And the Winner of Our Black Ops Raffle Is. . .

. . . (drumroll) . . . Danny!

Danny, please send me an address where I can send the game to you.

Congratulations and have lots of fun, Danny!

Who Gets Custody?

My students read an article by the famous Spanish writer Rosa Montero where the writer argues that giving the custody of the children to the mother automatically in the majority of cases is sexist. Montero suggests that we reevaluate our sexist prejudices and begin to accept that mothers and fathers have equal value.

I asked my students to express their own opinions about Montero’s suggestion, and here are some of the responses:

[I will mark the responses with F and M to mark the gender of the students.]

F: “No, it isn’t sexist to give custody to the mothers in all cases because women are by nature better adapted to bring up children.”

F: “It is very sad that many fathers still have to fight to be with their kids. The writer is right, this is definitely sexist.”

F: “This shouldn’t be about gender at all. The parent who makes more money and has better career prospects should get the custody because this is the parent who will set a better example to the kids.”

F: “I think that fathers should get a shot at custody as long as they are better than my father. But it isn’t that hard to be better than him because all he ever does is yell.”

M: “I don’t think the courts should get involved in the custody decisions at all. Parents can sort it out among themselves.” (This is our resident Libertarian, as you might have guessed.)

F: “If men cared about custody, they would have fought for it. Men normally have no problem setting up laws to favor them. Most men simply don’t need the trouble of caring about kids.”

F: “Women are biologically better at childcare, which is why they should always get custody.” (What is really shocking is that this was written by a black student.)

M: “Granting full custody to mothers in most cases is a way of imposing social control and preserving traditional gender roles. Women end up not growing professionally as well as men do and making less money. Then it is easier to control women.”

M: “What people often forget is that men suffer from sexism, too, and custody laws are an example of that.”

M: “Women are better prepared to take care of children, so giving them custody is logical.”

P.S. I only grade the writing on this assignments, not the opinions, so don’t worry about the students.

The Country of Latin America

I have told my students in the Hispanic Civilization course that anybody who refers to Latin America as “a country” or “a nation” on the final exam will get an automatic grade of zero irrespective of how good the rest of the exam is. I don’t care if they do it simply because of carelessness but I’ve had enough of this, folks. Maybe this will finally teach them how to pay attention.

If this seems too harsh to you, please consider that I spend half of the course explaining the differences between Spanish-speaking countries. I show them a map in every single class meeting. What more can I do?

What Can Spain Do?

The most recent prognosis on the Spanish economy is that the unemployment will rise to 28,9% in 2013 and will stay at 28,8% in 2014. The government will not be able to reduce the national debt.

This is happening after 1,5 years of austerity measures. As of now, nobody has been able to identify any kind of a positive effect for Spain from the austerity measures.

Now, my question is: what do you think could be done to improve Spain’s situation? I’m sure there were similar economic crises in other countries inĀ otherĀ times. How were they solved?

I specialize in the literature and culture of contemporary Spain, and I kind of need for the country to keep existing.

Petitioning the President

Reader Observer left a link to a petition some weird folks are addressing to the President of the US asking him to meddle in the internal affairs of Spain. Here is what Observer has to say about it:

I, personally, urge the President to take care of his own people and business and do not promote the US policing role in the world. Mr President, please, are you bored about nothing to do?

I agree with this intelligent reader completely. When will we finally start concentrating on our own massive problems instead of trying to meddle in the affairs of people we know very little about? I mean, how many Americans even know what Catalonia is?

Don’t get me wrong, I care about Catalonia deeply and spend a lot of time educating my students about it. But President Obama has already demonstrated that his understanding of Hispanic countries is egregiously bad and uninformed. He should not interfere with Spain.