big-name defense contractor, Northrop Grumman put in about $12 million; FedEx spent more than $12.5 million in lobbying efforts; The National Cable & Telecommunications Association spent $13.42 million; Lockheed Martin, one of the country’s biggest aerospace and war contracting companies, spent $13.615 million; Dow Chemical had over $13.635 million in lobbying; Southern Company spent $13.9 million; Comcast spent $14.3 million; Google’s (Alphabet) sent $15.4 million to lobbying companies;  AT&T spending more than $16.37 million; For-profit, over-the-air television and radio companies spent $16.4 million; Boeing spent $17 million; The American Medical Association spent $19.4 million; The AMA spent almost $20 million; The American Hospital spent more than $20 million; Blue Cross Blue Shield spent more than $25 million; The National Association of Realtors spent roughly $65 million; The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $104 million dollars, and these are just the top twenty interest groups. (Becker, Samuel)

The advent of the internet has created a breeding ground for factions to conquer and divide.  Social media has been hijacked by politics to spin stories and create narratives that will create even more division among the American People. In order to stop the direction of politics from moving away from the intent of James Madison’s Federalist #10, we must demand information that has integrity, funding transparency, and understanding of what we are agreeing to before we sign any petitions, repeat a story, or re-tweet/re-post a story. We must advocate campaign finance reforms for political candidates and initiatives that provide full transparency, have limit spending, and close all of the loopholes that are exploited by the Super PACs. Without action, we will divide more into smaller and smaller factions, until we are completely powerless.

Madison, James. Federalist No. 10: "The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection." New York Daily Advertiser, November 22, 1787.

"Capitol Capital: Special Interests are Major Source of Funds." Deseret News, Dec 12, 2004, pp. A01, US News Stream.

Rademacher, Thomas. “Political parties are bad for democracy.” The Daily Cardinal, 24 Feb. 2016, 
“Media Relations and Communications.” Money and influence in 2016 Presidential Campaign tracked by New Index at Chicago Booth | Media Relations and Communications | The University of Chicago, 

Becker, Samuel. “Money in Politics: 20 Interest Groups Fueling Government Corruption.” The Cheat Sheet, The Cheat Sheet, 19 July 2017,