Tomato Salad

One of our favorite meals in my household: Tomato Salad.  A twist off of the original version my mother created for us growing up.

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes (1-1.5 large tomato per adult typically suffices in our home)
  • Parsley or basil
  • Goat Cheese with honey (Trader Joes, preferably)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (to taste)

Recipe: 

Dice tomatoes and place in a medium-large bowl.  Pour in vinaigrette and mix with tomatoes.  Place on plates, garnish with parsley or basil.  Add 1-2 scoops of goat cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

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Olivia Steger Writes Note To Dwell Magazine

I’m not sure how many people are familiar with the story of Riley Maida, the 4-year-old who became an Internet hit due to her rant against “gender stereotypes in toy marketing”.  Well a similar story by Huffington Post came out last week which reported that eight-year-old Olivia Steger recently wrote a letter to the editors of Dwell magazine in response to  to their article that debate the merits of “Architect Barbie“.

The Huffington Post article covers Olivia Steger’s comments as well as summarizing Dwell magazine’s original article, which had mentioned “toy manufacturers whose products encourage girls to build, like LEGO and Lincoln Logs”.  Huffington Post goes on to say that there is “much debate over whether the gender-specific blocks would inspire girls to opt for construction toys or if the ‘girly’ colors and figures were just further perpetuating stereotypes”.  Retailers, the author of this article points out, are making conscious efforts to close the gap between “girl toys” and “boy toys” so that toys are marketable to both genders in order not ‘discriminate’.  The apparent fear is that toys tailored to a specific gender will discourage the other (gender) from diversifying, expanding their options (including career options) and stifling creativity.

When did toys enter the discussion arenas of ‘gender discrimination’?  As a child, I did not feel discouraged, discriminated against or otherwise stifled in my development by my parents, family members and friends and society at large in the toys that were marketed to children my age.  I gravitated towards dresses, dolls, toy tea party sets and plastic jewelry while my brother rotated towards sporting goods, shovels, tools, trucks and sticks.  My sister fell somewhere in the middle.  Additionally, in my vast experience of nannying, never have I seen parents or other adults push children of certain genders towards one type of toy at the expense of another.  In fact, in the family scenarios in which a child of a certain gender is given the options of both male and female toys, the child naturally rotates towards the “gender appropriate” toy such as a ball (if a boy) or dolls (if a girl).

This is all to say that children have natural tendencies towards certain toys over others.  I feel confident in saying that most of us are familiar with the nurture versus nature philosophy that exists.  And while a certain level of nurture exists in which types of toys parents buy their children, whether it be to encourage the child towards certain toys or whether it be parents purchasing toys for their child based off of his/her preferences, I believe that the nature aspect of the argument trumps in this debate.  A child is born with a basic set of instincts, preferences and behaviors that no other human being can control.  How those preferences and behaviors eventually evolve is an entirely different debate.  Yet a child has certain inclinations and desires that are not taught.

Some girls prefer playing house with plastic plates and utensils while others (girls) prefer kicking a ball.  The same can be said for boys.  Yet the whole concept of the toy market attempting to prevent “discrimination” towards both genders in producing toys with “gender neutral” colors or organizing toys by types rather than colors is silly.  Boys as a whole will naturally gravitate towards more “masculine” toys and activities while girls at large will naturally gravitate towards more “feminine” products.  Boys and girls feel no discrimination at such a young age unless it is pointed out to them by an adult.  And the entire concept of businesses jumping on the political bandwagon of not wanting to offend or leave out individuals in the game of “gender equality” is a bit absurd!

Voter Education

How educated are you when it comes to politics?  Do you know where the 2012 Presidential candidates stand and their political (career) history?  Are you truly aware of the political platform of the Democratic and Republican parties as well as what policies they prompt?

It is a sad reality that a large number of Americans are not as informed as they should be but, rather, vote out of an emotional or psychological response.  This comes in the form of how a candidate makes them feel or what a political party claims to have done or will do.  Media outlets often times do not accurately report on either candidates or their parties, often times leaving out information that does not serve the agenda of their news story.

Red Alert Politics published a fascinating article yesterday that covered a study done by We are Change, a nonpartisan group.  Red Alert Politics writes that We are Change:

Took to the streets to interview Obama supporters regarding his policies.  However, it listed four of Obama’s actual policies as having been proposed by Romney.  It turns out that these Obama supporters vehemently oppose his policies when they think they belong to the GOP candidate.

The responses by the interviewees are captivating, particularly when it is revealed to them that the policies are in fact Obama’s – and not Romney’s.  Most of the individuals completely retracted their answers and still supported Obama.  However, at least one supporter was willing to listen and another was not sure what to believe but promised to do further research.

The purpose of the questionare was not to support Romney but to bring awareness to voter education.  With this in mind, how educated are YOU for this coming election?  Are you simply voting for a candidate based on your affiliation with a certain party or name recognition?  Or are you educated enough to cast a vote based off of an informed platform?

Shifts In The Market Place

Gang members and drug dealers are beginning to convert to pimping because they view it as easy and more profitable industry with potentially lower prison sentence[s] if convicted.  The ‘Game’ is less dangerous for an individual who becomes a pimp when compared to gang or drug activity.  Commercial sexual exploitation provides relatively low risks and high profits, allowing the trade of human beings to increasingly replace the trafficking or trade of drugs and weapons as the preferred activity of criminal networks.  “Gangs need money to survive, and money equates to power and respect.  While selling drugs may be lucrative for a gang, this activity often carries a significant risk as stiff legal penalties and harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws exist”.  While pimping, gang members are still able to make money while the prostitutes bear the majority of the risk.  Gang members, drug dealers and other criminal activity personnel switch to prostitution because there is someone else receiving the risk for them, allowing pimps to stay out of trouble.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors reports that street gangs have embraced pimping as ‘the new crack,’ rivaling drug sales as one of their major sources of funding.  Engaging in pimping involves less risk and overhead than dealing dope.  The reason for such a change is purely economic states FBI Task Force Officer Ryan Larson.  “From the pimps’ perspective,” Officer Larson explains, “I sell crack, I sell it, it’s gone.  I sell a girl, she’s still there…The average pimp can make $18,000 a month for two girls doing two dates a day”.  Simply put, pimping is attractive because it is lucrative and not particularly risky.  A pimp receives an increase in profits and money if [s]he makes the switch from a gang or dealing drugs.

Moreover, pimping allows gangs to recruit younger members into the gangs while increasing the status of the gang within the community, particularly other gangs.  Pimping is a financial income that allows gang members to buy material possessions such as cars, clothes and weapons.  The gangs in Sacramento, CA, for example, use the money earned by prostitutes to get by through putting a roof over their heads or providing food and clothes.  Gangs require members to engage in sex for money or other services as a part of the initiation process.  The gang mentality embraces the concept of ‘family’, meaning that gangs are close knit. Pimps within a gang environment will trick prostitutes into believing the former needs them, thereby ensuring a false sense of pimp dependency on the prostitute. A prostitute will fall prey to this false sense of empowerment thus prostituting him or herself for the pimp as [s]he believes that this is the only means of survival.

Author’s Note: (c) Anna Rutherford Engel.  Please site if quoting any of my writing.  If you would like to know which studies or individuals I am citing in my work, please contact me and I will send you those sources.  Additionally, contact me if you would like my research as a whole.

Legitimizing Pimping

Commercial sexual exploitation organizations may be owned or backed by prominent local community members, such as judges or lawyers, or are controlled or financed by organized crime groups.  76 percent to 100 percent of the sex enterprises in the Northeast, Southeast, Metro New York and Metro San Francisco are controlled, financed and/or backed by organized crime groups as reported by the majority of law enforcement agencies.  The sex industry operates in connection with many legitimate businesses as the former utilizes the latter as a cover for illegal activities or transactions.  This includes restaurants or bakers in the Northeast, gas stations and convenience stores in Metro New York and travel agencies and real estate in Metro San Francisco.

Media and pop culture glamorizes pimping while undermining the reality of brutality and abuse of this industry.  The connections between the sex and media industries demonstrates how the sex industry has been able to evolve from its more stereotypical, seedy, back street image into a modern, diversified enterprise.  For example, “intense competition on the Internet has led pornographers to attract buyers with more extreme images, such as bondage, torture, bestiality and child pornography”.  Pimping exists because of the mystic of this industry as portrayed by various media outlets.

Author’s Note: (c) Anna Rutherford Engel.  Please site if quoting any of my writing.  If you would like to know which studies or individuals I am citing in my work, please contact me and I will send you those sources.  Additionally, contact myself if you would like my research as a whole.

Pimping As A Business

Pimping is a business because it entails an employee [prostitute] working for an employer [pimp].  Estimates on how much of prostitution is pimp-controlled vary: of the 55 percent of street girls who are prostitutes, 75 percent of these work for a pimp.  Another study cites 80 percent to 95 of all prostitution is under pimp control. It is difficult to determine what percentages of street prostitutes have pimps due to their reluctance to discuss their pimps with anyone.

There are fewer transactions under a pimping model but the prices charged for sexual favors are substantially higher and the clientele is different than the typical customer.  Prostitutes appear to earn more money when working for a pimp because pimps may choose to pay efficiency wages under this model.  “Clients pay $16 more per trick for women working with pimps than for those without pimps”, one expert states.  A two year study found that prostitutes were required to pay approximately 25 percent of earned revenue to pimps for all tricks performed under this particular model.  Such a payment had to be paid, regardless of whether or not the pimp actually arranged the clientele.

Part of a pimp’s business includes ‘testing’ his prostitute[s] before hiring them on.  Pimps will often times pay a prostitute to have sexual intercourse with him to make sure “they would make adequate prostitutes….since that was the point of [his] business”.  Such a practice emulates the interview process of a legitimate business.  A pimp is careful about grooming his prostitute[s] because his success or failure is a reflection of the latter.  A prostituted individual must work hard to earn the pimp’s respect and love while assisting him in achieving the best in material possessions, thereby imitating a probationary interval at a legally recognized corporation.

The sex industry organization varies as pimping has been transformed into a gentleman’s game.  Often times pimping is a family business which is passe ddown from father or uncle to son.  On study reveals that 72 percent of a sample group stated they were recruited into pimping, meaning that someone had suggested that they undertake the role of pimp.  One individual stated, “I was raised in the game.  It was a way of life in my household and neighborhood.  It was almost hereditary”.  This individual began pimping at the age of 17 in his ‘family business’.  This young man had been groomed to imitate his father who was a hash man.  A caveat exists, however, as a former nationally-acclaimed pimp asserts that pimps do not want to teach other pimps anything because doing so would threaten the former’s pimping career.  Other routes to pimping include: one thing led to another; pimping was a safe survival strategy; the individual was coerced into pimping; and pimping met needs missing in an individual’s life, such as power, control and respect.

Author’s Note: (c) Anna Rutherford Engel.  Please site if quoting any of my writing.  If you would like to know which studies or individuals I am citing in my work, please contact me and I will send you those sources.  Additionally, contact myself if you would like my research as a whole.

Why Pimping Exists

The sex industry is driven simultaneously by customer demand for sexual services and pimps who are motivated by the opportunity to make money.  The market place of victimization operates according to the economic laws of supply and demand much like an legitimate market.  Pimps move victims like products to the markets to satisfy the demand for sexual services.  As in any market, supply and demand for commercial sexual services are correlated; supply, while it can and will affect the market structure, increases to meet a growing demand for sexual services.

Pimping commodifies [fe]males while marketing their bodies for [fe]male customers to sexualize and buy.  Prostitutes have simply become another commodity in a larger realm of criminal commerce involving other commodities, including narcotic drugs, firearms or weapons, and money laundering.  An example of the mentality of prostitutes as property is found in the practice of tattooing a pimp’s name or symbol upon a prostitute’s thigh as a sign of the pimp’s control over him or her.  A tattoo, a permanent sign of ownership, signifies that the prostitute is the pimp’s property and is not owned by the prostitute, other prostitute[s], or a secondary exploiter thereby reinforcing the philosophy that prostitutes are property.  Simply put, prostitutes are viewed as pieces of real estate.

The commercialization of human beings transforms the sex trade into an industry based on business ideals that is driven by a desire for money while assisting in stimulating the already existent demand for human bodies.  Sexual exploitation is based on the foundation of supply and demand which is witnessed as victims become consumer products, meaning their bodies are sold on the market for consumption.  Various market entrepreneurs operate on the premise that the demand will never disappear.

Prostitution also results from a structural inequality between males and females.  Dr. Kathleen Barry exposes an entitlement factor as a key force for some male customers.  “It’s like going to have your car done, you tell them what you want done.  They don’t ask.  You tell them you want so and so done.”  The business of prostitution can be described as the use of real human beings to support the fantasies of others.  Anyone working prostitution who tells a ‘John’ too much about who they really are interferes with the customer’s [sexual] fantasy, risking the loss of a customer.  A pimp is required to know that they are using people in order not to become sentimental about it because “it’s business”.  “In a pimp’s mind, prostituting other individuals is the only way [s]he can make money.  The last thing [s]he’ll do is get a real job.  Pimping will ‘prevent’ him [or her] from committing other crimes, such as burglary.”