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If you want proof that President Obama's Executive Order on taxpayer-funded abortion was a sham, look no further than Pennsylvania, says House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio).
Boehner and other Republicans point to reports that the Health and Human Services Department is giving Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new high-risk insurance pool that will cover any abortion that is legal in the state.
"The fact that the high-risk pool insurance program in Pennsylvania will use federal taxpayer dollars to fund abortions is unconscionable," Boehner said in a statement on Tuesday.
And then, shades of Savage, this frame is interesting for the way it can activate some subliminal misandry, or hatred of men. On the manifest level, of course, it's just pure, straight-ahead tea party slogan taking on big government. At another level, though, especially in the 'women-only and "don't be fucking with with us"' context of the video, it can also be read as an attack on men and courtship -- i.e. Opposed to Man dates.
Levi Johnston is playing nice.
The father of Sarah Palin's grandchild backtracked Tuesday from scores of comments he made about the Palin family over the past two years, offering a public apology for saying "things that were not completely true."
The apology, given to People magazine, comes amid reports Johnston and Bristol Palin, the daughter of the unsuccessful 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, may be rekindling their relationship.
"Last year, after Bristol and I broke up, I was unhappy and a little angry. Unfortunately, against my better judgment, I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true," Johnston said in the statement.
A veteran Iranian human rights activist has warned that Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, could be stoned to death at any moment under the terms of a death sentence handed down by Iranian authorities.
Only an international campaign designed to pressure the regime in Tehran can save her life, according to Mina Ahadi, head of the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty.
"Legally it's all over," Ahadi said Sunday. "It's a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute."
"That is why we have decided to start a very broad, international public movement. Only that can help."
Video: Mother to be stoned to death
* Amnesty International
Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.
Ashtiani, who is from the northern city of Tabriz, was convicted of adultery in 2006.
She was forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei said Thursday in a telephone interview from Tehran.
She later retracted that confession and has denied wrongdoing. Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges, Mostafaei said. She has asked forgiveness from the court but the judges refused to grant clemency.
Iran's supreme court upheld the conviction in 2007.
The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are women
Mostafaei believes a language barrier prevented his client from fully comprehending court proceedings. Ashtiani is of Azerbaijani descent and speaks Turkish, not Farsi.
The circumstances of Ashtiani's case make it not an exception but the rule in Iran, according to Amnesty International, which tracks death penalty cases around the world.
"The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are women, who suffer disproportionately from such punishment," the human rights group said in a 2008 report.
On Wednesday, Amnesty made a new call to the Iranian government to immediately halt all executions and commute all death sentences. The group has recorded 126 executions in Iran from the start of this year to June 6.
"The organization is also urging the authorities to review and repeal death penalty laws, to disclose full details of all death sentences and executions and to join the growing international trend towards abolition," the statement said.
Ahadi, who fled Iran in the early 1980s, told CNN that pressure from Amnesty and other organizations and individuals is likely the only way to save Ashtiani.
"Experience shows (that) ... when the pressure gets very high, the Islamic government starts to say something different," she said.
In Washington, the State Department has criticized the scheduled stoning, saying it raised serious concerns about human rights violations by the Iranian government.
"We have grave concerns that the punishment does not fit the alleged crime, " Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley said Thursday. "For a modern society such as Iran, we think this raises significant human rights concerns."
Calling Iran's judicial system "disproportionate" in its treatment of women, Crowley said, "From the United States' standpoint, we don't think putting women to death for adultery is an appropriate punishment."
Human rights activists have been pushing the Islamic government to abolish stoning, arguing that women are not treated equally before the law in Iran and are especially vulnerable in the judicial system. A woman's testimony is worth half that of a man, they say.
Article 74 of the Iranian penal code requires at least four witnesses -- four men or three men and two women -- for an adulterer to receive a stoning sentence, said Ahadi, of the International Committee Against Stoning. But there were no witnesses in Ashtiani's case. Often, said Ahadi, husbands turn wives in to get out of a marriage.
Mostafaei said he could not understand how such a savage method of death could exist in the year 2010 or how an innocent woman could be taken from her son and daughter, who have written to the court pleading for their mother's life.
The public won't be allowed to witness the stoning, Mostafaei said, for fear of condemnation of such a brutal method. He is hoping there won't be an execution.
Mostafaei, who himself did jail time in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections in June 2009, said he realizes the risk of speaking out for Ashtiani, for fighting for human rights. But he doesn't let that deter him.
He last saw Ashtiani five months ago behind bars in Tabriz. Since then, he said, he has been searching for a way to save her from the stones.
On the set of her California Gurls music video, Katy Perry did what few people do, and she did it proudly... Perry discriminated against a large majority of the population: the straight heterosexual male. Perry banned all straight men from being on her set.
Perry told MTV News, "The cotton candy clouds! I was naked. It was really fun to do. We had to do like a closed set because we didn't want anyone seeing anything...
You weren't allowed (on the set) unless you were a girl or you're gay; I think that's probably like the standard for all girlfriends. Anyways, I was really excited to do something like this and really nervous. But it turned out (okay)."
Well Katy Perryis the artist and it was her set so she should be allowed to have full reigns, right? Still quite discriminatory though. Can you imagine if it were gays who were banned from the set of a gay artist or if it were heterosexual women who were banned from the set of a male artist? There would be a huge uproar of discrimination this and discrimnation that but since it's the straight guy... well, we all chuckle and know he's not going to complain, right?
Personally I don't think it's right but I do think that Katy Perry is one fine female but not THAT fine so that she needs to worry straight men will $#@$@% if they see her naked. What's your take on this issue?
South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers was on call one night four decades ago when a devastated rape victim walked in. Her eyes were lifeless; she was like a breathing corpse.
"She looked at me and said, 'If only had teeth down there,'" recalled Ehlers, who was a 20-year-old medical researcher at the time. "I promised her I'd do something to help people like her one day."
Forty years later, Rape-aXe was born.
Ehlers is distributing the female condoms in the various South African cities where the World Cup soccer games are taking place.
The woman inserts the latex condom like a tampon. Jagged rows of teeth-like hooks line its inside and attach on a man's penis during penetration, Ehlers said.
Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it -- a procedure Ehlers hopes will be done with authorities on standby to make an arrest.
"It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it's on," she said. "If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter... however, it doesn't break the skin, and there's no danger of fluid exposure."
Ehlers said she sold her house and car to launch the project, and she planned to distribute 30,000 free devices under supervision during the World Cup period.
"I consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the design and make sure it was safe," she said.
After the trial period, they'll be available for about $2 a piece. She hopes the women will report back to her.
It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it's on. If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter
"The ideal situation would be for a woman to wear this when she's going out on some kind of blind date ... or to an area she's not comfortable with," she said.
The mother of two daughters said she visited prisons and talked to convicted rapists to find out whether such a device would have made them rethink their actions.
Some said it would have, Ehlers said.
Critics say the female condom is not a long-term solution and makes women vulnerable to more violence from men trapped by the device.
It's also a form of "enslavement," said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. "The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to."
Kajja said the device constantly reminds women of their vulnerability.
"It not only presents the victim with a false sense of security, but psychological trauma," she added. "It also does not help with the psychological problems that manifest after assaults."
However, its one advantage is it allows justice to be served, she said.
Various rights organizations that work in South Africa declined to comment, including Human Rights Watch and Care International.
South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, Human Rights Watch says on its website. A 2009 report by the nation's Medical Research Council found that 28 percent of men surveyed had raped a woman or girl, with one in 20 saying they had raped in the past year, according to Human Rights Watch.
In most African countries, rape convictions are not common. Affected women don't get immediate access to medical care, and DNA tests to provide evidence are unaffordable.
"Women and girls who experience these violations are denied justice, factors that contribute to the normalization of rape and violence in South African society," Human Rights Watch says.
Women take drastic measures to prevent rape in South Africa, Ehlers said, with some wearing extra tight biker shorts and others inserting razor blades in their private parts.
Critics have accused her of developing a medieval device to fight rape.
"Yes, my device may be a medieval, but it's for a medieval deed that has been around for decades," she said. "I believe something's got to be done ... and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."
They use a mattress as a springboard to fame and fortune.
With the concept of shame out the window and infamy guaranteed by one phone call to US Weekly, the options for the mistresses of Tiger Woods, Jesse James and other high profile philanderers to make bank these days are many. Some participate in cash prize beauty pageants, some sell their stories, text messages and pictures to magazines and television outlets, and some, like porn stars Holly Sampson and Joslyn James, have used the scandal to reinvent their careers in stripping and porn.
"[A sex] scandal provides a short term spike in interest and these mistresses would have to be crazy not to try to capitalize on it. Their fame and fortune may not be enduring but if they can turn 15 minutes of fame into a year of income, they can walk away with about a million dollars," explains Nelson Gayton, executive director of the Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. "There is money to be made here so we are certainly not going to see less of this going forward."
Indeed the growing supply of women telling tales of sleeping with married celebs has yet to outstrip demand.
"America is fascinated with the mistress right now. They have become a commodity. We don't see them as names, just as juicy stories that can give us some insight into the character of the celebrity they slept with," explains "Cult of Celebrity" author Cooper Lawrence. "As long as there is an appetite for them and what they represent then we will see more people paying more money for them to do things."
Since Michelle "Bombshell" McGee came forward on March 17, two other tattooed ladies have emerged claiming sexual relationships with Sandra Bullock's husband.
Tiger's alleged mistresses include porn stars, pancake waitresses, bikini models and nightclub hostesses. And they're still coming! Porn star Devon James is the latest to admit to a Tiger tryst.
Sampson and James joined forces this week with Jesse James' alleged mistress Melissa Smith to make an appearance at the "eXXXtacy 2010" adult film convention in Chicago July 16-18. Joslyn's manager Gina Rodriguez, herself a self-proclaimed mistress of actor David Boreanaz, is hoping to book the women at various conventions and strip clubs across the country for a kind of traveling mistress minstrel show that could translate into fees of $10,000 per girl per appearance.
Rodriguez told Fox411.com that she's also in the process of shopping a reality television show for the three girls, herself and January Gessert, the woman who reportedly came between Reggie Bush and his one-time reality television love Kim Kardashian. The reality show would pay the women $3,000 - $5,000 per episode.
While Sampson, James and Smith are collecting smaller payments here and there, some mistresses find it more lucrative to make a large chunk of change all at once by posing for Playboy. This option is available only to the very high profile mistresses, like Ashley Dupre, the call girl who brought down New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Dupre posed nude in the May issue of the magazine. Playboy also made an offer to Rachel Uchitel, mistress number one in the Tiger Woods scandal, who will appear in the magazine in an upcoming issue.
There has been speculation that these women were paid up to $1 million to pose. While Playboy never confirms the amount it pays women to pose, it does say that the numbers floated in the media are an exaggeration. Insiders say that Dupre and Uchitel were paid closer to the range of $100,000 to $300,000 to pose nude for the magazine.
Uchitel, who increased the value of her brand by remaining mum throughout the Woods scandal (and reportedly got millions from Woods for keeping quiet), also received a fee for working as a correspondent for the entertainment news show "Extra."
But its not just the women making money from their bad behavior. The online dating company Ashley Madison.com, a website that distinguishes itself from traditional online dating fare by encouraging married people to cheat, has been at the forefront of capitalizing on the mistress market.
Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman fronted the cash for radio shock jock Howard Stern's "mistress beauty pageant." Three of Tiger's mistresses, Jaimee Grubbs, Loredana Jolie and Jaime Jungers competed for the total cash prize of $100,000. The winner, Jungers, got $75,000 as well as a black diamond ring from Stephen Singer Jewelers valued at $25,000. The runner-up, Grubbs, received $15,000. Grubbs had previously been paid $10,000 for selling text messages between her and Woods to US Weekly magazine.
Even the woman in last place, former escort Jolie, received $10,000 from the Stern beauty pageant.
The investment paid off so well for Biderman -- the site saw a 22 percent increase in revenue and a 27 percent increase in signups -- he later enlisted the help of the woman who ruined Sandra Bullock's marriage, Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, for a summer advertising campaign. The tattoo-covered McGee struck a deal between $1,000 and $1,500 and a cut of the site's increased revenue to strip in commercials for the website.
"From our perspective, there were three people involved in this affair, and the one who is least accountable for the demise of Sandra and Jesse's marriage is Michelle. It's called accountability, and it is sorely lacking in the coverage of this story to date," Biderman explained to Fox 411.com about his reasons for bringing McGee on board.
As long as they keep generating publicity and sales for his brand, Biderman says the mistresses will always have a home with Ashley Madison. And as long as the general public is interested in cheating celebrities, Biderman should have plenty of mistresses to choose from.
COLLEGE PARK, MD--According to a report published Monday in The Journal Of Gender Studies, many American women are bucking centuries of traditional gender roles by placing stunted, emotionally unfulfilling relationships on hold in order to pursue mind-numbing careers devoid of any upward mobility.
The study, which surveyed a cross-section of 477 female recent college graduates, found that young women were 23 percent more likely than any previous generation to seek dissatisfaction in the professional world rather than in empty romantic partnerships. Dr. Gillian Detweiller, a professor of women's studies at the University of Maryland and coauthor of the report, said that the data suggests a cultural sea change in how women choose to experience lifelong disappointment.
"Avoiding dying alone at all costs is no longer the primary goal for many of today's women," Detweiller said. "Every year, millions of educated females discover that they can be just as underappreciated and ignored in the workplace as they can while doting on loutish and inattentive boyfriends."
In addition to an overall increase in those settling for absolutely futureless secretarial or librarian positions, the study showed that more women are now choosing dead-end occupations conventionally dominated by men, such as accounting and data entry.
"Technical and repair professions with zero prospects for advancement are no longer viewed solely as the realm of males," Detweiller said. "Women have proved that they are just as adept as men at frittering their lives away in soul-crushing vocations."
While the number of women entering moribund, male-dominated careers continues to approach parity, the longtime wage gap between men and women has been slower to catch up.
"Women still average a 7 percent more abysmal salary than the already pathetic income of their male counterparts," Detweiller said.
According to the report, increased college enrollment over the past 20 years has led to the recent surge in women choosing to abandon their aspirations outside the home, as many more females are afforded the opportunity to enter the monotonous suffocation of professional life.
Lillian Taylor, a recent graduate of SUNY- Purchase in New York, said that without her undergraduate business administration degree, she would never have been able to entrap herself in a go-nowhere human resources position instead of a love-bereft relationship.
"So many of my friends ended up centering their lives around uncaring deadbeats," Taylor said. "I'm not saying that I won't date a series of emotionally distant men in the future, but for right now, I prefer to focus on carving out a solid career rut for myself."
"No one is going to hold me back except for me," Taylor added.
Though many women have echoed Taylor's sentiments, others feel that modern women need not be forced to choose. A growing number of pitiful-career-oriented females are finding ways to juggle the minimal demands of a low-profile job with the embittering drain of a futile relationship.
"There is nothing that says women can't experience the manifold of crippling defeats life has to offer," said Elizabeth Mooney, a 46-year-old career counselor. "A woman shouldn't feel as though she has to forfeit her chances of raising three disappointing children with a man she doesn't love simply because she chose to squander the best years of her life working as a career counselor."
Though a greater number of women have decided to waste their fleeting youth toiling away in unrewarding jobs, other statistics have shown that a growing faction are embracing the more traditional alternative of slipping quietly into a painless death with a handful of sleeping pills and a bottle of Gordon's gin.
By Amanda Marcotte
Sarah Palin made quite the splash recently with her comments to the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List about conservative women reclaiming feminism, asserting that anti-choicers were "returning the woman's movement back to its original roots." Because no central authority exists to control use of the word feminist, Palin's cooption of the term caused anxious questions: Is there such thing as conservative feminism? Can you be a feminist who opposes abortion rights? Does the word feminism mean anything at all? Does merely wearing a power suit and smart-girl glasses automatically make you a feminist?
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The invocation of the word feminist at a meeting of anti-abortion women can be confusing, but it shouldn't be. There's no real reason to consider Sarah Palin a feminist. She's just the latest incarnation of a long and noble line of feminist anti-feminists: women who call themselves feminist but also object to the existence of the feminist movement and organize in opposition to it. Feminist anti-feminism has evolved in the shadow of feminism since the days when many women adamantly insisted they didn't want or need the right to vote. And as feminism has morphed rapidly since the early days of the second wave, so has anti-feminism changed arguments and strategies, going through three distinct phases.
Phase I: Plain Ol' Anti-Feminism
Iconic Leader: Phyllis Schafly of the Eagle Forum
Other examples: Beverly LaHaye and the Concerned Women for America, Connaught C. Marshner of the Heritage Foundation, Judie Brown of the American Life League, Janice Shaw Crouse.
Basic argument: God/nature made women and men different so they could play different roles. Women are well-suited to stay at home, submit to their husbands, and dedicate themselves to the task of supporting a man. Anything other than this is an assault on the family. Those looking out for women's best interests want to encourage women to adopt sweetness and submission in order to better catch a chivalrous husband.
Classic quote: From Phyllis Schlafly: "It's very healthy for a young girl to be deterred from promiscuity by fear of contracting a painful, incurable disease, or cervical cancer, or sterility, or the likelihood of giving birth to a dead, blind, or brain-damaged baby (even 10 years later when she may be happily married)."
Motivation: They were alarmed by a rash of feminist victories in the '60s and '70s that secured the right to equal pay, access birth control and abortion, and no-fault divorce, coupled with a stampede of women into the workplace. Young feminists, who embraced a form of sexy that involved breathable underwear and hair that didn't take much time to do, were easy to resent. Anti-feminists were able to mobilize by appealing to women who felt left out of the feminist revolution and hinting to housewives that more women in the workplace meant more opportunities for your husband to cheat.
Major victories: Overturning the Equal Rights Amendment; creating the anti-abortion movement; stopping federally subsidized day-care; stalling further action on equal pay; sending the feminist movement into remission.
Why they eventually faded: Economic necessity drove more women to work, which meant that even women who might have been sympathetic to feminist anti-feminist arguments found themselves taking advantage of actual feminist advancements. Susan Faluldi injured the anti-feminist movement in her book Backlash, when she demonstrated that many of the leaders enjoyed both professional careers and husbands who shared domestic responsibilities, even as these leaders argued against these perks for other women.
Phase II: "Independent Feminism" Anti-Feminism
Iconic Leader: Camille Paglia
Other examples: Christina Hoff-Summers, Wendy McElroy, Kathleen Parker, Heather MacDonald.
Basic argument: The important work of feminism is over, and whatever movement is left exists primarily to demonize men and the awe-inspiring male sexual spirit.
Classic quote: From Camille Paglia: "You have to accept the fact that part of the sizzle of sex comes from the danger of sex. You can be overpowered."
Motivation: In the '80s and '90s, the feminist movement kicked into high gear to fight sexual and domestic violence. Independent feminists saw touchstones such as the Take Back the Night rallies, the Clarence Thomas hearings, a rash of anti-sexual harassment policies, and the emergence of the phrase "date rape" as nothing more than feminists telling women that they were delicate flowers unable to handle the intimidating ribaldry and exciting hints of violence that mark the true male spirit.
Major victories: Maintaining a cultural and legal framework that made it difficult to prosecute rape; convincing the public that most acquaintance rapes were nothing but bad sex later regretted; turning Andrea Dworkin's name into a punchline.
Why they eventually faded: The emergence of third-wave feminists, pro-sex feminists, riot grrls singing "I like f*cking," and, eventually, hip, young feminist-bloggers made it hard for "independent" feminists to maintain the argument that feminism was a hairy-legged, anti-sex monolith that used sexual assault and harassment as a pretext to bash men. The indisputably sex-positive gay rights movement fell more in line with mainstream feminism. Camille Paglia's increasingly incoherent missives became an embarrassment.
Phase III: Co-opting Feminism Anti-Feminists
Iconic Leader: Sarah Palin
Other examples: Feminists for Life, Patricia Heaton, Caitlin Flanagan, Susan B. Anthony List, Laura Sessions Stepp
Basic argument: 19th century feminists who struggled for the vote and education did a great thing, but modern feminism only exists to trick women into thinking they want abortions, higher taxes, electric cars, and unfettered access to orgasmic experiences.
Classic quote: From Caitlin Flanagan: "[T]he forces of feminism have worked relentlessly to erode the patriarchy--which, despite its manifold evils, held that providing for the sexual safety of young girls was among its primary reasons for existence."
Motivation: With the exception of Caitlin Flanagan, most of them have wised-up to the fact that it's hypocrisy to oppose professional careers for women while maintaining a professional career. They like feminist victories that make it possible for them to be taken seriously at their own jobs but object to feminist innovations that make it easier to for all women to delay or even avoid marriage and childbirth. The popularity of Sex and the City, while not written or endorsed by any major feminists, seems to have been what really set many of them off.
Major victories: Pushing abstinence-only education into schools; creating a whole new class of abortion restrictions based on the faulty premise that women who have abortions don't know what they're doing; inventing the term "hook-up culture" and convincing the public that young women are having a new, scary kind of sex; sowing confusion about where the suffragists stood on family planning.
Still going strong: Few Americans can remember what it was like in the days when abortion was illegal and shotgun marriages were the norm. It's easy for anti-feminists to exploit this to paint a rosy picture of how much better life was then, and much harder for feminists to convince the public of the necessity of these hard-won sexual rights.
Should feminists celebrate any aspect of Sarah Palin declaring herself a feminist? In a sense, yes. Every generation of anti-feminists concedes more ground to feminists, and sometimes feminist anti-feminist women switch sides to support policies like Title IX and the Lilly Ledbetter Act. But with women like Palin claiming they're the real feminists, the public might grow to think of "feminism" as a movement that only supports women if they're lucky enough to be independently wealthy, married mothers.
The buyers think what they're buying will appreciate in value, making them rich in the future. The product grows more and more elaborate, and more and more expensive, but the expense is offset by cheap credit provided by sellers eager to encourage buyers to buy.
Buyers see that everyone else is taking on mounds of debt, and so are more comfortable when they do so themselves; besides, for a generation, the value of what they're buying has gone up steadily. What could go wrong? Everything continues smoothly until, at some point, it doesn't.
Yes, this sounds like the housing bubble, but I'm afraid it's also sounding a lot like a still-inflating higher education bubble. And despite (or because of) the fact that my day job involves higher education, I think it's better for us to face up to what's going on before the bubble bursts messily.
College has gotten a lot more expensive. A recent Money magazine report notes: "After adjusting for financial aid, the amount families pay for college has skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982. ... Normal supply and demand can't begin to explain cost increases of this magnitude."
Consumers would balk, except for two things.
First -- as with the housing bubble -- cheap and readily available credit has let people borrow to finance education. They're willing to do so because of (1) consumer ignorance, as students (and, often, their parents) don't fully grasp just how harsh the impact of student loan payments will be after graduation; and (2) a belief that, whatever the cost, a college education is a necessary ticket to future prosperity.
Bubbles burst when there are no longer enough excessively optimistic and ignorant folks to fuel them. And there are signs that this is beginning to happen already.
A New York Times profile last week described Courtney Munna, a 26-year-old graduate of New York University with nearly $100,000 in student loan debt -- debt that her degree in Religious and Women's Studies did not equip her to repay. Payments on the debt are about $700 per month, equivalent to a respectable house payment, and a major bite on her monthly income of $2,300 as a photographer's assistant earning an hourly wage.
And, unlike a bad mortgage on an underwater house, Munna can't simply walk away from her student loans, which cannot be expunged in a bankruptcy. She's stuck in a financial trap.
Some might say that she deserves it -- who borrows $100,000 to finance a degree in women's and religious studies that won't make you any money? She should have wised up, and others should learn from her mistake, instead of learning too late, as she did: "I don't want to spend the rest of my life slaving away to pay for an education I got for four years and would happily give back."
But bubbles burst when people catch on, and there's some evidence that people are beginning to catch on. Student loan demand, according to a recent report in the Washington Post, is going soft, and students are expressing a willingness to go to a cheaper school rather than run up debt. Things haven't collapsed yet, but they're looking shakier -- kind of like the housing market looked in 2007.
So what happens if the bubble collapses? Will it be a tragedy, with millions of Americans losing their path to higher-paying jobs?
Maybe not. College is often described as a path to prosperity, but is it? A college education can help people make more money in three different ways.
First, it may actually make them more economically productive by teaching them skills valued in the workplace: Computer programming, nursing or engineering, say. (Religious and women's studies, not so much.)
Second, it may provide a credential that employers want, not because it represents actual skills, but because it's a weeding tool that doesn't produce civil-rights suits as, say, IQ tests might. A four-year college degree, even if its holder acquired no actual skills, at least indicates some ability to show up on time and perform as instructed.
And, third, a college degree -- at least an elite one -- may hook its holder up with a useful social network that can provide jobs and opportunities in the future. (This is more true if it's a degree from Yale than if it's one from Eastern Kentucky, but it's true everywhere to some degree).
While an individual might rationally pursue all three of these, only the first one -- actual added skills -- produces a net benefit for society. The other two are just distributional -- about who gets the goodies, not about making more of them.
Yet today's college education system seems to be in the business of selling parts two and three to a much greater degree than part one, along with selling the even-harder-to-quantify "college experience," which as often as not boils down to four (or more) years of partying.
Post-bubble, perhaps students -- and employers, not to mention parents and lenders -- will focus instead on education that fosters economic value. And that is likely to press colleges to focus more on providing useful majors. (That doesn't necessarily rule out traditional liberal-arts majors, so long as they are rigorous and require a real general education, rather than trendy and easy subjects, but the key word here is "rigorous.")
My question is whether traditional academic institutions will be able to keep up with the times, or whether -- as Anya Kamenetz suggests in her new book, "DIY U" -- the real pioneering will be in online education and the work of "edupunks" who are more interested in finding new ways of teaching and learning than in protecting existing interests.
I'm betting on the latter. Industries seldom reform themselves, and real competition usually comes from the outside. Keep your eyes open -- and, if you're planning on applying to college, watch out for those student loans.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Sunday_Reflections/Higher-education_s-bubble-is-about-to-burst-95639354.html#ixzz0qDr31800
Lorenzana left the workplace to get married, but that relationship went sour after a brief time, and in September 2008, she was ready to go back to work. It was the height of the Wall Street crisis, but she lucked out. She got an interview with Citibank for a job at its recently opened branch in the Chrysler Building.
At the interview, she recalls, she wore a black Armani wrap dress and simple Christian Louboutin pumps. (The dress was form-fitting and tight in the bust: She says one size up would have been too big for her.) She remembers that the branch manager, Craig Fisher, was polite, asking her about strategies for acquiring new business and whether she had other job offers. Since she already had an offer from Washington Mutual, Fisher proposed a salary of $70,000 with three weeks' vacation, she says. Her job title was business banker, providing services to small businesses. There were three business bankers at the Chrysler Building branch; Lorenzana was the only woman.
All business: This photo, unlike the others, was arranged by her lawyer for her suit.
All business: This photo, unlike the others, was arranged by her lawyer for her suit.
* Suit: Raunchy Wall Street CEO Offers to Make Young Employee 'Cumm,' Sends Her His Jerk-Off Video, Fires Her
May 3, 2010
* Debbie Lorenzana
* Craig Fisher
* Jack Tuckner
* Skirts and Dresses
* Fashion and Style
When she started the job, she says, a colleague told her that the branch was "pretty much known for hiring pretty girls," and that she knew Lorenzana was going to be hired from the moment she came in for her interview. "So here I am," Lorenzana recalls, "thinking I got hired because of my capabilities, and now you're telling me it's because of my physical appearance? Oh, great."
However, she liked the job, the pay, and the prospects for advancement. For the first two months, she says, she was hardly in the office--she was either out drumming up business or attending training sessions. But once she started spending more time in the office, things began to go downhill.
Interviews and her lawsuit, which was filed in November 2009, tell her story: Fisher and another manager, Peter Claibourne, started making offhanded comments about her appearance, she says. She was told not to wear fitted business suits. She should wear makeup because she looked sickly without it. (She had purposefully stopped wearing makeup in hopes of attracting less attention.) Once, she recalls, she came in to work without having blow-dried her hair straight--it is naturally curly--and Fisher told a female colleague to pass on a message that she shouldn't come into work without straightening it.
Other problems also popped up. In order to provide services to a client, a banker needs to become certified to do things like open a checking account or take a loan application. Lorenzana says Fisher didn't send her to enough of the required training sessions, which meant she wasn't authorized to do something as simple as order a debit card for a client and was forced to rely on her colleagues for favors. "When I complained," Lorenzana says, "Craig would say, 'Just go ahead and bring in new business.' So I went out every day and looked for business." But then, she says, when clients would come into the branch asking for her--or would fax papers to the branch with her name on them--Fisher would give those hard-won accounts to male colleagues.
In late 2008, she recalls, the two managers called her into Fisher's office. She remembers that she was wearing a red camisole, beige pants, and a navy suit jacket. This is how she tells it: "They said, 'Deb, we need to talk to you about your work attire. . . . Your pants are too tight.' I said, 'I'm sorry, my pants are not too tight! If you want to talk about inappropriate clothes, go downstairs and look at some of the tellers!' "
Citibank does have a dress-code policy, which says clothing must not be provocative, but does not go into specifics, and managers have wide discretion. But Lorenzana points out that, unlike her, some of the tellers dressed in miniskirts and low-cut blouses. "And when they bend down," Lorenzana says, "anyone can see what God gave them!"
Then the managers gave her a list of clothing items she would not be allowed to wear: turtlenecks, pencil skirts, and fitted suits. And three-inch heels. "As a result of her tall stature, coupled with her curvaceous figure," her suit says, Lorenzana was told "she should not wear classic high-heeled business shoes, as this purportedly drew attention to her body in a manner that was upsetting to her easily distracted male managers."
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Lorenzana recalls. "I said, 'You gotta be kidding me!' I was like, 'Too distracting? For who? For you? My clients don't seem to have any problem.' "
The managers instructed her to wear looser clothing. Lorenzana refused. "I don't have the money to buy a new wardrobe," she says, referring to her work outfits. "I shop where everyone else shops--at Zara!" Lorenzana recalls leaving the meeting feeling humiliated. Other female employees "were able to wear such clothing because they were short, overweight, and they didn't draw much attention," she later wrote in a letter describing the meeting to Human Resources, "but since I was five-foot-six, 125 pounds, with a figure, it wasn't 'appropriate.' " She was also furious. "Are you saying that just because I look this way genetically, that this should be a curse for me?"