You and a friend from class go to an anti-war rally downtown. Arguments flare between the anti-war marchers opposed to the United States military response to the Sept. 11 attacks and some people there who favor it. In the heat of the moment, your friend spray paints "Fuck Bush" on the wall of a post office.
Maybe she's a little reckless, you think -- vandalism is against the law, after all -- but is she a terrorist?
Despite what we understand as our right to freedom of speech, the government could prosecute her as one if new laws go into effect, and that's only one provision of the legislation that could chip away at your privacy and civil rights.
Your permanent record
Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote this week on different versions of anti-terrorism bills ( House PATRIOT bill and Anti-terrorism Act of 2001) that would give law enforcement much broader power in investigating terrorist activities, including giving federal investigators easier access to students' records.
But a survey of universities just released by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers suggests that gaining access to such records is already a piece of cake.
Rooting out terrorism
After the attacks on American targets Sept. 11, members of Congress, like many Americans, rushed to prove that we could fight terrorism and win, so they created what many considered a united front in drafting some tougher anti-terrorism laws.
But many civil liberties activists say they're worried that legislators are willing to give up too many of our constitutional rights so that we can feel safer.
Critics of the proposed changes say that if enacted, the new laws would erode the privacy rights of average citizens, in particular millions of Internet users; reduce the role of the courts in overseeing the activities of intelligence, immigration and law enforcement officials and give police greater powers in pursuing routine criminal cases not involving terrorism.
"The [proposed] legislation is sweepingly overbroad," says Nadine Strossen, president of the national ACLU in New York City. "Their definition of terrorism and terrorist activity would extend to political protests if they involved or threatened harm to people or property. PETA would be labeled a terrorist group if they threw a tomato or a student who threw a rock through a window would be a terrorist."
A friend of yours is a big partier. She's starting to do drugs more and more and is adding new, scarier drugs to the mix.
She's even started to bring drugs with her to school. You're getting worried that's she's spinning out of control and wonder if you should tell an adult at your school about her problem.
It's not an easy decision to make. Would $50 or $100 convince you to get her some help? Some schools are wagering that it would.
Across the country, high school administrators are experimenting with paying students to tell school officials if classmates have drugs, alcohol or weapons with them on school property. Kids can also report students who have made violent threats against themselves or others.
Still one of Julia's* friends says Ecstasy changed his life. Another met her boyfriend while on the drug. Some take "E" every weekend. And she's even read that marriage counselors used to give it to their patients.
So she's thinking about trying it sometime. She goes to raves anyway, why not try to get "happy" too?
Friend or foe?
But before Julia or you pop E, there are some facts to digest first. "Club drugs are not harmless 'fun drugs,'" warns Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Research shows these drugs can have long-lasting negative effects on the brain, altering memory function and motor skills." NIDA received $54 million in government funding last December to launch a U.S. campaign to "combat the increasing use of club drugs," especially Ecstasy (also known as MDMA).
So what's the real story? The debate comes down to whether Ecstasy should be touted for its feel-good powers or be clumped in with all the other "Just Say No" offenders due to its flaws.
Ecstasy works on chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters, primarily one called "serotonin." Serotonin regulates your mood, your sleep cycles and is the chemical affected by Prozac and similar anti-depressants. Ecstasy basically tells your brain to release a lot of serotonin over a very short period of time-that explains the sudden mood changes and the drug's other physical side effects.
Short-term side effects
Side effects of Ecstasy can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening physical and emotional reactions.
Body temperature: Your temperature goes up when you take Ecstasy-like a fever. Dancing enthusiastically in a hot warehouse doesn't help your body cool off, so it's no surprise that one of the most common Ecstasy-related injuries is heatstroke.
|"So what's the real story? The debate comes down to whether Ecstasy should be touted for its feel-good powers or be clumped in with all the other "Just Say No" offenders due to its flaws."|
Dehydration: Along with increased body temperature, you sweat and urinate a lot if you take Ecstasy. You should replace these fluids with at least a pint of water an hour or risk a serious case of dehydration.
Other effects: Like cocaine, Ecstasy can cause muscle tension, teeth clenching, anxiety, paranoia and increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
Even if you know the common side effects of Ecstasy and are taking steps to minimize them, you can't be sure how the drug is specifically going to affect you.
Lorca Rossman, a senior resident in emergency medicine at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., says it's hard to know why one 19-year-old can take a dose of E and dance all night, and another can do the same thing and end up in the emergency room. "What we do know is that it's unpredictable," she said.
The results of using Ecstasy over the long haul are as equally unclear and cause for controversy. Because the drug affects serotonin, which we have barely begun to understand, it's hard to say how Ecstasy will affect its users in the future.
What any Ecstasy user can tell you, however, is that when you come down, you'll likely feel depressed. This dip in mood (sometimes called "Terrible Tuesday," "Blue Tuesday" or "Suicide Tuesday") can last anywhere from a few hours to a week. It makes sense-you've used an enormous amount of serotonin in a short period of time and your body has to catch-up.
Medical research points to the possibility that Ecstasy may cause permanent changes in your brain's ability to regulate mood and may affect memory. There also is evidence that people who develop a rash that looks like acne after taking E, could be at risk for liver damage. Despite rumors, the drug does not drain your spinal fluid (you'd need a hole in your spine to do that) or cause Parkinson's disease.
Check your head
Possibly as serious as the physical effects of Ecstasy are the psychological ones. Taking it can be an intense emotional experience, one that you may not be prepared for. Dr. Rossman says that while some Ecstasy users arrive at Highland Hospital with physical problems, "the majority of people that we see are having a more psychological reaction. They just can't handle it."
Many take Ecstasy for the first time at a hot, crowded, noisy party filled with strangers. Perhaps that's not the ideal setting for the intensity you could feel. Ecstasy revelers also deal with the disappointment of post-E reality. After experiencing the near-effortless interaction between the drug's users, the challenges of day-to-day relationships may seem frustrating, even overwhelming.
DanceSafe's director Emanuel Sferios warns that although the drug is not physically addictive, there's a huge potential for psychological addiction. Many users can remember their first weeks after trying Ecstasy for the first time, planning their entire lives around their next "roll."
DanceSafe's philosophy is that while no drug is guaranteed to be safe, education goes a long way in reducing the dangers associated with Ecstasy use. Like Julia, you may not be sure if you want to try Ecstasy. But before she decides the experience is worth the physical, emotional and legal risk, she is doing her homework. And so should you.
*name has been changed to protect identity.
Emily Huber writes about dance culture. She lives in San Francisco.
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If you guessed "c," you're right. The ad was for Candie's Inc., a women's shoe and fragrance company. It's also this year's winner of the "Grand Ugly" award for most offensive print ad given by the Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) this month.
You may have seen this ad before -- and maybe even thought it was cute, sexy and tongue-in-cheek.
But some advocates for women say that these kinds of images objectify women, and are dangerous because they promote unrealistic body images and risky behavior that force women to question their self-worth. "Advertising manipulates our fears and exacerbates our insecurities," said Joe Kelly, founder of Dads & Daughters, a watchdog organization that monitors media images of women. "I am so angry at what this culture gets away with doing to women and girls -- it's time for a lot more of us to start screaming about it," he said.
History of advertising ills
Advertising that uses negative images of women to sell a product have become somewhat of an epidemic, experts say. "Unfortunately, it's worse than ever before," said Jean Kilbourne, Ph.D, the author of several books, including "Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising." "There are ads everywherein our schools, imprinted in the sand on our beaches," she said. "With technological advances, ads have just gotten more sophisticated and seductive."
Kilbourne also said that through advertising, women learn that everything depends on how they look and that the idealized images they see are literally impossible for a human woman to achieve. That's because, these days, almost every photo is digitally enhanced -- or airbrushed -- to make the model appear flawless.
"One of my favorite quotes is when Cindy Crawford said, 'I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford,'" Kilbourne said. "Computer imaging has gone way beyond airbrushing in making us feel inadequate."
You're never too cool to buy this
The ever-growing sophistication of ads includes the "anti-ad" approach, which is especially used to target media-savvy Gen I. "These companies will have campaigns like, 'You're way too sophisticated to be influenced by ads, you're really hip, so buy this,'" Kilbourne said. She described an ad by the clothing company F.C.U.K that ran print ads that said, "F.C.U.K advertising," for instance.
|"Advertising manipulates our fears and exacerbates our insecurities."|
Shock me, baby
Kilbourne also pointed out how violence has entered the mainstream in advertising, thanks to advertising agencies who need to look farther and farther to find shock value. An ad in The New York Times Magazine, she said, showed a silk tie bound to a bedpost and a woman's hand with a leather cuff on her wrist, reaching for a paddle on the bedside table. The copy read, "The right tie can make any evening memorable."
"Ads encourage us to trivialize relationships with people and to focus on relationships with products," she said, mentioning an ad for toilet paper that said, "Bath tissue is like marriage," and another that compared switching soft drinks to switching boyfriends.
Advertising around the clock
Agencies want to get their clients' message across to their desensitized, media-weary consumers faster and more memorably than ever before, said Catherine St. Jean, partner and chief operating officer of Judy Wald Partners, Inc., a creative recruitment agency for the advertising industry.
"Fifteen years ago, commercials were 60 seconds long -- now you've got 15-second commercials, [but] a lot more of them, since commercial breaks are longer than ever," St. Jean said. "People are bombarded [by ads] 24 hours a day," she continued. "It makes it harder for companies to stand out."
In the case of the Mark McGrath ad, Maria Dolgeta, public relations manager of Candie's, Inc., said that the ad has been getting positive responses from their target audience, 14 to 24 year-old women. "They think it's funny; they love [Mark McGrath]," she said. "They stop flipping through the magazine when they see him."
But not everyone's pleased. "We've gotten a handful of responses by mail by people who were offended by it," Dolgeta continued. "Mostly by girls' mothers who found it inappropriate."
The good, the bad and the ugly
There are organizations out there such as Dads & Daughters, that are keeping negative ads on their radars and punishing their creators publicly.
The Advertising Women of New York, a professional organization, looks for the best television and print ads to, for and about women that are creative as well as effective. The ones that don't satisfy those criteria end up competing for the "Grand Ugly" award or become runners up for the "bad" list.
Both lists are publicly announced.
St. Jean, who co-chaired the judging, said that the ads they considered bad -- like the Palmolive "Spring Sensations" TV ad, in which women dance around a kitchen with glee, so delighted are they to be cleaning with Palmolive dishsoap -- are often more silly than malicious.
And although the ads continue to be pervasive, she also said that some agencies are getting the picture. "Some agencies have evolved in how they talk to women and many clients have, too," she said. "Economically, talking down to the consumer and insulting their intelligence is not going to make them buy your product."
Beer, babes and boobs.
This is important stuff for men to consider when choosing a college, according to Men's Health, a national magazine for men.
This month's "special report," the "Best and Worst Campuses for Men," sounds innocent enough at first, until you read the magazine's criteria for rating what they call "antimale" schools that "demonize" men:
Schools with strong womens studies departments. Schools that comply with federal laws requiring equal funding for womens and mens sports teams. Schools with defined sexual harassment and date rape policies that require men to get verbal consent from sex partners.
But wait! There's more!
Two smiling, female models in tight jeans accompany the "male-friendly" college list.
On the "antimale" page, the same models frown and look angry. One is suddenly wearing glasses. And their hair, once flowing, is pulled back into severe ponytails. Their fitted jeans have been replaced with sweatpants.
One even holds the book, "The Stronger Sex."
The premise of the story is that "male bashing" is "part of the air up in the Ivory Tower," and that college men need to protect themselves from schools with "hostile environments."
"On our male-friendly list," Laurence Roy Stains writes, "the traditional male point of view is appreciated socially and academically."
But Stains' rationale is silly at best, and at worst is as dangerously misleading and erroneous as it is misogynistic, his critics said.
"The level of vitriol embedded in this article suggests to me that these guys have an agenda," said Jackson Katz, a speaker at colleges across the country and the creator of an award-winning video, "Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity."
"Its obvious that theyre weak men who are threatened by strong women," he continued.
Horrifying for who? Among the list of antimale horrors stated by Men's Health are Brown University's "sexual harassment policy [which] discourages unwelcome 'flirtations.'"
At Columbia University, Stains writes: "men find themselves on the defensive beginning at freshman orientation, which has included an improv session about date rape."
The University of Michigan's short list of crimes includes the fact that, "the campus womens center has a heavy schedule of outside speakers."
The "vibe" at Oberlin College in Ohio requires "mandatory mental vasectomies," presumably because the school has "an elaborate sexual-offense policy," according to Stains.
Meanwhile, the magazine's kudos-to-college list implies that the co-eds at the male-friendly schools are cuter than the ones at the schools that males should avoid.
Of California State University at Long Beach, Stains writes, "The undergraduate male/female ratio is 42-to-58, which, by our count, means almost 17,000 tanned coeds."
"We've never met an ugly girl from Texas A&M," Stains writes.
Of Washington and Lee University in Virginia, Stains quotes a junior there, who enthuses, "Theres a testosterone atmosphere here that permeates the whole environment."
Myths and Reality
Mens Health also overstates the danger of being falsely accused of rape.
The magazine ran a sidebar describing the "horror stories" experienced by three men who were suspended or had trouble getting their diplomas because of rape accusations by female students.
"For any campus where a man's reputation is unfairly tarnished [by a false accusation]," Katz said, "you can go to that same campus and find dozens of women who were raped and didn't report it."
Perhaps the worst thing about the Men's Health story is that it dismisses the statistic that says that one-in-four women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape as "feminist myth."
"It's amazingly irresponsible of Men's Health to say that the "one-in-four statistic is 'a long-discredited feminist canard,'" said Jennifer Pozner, a director at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a New York-based media watchdog group.
Pozner said that in a 1993 report, FAIR addressed what they concluded were flawed attacks on Kent State University psychologist Mary P. Koss's 1987 study from which the one-in-four statistic Men's Health refers to came from.
Pozner also points out that in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published very similar findings that corresponded to the "one-in-four" statistic published ten years earlier.
"The Centers for Disease Control found that one-in-five college women reported having been forced to have sex, not including attempts," she said.
"More than a decade [after Koss's study], they came up with the same finding," Pozner said. "To say that [the 1987 study] has been 'long-discredited' is crap."
When asked about the article, Men's Health features editor Ron Geraci said, "We're not doing any more interviews about that story. Were moving on to the November issue now." Geraci refused to discuss the article or the editorial direction of Men's Health, even generally. Nor would he provide contact information for either the story's writer or editor (Geraci said he did not edit the piece).
Instead, he referred me to public relations spokesperson Karen Mazzotta. When asked if the magazine had gotten a new editor-in-chief since "Best and Worst Campuses for Men" ran, Mazzotta said: "For starters, yes," but she wouldn't elaborate.
However, a receptionist for Rodale, Inc., the magazine's publisher, said that Greg Gutfeld, editor-in-chief of the September issue, has since been replaced by David Zinezenko, who presumably is trying to control the damage he inherited by Gutfeld's publication of this controversial story.
"This has been a tricky one for us," Mazzotta conceeded.
His 18-year-old daughters were in the audience, but they're not who George W. Bush was speaking to when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Philadelphia last night.
Sure, Bush asked his twins, Jenna and Barbara, to email him often when they go to college this fall.
And, as balloons and confetti swirled around him at the end of the show, he waved to the crowd while Ricky Martin's hip Latin beats pumped.
But when it came down to it, Bush largely ignored the issues that count most to girls and young women in his speech at the Comcast First Union Center during the close of the convention.
So now the question is: Will he also ignore them when he gets into office?
To the cheers of delegates from across the country, Bush vowed to "seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals." He bagged on the Clinton Administration, continuously chanting, "They had their chance. They have not led. We will."
Who he really cares about
From fixing social security to ensuring that prescription drugs are available to every senior citizen who needs them, his goals seemed targeted solely at those ages 50 and older.
In a speech peppered with references to World War II, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, Bush promised that if he gets to move into the White House, he would boost the amount of money directed to the military, reduce the number of nuclear weapons in America's arsenal, cut taxes and allow parents of public school students the option to use federal money to place their children in private schools.
"We will confront the hard issues," he said, "threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security, before the challenges of our time become crises for our children."
Where the girls weren't
At times, Bush focused on issues important to young adults, but steered clear of any initiatives that would improve the lives of young voters -- especially women.
Bush ignored Jenna and Barbara's friends and future classmates for obvious reasons -- baby boomers and seniors vote in droves, while citizens ages 18-24 traditional account for the lowest election turnout. Plus, how many of those who belong to the so-called Generations X and Y watch these conventions anyway?
When he finally did speak directly about issues that affect young women's lives -- pregnancy and drug use -- he promoted telling them what to do, instead of giving them tools to make sound decisions.
Bush said he would vote for a ban on so-called partial-birth abortions, and told the audience that he supported forcing pregnant teens to get their parents' permission before having an abortion.
"I know good people disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption and parental notification, and when Congress sends me a bill against partial-birth abortion, I will sign it into law," he said.
What he failed to mention as that earlier this year the Supreme Court struck down a Nebraska law banning late-term abortions, the official medical term, on grounds that it put an "undue burden" on a woman's decision to end her pregnancy.
The money card
But those who listened carefully may have caught at least one pitch Bush targeted at his daughter's age group. He said he favored allowing young workers the opportunity to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in the stock market instead of relying on the government to manage their retirement savings under the current Social Security plan.
However, for young women that may not be good news. It has been noted that this strategy disfavors female workers who make less than men and as a result, have less to invest.
When Bush spoke of pumping money into the nation's schools, he also focused on what this would mean for parents, not students.
"Our schools must support the ideals of parents, elevating character and abstinence from afterthoughts to urgent goals," he said. "When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn. And if they don't, parents should get the money to make a different choice."
Before the speech, the audience saw a movie that featured Bush family members telling the nation what a good president George W. would be. After he made his promises, a shower of balloons and confetti sealed the audience's excitement as well.
But only time will tell if many young women will get excited about a candidate who leaves her out off his acceptance speech. Nobody likes to be stood up, especially by a presidential candidate.
Lucy Maher is ChickClick's news editor.
George P. Wows the Crowd
You wouldn't normally expect to see a member of People magazine's "most eligible bachelors" list grace the stage of the Republican National ConventionNunless of course, you're familiar with George W. Bush's 24-year-old Latino nephew: George Prescott Bush.
As the band played a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," George P., the son of Florida governor Jeb Bush, described his uncle's politics as "fearlessly inclusive." Bush, a graduate of Houston's Rice University, flawlessly mixed Spanish and English into his speech pledging his support of his uncle.
"My parents always told me that if you believe in a cause, how could you not get involved?" Bush said, explaining why he joined the campaign.
Focusing on one issue -- education -- Bush told stories about his experience teaching 9th grade in a rough high school outside of Miami for a year.
"I learned more from them than they learned from me," Bush said, describing his students as low-income kids often considered "lost causes."
"My experience with them is why I truly believe that the best thing for every kid is to have my uncle in the White House," he said to thundering applause.
Referred to as the "JFK Jr. of this convention" by commentators, Bush ended his speech with Spanish everyone could understand, even if they couldn't translate his words: "Viva Bush! Viva Los Estados Unidos!"
"What works is what works for the good of the people," he said, "not for the good of political careers."
-Virginia Pelley, ChickClick editing staff