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Vol 2013 no 1 (Posted July 2013)


Education || Women

Women's issues

The Intended Demise and the Subsequent Rise of the African American Woman Despite Crack Laws in the United States of America
Peter John A. Messiah, Founding Director, Addiction Prevention Studies, Petree College of Arts and Sciences, Oklahoma City University

This paper attempts to analyze and describe the disproportionality of numbers of African American women who have fallen victim to the slanted laws and biased policies emanating from America’s War on Drugs, and to shed light on the discriminatory practices still employed in the American Criminal Justice System.  The paper will detail how, against all odds, the African American woman has maintained a steady hand on the helm of the black family despite mass incarceration, has avoided her intended demise, and has become a major contributor to the American economy through entrepreneurship. It also strives to appraise critically policies to show their bias, to show the causality of risk and protective factors within the Black family due to the attempted extinction of the African American Matriarch, and makes recommendations for prevention efforts.

Justice and the identities of women: The case of Indonesian women victims of domestic violence who have access to Family Court
Rika Saraswati, Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, Australia

The Family Court is the most important institution for Indonesian women who have experienced domestic violence. The institution becomes their last resort to end the violence and to obtain their rights as wives when the performance of criminal justice system is not satisfying. The women’s rights as wives are basically regulated in the Marriage Act 1974 and other implementing regulations of the Act. In reality, the rights of the women in this study, that they expected to be fulfilled, were different for each individual woman victim of domestic violence because of the diverse implementation of regulations in the Family Courts (such as the Religious Courts and the State courts) and the identities belonging to each woman (such as Muslim or non-Muslim, litigant or not litigant, and wife of civil servant or non-civil servant). Even though the substance of the legislations has been accustomed with the sense of gender equality at certain levels, apparently superiority still belongs to men. This causes an imbalance of power for women as litigants or non-litigants before the court. Thus, the different courts and their legislations affect the sense of justice among the women who have had the same experience of domestic violence

Villainous Avatars: The Visual Semiotics of Misogyny and Free Speech in Cyberspace
Pamela Turton-Turner, Associate Lecturer and First Year Coordinator, Art Theory Program, Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania

This paper explores a noxious relationship between the emergence of liberal free speech online, and vitriolic sexual violence focused on women and girls. Internet forums provide instant access to expansive audiences. They provide powerful means for anonymous users called trolls, to amplify sexually motivated hate speech. In some cases suicidal deaths have been attributed to vicious Internet denouncements of women and girls. Demands to cease promoting gender violence online are often met with protestations invoking democratic rights to free speech, or that vilification of others simply voices “controversial humor”. In 2011 Mary Anne Franks defined this type of liberal view as “cyberspace idealism”. Franks has asserted that cyberspace idealism presupposes that the Internet is the ultimate bastion guarding the principles of equality and free thought. In social media such as Facebook and Twitter I examine deeply ingrained cultural meanings of images that vilify women and girls online. Through use of visual semiotics and feminist critical discourse analysis, I argue that the intrinsic mechanism of sexual power play informing gender violence in the “virtual” world, is embedded in “real” world language. It is amplified online at the expense of a woman’s right to dignity, privacy, and free speech. Patriarchal discourses that implicitly legitimate and normalize misogyny on the Internet, can only thwart the possibility of a truly utopian and democratic space existing in cyberspace.

Overcoming Educational Challenges to Women Living in At-Risk Communities through Urban Debate
Carol K. Winkler, C. Kevin Fortner, and Sara Baugh-Harris

Every year 1.3 million U.S. high school students drop out of school with one quarter of female students failing to graduate on time.  Female dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, to earn less when they are employed, to become pregnant before the age of 20, to become obese, to smoke, and to drink more heavily than their male counterparts.
            This study focuses on two public school systems with high rates of dropouts to determine whether urban debate leagues (UDLs) improve the affective, behavioral, and cognitive dimensions of school engagement of middle and high school females.  The methods used in the analysis include:  (1) propensity score matching to compare behavioral and cognitive indicators of debaters vs. non-debaters, (2) a nationally normed pre/post reading test, and (3) an alumni survey of UDL participants.
            The study found that debaters were significantly less likely to be tardy from school, scored significantly higher on standardized reading exams, and substantially exceeded national norms for annual progress in reading rate, accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.  Program alumni reported that UDL participation increased both the skills and confidence levels needed for success in college and their careers.


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