Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The End of the Semester Schedule

Thursday, November 19th: Essay 3 is due
Tuesday, November 24th: NO CLASS

Thursday, November 26th: NO CLASS

Tuesday, December 1st: Extra Credit Day

Thursday, December 3rd: Portfolios are due

Tuesday, December 8th: Catch Up Day

Thursday, December 10th: Last day, Portfolios are returned

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

We ended the semester with a bang. Literally. Our fearless discussion leaders - Dave, Aaron, J.J., and Ryan-kicked off our final talk, asking the question: "Who in here would pay for sex?" Surprisingly, more than a few people felt comfortable enough to raise their hands.

The discussion was on Kate Butcher's article, "The Confusion between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking." To start, Dave summarized it for us. "She's arguing against a US bill that treats prostitution and sex trafficking like they are the same thing." Butcher believes that prostitutes should have rights. We talked about whether we agreed or disagreed with this. We also talked about whether prostitution should be legalized, and if so, how it might be regulated.

Some of us felt that prostitution could be regulated and should be legalized. Maria said that it's a person's choice. Josh pointed out that prostitution is illegal because it puts women at a disadvantage. A prostitute gets in a car and offers herself up to be robbed, raped, or murdered. Ryan and J.J. brought up prostitution in Europe, where women work out of houses, because it's safer.

We all admitted that there's no surefire way to regulate it. Every day, people slack off at their jobs. Prostitutes can forget condoms. Johns can get out of hand. The important thing is that we figure out what's best for everyone in the US. Would legalizing and regulating prostitution help or hurt Americans?

Justin added that the difference between a prostitute and a victim of sex trafficking may not be that easy to see. This is especially true if women are working out of a house. A sex trafficked woman might be too scared or too drugged up to let on her status. The sex trade is an illegal business. The world of crime is dark and unclear. C'mon. It's not called the "shady underground" for nothing.

Ultimately, we found that the overall argument is not solely about prostitution. Jan pointed this out by highlighting one of Butcher's concluding points. Lawmakers and social workers deal with prostitution and sex trafficking from the perspective of someone who's NOT a prostitute or a victim of sex trafficking. They project their own understanding of the trade onto the people actually working in the business. It's slightly imperialistic. One person is forcing his or her viewpoint on someone else. In our discussion, that's what we were doing as well.

So we discovered something about prostitution. It's incredibly hard to regulate, because we don't know what it's like to be a prostitute. We don't know if prostitutes choose to be prostitutes or not. As a human race, we have not yet figured out if prostitution is morally right or wrong. It's in the grey area. Perhaps that's why it has stayed illegal in the US for so long.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homework for Thursday, November 12th

Prepare for Discussion 6.

Please read "Confusion Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking" by Kate Butcher on page 307. Also read the introduction to the chapter, as it will help you understand the topic of sex trafficking.

Be ready to discuss and write on it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homework for Tuesday, November 10th

Please use your Grammar Worksheets to edit Essay 1.

Study your Grammar worksheets as well. There will be a quiz on Tuesday, testing you on what you learned from our "Speed-Teaching" class.

Essay 1 and your Grammar Worksheets are due on Tuesday, November 10th.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Forget!

This upcoming week, bring "The Everyday Writer," or a comparable grammar and style book, to class. You may also want to bring a current draft of Essay 1. We will be honing our editing skills. Don't get too excited!

Go Phils!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homework: Essay 2

Begin to work on Essay 2.

Your essay should be somewhat related to one of the two essays we discussed over the last few weeks, China's Big Mac Attack or The Gift of Food. You are also permitted to write about a current issue covered on the CQ Researcher database. CQ Researcher is awesome. It's easily accessed through the database link on our school's library website.

Your essay should be argumentative. That means you state an opinion, perspective, or argument, and prove it with evidence. For this essay, you are required to use at least one acceptable secondary source as evidence.

What is an acceptable secondary source?

Not google. Not wikipedia. Not dictionary.com. No .com, or .net sources. .Gov, .edu, and .org are okay. BUT make sure to check the reliability of the site.

As we talked about in class, the BEST sources are library sources. Books. Newspapers. Magazines. The best of the best? Academic journal articles. Like CQ Researcher, they can be accessed through the databases link on our school's website. One of my personal favorite databases is JSTOR. It's a wonderful resource, containing tons of academic journal articles.

Bring Essay 2 to class on Thursday, October 29th. Please include a code name, instead of your real name, in the heading. If you want, you can come up with a code name using a favorite character from a book, TV show, movie or band.

On Thursday, we'll be workshopping our papers. If you come to class without Essay 2, you will not be able to contribute to the workshop, and you will have to make it up on your own time.

Email me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gift of Pop Tarts

Is food a gift? Or is it just food? Vandana Shiva's essay "Gift of Food" argues for the former. Shiva also states that we've lost touch with the importance of food. Food, she says, is the Creator. It should not be heavily fertilized or processed. Without clean organic food, our nutrition suffers.

Our class felt neither one way or the other about this argument. Food, we said, is a meal. Yes, it's important to eat organic and healthy. But in America, those options are not the cheapest or the easiest to come by.

Jan pointed out that organic food isn't always organic. Josh added that most food is genetically modified to a certain extent. The only way to get non-genetically motified food is to grow it yourself. That is the cheapest and healthiest way to eat, as Dina attested. Perhaps someday, when we all own our own homes, we can try growing our own corn and tomatoes. Gardening is worthwhile and fun. But it's also time consuming. We have to wonder - as Americans - do we have a choice? Or are we as lazy as the rest of the planet thinks we are?

Brie told us about her last trip to the Farmer's Market. She said that she spent twenty dollars on four items. That's too much for a college student, and for anyone working a minimum wage job. Brie said that eating healthy is important to her, so it's worth the extra spendage.

That's the real trick. We eat healthy when we can afford it, or when we don't have a choice but to afford it. We pay for it when we have to. Until then, it's Pop Tarts for breakfast.