October 16, 2010
Next Time, Skip the High Heels
From the Huffington Post:
Teeter-totter all you want, but men apparently don't notice when a woman wears high heels, Time magazine reports. Researchers at the UK's Northumbria University studied men's reactions to women in heels versus women in flats and found no difference. Time writes, "The researchers wanted to know whether the changed posture that comes with high heels -- longer legs, accentuated rear and tilted torso -- get noticed by men." Guess not!
Orange News has quotes from Dr. Nick Neave who led the study as part of a larger project about attraction and movement. Neave said, "Women are spending money on high heels, which can be dangerous, presumably to make themselves look good and add to what nature has given them," adding, "Everybody is attracted to somebody else and making relationships is very important to humans. Making key relationships and having children are some of the most important decisions people will make. But scientifically we know very little about this."
Read more here.
October 15, 2010
Has CPS Outlived Its Usefulness?
From the NY Times:
Child Protective Services investigated more than three million cases of suspected child abuse in 2007, but a new study suggests that the investigations did little or nothing to improve the lives of those children.
Researchers examined the records of 595 children nationwide, all at similar high risk for maltreatment, tracking them from ages 4 to 8. During those years, Child Protective Services investigated the families of 164 of these children for suspected abuse or neglect. The scientists then interviewed all the families four years later, comparing the investigated families with the 431 families that had not been investigated.
The scientists looked at several factors: social support, family functioning, poverty, caregiver education and depressive symptoms, and child anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior — all known to increase the risk for abuse or neglect. But they were unable to find any differences in the investigated families compared with the uninvestigated in any of these dimensions, except that maternal depressive symptoms were worse in households that had been visited.
One possible interpretation of this result would be that the investigated families were at greater risk to begin with, and that the investigation helped them to recover to the expected level of risk. But if this were so, the authors write, households with recent investigations would have greater risk than households with more distant investigations. Statistical analysis found no such association. They concluded that Child Protective Services investigations had little or no effect.
The researchers were in some ways unsurprised by their findings. Even when services are offered, they usually take aim at immediate risks — substance abuse, for example, or domestic violence — not abiding problems like poverty or poor social support. Whatever interventions were offered apparently failed to reduce the risk for future child abuse.
The authors acknowledge that the study, which appears in the October issue of The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, has certain weaknesses: some potentially modifiable risk factors — intimate partner violence and substance abuse, for example — were not included in the data they used. And not all of the five different geographical sites systematically collected information on all risk factors.
In an editorial published with the study, starkly titled “Child Protective Services Has Outlived Its Usefulness,” Dr. Abraham B. Bergman suggests some essential changes: child abuse, because it is a crime, should be investigated by the police; public health nursing services should be the first to respond to concerns of child neglect; social workers should assess appropriate living situations and work with families to obtain services, and not be engaged in law enforcement. But Dr. Bergman, who is a pediatrician at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, expressed considerable skepticism that such changes would happen.
Read the full article here.
“One is the loneliest number, worse than two…”
Slate recently ran a fantastic article entitled, “Two Is the Magic Number,” which argues that creativity is maximized in pairs of people working together:
But a burgeoning field has shown that, from the very first days of life, relationships shape our experience, our character, even our biology. This research, which has flowered in the last ten years, took root in the 1970s. One reason, explains the psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik, was the advent of the simple video camera. It allowed researchers to easily capture and analyze the exchanges between babies and their caregivers. In video of 4-month-olds with their mothers, for example, the two mimic each other's facial expressions and amplify them. So, a baby's grin elicits a mother's smile, which leads the baby to a full-on expression of joy—round mouth, big eyes. This in turn affects the mother, and so on in a continuous exchange that entwines the pair.
It's common sense that babies and mothers affect each other. But when you stop the tape and look at it frame by frame—as the researcher Beatrice Beebe and her team did in this experiment—you see how remarkably fast the exchange takes place, down to fractions of a second. It's not that a baby waits for stimulus from her mother and responds in kind. Actually, as the psychologist Susan Vaughan puts it, "both parties are processing an ongoing stream of stimuli and responding while the stimulation is still occurring." Another study of 2-day-old babies found similar results.
If relationships shape us so fundamentally, how—in the study of creativity—could they also be so obscure? Why are we preoccupied with the lone genius, with great men (and, more now than in the past, great women)? Evolutionary psychologists might point to how our ancestors focused on the alpha male of a pack or the headman of a tribe. But there are contemporary explanations.
For one thing, male-female acts have often kept one partner behind the curtain. The eminent psychoanalyst and social theorist Erik Erikson acknowledged that his wife of 66 years, Joan Erikson, worked with him so closely that it was hard to tell where her work left off and his began. But he drew the salary; his name went on the cover of Young Man Luther. He is among history's most famous social scientists; she doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry.
Gender relations, though, are only one cause for hidden partners. The quiet, careful member of a pair may naturally be diminished in comparison with the brash, dramatic one. Braque and Picasso created Cubism together, but the mercurial Spaniard emerged as the star of the movement while history shunted the quiet Frenchman to the side.
Read more here.
October 14, 2010
Florida Will Not Appeal Decision on Gay Adoption
Florida officials have announced that they do not plan to appeal last month's ruling striking down the FL gay adoption ban as unconstitutional:
Read more here.
Call for Articles – The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Minority Issues
The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Minority Issues is currently accepting article submissions for its 2011 Symposium issue, “Minorities in Family Law: Family Law as an Agent of Social Change and Empowerment for Minorities in the 21st Century.” The symposium will be held on Friday, February 11, 2011, at the Plaza Club in downtown San Antonio. The Scholar is committed to advocating for traditionally underrepresented groups. Our publication furthers legal discourse on issues concerning race, class, gender, sexual identity, and religion, among others. Authors of articles published in the symposium issue will be invited to present during the event. The deadline for submissions is November 11, 2010. Please email submissions to email@example.com.
October 13, 2010
Hafemeister: "If All you Have is a Hammer: Society’s Ineffective Response to Intimate Partner Violence"
After millennia of condoning and even encouraging intimate partner violence (IPV), during the past few decades society has increasingly and appropriately condemned this violence and adopted multiple measures, most of them involving the criminal justice system, to limit, control, and remediate it. Considerable resources have been devoted to this effort, but the success of these programs is mixed at best. While there has been some diminishment in the overall prevalence of IPV, this likely can be attributed more to society’s somewhat improved attitudes regarding this violence than to the direct impact of these measures. The number of individuals suffering from IPV and the magnitude of its adverse consequences continue to remain staggering.
Critics of society’s response to IPV often argue that various provisions of domestic violence laws such as mandatory reporting, mandatory arrest, and no-drop policies have led to an “over-reliance on criminal strategies.” Moreover, the adoption of these measures has been driven by a few widely publicized cases. These notorious cases tend to be relatively “easy” ones where culpability and an apparent appropriate response is readily deduced in retrospect, but too great a focus on a few cases has resulted in what tends to be a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to adequately address the complexity of IPV and the range of factors and behaviors associated with it.
This societal response can be counterproductive if it fails to adequately distinguish among or provide sufficient latitude, flexibility, and nuance for responding to the various types of IPV, as well as the diverse needs, desires, and circumstances of the victims. For example, exclusive reliance on a traditional criminal justice approach, without also empowering the victim, can diminish the victim’s feelings of self-worth and increase the victim’s isolation, dependence, and vulnerability. This is not to say, however, that traditional criminal justice remedies have no place: when an injured victim has been rendered isolated and dependent or otherwise unable to exercise their autonomy as a result of IPV, the protection and safety that can be afforded by the criminal justice system should be readily forthcoming. Additionally, the nature of the abuse and the characteristics and motivations of the abuser should be taken into account when devising a remedy. Mandatory criminal justice intervention is generally appropriate when the abuse reflects a systematic, terrorizing violence perpetrated to maintain control over the victim, but an alternative victim-directed approach tends to be better suited when the IPV involves a relatively isolated outburst of mild violence linked to circumstances that are relatively unlikely to be repeated or can be readily avoided.
In general, more emphasis needs to be placed on assessing the nature and causes of a given case of IPV and the characteristics of the parties involved. For example, an assessment should be made of whether victims understand their predicament, whether they are unable to exercise their autonomy because of isolation or dependence, and whether they have access to adequate remedial options before deciding whether the autonomy of the victim should take priority or interventions should be imposed over the victim’s objection. This approach would empower victims whenever possible to make their own choices about whether to invoke society’s assistance, educate them about the services that are available, and acknowledge that cases of IPV vary considerably and require an individualized response, while still providing protection to victims who are unable to help themselves.
Once this assessment is completed, there should be a range of programs from which to select - including a greater number of education, treatment, and rehabilitation programs - that better respond to the needs and risks particular to the individuals involved. A failure to respond appropriately to such disputes can overlook significant dangers, but can also solidify conflict and convert what could have been a temporary disagreement into a relatively intransigent one from which long-term adverse consequences result. For some cases of IPV, a more graduated, measured, inclusive, and individualized approach may better defuse an otherwise explosive situation and avoid many of the adverse short- and long-term consequences that can otherwise result.
In crafting the societal response to IPV, it should be recognized that IPV is a complex phenomenon for which the most appropriate and effective response can vary considerably. While intimate partner violence should under no circumstances be condoned, a more enlightened understanding of IPV and the factors that contribute to it can lead to a more rational, nuanced, and efficient use of society’s resources to combat it.
Gershuny: "The Combined Impact of US Laws on Single Mothers and Their Children"
Pamela Gershuny (Southeast Missouri State University College of Business) has posted "The Combined Impact of US Laws on Single Mothers and Their Children" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Flaws in TANF, child support enforcement, a regressive tax structure, wage gaps, gender pregnancy family responsibilities discrimination, and the FMLA, combine with market shifts in the economy to drown single mothers in the workforce. No longer able to compete in the job market by working the same number of hours as childless women and men, the choice to become a mother heightens their risk of job discrimination, bankruptcy, and poverty. The nation invests heavily in wealthy families through the home mortgage interest deductions, capital gains tax treatment, 529 college savings tax deductions, and child tax credits. A minimal change in the investment in single working mothers based on their demonstrated abilities can be made by reforming the tax structure, re-instating the Downey-Hyde Amendment, mandating universal 5-day paid leave policies, mandating living wages at a minimum in night shift employment, and implementing flexicurity. The first section of this paper examines how single mothers developed into a unique segment of the workforce over the last 50 years. The second section discusses new socio-economic realities including; the governments’ current investments in labor that sustain income inequality and the increasing level of income volatility for both high and low wage earners. The third section reviews the current state of medical knowledge on the protective effect of mothers for children. The fourth examines change to a new “normal.” The fifth concludes that the US must shift from an unsustainable investment strategy in human capital.
Divorce & Religion
CNN recently noted how the ability to divorce has impacted the development of religion in society, particularly in England. Read about it here.
October 12, 2010
Treating Kids as the Bee’s Knees
One college professor notes, as many have, “I’ve been teaching university students for 50 years, and I can tell when one of my students comes from a home in which ‘good’ parenting takes place.” Read his observations here, which note that bad parenting indulges and ultimately disadvantages kids in life.
October 11, 2010
Call for Papers: Conference on Applied Feminism
CALL FOR PAPERS – NEW DATE
The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Fourth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applying Feminism Globally.” The conference date has changed from the prior Call for Papers; please see below. For more information about the conference, please visit law.ubalt.edu/caf.
This conference seeks to explore how feminist legal theory operates in a global and international context. The theme raises a variety of questions: How has feminist legal theory affected the lives of women across the globe? How could feminist legal theory improve women's lives in a global context? How does feminist legal theory differ across cultures within and outside the United States? What do comparative perspectives teach us about feminist legal theory? How could feminist legal theory from outside of the United States benefit American women and feminist scholarship? How do anti-essentialist perspectives on feminist legal theory apply in an international context? How do post-colonial perspectives on feminist legal theory apply in a domestic context? What can feminist legal theory contribute to the debate over universal vs. cultural specific norms and objectives? Is feminism still ambivalent about many areas of international law? What, if any, role has feminism played in the empowerment of women in international law-making? Can feminist legal theory improve our understanding of challenges facing immigrants within our own borders? What does feminist legal theory offer for indigenous peoples? How are human rights norms compatible with feminist legal theory?
This conference will attempt to address these and other questions from the perspectives of activists, practitioners, and academics. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants and audience members to exchange ideas about the current state of feminist legal theories and how those theories are being and can be actualized on behalf of women in a global context. By expanding the boundaries of our exploration, we hope to deepen our understandings of feminist legal theory and to move new insights into practice. In addition, the conference is designed to provide presenters with the opportunity to gain extensive feedback on their papers.
The conference will begin the afternoon of Wednesday, March 30, 2011, with a workshop for conference participants. This workshop will continue the annual tradition of involving all attendees to be participants in an interactive discussion and reflection. The workshop will be approximately two hours in length. On Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m., the keynote speaker will be delivering the keynote address for the conference.
On Thursday, March 31, 2011, the conference will continue with a day of presentations by legal academics, practitioners and activists regarding current scholarship and/or legal work that explores the application of feminist legal theory in a global context. The conference will be open to the public.
To submit a paper proposal, please submit an abstract by 5 p.m. on October 29, 2010 to Professor Michele Gilman at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please note -- this is an extended deadline.) In the subject or "re" line of your submission, you must type: CAF conference submission. It is essential that your submission contain your full contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address where you can be reached. Abstracts should be no longer than one page. Practitioners’ and activists’ papers need not follow a strictly academic format, but all paper proposals should address the conference theme. We will notify presenters of selected papers in mid-November. We anticipate being able to have twelve paper presenters during the conference on Thursday, March 31, 2011. All working drafts of papers will be due no later than March 10, 2011. All abstracts and drafts will be posted on the Center on Applied Feminism’s conference website to be shared with other participants and attendees.
In addition, the University of Baltimore Law Review has agreed to offer publication to a few of the selected papers presented at the conference for an issue dedicated to the conference proceedings. If you are interested in submitting your abstract for consideration by the UB Law Review, please indicate as such on your abstract submission. To be eligible for publication in the UB Law Review, submissions must not be published elsewhere. Typically, the UB Law Review publishes pieces ranging from 25 to 45 pages in length, using 12 point times new roman font and one inch margins. One volume of the Law Review is dedicated to papers from this annual symposium.
Finally, please note that a limited amount of money may be available to presenters for travel expenses. We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Michele Gilman at email@example.com.
From The New York Times:
The casualty insurance is designed to provide financial assistance in the form of cash to cover the costs of a divorce, such as legal proceedings or setting up a new apartment or house. It is sold in “units of protection.” Each unit costs $15.99 per month and provides $1,250 in coverage. So, if you bought 10 units, your initial coverage would be $12,500 and you’d be paying $15.99 per month for each of those units. In addition, every year, the company adds $250 in coverage for each unit.
Then, if you get divorced and your policy has matured (see below for the maturation rules), you would send WedLock proof of your divorce. In return, you’d receive a lump sum of cash equivalent to the amount of coverage you had purchased.
So how does the company prevent people who know they are going to get a divorce from signing up? To prevent that kind of adverse selection, the policies don’t mature until 48 months after their effective date (though people can purchase additional riders to reduce that maturity period to 36 months and to get their premiums back if they happen to divorce before the policy matures).
Read more here.
October 10, 2010
IVF Creator Wins Nobel Prize
From the NY Times, about Robert G. Edwards winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine on October 4, 2010:
He is, figuratively, the father of the technology that, literally, has allowed four million babies to be born over the past three decades.
Edwards was a pioneer in the field of in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F. It was his work that led to the birth of the world’s first “test-tube baby” in England on July 25, 1978. The breakthrough — which came after 20 years of research — not only made childbirth possible for traditional couples who otherwise could not have biological children; it also made biological parenthood possible for same-sex couples, single parents, parents worried about passing genetic conditions to their children, parents who want to guarantee a child of a certain sex and parents who are desperate to have a sibling who can donate cord blood and save the life of an existing child. It changed the expectations of women, in the sense that they could pursue careers and still have “plenty of time” to become pregnant. It created myriad possibilities for what we call a family — egg donors, womb surrogates and more.
Upending so many assumptions inevitably creates controversy. I.V.F. has been criticized as much as it has been heralded, and the Nobel committee noted that Edwards, who is now based at Cambridge University in England, “battled societal and establishment resistance to his development of the in vitro fertilization procedure.” By increasing the likelihood of multiple births, critics still ask, are we increasing the likelihood of premature, and, therefore, more medically fragile, children? Is the ability to read DNA in a petri dish (a test tube was never really involved in the process) creating a portal to “designer babies”? Has the availability of a “solution,” albeit an expensive one, led couples to spend money they really do not have in order to have a child?
Read more here.