reappropriate

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cerebrogenesis (7)

  • The 20th Carnival of Feminists is up at Super Babymama, where the focus is on the intersection of feminism with issues of poverty and class.
  • Globalization and violence to women's bodies, a post by a womb of her own discussing how globalization furthers the abuse and victimization of women, worldwide. The post points to several articles detailing how globalization adversely affects women from Ukraine, Mexico, and areas within Western Europe, but we mustn't forget how sex tourism, mail-order brides and transracial adoption have negatively affected women throughout Asia. Countries like Thailand, are, after all, the number one hotspot for horny White men looking to sexually dominate an underaged Asian girl.
  • The Pro-Life Movement in a Nutshell, over at the Rude Pundit. I like to imagine that the pro-life movement isn't populated by morons, so I'm worried when the pro-choice side takes so strong a stance against the pro-lifers, but then again, more and more I'm seeing the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement that makes me agree with the Rude Pundit in its assessment of the other side. After all, as I blogged earlier, how can you be pro-life and be against research that could save millions?
  • Racism and hysteria by Orcinus. This post is two years old, but still incredibly relevant, as it documents old articles and imagery in the media immediately before Japanese American internment.
  • Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans: 3rd Edition. Thanks to New Game Plus for including this blog in the carnival!
  • By the time I get to Conneticut by Slant Truth, detailing the recent hullaballoo on the Huffington Post when a blogger posted a doctored photograph of Joe Lieberman in blackface. And they wonder why communities of colour are deserting the left-wing.

    This just goes to show you that no one is exempt from identity politics ignorance -- the people responsible for this should have no excuse, though they do try to give one (as detailed in the link). The most unfortunate part of this whole affair is that right-wing bloggers like Michelle Malkin are quick to accuse liberals of being racist for having created this photo. How are we to maintain the moral highground if we have people amongst our ranks always trying to ruin it for the rest of us?

  • 50 Guys all trying to look like Bruce Lee by NY Times, because I was never aware of the story behind Bruce Lee's Game of Death and am glad that someone is challenging the "Asians all look alike" stereotype.
  • Facing Middle Age With No Degree, and No Wife at the NY Times, in which increasing education of women is blamed for decreasing marriage rates of undereducated men (incidentally, the article blames women for increased rates of bachelorhood among men, failing to note that the same reluctance to marry is evident amongst women as well, suggesting that what's actually going on is a general, cultural deemphasis on marriage). As if it's my duty to keep myself uneducated so that some guy can find himself a happy homemaker. It never made any sense to me when men blamed women for their own failures in the dating market -- it presumes such an air of entitlement, as if men just expect women to want to procreate with them and feel denied when it doesn't happen. The article features a header image of a guy sitting alone in his bedroom with a hatrack covered in baseball caps as he strums away on a guitar; maybe he should consider that he's not dateless because of the feminism movement that results in higher education rates of women, but because he's an boring loser who sits home at night playing his effin' guitar instead of meeting women.

    But this was my favourite image:

    Because the reason we should take note of this image is not the fact that representation of women in higher education has risen by 30% over the last twenty or so years, but the relative disparity of undereducated women for undereducated men to marry. I also love how this article characterizes women as gold diggers -- 'cuz of course, when we do marry, we're all marrying for money and stability.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Put 'em up Mr. Moto!" drawing is an example of racism in 1942. And the photoshopped Clinton-Lieberman picture is an example of racism in 2006. Whoever made the picture needs sensitivity training... or something.

8/07/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting blog site. I notice you list the Eddy Zheng blog site. How do you reconcile your support for feminism with Zheng's treatment of victim Mrs. Tam during the commission of his crime? Do you support Zheng simply because he is Asian-American, or have you decided that he has truly been rehabilitated? I'm interested in your opinion, because you obviously think a lot about such issues, and as a fellow Asian-American, I have trouble understanding why so many in the Asian-American community support Mr. Zheng SIMPLY because he is Asian-American. After all, his victims were Asian-American, as well, and they don't get half the support they deserve.

Here is an excerpt of Mr. Zheng's crime from the East Bay Express (08/10/2004), for those who don't know what we're talking about:

Because everyone was trying to get ahead, nobody was watching Eddy [Zheng]. He hardly spoke English, and was one of the few Chinese kids in a mostly African-American junior high. He felt isolated and bullied, taunted about not having lunch money and for wearing clothes from Goodwill. He would escape by taking the bus to Chinatown's Lincoln Park to hang with kids who spoke his language.

He befriended two a couple of years his senior, Dennis Chan and David Weng. Together, the three were trouble. Zheng's grades fell and he skipped school regularly. During their high school years, the three young men were busted for petty theft in Daly City and car theft in Concord; Zheng served probation and was ordered to provide restitution. It wasn't much of a deterrent. When Zheng was sixteen, the two older boys came up with their biggest scheme yet -- an armed home invasion. He agreed to it. Their target was another immigrant Chinese family that owned gift and herbal medicine shops in San Francisco's Chinatown. The teens were convinced the family owned a safe that surely would yield instant wealth.

At Zheng's sentencing, the prosecutor explained how carefully the teens planned the crime. Chan saved his allowance money to buy a gun, they borrowed a getaway car, and they tailed the father, Kwong Sang Tam, home from work to learn his address. On January 6, 1986, the teens followed the family upstairs to their apartment and forced themselves inside at gunpoint. What they'd envisioned as a quick holdup then devolved into a six-hour Tarantino-esque debacle that only got grislier and more complicated as it went on.

They began by dividing the Tam family, hoping to scare one of them into revealing where the safe was. They bound the father's hands with wire. They made the six- and nine-year-old children, Jenny and David, get into the bathtub so they wouldn't see what was going on, but the kids escaped and tried to untie their dad. Jenny recalls the teens returning her and her brother to the bathroom, this time duct-taping their mouths and tying their legs and hands together. David remembers one of the teens pointing a gun at him and warning, "I could shoot you and there could be a lot of blood, so you should be quiet." Jenny says one robber pointed his fingers like a gun at her head and made a shooting noise, then demanded where the money was. She told him to look in her mom's purse.

But of course, the three young men were after much more than a purse. They spent hours ransacking the house in frustration. To intimidate the mother, Mary, Zheng ripped her shirt and one of the boys grabbed an empty camera and pretended to take pictures with it.

And yet Zheng was also still so young that he remembers stopping to play with his victims' remote-controlled robot. "I knew I was committing a crime, but I didn't know what the consequences of the crime were," he says. "I was feeling this adrenaline; I wasn't feeling fear or anything like that."

By 11 p.m., the teens gave up on finding a safe. They hatched a new plan when they spotted a shop key lying around. While Weng kept watch on the house, Zheng and Chan drove Mary to the family's stores, where they helped themselves to $34,000 worth of cash and merchandise. While they were gone, the others untied themselves and threw books out the window until they finally got a neighbor to call the cops.

The teens' ineptitude proved to be their undoing. When a police officer pulled over Zheng and Chan for driving without headlights, one glance at the shaken woman in the backseat told him something was wrong. Zheng confessed immediately upon his arrest.

After the break-in, David recalls, "life changed pretty much forever." His parents installed an alarm system, window bars, a cage around the balcony, and a bar across the back door that Jenny says looks like it was designed to withstand a battering ram. Although the family didn't talk much about the crime, it clearly took a toll on them. "From that point on, I was very, very paranoid," David recalls. "It's hard to regain that innocence that was lost. You normally don't lose that until later in life, but I lost it at nine." Jenny remembers that her brother was afraid to sleep or be left alone in a room; his mom made him take self-defense lessons, but that didn't make him feel more protected. "I was ten," he recalls. "What good is it going to do?"

The siblings say their mom never spoke about what exactly happened to her, but it left her deeply shaken, and at one point she considered buying a gun. Jenny says her mother would call the cops when she heard noises upstairs, and once hired a private detective to follow her daughter around. "She always saw me as being on the edge of something horrible and terrible about to happen, like I'm about to be the victim of some crime," she recalls. "To be an immigrant I think it's really difficult to find security, but if that crime hadn't happened I think there would be more peace of mind with her."

8/08/2006 01:42:00 AM  
Anonymous gatamala said...

I wish you had a whole post on that article!!! I love how that graphic explodes out of the box at the end!!!!

Why does the premise always have to be marriage is in decline? Why not, marriage is changing????

Don't you just love how they managed to find the dumb chick who got involved w/ the athlete!

Here is another gem, "Relaxed mores have also encouraged more gay men to live openly homosexual lives. “I think this could be a minor factor but not a major one” in the decline of marriage, Professor Cherlin said."

Perhaps the journalist could have asked the men what makes them marriageable? The sociologist Jencks stated, "“Men who have graduated from college have been more responsive and ready to accommodate those changes than those who haven’t.” HMMMMMM


Frankly, I don't think these guys want to get hitched, nor should they. A couple of the guys profiled are so scared that some woman is going to "take 1/2" of what he "owns" as if she had no contribution to his success through her own paycheck, or taking care of the household.

As for stability, as someone who is divorced and foolishly married someone who put himself first and us (maybe) later, stability to a woman is paramount.

Think about this: There is a segment of educated men that marries undereducated women (for whatever reasons). Perhaps, they need someone to make them feel intellectually superior, or simply just adhere to their concept of what a wife is. If you're an undereducated woman who actually has the option of cooking, cleaning, breeding for an undereducated/underemployed man or one with a steady career who would you choose???

I think the problem with discussing why people are/are not getting married stems from not really getting down & dirty and discussing what marriage really means to people.

8/08/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"Interesting blog site. I notice you list the Eddy Zheng blog site. How do you reconcile your support for feminism with Zheng's treatment of victim Mrs. Tam during the commission of his crime? Do you support Zheng simply because he is Asian-American, or have you decided that he has truly been rehabilitated? I'm interested in your opinion, because you obviously think a lot about such issues, and as a fellow Asian-American, I have trouble understanding why so many in the Asian-American community support Mr. Zheng SIMPLY because he is Asian-American. After all, his victims were Asian-American, as well, and they don't get half the support they deserve."

Hi Anonymous! Thank you for the article excerpt -- though I have read it before, that information was probably useful to other readers. I can only speak for myself regarding my support of Eddy Zheng, and can't begin to hypothesize on why the rest of the Asian American community may or may not be supporting him (... or even know who he is).

I support Eddy Zheng not simply because he's Asian American. I actually gravitate to his cause because of my long-standing belief in rehabilitation as the basis for the justice system, not punishment. I don't see a point in imprisoning criminals if we don't intend on encouraging them to return to society once they have rehabilitated -- if we're only interested in punishment, then we might as well put prisoners to death (something I'm very much against). If a person commits a crime, I believe that they should enter prison to achieve counseling and education to help them from committing future crimes. I believe criminals can go on to be productive members of society -- and that the reason we have so many repeat offenders is that the entire justice system basically gives up on criminals once they have been sentenced, and locks them up so that they don't have to be dealt with, hoping that they die before they get out and commit another crime. That attitude only perpetuates further crime: prisoners who are granted parole have such a hard time getting re-employed that many return to crime as a means of survival.

I see Eddy Zheng's case as an example of how prisoners can rehabilitate and devote their lives to being productive members of society, that the system is *still* screwing over rather than recognizing that he no longer poses any threat and is unlikely to commit a second crime. He has spent his years in prison counseling other immigrants from breaking the law as well as repeatedly petitioning the prison administrators for programs to improve the rehabilitation of other fellow inmates. He has no record of being involved in gangs or violence while in prison, and he was even one of he few inmates in the state of California to achieve an undergraduate degree while in prison.

If the system fails Eddy Zheng, and still treats him as a criminal despite his best efforts to distance himself from a childhood mistake, why should other prisoners rehabilitate? Why should they not continue to commit crimes if the system will forever after treat them as a criminal, anyways?

Rehabilitation only works when there is hope that once you *have* rehabilitated, you can return to society and start afresh. Eddy Zheng is being denied that opportunity -- and in doing so, the justice system is not just failing him, it is failing itself.

I don't excuse Eddy's crime of nearly twenty years ago. I'm sure it was a horrific experience for the Tam family, and I am sorry that they were put through this. But I cannot throw away Zheng's repeated actions proving that he will not go out and repeat the same crime again.

I don't consider my feminism having much to do with this case. There is no law against misogyny, and though Zheng and his cohorts targeted Mrs. Tam for intimidation, Zheng's ripping of Mrs. Tam's shirt is no more heinous to me then the binding and gagging of the children and the threats on each family member's life. A female victim of a crime doesn't automatically make the crime the cause of every feminist, for us to blindly tout without considering all the facts.

As an Asian American, I also should be an advocate of all Asian Americans universally -- what authority do I have to revoke someone's membership to the race? All communities have members who prey within their community -- and yet these people are still subject to the same external racism. The race of Eddy's victim has about as much to do with anyone's support of him as supporters of the Tam family would care about the race of the Tam family's attacker. As Asian American activists, we should support both sides on race relations, and depend on our belief in other political causes to determine how we stand on the specific issue dividing both sides. I don't see any reason why my identity as an Asian American and a feminist should be suspect when it comes to my support of prisoner's rights.

As an Asian American, I *can* speculate that Eddy Zheng's case holds appeal because it also touches on immigrant rights -- should children who were brought into this country by a parent have to return to a country they don't know or should there be some amnesty for immigrants who are culturally American? If my cousin, who immigrated here at the age of 5, were to be deported to Taiwan, I doubt he would be able to function in a land he barely remembers, where he doesn't speak the language or understand the culture. It's important that the INS recognize that they should re-consider their policies in deporting long-time residents of America to a "home country" that is only that in name.

Also, Eddy Zheng reminds us that there are Asian American prisoners, a fact that is sometimes forgotten because of the model minority myth, and that this population is not only increasing but that the prison system currently has few resources to help rehabilitate them. Eddy Zheng's causes include advocating for an Asian American Studies Program and outreach to other immigrant youths to prevent further crimes -- we as a community must start to do more to break down the model minority myth than bitching -- we must start addressing the parts of our community who are poor or in jail and help change their lives for the better if we are to improve our community as a whole.

8/08/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

Don't you think though that there is a sliding scale of probability to be reformed when it comes to criminals and their criminal behavior? Would you disagree that a shop-lifter is much more likely to be rehabilitated than a rapist or a murderer?

How much of a societies finite resources should be allocated to trying to rehabilitate criminals when there are many other uses to help those that have not committed crimes?

Also, if the main point of a justice system is rehabilitation, do you believe that many to most crimes are "cries for help" from those in society that don't know how to help themselves?

Just some questions to help me clarify your position.

Plus, I'd love to see some sort of statistics on how many "reformed" and "rehabilitated" criminals have been released to repeat their crimes or to commit "new" ones.

8/08/2006 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"Don't you think though that there is a sliding scale of probability to be reformed when it comes to criminals and their criminal behavior? Would you disagree that a shop-lifter is much more likely to be rehabilitated than a rapist or a murderer?"

I disagree that a shoplifter is more likely to be rehabilitated than a rapist or a murderer. I think all people should be treated as equally capable of rehabilitation, given proper care and counseling. Consider -- a person who kills a man out of momentary rage: would you imagine to be able to tell whether he is more or less capable of rehabilitation than a chronic shoplifter who continually flouts the law? The only equitable way for a society to commit to rehabilitation is to believe that all people can be treated equally and that the only reason to keep them in prison is to continue the effort to help them. Prison then isn't a "punishment for the crime" so much as an opportunity to find a better way to live (or, continuous imprisonment could be seen as punishment for not trying to rehabilitate). At the root, crime is about an inability or unwillingness to follow society's rules, and what must be learned is how to live one's life within society's rules, no matter which rule was broken.

To believe that some people are incapable of rehabilitation is to suggest that there's something innate about them that demands criminality. Sorry, that's just too much of a slippery slope for me -- too often, such justifications have been used to argue for capital punishment or racial profiling.

"How much of a societies finite resources should be allocated to trying to rehabilitate criminals when there are many other uses to help those that have not committed crimes?"

Criminals do not commit crimes in a vacuum -- it is often those who have not committed crimes that become victims of their actions. How then are we NOT helping those who have not committed crimes by helping to rehabilitate those who have? By helping rehabilitation, you are helping prisoners learn not to commit further crimes AND you are doing something preventative about crime. I think we can all agree that prevention is better than reaction in helping to stop undesirable events, and yet in the "prison as punishment" system that we currently have, it has been shown that this does nothing to prevent either first-time or repeat offenders from breaking the law.

"Also, if the main point of a justice system is rehabilitation, do you believe that many to most crimes are "cries for help" from those in society that don't know how to help themselves?"

I believe some crimes may be a "cry for help", but that minimalizes the systemic problem of our society that results in crime. Poverty and racism are two of the main reasons that cause people to commit crimes -- for those who are dirt-poor, who see no hope in bettering themselves legitimately -- that is the most effective gateway to crime. I think that people who have committed crimes need counseling or education to improve their odds and offer hope for legitimate success in the outside world -- let's not kid ourselves, virtually everyone in prison doesn't want to go back, and given the means to avoid breaking the law and be treated fairly, why would anyone take that risk knowing what's at stake?

"Plus, I'd love to see some sort of statistics on how many "reformed" and "rehabilitated" criminals have been released to repeat their crimes or to commit "new" ones. "

I'd love to as well. Unfortunately, we don't have a system that emphasizes rehabilitation. In this society, we treat "rehabilitated prisoners" as criminals, even if their time has been served. Sex offenders have to register on federal lists and find themselves harassed and with their personal information available to anyone with an internet connection and the ability to use Google maps, even if they attend regular counseling and are, for all intents and purposes, "cured". Criminals are released back into the same neighbourhoods, and if they learn job skills in prison, are passed over for most jobs because of their criminal record (imagine how often you've applied for jobs in which you've been asked about crimes committed? how many apartments you've rented in which this question could make or break your application?) A rehabilitated criminal released into this world where they can't find a job, a place to live, or even vote in an election is basically a permanent second-class citizen. Under those circumstances, when society already treats you as a prisoner who just happens to be out of jail, why WOULDN'T you commit a crime again?

That's why I don't think there ARE trustworthy statistics on "reformed" or "rehabilitated" criminals and repeat offenses. None of the statistics take into account to what degree the prisoners have proven their rehabilitation and what opportunities they have once they make it outside.

8/08/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn,

Very well-reasoned, well-written response. You've given me some food for thought.

You obviously have thought out your position on this issue very well, and I am completely in awe at your ability to clearly articulate your position.

I agree with much of what you say, in theory. However, in the case of Eddy Zheng SPECIFICALLY, I disagree on one point. I believe that Mr. Zheng should be deported forthwith from the United States, and can not agree with activists who are trying to help him remain in this country.

I have no problem with his being paroled. He did his time, he served his debt to society, and he was a model prisoner.

But to then say he has a right to remain in this country when he committed a crime as a non-resident is puzzling to me.

To say Mr. Zheng "deserves" to stay in this country because he successfully rehabilitated himself in our prisons flies in the face of logic. It is also an insult to the numerous legitimate, hard-working immigrants who have come to the country, and done things the right way to earn their citizenship.

I find the argument that our society should reap the benefits of Mr. Zheng's "reform" crazy. I wish Mr. Zheng all the best, just not in this country.

Again, thanks for the great response. You have a better grasp of the tensions between rehabilitation and punishment in the U.S. Penal system than most lawyers I know!

8/08/2006 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn,

Very well-reasoned, well-written response. You've given me some food for thought.

You obviously have thought out your position on this issue very well, and I am completely in awe at your ability to clearly articulate your position.

I agree with much of what you say, in theory. However, in the case of Eddy Zheng SPECIFICALLY, I disagree on one point. I believe that Mr. Zheng should be deported forthwith from the United States, and can not agree with activists who are trying to help him remain in this country.

I have no problem with his being paroled. He did his time, he served his debt to society, and he was a model prisoner.

But to then say he has a right to remain in this country when he committed a crime as a non-resident is puzzling to me.

To say Mr. Zheng "deserves" to stay in this country because he successfully rehabilitated himself in our prisons flies in the face of logic. It is also an insult to the numerous legitimate, hard-working immigrants who have come to the country, and done things the right way to earn their citizenship.

I find the argument that our society should reap the benefits of Mr. Zheng's "reform" crazy. I wish Mr. Zheng all the best, just not in this country.

Again, thanks for the great response. You have a better grasp of the tensions between rehabilitation and punishment in the U.S. Penal system than most lawyers I know!

8/08/2006 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hey anonymous, thanks for the kind words! I don't think I have a better grasp than lawyers (at least I hope not!! ^_^) but I appreciate very much the sentiment.

I do agree that Zheng has no "right" to be in this country or avoid deportation. By law, immigration and legal residency in America is a privilege, not a right (the border people remind me of this everytime I cross in from Canada) -- and I would hope that advocates for Mr. Zheng would be able to distinguish between the two. I sincerely hope no one is saying that, as it currently stands, Mr. Zheng "deserves" or "has a right" to be here -- the law plainly states that he does not.

What I believe, however, is that Mr. Zheng makes a good case for why the current law is misguided because it ignores the problems of deporting people who left their home country as children. Legally, the INS is in the right, but morally (as much as morals come into this question), I have a problem with the law. (It's a similar sort of tension one reaches when advocating any immigrant's rights issue, since on paper, alien residents have very few rights but are frequently mis-treated by INS).

My support of Mr. Zheng's fight to remain in this country is a belief that amnesty should be considered for people who arrived in this country as children and who are culturally American. I strongly resent the immigration judge's ruling that separating Mr. Zheng from his family and returning him to China would not cause terrible suffering, and consider this case a good launchpad to petition for change to the INS statutes to consider the cruelty of deporting underage immigrants.

Either way, this is something of a moot point. Mr. Zheng has married an American, and will probably be able to file for residency with that marital status, pre-empting any deportation processes. I doubt that he will continue to fight to remain in this country based on circumstances of his legal battle of 19 years ago (he contends that he pled guilty with the agreement that his public defender would waive the deportation process after his prison term, something his public defender did not do), when it would be easier and more certain for his chances to file as a spouse of an American. Here, the American spouse's rights come into play, as she will basically sponsor Zheng's petition to become a permanent resident, and so long as the two can prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith, they probably won't encounter any problems.

8/08/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that transracial adoption can be abusive when parents are gleefully ignorant or racist in their belief to divorce their adoptive child from her/his birth culture. There are plenty of horror stories of Asian, African American, Native American and mixed children adopted by ego centric parents with saviour complexes, but aren't there other examples of transracially adopted kids who have good lives?

8/08/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

... am i missing something? why are we talking about transracial adoption...?

8/08/2006 09:59:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home