Saturday, 19 March 2011

Pregnancy Test Fun

No, I'm not pregnant and I don't intend on being pregnant for quite a few years. My school had all of us take chlamydia tests and the girls got to take pregnancy tests which was quite amusing. Now, I am somewhat torn between this situation. While I think it is good that schools offer free services, why were we forced to partake? I know as a 100% fact that I am not pregnant and do not have chlamydia, yet they used resources to tell me something I already knew.

I feel like taking a pregnancy test is kind of a right of passage in some weird way, and I can't believe my first time was in a public bathroom hearing 5 of my friends peeing on the sticks in the stalls next to me. Oh well, I guess in the next 10-15 years I will actually be pregnant and need to take a test and I now know precisely how to pee on the darn thing.

Monday, 14 March 2011

To grad school or not to grad school?

It's pretty much unanimous that getting an MA in Political Science (IR) is pretty useless. In fact, Poli Sci is consistently rated as one of the most useless undergraduate degrees you can get, and that's just undergrad!

I've always felt that I have an obligation to go to grad school for a number of reasons. First off, I'm already two years ahead. I started school a year early so I've got one year there. I decided to get my undergraduate degree abroad where I could focus on my subject for an intense 3 years instead of going in the US where I would have gotten 2 years of gen eds and 2 years of my major that would have been significantly watered down (in my opinion). Where does that leave me? Well, I'll be a university graduate with a bachelors degree with honors that's lived abroad and traveled extensively at the ripe old age of twenty. Potentially, I could have a masters before my 22nd birthday. Not too shabby I think.

And secondly, I just want the clout that goes with having a masters. EVERYONE has a bachelors, not everyone has a masters.

After analyzing my, admittedly, lame reasons for wanting to go to grad school I've had to ask myself some hard questions, namely, do I actually want to go? I won't go to school in the US because it's way too expensive and I'd have to spend a lot of time studying for the GRE (not required at foreign schools) on top of my final year dissertation and internship, plus programs in the US are two years. I love England but I'm done with it. So that leaves......Australia, Canada, and that UN program in Costa Rica?

Hmmm. Costa Rica is too expensive for what I'd be getting out of it, Australia would be too much of a hassle, so that leaves Canada or more precisely McGill, whose program I'm not very thrilled by. Canada is by far the cheapest of all my options but there are some downfalls. It's program is one and a half years and there are no direct flights from Montreal to Chicago and those flights are almost as expensive as when I fly back and forth to London.

To top all of this off, I'm absolutely sick and tired of being a student. I'm tired of spending days on end in the library when I could be out traveling. I'm tired of university politics. I'm not someone that needs that external validation that I am, in fact, smart. I don't need someone with a Ph.D to tell me that and I'm tired of the people with Ph.D's pretending that they're so much better than us. I don't need a formal, structured environment to learn. Ironically, I excel in that environment even though I learn the least there because I learned the school game at an early age. And while school has given me the biggest opportunity of my life, to move abroad and travel, I think that by this time next year I'll be ready to call it quits. For good.

I'd like to teach and work with kids, most likely abroad so that I can still be an expat and travel, and I'm not willing to put that off another two years and to triple my current student debt. As it stands, I can pay off my current debt pretty fast (2-3 years) and grad school would just add more on. As I've said before, I haven't found a program that I'm really interested in pursing and so adding debt for something that I'm quite neutral about is something I refuse to do.

This is a huge decision for me and to be honest one that I never though I'd be making. But here I am. Whenever anyone asks about plans for after we graduate I always automatically responded "Grad school!" but now we'll just have to wait and see. World Teach and the JET program are the most viable options and I couldn't be happier than freeing myself from, what turned into, the burden of graduate school.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

What's all the fuss about male violence?

These excerpts are taken from an essay entitled "Masculinity, Violence, and Sexual Murder" co-written by Deborah Cameron and Elizabeth Frazer.

"They[feminists] say that men need, and feel entitled to have, unrestricted sexual access to women,..."
Actually I would argue that it's the other way around and not only in regards to sexual access but to access in general i.e. hookups, relationships, marriage. Women are now the majority of those receiving college degrees and most women look for men that are at least as if not more educated than themselves. Many assume (Lori Gottlieb) that another more perfect man is just around the never-ending corner. The statistics are not in our favor ladies. I think we need to collectively let go of this idea of Prince Charming.

"It expresses[rape, assault, etc.] not purely individual anger and frustration but a collective, culturally sanctioned misogyny which is important in maintaining the collective power of men."
It seems very difficult to make a case for "men rape, therefore they are all collectively violent unless they are feminists." The majority of men will never rape or assault anyone, let alone a woman, therefore I find this statement hard to deal with. What is the collective power of men? I'm not sure when this was written but men hold very little collective power in my opinion. Feel free to disagree if you have examples.

"Male violence against women is defined broadly by feminists to include not just the most obvious cases...but also and most importantly, a range of male behaviors ... like flashing, stealing underwear, and making obscene phone-calls."
Forgive me for taking this one on a personal level, but I find a lot of feminist claims to be very personal rather than logical so I don't feel too bad. I have never been flashed. In fact the majority of flashing I've seen in my life is of women flashing men (Girls Gone Wild anyone?) I've never had my underwear stolen and never even hear of this happening to anyone. The authors are going to have to be a little more specific with "obscene phone-calls." Sure they're are creepy people out there but you know what? They're not just men. Chances are you have caller ID and if you don't recognize a number then don't pick up. If it's legitimate they'll leave a message. No big deal really.

What's all the fuss about male violence? Yes violence happens and we should be working to reduce that (obviously) but I'm not sure how demonizing one sex is going to help overall. It seems to me that an awful lot of women like to write essays, but not many of them that write these words are actually out in the field. Interesting. Very interesting.

Friday, 25 February 2011

1. A journey into frugality

Oh yes, it seems that I need to jump into the frugal blogger arena starting today. Long story short, my university changed its tuition payment schedule (don't get me started) so everyone has received letters saying that we need to pay our fees in full by March 7th. Previously we paid in installments throughout the year. This is very inconsiderate, and not to mention very unprofessional, on the part of the university to just change things on us with little to no notice, but here I am. I all but had to drain my British checking account to cover my outstanding fees. When I go home in May I'll be able to transfer over some more money but until then I've got 6 weeks, a trip to Barcelona, £200 and a stash of $135 dollars which I'm hoping will stay intact.

If I was at home, or anywhere in the US for that matter, this would be a piece of cake, but I'm not. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and I'm going to get by on just £25 a week. Fortunately I paid all of my rent up front so all I really need to worry about is food and transportation. Getting around London is expensive which is why I usually buy a one month travel card for £80. Obviously that's not an option this time around, so when mine runs out on March 11th I'll be switching over to pay as you go, but mostly I'll be walking. I go into uni 3 days a week so I figure I can get one bus either on the way there or on the way back and then get the free bus for the second part of the journey both ways.

My previous budget that I tried to stick to was £50 a week plus transportation. I always did fine with that until I would forget to take out cash and would start using my card. Plastic isn't good when you're on a budget.

Anyway, I'm looking at spending no more than £3.57 per day. Here it goes.

Groceries for today
bread           .79p
cold cuts    1.00
cheese         .98p
tomato         .55p
pastry          .20p
total            3.52

For dinner I'll be making something that uses up stuff I already have in order to minimize having to buy anything else. All I can say is, I'm glad I listened to my grandma and have always had a good stock of canned soup hidden away. Yum, can't wait. Six weeks to go, I can do this.

I stand with Planned Parenthood because...


I stand with Planned Parenthood because I care about the health and well being of my fellow inhabitants of the United States. I believe in the prevention of sexually transmitted infection and cancer. I believe in intentional motherhood and intentional fatherhood. I believe in comprehensive sex education. I believe that it is a crime to keep information about the human body out of the hands of people with human bodies. I believe that Planned Parenthood effects more than just women, it effects our whole society.

Most of all, I stand with Planned Parenthood because I believe in improving our quality of life, not just ensuring quantity. 

*I would like to point out that I do not approve of this poster at all. As I have stated previously, parenthood means both motherhood and fatherhood. Sexually transmitted infections are not to simply be regarded as women's health issues since they obviously effect everyone. We complain about our daughters being brought up in a 'princess ridden culture' and yet this poster is promoting that very culture by its pink colour. This poster is just evidence of how much is still not discussed or given attention. I even received an email from Planned Parenthood itself on how "We have to raise a massive outcry against this dangerous attack on women's health." THIS DOES NOT ONLY EFFECT WOMEN!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Got a headache? Here's the pill!

This has been something that has irked me for a while now. Say you're a female between the ages of 11 and 40 and you walk into the doctors office with some minor symptoms of, quite frankly, nothing: headache, bad cramps, clammy hands, tummy ache, etc. You will walk out with a prescription for the Pill in under 5 minutes (not including waiting time.)

I have friends who aren't even having sex, or intending to have sex until they're married, who are on the Pill for no bloody reason at all. I have a problem with this. Our aim should be to reduce the number of people on any type of given medication. Most women on the Pill have not really researched it, which is pretty scary considering that some will continue to stay on it for twenty to thirty odd years. Call me a crazy hippie or whatever you want but I think we need a more holistic approach to health.

Girls and women tend to think of the Pill as a fool proof option for all their birth control needs. The fact of the matter is that a good percentage of people don't use it correctly and end up pregnant. Same with condoms. You've probably seen those episodes of 16 and Pregnant where quite a few of the girls state that the reason they are pregnant is because they weren't on the Pill and they never used condoms. I mean, really? After that it's difficult for me to be sympathetic when they are having trouble making ends meet. Fair enough if the condom breaks, but even if you're on the Pill you should be using condoms as extra protection particularly when there is no way you are in a position to have a child.

The over-prescription of the Pill hasn't done much in regards to decreasing unwanted pregnancy. Contrary to what sex-positive feminists would argue, there does seem to be a good case for waiting to have sex until you actually know how your own body functions and then limiting sexual encounters. Here in the UK the rates of STI's and teen pregnancy have been steadily rising even though birth control, STI tests, etc. are all funded by the government. When comparing these rates to those of mainland Europe it is even more staggering.

Let's not rely on the education system or the Pill to cover our asses. Don't pretend that government funding means that people are actually using birth control effectively and all the time. And most importantly, let's stop kidding ourselves that unwanted pregnancy is not 100% preventable. If you're not responsible enough to use birth control every time and the right way then you are definitely not ready for a child and should probably just abstain altogether.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

As if we need affirmative action...

I always find affirmative action concerning women to be just downright hilarious. Projected estimates for the school year of 2016-2017 shows us as being way ahead of the men.

Associates degrees: 273,000 / 489,000
Bachelors degrees: 707,000 / 1,057,000
Masters degrees: 287,000 / 487,000
Doctorate degrees: 29,800 / 37,100

I remember in my senior year of high school hearing on a number of occasions that girls felt they would get into a certain college, even if they weren't as qualified, because that particular college endorsed affirmative action. I'm not going to lie, I too perceived myself to be much more of a minority than was actually the case. I recognize that I shouldn't apply these statistics to myself since I don't attend college in the United States, but I find it interesting nontheless. I graduate in 2012 (a year earlier than my American peers because BA's are only 3 years here) and in 2012 women will be awarded 204,000 more bachelor's degrees than men. In 2017 that difference will grow to 350,000.

My big question is, why is there such a big perception out there that women need affirmative action? The quote below is taken from NOW's website: (I'm only focusing on gender in this post, not race.)

Despite the enormous gains made by the civil rights and women's rights movements, women and people of color still face unfair obstacles in business and education. An astonishing 70% of schools are not in compliance with Title IX, the federal equal education opportunity law.

So, even though 70% of schools don't comply with Title IX, women still outnumber the men on their own. And, my personal favorite for evidence of discrimination, "Less than 1% of auto mechanics are women." It's hard not to laugh at that one. Surely that's not evidence of discrimination itself but of gender roles and how we are brought up, right? I'm sure if women genuinely wanted to be auto mechanics that most of the guy mechanics would be quite pleased to have some diversity down at the local JiffyLube! I knew girls at my high school that loved taking Auto and who progressed through all the levels offered, but there was no way they were considering it as a career because they wanted to go off to a 4 year college and get degrees in Biology and English Lit. instead of going to community college for two years, living at home, etc. They liked it as a hobby but did not find it appealing as a career. Fair enough if you ask me.

I mean if we're looking for there to be a 50-50 representation of men and women for every profession out there I find that to be a bit ridiculous. I am not saying that men and women are not socialized differently and therefore more likely to work in different professions, but I think that sometimes we confuse discrimination with socialization. Women are socialized in such a way that most of us don't genuinely want to be auto mechanics for one reason or another. That does not mean however that we necessarily face discrimination if we expressed an interest in wanting to be auto mechanics. There is a very big difference between the two of those that should not be confused, and frankly I'm disappointed in NOW for not realizing this. 

"As yet, I doubt any colleges need to admit under-qualified boys to achieve gender balance. Rather, because there is such an oversupply of applicants, there are more than enough girls and boys who meet most college’s SAT and GPA standards (there’s just a lot more girls)."- Newsweek education article

This quote shows that the gender gap is happening before the college application process even begins. Keeping affirmative action in place for women while men are quickly becoming the ones under-represented seems absurd to me. While I applaud the success of women, I do not wish to see women become the majority of those receiving college degrees. I think we can all recognize why it is important to have a pretty near 50-50 representation of those receiving college degrees and how that would benefit society more in the long run. Having the pendulum swing back and forth between female and male over representation would have strange effects, would it not? We need genuine equality in our educational institutions. 

Men have not outnumbered women in obtaining bachelors degrees since the early 80s so why is this policy still in place some 30 years later? What would the reaction be if, in a few years time, affirmative action were proposed in order to get men into college? I'm very interested to know why the number of men who receive degrees is in decline. I did a quick search but all the arguments I found seemed rather unconvincing so if you know of any great literature on the topic please let me know.