The voice of Amanda

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Rape- consequences and punishment

It has heartbreaking to see that the Indian woman attacked and gang-raped earlier this month passed away. As more information has emerged about what actually happened to her, I hope to see the death penalty for the men responsible. Though this assault happened on the other side of the world, its impact has been far reaching, putting even more pressure on the Indian authorities to issue a fitting punishment.

Even before this young woman succumbed to her injuries, Indian citizens were demanding the death sentence for the men who not only took turns raping and beating her, but damaged her internal organs with an iron rod. It has taken this devastating brutality to awaken people to the apathetic attitude surrounding rape and the lack of police follow up when one is reported. The question is, should death be a suitable punishment for someone who forces themselves on another?

I am liberal and firmly believe in many of the liberal ideals. However, my thoughts and opinions also come from my experiences. On the issue of rape, I believe the death penalty should be a possibility. Yes, perhaps the victim was left alive after the initial attack, but what others fail to see is the irreparable damage that will haunt them. This article even pointed out another woman who was gang raped, reported it, received little help (even ridicule from police), and then killed herself. The rapist(s) may not wrap their hands around their victim’s neck. They may not stab or shoot them. The attacker has instead left a persistent fear and self-loathing that can cause their victim to slowly destruct from the inside. Those who have never experienced it cannot fully comprehend the shadow that will trail behind every aspect of life from that moment on.

Even in America, the attitude and understanding of rape is insane. If 2012 proved anything, it is how much progress still needs to be made when it comes to rape and the female anatomy. Several fails this year:

-An O.C. judge doesn’t think a rape was bad enough, plus shows his idiocy regarding how the female body works. “I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case,” Johnson said. –

-If you’re going to be raped, you may as well sit back and enjoy it!

-Rape gets classifications! Was it legitimate or not? –



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Russian adoptions

Putin has shown about as much maturity as a spoiled impetuous child. In a political move that only serves to do harm to the children of his own country, Putin has managed to push through a ban on adoptions to American families.

The news articles are out there about the specifics of this, so I won’t really delve into it too much. All I can say is that Putin should spend a week staying in one of these orphanages with these children. I’m glad there will supposedly be perks for Russian families to adopt, but I’m sure that still won’t be enough for the thousands of children in need of homes.

From what I’ve read, Americans are being painted over with propaganda warning of sex trafficking, abuse and other hellish fates for Russian children brought to the states. More than likely the poor kids will face a much harsher reality in their orphanage, left without love and assistance for sometimes crippling disorders.

Way to show what an awesome leader you are, Putin. If I had the chance I would punch this guy in a heartbeat for such a cold show of political retribution.

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Reflection on Peru

I spent a few weeks in Cusco, Peru back in October volunteering at a girl’s orphanage. This was an experience that changed me and helped me appreciate all the wonderful things that I have been allowed in my life. Despite the struggles I might have faced, these girls live in a completely different situation.

Lots of things stuck out to me while spending time with these children. I noticed that they wore the same clothing every day. I noticed that they took one shower a week with little to no privacy. I saw that there were almost no adults interacting with them (to help with homework, to give them hugs, to give them ideas on activities, etc). I watched one beautiful five year old girl get dropped off at the orphanage for who knows what reason. Maybe her parents died or maybe they couldn’t afford her anymore, but either way, she was now left to be raised by strangers. Out of all these things, one memory jumped back at me today.

A girl who was about twelve years old was asked this question: “what would you ask for if a genie came out and granted you three wishes?” Take a moment and think what it is that you would request. A new car? A mansion? A million dollars? This little girl was not hoping for anything miraculous. She was asking for things that you would expect to be in your life- an education and a job. These are things that I have, and still I have wanted more. In my daily Los Angeles life I feel like one of the poorest of the poor, but to these girls it seemed like I had endless cash. I remember about three girls approaching me timidly to ask if I would buy some craft sticks so they could complete their art project. I think it was 15 soles to get a huge amount (which is about $5). They thanked me so profusely and with such appreciation that I didn’t know how to react.

It’s so easy to get down about how our lives are panning out and how others have more than us. In the moment that it takes you to be envious or angry with the success of others, someone else is struggling to survive. Lots of things are so frustrating to me (such as the gun control issues, gay rights, education in the U.S.), but at the end of the day, I am pretty lucky. We are all lucky to be alive, we are lucky to have someone who loves us, we are lucky for the food we eat and the place we sleep. Be thankful for what you have and do not hesitate to give to people who are in need of things we consider to be the basics. The world is far from perfect, but there is still plenty of joy to be found and shared.

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Iowa fails

If it wasn’t apparent how women are still being discriminated against in our country, this should add some clarity. This employer did not feel like he could keep it in his pants and his employee was too attractive (how dare she be pretty!). I love that this completely blindsided her since she had not put out any signals or acted flirtatiously. In fact, he was the one making inappropriate comments. This is leaving the door open to other unjust firings for asinine reasons. Hopefully someone will have a shred of common sense and reverse this ruling on appeal. Otherwise, what sort of message is being sent? What sort of power is being put into the hands of employers? Of course there are people who deserve to be fired for not being able to perform the functions of their position, but this is not a case about job performance. It’s a matter of a man who cannot control his sexual urges and chose to rip away a ten year career from a woman for looking attractive. I am curious to know- would the ruling stand if the genders had been reversed?

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I am a feminist- aren’t you?

In my last post, I mentioned that our society is impacted by the role models we present our children. Katy Perry was chosen as woman of the year, a pretty big statement that seems to indicate strength, intelligence, perseverance, poise, etc. You would think she would speak of her empowerment while treading through a male-dominated field and finding success. Nope. Her big statement was that she is not a feminist (but go team! Women are super cool!).

How are you NOT a feminist? If everyone actually looked at what being a feminist means, how would you say you are less? Contrary to popular beliefs, a feminist is not a bra-burning, man-bashing crazy lady. A feminist is a person (male or female) who sees the need for equality. It is not about one gender over another, it is an equal playing field for all. It is equal pay for equal work. It is respect for opinions and ideas.

What has feminism done for us? Women can vote. Women can receive the same education as men. Family leave act. Access to birth control. While the United States has made some staggering advances, we are not done yet realizing full equality. If you extend the scope of feminism around the world, it is even more clear how important it is.

So what about Katy Perry? She puts on a plastic face and sings fun songs. She makes a lot of money. She seems like a nice enough person. However, what is she representing? What message has she sent to our kids? And what about her current message separating herself from feminists? This is just perpetuating the belief that a feminist is a bad thing, but I can tell you this. I am proud to stand up for equal rights and recognition for women around the world.

If given the choice of a role model, I’d gladly choose a feminist.

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I wish we could fix the world

I wish the world could be safe for everyone. Our reality has lately consisted of mass shootings in malls, grocery stores, temples, movie theaters and schools, leaving the impression that nowhere is off limits. What has caused this trend and what can we do about it?

I believe the answers are complex and varied, ranging from gun accessibility to mental health to diet. Based on my personal experience and information that I have looked up, several things need to happen.

1. Gun accessibility.
While growing up in a small gun toting community, I saw a decent number of tragedies that could have been avoided without guns. The first one that comes to mind are two suicides from the same high school class of thirty people in a single year. Both spur of the moment irrational behavior, both with a gun at these kid’s fingertips. Another was a man in my apartment complex whose friend killed him and went on a cross state attack. One night I saw dozens of officers creeping through the high school lawn with assault rifles up and ready. After getting yelled at to get down by them, I found out a man was doing sniper attacks. By the end, he killed three, injured others and took his own life. My younger sister’s then-boyfriend is currently serving time after a blackout argument where he shot and killed a family friend. A college professor from my campus staked out and killed one of his students, then himself. The sad thing is, I know I am forgetting a few. (Correction- I did forget about a kid in my town of 500 who was playing with his dad’s gun and accidentally killed himself…in front of his friend)

One thing all these stories have in common is the ease in which the person got a gun. It is part of the culture, and I don’t know how people don’t see the correlation with accessibility. Wait! I hear a far cry from the right yelling that a motivated person will find another way! Guns don’t kill people, people kill people! Well, let’s consider. A blast from a gun at close range (depending on where it hits) has a high probability of fatality. But the thing with a gun is that it can be fatal from a distance. Knives require physical contact and less likelihood of mortality. December 14, 2012 saw two attacks on school children- one with guns, one with a knife. Which one made news for devastating fatalities? Yep. Also, the amount of time it takes to go through a room to stab people is far greater than popping off a shot every second.

I hear that guns are necessary to protect against attacks! Actually, a victim is about four times more likely to die when a gun is introduced into the situation. Also, guns in the house are much more likely to be used on another member of the house for either intimidation or injury (and that member is usually going to be female). Remember that sniper attack I just mentioned? A college student rushed over with his gun to take action and help. He was shot several times, including the neck. He thankfully lived to tell the tale, but it goes to show that even good intentions are dangerous.

But Switzerland has tons of guns and they don’t have the problems we do! This is correct, but if you also look at Switzerland, they spend a great deal of money on mental health care every year. This probably makes a huge difference in preventing mass assaults by catching the issue beforehand. One could also argue for the steps that Australia has made after a massacre in April 1996. The government swiftly acted after that attack with visible results in the years that followed.

I think it’s important to note that gun regulation does not mean no guns. I know that guns serve a purpose and can be used responsibly. I also know that not everyone should have a gun. Background checks should always be done, as well as a mental health evaluation. There should not be high capacity magazines. I’ve also read about safety features that gun manufacturers are opting not to use, such as owner recognition (the gun will not fire without fingerprint or grip identification). I know guns are part of our culture, so why not take steps to limit the damage they can do? Can’t people recognize the beneficial safety changes that have taken place after tragedies? Airports now have people take off their shoes and go through a body scanner because of failed bomb attempts. Things changed in the face of these events, so I ask: how many more gun attacks before we see the need for change?

2. Mental health
Obviously there are some mental health issues with shooters in these recent high profile killings. I think everyone agrees that these people should not have had guns. Mental health problems in our country carry a lot of stigma, making it difficult to diagnose and treat those in need. Getting access to treatment is also difficult, and many don’t even receive treatment until they are deemed dangerous and eventually jailed. We have basically criminalized it. Parents are left to feel alone while caring for a child with problems, the outside wondering what they did wrong.

My friends in mental health fields are better suited to discussing what positive actions could tangibly make a difference, but I think our country has to begin looking at the importance of mental health services. Hopefully good care will be available to those who need it. Hopefully families will not be afraid to send their child to a therapist or psychiatrist if they see disturbing behavior. It isn’t one person’s problem to face alone. If these events have done anything, they should open our eyes to the impacts of letting others fall through the cracks.

3. Entertainment
This will be a topic that has two segments- the desensitizing nature of violent movies and video games plus the role models we revere.

I’ve heard it said that violent video games and movies are no excuse for mass killings, and I actually agree with that. I don’t believe that Marilyn Manson’s music is an excuse to kill others. However, I think there is something about losing innocence to bloody scenes that have grown increasingly realistic. The idea of carnage and violence are not unimaginable because it’s right there on the TV every night. It may still seem wrong, but it isn’t as scary. Shooting another person isn’t so far fetched when one sees themselves doing it in war reenactment games. This is not a full coverage excuse for the terrible actions we have seen, but how can it be helping? Consider this- these are the images we are putting out as ENTERTAINMENT.

I also wonder how role models play a role. Who says that their teacher is their role model, or the fireman, or Ghandi or Mandela? How many teenagers want to be like Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber or (god forbid) Lindsay Lohan? The people who get the most time on the TV and Internet are the ones doing ridiculous things. Even taking mass shootings into account, whose name do you remember? The victims are forgotten while the killer lives in infamy. Take the Australia shooting again. While the exact motive has not been established, his lawyer discussed the impact of the Dunblane massacre the month before.

Parents are vital for not only being a good role model for their children, but also pointing out other good role models. Focus on the wonderful achievements of world leaders and past figures rather than discussing who is getting divorced, who is wearing something ugly, who had another crotch shot photo, etc.

4. Diet
I am not vegan or even vegetarian. I don’t even eat the healthiest things. However, I can’t rule out that the ingredients in our food are causing an impact on our brains (you are what you eat, right?). How are pesticides and chemicals reacting in our bodies? How about sugary processed foods? It is clear that obesity has been skyrocketing, which has a huge set of issues on its own. Girls are reaching puberty at younger ages. What else is our food doing to us?

Our society has many issues. It is terrible when tragedy makes us confront these problems directly, but hopefully in the face of sadness we can create a better future. Tons of people resent change, but how many more kids need to die needlessly before it happens? I know this conversation is far from over, so expect more to come.