Social Determinants of Mental Health in First Responders: Paid versus Volunteer Status and Related Implications

by Farah Hasan, November 18, 2021

First responders are celebrated for their selfless devotion to aiding civilians in traumatic events. However, as the first ones to arrive on scene, these responders often face the brunt of the immediate danger. Volunteer first responders may experience their work differently from the way occupational first responders do in regards to workplace culture and environment. As a result of these subtle differences, the mental health implications of responding to emergencies on volunteers differ from the mental health implications on paid responders. The experiences of both paid and volunteer responders must be improved and standardized to ensure that both types of responders are sufficiently prepared for high-stress work and are equipped to deal with common psychological outcomes.

Although career and volunteer first responders perform similar work, they face significant differences in terms of time commitment, recruitment/hiring processes, and training. Paid responders often devote anywhere between 56-72 hours per week to their work, while volunteer responders often dedicate their free time to providing service, resulting in them offering about half the amount of hours that paid responders give. Volunteer first responders are usually recruited on the basis of their completion of basic training (ie. EMT-B training for volunteer EMTs and training through probationary schools for volunteer firefighters), as well as hazardous materials (“Haz-Mat”) awareness training, AED-CPR training, and National Incident Management System (NIMS) training. Career first responders, on the other hand, may go through competitive interview processes and receive extensive training in addition to the basic requirements, including rigorous written and physical tests, as well as close to 200 hours of lectures, labs, and clinical experience (Ventura et al., 2021). Training and on-boarding processes may differ slightly from state to state. It is also important to note that while behavioral health and mental health programs for first responders are available, they are not a standard part of the majority of training processes for both volunteer and career responders. 

Due to the high-stress nature of their work, the prevalence of mental health disorders is significant among these trained heroes. First responders may experience irregular sleeping patterns, autonomic hyperarousal, and hypervigilance as a result of responding to traumatic and/or high-risk emergencies (Stanley et al., 2017; Skogstad et al., 2016). The severity of these symptoms and other aspects of mental health may be influenced by career or volunteer status. Distinctions between career and volunteer first responders arise in terms of cumulative time spent exposed to traumatic events, competing responsibilities (i.e. volunteers may have a separate job), and areas served (Stanley et al., 2017). In a study with a hybrid sample of firefighters (n=204 volunteer, n=321 career), career firefighters reported higher levels of substance use, particularly problematic alcohol use in comparison to volunteer firefighters (Stanley et al., 2017). On the other hand, volunteer firefighters reported elevated levels of posttraumatic stress, depression, and suicidal ideations compared to career firefighters (Stanley et al., 2017). After the 2003 Bam earthquake in Iran, the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attack, and a 2011 vehicular bus accident in Norway, volunteer first responders were much more likely to exhibit symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than career and professional responders (Skogstad et al., 2016). Volunteers are also more likely to report higher perceived personal threat during an emergency situation (Skogstad et al., 2016).

In comparison to career departments, volunteer first responder programs may not provide adequate access to critical incident stress management (CISM), employee assistance programs (EAPs), or general stress reduction therapeutic programs. This may be due to inadequate funding and/or a belief that volunteer first responders do not require extensive resources, as their services may not entail work that is “serious” enough to necessitate them. This serves as a potential structural barrier to treatment for volunteer first responders and may contribute to increased risk of or exacerbated psychiatric symptoms (Skogstad et al., 2016; Stanley et al., 2017). 

Lack of prior training and exposure is another issue that confronts volunteer first responders. Nontraditional responders, such as construction and utility workers, electricians, and transportation workers, who assisted at the terror attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001 were in a similar situation in regards to lack of relevant training. Nontraditional responders at the WTC were twice as likely to develop PTSD compared to the police that were present (Bromet et al., 2015). Partial PTSD was also more prevalent among nontraditional responders than among the police (Bromet et al., 2015). This would suggest that lack of training is a contributing factor to the development of PTSD in volunteer first responders, who do not receive as extensive training as paid or professional first responders do. 

Other factors that may contribute to volunteer first responders’ increased risk for psychiatric disorders include lack of role clarity, perceived obstruction of services provided (Skogstad et al., 2016), and education level (DePierro et al., 2021). Role clarity pertains to the idea that volunteers may not fully understand what their task or role(s) are in an emergency, as delegation of roles may not be as efficient and definitively assigned to them as they are to paid professional responders. Perceived obstruction of services provided may arise when volunteers feel that their work is hindered or overshadowed, thereby feeling remorse over perceived inability to provide adequate service in a time of need. Additionally, first responders with a high school diploma are more likely to endorse symptoms of both PTSD and partial PTSD, compared to first responders with graduate or postgraduate degrees (Motreff et al., 2020). Lower education levels can be compared to lack of exposure/training for volunteer first responders, who are also more likely to endorse stigma surrounding psychiatric disorders, thus leading them to attempt to cope with their mental health stressors on their own (DePierro et al., 2021). Despite perceiving a greater stigma around psychiatric disorders and mental health resources, interestingly enough, DePierro et al. also found that nontraditional responders and volunteers were more likely to endorse higher perceived need for mental health resources (DePierro et al., 2021). Lack of education and lack of training both constitute a potential barrier to gaining a deeper understanding of mental health and realizing the importance of seeking professional help when needed.

As both volunteer and paid first responders are typically on the front lines during emergencies, it is important to ensure that the mental health of both types of responders are addressed. Volunteer first responders should be trained to provide the greatest role clarity possible and provided with CISM services as often as possible. For both volunteer and paid first responders, the importance of getting help from mental health professionals when necessary should be emphasized, and the contact information for such services (if they are not already provided by the corps) should be explicitly provided. Research by Jeff Thompson and Jacqueline Drew at Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry show that resilience programs such as warr;or21, which incorporate practices such as controlled breathing and showing gratitude, have potential in alleviating mental health outcomes for first responders (Thompson & Drew, 2020). Additionally, reducing the stigma around mental health using training such as the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) program and reforming the workplace culture in this manner will encourage healthy dialogue (Szeto et al., 2019). These steps will pave the way for healthier and better-informed volunteer and paid first responders, which will ultimately enhance the quality of their work and services.


Bromet, E. J. et al. (2016). DSM-IV post-traumatic stress disorder among World Trade Center responders 11-13 years after the disaster of 11 September 2001 (9/11). Psychological Medicine, 46(4), pp. 771–783.

DePierro, J. et al. (2021). Mental health stigma and barriers to care in World Trade Center responders: Results from a large, population-based health monitoring cohort. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 64(3), pp. 208–216.

Motreff, Y. et al. (2020) Factors associated with PTSD and partial PTSD among first responders following the Paris terror attacks in November 2015. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 121, pp. 143–150.

Skogstad, L. et al. (2016) Post-traumatic stress among rescue workers after terror attacks inNorway. Occupational Medicine (Oxford, England), 66(7), pp. 528–535.

Stanley, I. H. et al. (2017) Differences in psychiatric symptoms and barriers to mental health care between volunteer and career firefighters. Psychiatry Research, 247, pp. 236–242.

Szeto, A., Dobson, K. S., & Knaak, S. (2019). The Road to mental readiness for first responders: A meta-analysis of program outcomes. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 64(1_suppl), 18S–29S.

Thompson, J. & Drew, J. M. (2020). Warr;or21: A 21-day program to enhance first responder resilience and mental health. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2078–2078.

Ventura, Denton, E., Court, E. V., & Nava-Parada, P. (2021). The emergency medical responder: Training and succeeding as an EMT/EMR. Springer.

Religion vs Research: Alternative Benefits of Eating Kosher

by Joshua Gershenson, November 12, 2021

Living in the 21st century allows us, as consumers, an extreme abundance of choice. We can choose from tens of different phones, hundreds of cars, thousands of different residences, and even millions of different hues of paint for them. The freedom of diet, for instance, leads to obscure dietary lifestyles which have become a cliche´; every average Joe has an opinion on the grounds of personal evidence, and is willing to soapbox it into the ether without thinking of the effects it might have on other individuals. Roughly 3300 years, before the age of health blogs and twitter opinions, Moses presented his people the Torah and the dietary principles it instilled on Mount Sinai (The Torah, Deut. 4:44). For millennia, these dietary traditions have been passed down and strictly followed without deviation due to religious and cultural pressures— but in today’s Western culture, many “Jew-ish” people who were not raised in a traditional, orthodox Jewish household find themselves in a world of constant temptation, doubting the validity of the Kosher diet. To many, the sheer “good Jew” title of Kashrut is not enough to combat the laborious commitment that comes with it. They may doubt the spiritual value of the diet, or believe its benefits have long expired in today’s modern culinary and technological advancements. What may feed the curiosity of the average Joe, however, is how much scientific data there really is to support the benefits of the Kosher diet— and how it may be much more reasonable than people believe.

The key to understanding its benefits, for starters, lies in the details of its restrictions. The Kosher diet, as described in the Torah, forbids the following: shellfish (such as lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams, and crabs), camel, rock badger, hare, pig, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects (with the exception of a few), bats, some birds which scavenge or prey, and any offspring (i.e. eggs) that come from them (The Torah, Lev.11: Deut.14). Some of these options (I.e. rodents, reptiles, insects, etc.) are seemingly repulsive to most Kosher and non-Kosher people in modern Western cultures, and don’t need much of an argument to deter their consumption. Yet, some of the other options (pig, shrimp, lobster, etc.) seem to tip the scale of faithfulness to the Kosher diet for most people. So, why does the Jewish holy book group these tasty animals together with those that are undeniably unappetizing? The answer lies in the basic anatomy of these creatures, their behavior in the environment, and how that may pose a risk to our health. Avoiding the prohibited foods (pork, shellfish, etc.) is not simply biblical jargon from millennia ago; it has serious health benefits to support its implementation, including the avoidance of common parasites and diseases transmitted by them. 


Of the animal meat that Kashrut prohibits, farm pigs (sus scrofa domesticus) are one of the main culprits of disease transmission, especially because of the techniques used to farm them. In the agricultural setting, sus scrofa often consumes its own feces, which contain a vast variety of bacteria normally found within the animal’s large intestine. Although this bacteria is completely normal (and in fact necessary to proper digestion when in the intestine), consuming this bacteria may cause a great deal of food-borne illness like the Campylobacter bacteria (King). In farms, pigs are held in extremely crowded arrangements with negative airflow to maximize the amount of animals the farm can produce. These tight quarters in factory farms cause rampant disease in pigs. Before they are dispatched to the slaughterhouse, approximately 70% of the pigs will contract pneumonia throughout their life (PETA). 

This pork-based, dinner plate-sized petri dish of bacteria may have caused serious health detriments to the unsuspecting biblical consumer 3 millennia ago, which rationalizes its existence in the laws of Kashrut. But today, we bypass the potential ailments by effectively pumping liters of antibiotics into animals. Although we aren’t contracting plague-like-symptoms from pork consumption, this overuse of antibacterial medication has caused the creation of “Super Bacteria,” or antibiotic-resistant bacterial lines (PETA). According to C. Lee Ventola, a medical researcher published by the government organization National Center for Biotechnology Information, pumping these animals massive amounts of antibiotics on a regular basis increases our chances of ingesting an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. With this newfound resistance, a bacterial strain would be able to thrive within animals without a deterrent. This process, especially on a mass level, can create a plethora of new illnesses that we cannot combat with modern technology. Halting our consumption of pigs — as written in the Kosher laws — will help prevent the creation of such a disease, potentially saving thousands of lives. Avoiding the consumption of pigs prevents possible disease which could be extremely harmful to humans; in the age of pandemics, this concept should not be easily dismissed.

Besides gambling the creation of super bacteria on a large scale, the consumption of pork is by no means beneficial on the individual level. Pork has extremely high amounts of cholesterol, the main cause of heart disease, which stands as the number one cause of death in the United States (CDC, “Heart Disease”). When an individual cuts pork out of their diet, they are significantly lowering their chances of terminal cardiovascular disease. 

Pork is also the common culprit of diet-induced parasites, which affect thousands of Americans yearly. Since it is a non-ruminant animal, its digestive tracts struggle to remove parasitic beings that can then be transmitted to human consumers via undercooked pork. The most common example of a pork-ridden parasite is Trichinosis, an intestinal-bound worm that spreads and infects tissues all around the body, causing diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting for weeks (Mayo Clinic). This infection is not uncommon to the consumers of pork: the CDC reports about 10,000 Trichinosis cases every year, or over 1 every hour (CDC, “Trichinellosis – Epidemiology & Risk Factors”). In the context of a disease which comes solely from pork consumption, this is not a small number. 

These harmful parasites can be completely avoided by just straying away from pork items— and implementation is not unachievable. An individual attempting to follow Kashrut can start by substituting bacon with turkey bacon, pork with lamb chops, etc. Soon enough, the Kosher-rookie will find themselves less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, and more protected from parasites that could potentially shred their intestinal lining.


Shellfish, both crustaceans and molluscs, are also listed as “forbidden” in the Kushrat principles, and for good reason: their poor diet (and the parasites that result from it) can be directly transmitted to their consumers. As many seafood-lovers would hate to be informed, crustaceans feed off the dead skin of lifeless animals just like land decomposers (cockroaches, maggots, etc.). Dr. Martha Iwamoto, a medical epidemiologist for the CDC, mentions multiple recent disease outbreaks related to seafood consumption in her research, as well as their causes. Since shellfish are bottom feeders, they serve as the perfect hosts to parasites and other dangerous organisms, subsequently causing infections such as calicivirus, hepatitis A virus, and Salmonella. After infiltration, some parasites common to shrimp can actually promote their host’s horrendous diet by inducing cannibalism amongst their species (Bunke et al.). This presents an entirely new plethora of health issues to the crustacean, and inevitably, to us the consumers. To add to their repulsive diet, crustaceans have a very remedial digestive system, making it difficult for them to expel toxic wastes. When a person consumes shellfish, they often consume their undigested diet of decomposing marine life as well (Iwamoto). Likewise, raw or undercooked shellfish such as mollusks, clams and mussels often harbor residuals of their decomposer-diet and, when ingested, can result in invasive disease and the ripping of the intestinal lining by parasites and microscopic worms. Avoiding the harmful effects of shellfish is a pretty strong incentive to switch over to the Kosher diet, as the regiment steers clear of their parasitic food source and the negative health benefits that come with it.

Reconsider The Restrictions

Many seafood and pork lovers would argue against the Kosher diet by stating that there are no scientific arguments written in the Torah to justify it, and they would be somewhat correct. Most of the segments in Deuteronomy and Leviticus that mention Kashrut justify it solely by “the command of G-D” (The Torah, Deut. 14, 21). The Torah doesn’t offer much to the reasons behind the Kosher diet, and commands the blind faith in this practice by Jews. It may not be compelling to believe solely in the word of a higher being; many will not sacrifice some of the foods they’ve learned to love purely on these grounds. The flaw in this argument lies in the neglect of extraneous scientific evidence which proves the principles of the diet to be beneficial beyond spirituality to the conflicted “Jew-ish” in America. 

Understanding the scientific explanations behind why the Jewish holy book would classify these tasty animals as ‘forbidden’ gives light to the alternative benefits of the diet. The probability of contracting food borne disease and cardiovascular ailments significantly decreases when following Kashrut. The incentive of following the Kosher laws, then, is not merely a religious payoff, but includes immense health benefits. Modern-day Jews should not believe they are blindly following a 3 millenia old manuscript, because Kashrut clearly has its sensical scientific foundation, serving as an excellent anti-parasite, anti-disease diet which is relatively simple to integrate into daily life. 

Works Cited

Bunke, Mandy, et al. “Eaten Alive: Cannibalism Is Enhanced by Parasites.” Royal Society Open Science, 1 Mar. 2015,

CDC. “Heart Disease Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Dec. 2019,

CDC. “Trichinellosis – Epidemiology & Risk Factors.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Nov. 2019,

“Diseases from Pigs.” Diseases from Pigs – King County,

FAO Animal Production and Health Division. “Sources of Meat.” 25 Nov. 2014,

Iwamoto, Martha, et al. “Epidemiology of Seafood-Associated Infections in the United States.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Apr. 2010,

Jacoby, Jeff. “The Kosher-Industrial Complex.”,

Mamre, Mechon “Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws.” Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws / Torah 101,

Mayo Clinic. “Trichinosis.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 May 2018,

Timeline of Kosher.” OK Kosher Certification,

The Torah. Translated by JPS,, 2014,

Ventola, C Lee. “The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis: Part 1: Causes and Threats.” P & T: A Peer-Reviewed Journal for Formulary Management, MediMedia USA, Inc., Apr. 2015,

An Analysis of Ambiguity in Humans

by Sanjana Sankaran, November 12, 2021

The existentialist philosopher Simone De Beauvoir explained in her book titled, The Ethics of Ambiguity, why humans are ambiguous creatures. Beauvoir first proclaims that humans have felt the ambiguity of the states of life and death for a long time. However, even if people recognize the ambiguity of life and understand that as humans we will all die, they eliminate ambiguity by proclaiming religious immortality, and by saying one should become pure internally and externally (Beauvoir 7). As an advocate for women’s rights and human rights, she believed that in order for people to achieve a sense of freedom they must recognize and appreciate the ambiguity. I will further analyze the importance of ambiguity of life and why Beauvoir’s assessment of the human condition as fundamentally ambiguous is correct. 

After recognizing the concept of ambiguity, Beauvoir then differentiates between the two main types: fundamental ambiguity and the simpler ambiguity.  The fundamental ambiguity of the human experience has two parts: the first being that humans are free, we have the ability to think about the world (consciousness), and we can decide how we wish to act and have a private life (internal) (Lecture Notes 11/9/2020). This knowledge gives us strength and power to act (Beauvoir 8). The second part contradicts the first by stating that we are not free because humans cannot escape death in any way. Humans, in many ways, are objects by which external forces can act, so we therefore also have an external existence that cannot be controlled. The simpler ambiguity also has two parts: one is factual and deals with our bodily existence, while the other is free and deals without conscious existence (Lecture Notes, 11/9/2020). Again, philosophers have been dishonest about the ambiguity of life in two ways; they either deny its existence or they disparage it and deem it as negligible to understand and recognize. So, in this process, their style of ethics try to assert one of the ideas of this dualism of life, complete freedom, and determinism, where all your actions have already been determined and you have no control (Lecture Notes, 11/9/2020). 

Ambiguity is extremely important to Beauvoir’s style of ethics because she argues that the concept of ethics itself only makes sense within the context of ambiguous creatures like humans. She states that ethics is brought about by the tension of what is and what ought to be. ‘What is’ is the reality of a situation, such as “there is social injustice.” ‘What ought’ is how things should be –  our opinion –  such as “there should not be social injustice”. She argues therefore that ethics becomes valid when we recognize the ambiguity between what we are and what we could and should be (Lecture Notes 11/9/2020). Beauvoir’s ethics is the ethics of freedom for humanity, which she claims is the source and goal of all ethics. Freedom is what lets humans express meaning and value about certain things and thus must be willed because humans are ambiguous. To will freedom, humans must first recognize the ambiguity instead of denying it to open up their future and keep the ability to act in multiple ways (Lecture Notes 11/11/2020). 

The human condition is fundamentally ambiguous for three main reasons: we cannot escape death,  there is freedom in the uncertain or ambiguous and, lastly, humans live in constant doubt. Humans cannot escape death; philosophers and other thinkers have tried to escape death by arguing that it does not matter what we do in life as long as we end up pure enough to be in heaven. The same goes for religions that discuss reincarnation; however, we live it does not matter because we will be reincarnated. However, as Beauvoir states, the ends do not always justify the means, nor should one be focused on the means and forget about the end. In the first case, when people ignore the means to achieve their goal, they will commit atrocities to get there (Lecture Notes 12/2/2020). For example, in the case of the serious man, they find a single value the absolute and will become a slave to this value, and find everything else as unimportant. This ultimately results in a fascist regime, cult followers, and other heinous crimes against humanity. The serious man fails to recognize the ambiguity in human existence and that humans are free to set up their own values and not blindly follow the values of others (Lecture Notes 11/16/2020). Nietzsche, one of the fundamental philosophers of the existentialist movement, explains the avoidance of death as an end to asceticism – humans will endure severe self-discipline, abstinence, or a denial of our own enjoyments in favor of the spiritual world, a kingdom of God. He argues that humans have used this to endure suffering under the pretense that it can give life meaning. However, Nietzsche wonders how to avoid ascetic ideals without falling into the trap of nihilism (Lecture Notes 11/2/2020). “The ascetic ideal has an aim – this goal is, putting it generally, that all the other interests of human life should, measured by its standard, appear petty and narrow” (Nietzsche Essay 3 Section 23). Asceticism allows for ethics of certainty, not ambiguity; in doing so traps them, and restricts their future. The ascetic ideals, when taken advantage of by cult leaders and tyrants, are often used as a method of oppression. The goal of human life is freedom, not the ascetic ideal. As Beauvoir states, this is achieved by humans having to create their own values, constantly living in doubt, and in the process, gaining genuine freedom. Genuine freedom is something humans have to produce on their  own; we must will it ourselves (Lecture Notes 11/9/2020). As Nietzsche states, “Man, the bravest animal and the one most inured to suffering, does not repudiate suffering in itself: he wills it, he even seeks it out, provided that he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering” (Nietzsche Essay 3 Section 28). Ambiguity states that life has the ability to be meaningful; however, humans must make life meaningful. Humans have made life meaningful by choosing to stand up for the oppressed and not just assuming an existing value system; they have made it meaningful by protesting injustice and changing unjust laws. They may suffer while standing up for the oppressed as Nietzsche states, but there is a greater purpose for it, and that is freedom. 

Life is uncertain, and acknowledging this uncertainty opens up our future and allows us to be free. When humans follow ethics of certainty instead of uncertainty, they leave themselves in an echo chamber where they may become narcissistic, brainwashed, and tyrannical. If humans choose freedom they must live in this ambiguity, as many of us do. Humans live in a constant state of doubt, questioning what is right and wrong, seeking advice from others, and learning from different resources (Lecture Notes 12/2/2020). This doubt is  why humans read books – to learn more about the world they live in. Ethics can therefore not tell us exactly what to do, for this would be ethics of certainty; one must determine right from wrong while making decisions as they question value systems already in place. Those who reject the fundamental ambiguity are those who do not reject the previous value systems. According to Nietzsche, the value systems in place are the aristocratic value system and the slave value system. The aristocratic system is one where good is associated with characteristics of nobility, and bad is associated with characteristics of common people, or the minority. The slave value system was developed from the original system as ressentiment or resentment, causing an inversion of values; good is only derived by comparison to the aristocrats and evil is a term of vilification where it represents narcissism, racism, and so on (Lecture Notes 10/19/2020). Nietzsche states that both the aristocratic value system ‘good and bad’ and the slave value system ‘good and evil’  have existed in our society since the aristocratic times; however, humans must question the values already present (Lecture Notes 10/21/2020). Beauvoir goes on to state that, “an ethics of ambiguity will be one which will refuse to deny a priori that separate existants can, at the same time, be bound to each other, that their individual freedoms can forge laws valid for all” (Beauvoir 18). In other words, the ethics of ambiguity can only exist when people acknowledge the separation that exists between humans, especially of different minority groups. By acknowledging the imbalance that exists, all humans of separate groups have the ability to develop a new value system where there is freedom for all.   

We do not live in the future, and we cannot wait for it; the future is created. In the present, we make choices as we live in a state of doubt that builds a better future for others. This is shown in politics all the time (Lecture Notes 12/2/2020). For example, in the state of this pandemic, people in the present should stay at home and make the decision in the present to protect themselves and others, in order to build a future where COVID is no longer a major concern. Over the summer as people increasingly doubted the structure of our governmental system, people intervened and criticized the justice system, standing up for black lives. This doubt of the certainty that existed allows for freedom in the future. Beauvoir elaborates, “one must attempt to judge the chances of success that are involved in a certain sacrifice; but at the beginning, this judgment will always be doubtful […]” (Beauvoir 148). Choices in the present must be made by doubting the chances of success in the beginning. When people assume the world to go a certain way, this leads to events of destruction and oppression with Nazi Germany being a key example.  Hitler, in this case, is a serious man, who took a value that already existed, did not doubt it, and oppressed many. Those who questioned his assumptions are those who accepted the concept of ambiguity. 

In conclusion, Beauvoir was correct, humans are fundamentally ambiguous creatures because death is inescapable, even through religious means. Life will end at any time, and we live in this uncertainty and create a sense of meaning on our own. Humans live in constant doubt making dynamic choices in the situation that they are currently in while deciding how to create a better future. This is how humans live life to the fullest and by recognizing this we are free, but not from circumstances out of our control.

References/Works Cited

Beauvoir, Simone de. The Ethics of Ambiguity: Pour Une Morale De L’ambiguïté. Translated by Bernard Frechtman, Open Road Integrated Media, 2018.

Faul, Caleb. “Ethics of Ambiguity.” Philosophy 104. 9 Nov. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Faul, Caleb. “Ethics of Ambiguity.” Philosophy 104. 11 Nov. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Faul, Caleb. “Ethics of Ambiguity.” Philosophy 104. 16 Nov. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Faul, Caleb. “Ethics of Ambiguity.” Philosophy 104. 2 Dec. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Faul, Caleb. “On the Geneology of Morals.” Philosophy 104. 19 Oct. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Faul, Caleb. “On the Geneology of Morals.” Philosophy 104. 2 Nov. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Faul, Caleb. “On the Geneology of Morals.” Philosophy 104. 21 Oct. 2020, Stony Brook University. Class Lecture.

Nietzsche, Fredrich. “On the Genealogy of Morals (A Modernized Translation with a New Introduction and Biography).” Edited by Bill Chapko. Translated by Horace B. Samuel, 2010.

Illuminating the Web: An Analysis of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Moonlight

by Sophia Garbarino, November 11, 2021

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016) explores the life of Chiron, a gay Black boy living in a low-income area of Miami. We follow Chiron as he struggles with his mother Paula’s drug addiction; as he meets Juan, his mother’s drug dealer, who quickly becomes a father figure; as he relies on Juan’s girlfriend, Teresa, who nurtures him as a mother would; and as he discovers his sexuality with his best friend, Kevin. Chiron’s peers constantly target him for being gay, eventually leading to a physical fight and Chiron’s imprisonment. Years later, we see Chiron went back to the streets after being released from prison and now sells drugs just like Juan. In the end, it seems Chiron has come to terms with his sexuality but has yet to find a welcoming environment in which to explore it. In this essay, I will demonstrate how Chiron’s relationships with Teresa and his mother are foils that challenge the concept of family while illuminating the gendered, heteronormative complexities of Black experiences.

Chiron’s mother suspects his homosexuality early in his childhood, and while she never physically harms Chiron because of his sexuality, he does not grow up in a happy home. Like many addicts, Paula’s condition breaks up the family, and she partially blames Teresa for providing the safe environment he needs, calling her his “lil play-play mama” (Moonlight). Unfortunately, Paula is one of many women of color victimized by a vicious cycle of racism and the housing and job discrimination that comes with it. She’s pictured wearing scrubs several times, indicating some type of medical occupation, but it is not enough to support her family and her addiction. As a woman of color, she is a member of the lowest-paid group in the nation, meaning she earns less than she would if she were a Black man or a white woman (Lorde). She and Chiron also live in a predominantly Black area where drug abuse and incarceration rates are high. As such, we can see that public racial conflicts enter the private home even without considering sexuality yet.

Heteronormativity – “the assumption that heterosexuality is the standard for defining normal sexual behavior and that male–female differences and gender roles are the natural and immutable essentials in normal human relations. According to some social theorists, this assumption is fundamentally embedded in, and legitimizes, social and legal institutions that devalue, marginalize, and discriminate against people who deviate from its normative principle (e.g., gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered persons)”


When we do consider sexuality and gender, the effects of heteronormativity and sexism are unmistakable. Like Paula, Teresa never judges Chiron for being gay, but unlike Paula, she can provide a safe haven for him when he needs it. She becomes his “chosen family,” meaning they are unrelated but support each other the way a healthy family should (Chu). Family, then, is not defined by involuntary biology and a two-parent household, but by the privilege of love and any number and gender of parents. In this way, Teresa and Paula are foils for each other: one is the archetypal bad mother while the other is the nurturing savior. However, Teresa is only able to be a positive mother figure because of Juan’s drug dealing income, and throughout the film, we are constantly reminded that Teresa is Juan’s girl rather than an individual woman. She and Paula are both oppressed as Black people, women, and more importantly, Black women.

Additionally, they would be treated worse had they identified as LGBTQ*. Despite their oppressed position, both women are also privileged by their heterosexuality; Chiron is not so lucky. Being Black and having few strong role models in his life leads him back to the streets after being released from juvenile detention, but being gay is what sends him to prison in the first place: he defends himself from homophobic bullies and is consequently arrested. The web of oppression is quite tangled and Moonlight’s ending, where Chiron reveals he has never had any romantic or sexual relationship except the single experience on the beach with Kevin, suggests that there is no simple solution. Paula, Teresa, and Chiron form a disjointed hybrid family, and while they share the trait of being a Black person in the United States, their experiences are not the same. These three characters demonstrate just how intersectional oppression and Black experiences are.

Works Cited

Chu, Kyle Casey. “Why Queer People Need Chosen Families.” Vice, 13 Nov. 2017,

“Heteronormativity.” APA Dictionary of Psychology, 

Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Sister Outsider, edited by Audre Lorde, Crossing Press, 1984, pp. 1–6.

Moonlight. Directed by Barry Jenkins, performances by Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris, and Janelle Monáe, Plan B Entertainment, 2016.

The Pain Before The Birth: Antenatal Anxiety

by Marcela Muricy, November 9, 2021

Pregnancy is an adventurous time— a time of changes in the body that can be welcoming or scary, peaceful or torment, the feeling of finally having everything put together or the stress of slamming your finger between the car door. Any way you twist it, it is a very complicated and unique time for every pregnant person. Most people will fear the aftermath, the risk of experiencing Postpartum Depression, the more intense version of the “baby blues”. Yet, what many pregnant people, their families, and even physicians and researchers overlook, however, is another mental health change that may impact them — and their baby — during the pregnancy itself: antenatal anxiety. “Antenatal”, or “pre-birth”, represents the time period before someone gives birth, therefore encapsulating the symptoms they may begin to encounter, such as mild to intense anxiety. Experienced by about 10% of pregnant people (Falah-Hassani et al., 2017), antenatal anxiety consists of obsessive and excessive worry that begins to impact their daily function, including concerns of maternal/fetal wellbeing, illness in the partner, and the possibility of maternal mortality (Johns Hopkins). These feelings, when experienced chronically and not treated properly, can have lifelong impacts on the child’s development (Misri et al., 2015). It is crucial to consider the prevalence of antenatal anxiety, how much it flies under the radar, and how harmful it is to mothers and their children, particularly during a pandemic in which treatment is very limited.

According to various studies, high antenatal anxiety can cause a decrease in the child’s head circumference, Apgar scores, and body length, as well as an increase in preterm birth rates, maternal eating disorders— and even cognitive and anger issues that can follow the child into adolescence and adulthood (Sarkar et al., 2017; Grigoriadis et al., 2018). For the pregnant person, antenatal anxiety can be a key predictor of postpartum depression (which is experienced by about 15% of pregnant people), so that high levels of antenatal anxiety are strongly correlated with higher likelihood of postpartum depression (Yim and Schetter, 2019; Slomian et al., 2019). Antenatal anxiety, then, although harder to identify, is also crucial in its correlation to PPD, and can help in the prevention of not only antenatal symptoms, but the gruesome symptoms that may follow the long road of PPD.

The main risk factors for developing maternal anxiety have proven to be high maternal preterm BMI, as well as a history of depression and mental issues (Holton et al., 2019; Dachew et al., 2021). Pregnancy ultimately causes a change in social state, hormonal imbalances, and lack of social support, all of which can serve to strain the pregnant person’s mental state and exacerbate past health issues. The listed risk factors, on top of the typical strains of pregnancy, leaves them very vulnerable to developing antenatal anxiety, making regular screenings and checkups even more crucial to preventing these symptoms as early as possible.

The current primary method of prevention includes frequent screenings, however it is proven that there is a strong correlation between pregnant people experiencing antenatal anxiety and choosing to attend less screenings/checkups, and so they are likely to be overlooked. It has been shown that therapy and social support groups tailored to them aids in decreasing antenatal anxiety in vulnerable populations, as well as populations not considered at risk for anxiety, both of which experienced an increase in overall quality of life (Li et al., 2020). The major causes of antenatal anxiety, then, are well treated and relieved by an increase in social interactions and support.

This explains the increase in antenatal anxiety since March 2020; the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the availability of antenatal anxiety prevention and birthed a unique population of vulnerable mothers. Throughout the pandemic, there was a reported decrease in maternal mental health, and an increase in anxiety, depression, and OCD as a result of the fear of infection and social isolation (Hessami et al., 2020; Hinds et al., 2021). This was especially true for mother’s of high risk pregnancies (for instance, being at risk of preterm labor or a diabetic mother at risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis) and with lower levels of education (Sinaci 2020). Within this sample set, there has also been an increase in PTSD symptoms because of the high stress level associated with the pandemic and the lack of social support (Hocaoglu et al., 2020). The prevention for this population was only possible within the home (self-prevention methods), or with a specialist over a digital platform— both of which are difficult to maintain and ineffective compared to in-person treatment and support (Akgor et al., 2021). This is also a possible challenge for pregnant people in poorer communities that cannot afford to attend regular checkups and screenings, which is particularly risky considering that, in worse financial conditions, they are significantly more likely to experience antenatal anxiety (Bayrampour et al., 2018; Dennis et al., 2018). The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the impact of certain risk factors and exposed a disproportionate lack of resources available in impoverished communities, especially in times of need. 

Antenatal anxiety, then, should be at the forefront of our conversation around the support pregnant people need during pregnancy. Not only should they undergo physical screenings and pelvic exams (as is customary), but they should receive just as many (if not more) regular check-ups regarding their mental health (Kitchen and Jack 2021; Li et al., 2020). Moreover, this check-up should not only be geared towards the most serious aspects of mental health (such as suicidal thoughts), but also towards the more subtle concerns that can accumulate and negatively impact their health over time. Antenatal anxiety and its symptoms may be experienced independently of anything else, making it more difficult to distinguish between normal and abnormal symptoms (Misri et al., 2015). Persistent screenings, intensive education about these possibilities/distinctions, and further treatment studies are crucial to combatting the high prevalence of antenatal anxiety. This is especially true with vulnerable populations that have previous mental or physical health issues, or have limited access to resources due to their financial situation. Pregnant people should know they are well-supported, and their families should know how best to support them— so that none of them may suffer alone.

1 An Apgar score is a postnatal test performed immediately after birth to evaluate the baby’s health. Each category (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration) gets its own Apgar score ranging from 0-2, 0 being the least healthy and 2 being the most (“What is the Apgar Score?”).


Akgor, U., Fadıloglu, E., Soyak, B., Unal, C., Cagan, M., Temiz, B. E., Erzenoglu, B.E., Ak, S., Gultekin, M., & Ozyuncu, O. (2021). Anxiety, depression and concerns of pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 304(1), 125–130.

Alipour, Z., Lamyian, M., & Hajizadeh, E. (2012). Anxiety and fear of childbirth as predictors of postnatal depression in nulliparous women. Women and Birth: Journal of the Australian College of Midwives, 25(3), e37–e43.

Bayrampour, H., Vinturache, A., Hetherington, E., Lorenzetti, D.L., & Tough, S. (2018). Risk factors for antenatal anxiety: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 36(5), 476–503.

Coelho, H.F., Murray, L., Royal-Lawson, M., & Cooper, P.J. (2011). Antenatal anxiety disorder as a predictor of postnatal depression: a longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 129(1-3), 348–353.

Dachew, B.A., Ayano, G., Betts, K., & Alati, R. (2021). The impact of pre-pregnancy BMI on maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy and the postpartum period: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 281, 321–330.

Dennis, C.L., Falah-Hassani, K., & Shiri, R. (2017). Prevalence of antenatal and postnatal anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 210(5), 315–323.

Grigoriadis, S., Graves, L., Peer, M., Mamisashvili, L., Tomlinson, G., Vigod, S.N., Dennis, C.L., Steiner, M., Brown, C., Cheung, A., Dawson, H., Rector, N.A., Guenette, M., & Richter, M. (2018). Maternal anxiety during pregnancy and the association with adverse perinatal outcomes: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 79(5), 17r12011.

Hessami, K., Romanelli, C., Chiurazzi, M., & Cozzolino, M. (2020). COVID-19 pandemic and maternal mental health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Maternal-fetal & Neonatal Medicine: The Official Journal of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine, the Federation of Asia and Oceania Perinatal Societies, the International Society of Perinatal Obstetricians, 1–8. Advance online publication.

Hinds, C., Lindow, S.W., Abdelrahman, M., Hehir, M P., & O’Connell, M.P. (2021). Assessment of antenatal anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in pregnant women in the COVID-19 era. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 1–7. Advance online publication.

Hocaoglu, M., Ayaz, R., Gunay, T., Akin, E., Turgut, A., & Karateke, A. (2020). Anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic’s delay phase. Psychiatria Danubina, 32(3-4), 521–526.

Holton, S., Fisher, J., Nguyen, H., Brown, W.J., & Tran, T. (2019). Pre-pregnancy body mass index and the risk of antenatal depression and anxiety. Women and Birth: Journal of the Australian College of Midwives, 32(6), e508–e514.

Kitchen F.L. &, Jack B.W. Prenatal Screening. [Updated 2021 Jul 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan. Available from:

Li, C., Sun, X., Li, Q., Sun, Q., Wu, B., & Duan, D. (2020). Role of psychotherapy on antenatal depression, anxiety, and maternal quality of life: A meta-analysis. Medicine, 99(27), e20947.

Misri, S., Abizadeh, J., Sanders, S., & Swift, E. (2015). Perinatal generalized anxiety disorder: Assessment and treatment. Journal of Women’s Health (2002), 24(9), 762–770.

Sarkar, K., Das, G., Chowdhury, R., Shahbabu, B., Sarkar, I., Maiti, S., & Dasgupta, A. (2017). Screening antenatal anxiety: Predicting its effect on fetal growth. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 6(1), 131–135.

Sinaci, S., Ozden Tokalioglu, E., Ocal, D., Atalay, A., Yilmaz, G., Keskin, H. L., Erdinc, S. O., Sahin, D., & Moraloglu Tekin, O. (2020). Does having a high-risk pregnancy influence anxiety level during the COVID-19 pandemic?. European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, 255, 190–196.

What is the Apgar score? Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. (2021). Retrieved November 7, 2021, from,at%205%20minutes%20after%20birth. 

Yim, I.S., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2019). Biopsychosocial predictors of perinatal depressive symptoms: Moving toward an integrative approach. Biological Psychology, 147, 107720.

LGBTQ+ Representation and Visual Novels

by Marie Yamamoto, November 8, 2021

Visual novels are video games with a heavy emphasis on narrative. They are usually text-heavy, aided by visuals, and allow the player to interact with the story to some capacity, but beyond these elements, they can vary greatly in terms of gameplay, art style, and writing style. Likewise, visual novels encompass a broad range of genres from dating simulators, in which you play as a character romancing another character, to horror, in which you play as a character in a setting or situation meant to elicit fear. Some even take advantage of the player’s position or expectations to subvert genre tropes and break the fourth wall. Doki Doki Literature Club!—one of the most discussed visual novels of the 2010’s—is a great example of this. 

Video games can be a powerful storytelling medium, and as the world pushes towards social progress, more people are turning to them to see themselves reflected in the narratives they tell. Disappointingly, those in the LGBTQ+ community still often find themselves poorly depicted by game developers. For example, Atlus, a video game developer and publishing company most renowned for the Megami Tensei and Persona series, has spawned countless controversies for its mistreatment of gay and transgender-coded characters in games like Persona 5 Royal and Catherine: Full Body. Fortunately, in recent years, game developers have made a plethora of visual novels that put queer people—specifically queer people of color—in the limelight. Indie visual novels like Butterfly Soup, which follows two Asian-American girls as they bond over baseball and fall in love; one night, hot springs, which follows a Japanese transgender woman as she tries to navigate an outing at a public hot spring; and Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, which follows a single father that the player customizes as he tries to romance a colorful cast of other dads living in his neighborhood, tell heartfelt, authentic stories. Because of a number of factors, the visual novel format remains one of the best ways to highlight LGBTQ+ perspectives in video games.

The overwhelming majority of the visual novel community is welcoming towards queer game developers and fosters an inclusive, encouraging environment around the content they make. From a historical perspective, the first overtly, canonically gay character—the lesbian detective Tracker McDyke—is actually from a visual novel published in 1989 called Caper in the Castro. This game, made by nonbinary artist C.M. Ralph, was charityware that pays homage to the queer community in San Francisco and was received with praise in the underground LGBTQ+ bulletin board systems it was distributed in (Shaw). Other visual novels featuring same-sex romantic relationships were published as early as the 1990s in Japan (Chan). However, over the past thirty years, visual novels that feature queer people and stories have drastically rose in both quantity and popularity both in the United States and overseas. Places like, an online storefront for indie game developers, have hosted annual queer-themed game jams since 2015, and Steam, a cloud-based video game distribution service, highlight games with LGBTQ+ themes, many of which are visual novels. While other sectors of the gaming industry are beginning to have been taking steps towards inclusivity on this front in recent years, queer people have always had a prominent presence in this particular space.

On that note, making a visual novel is arguably one of the easiest types of games to make. A game developer is not required to create stunning graphics or intense, innovative game mechanics to create a good visual novel. Likewise, there is a plethora of software available specifically for making visual novels that require minimal to no background knowledge of coding like Ren’Py, Tyranobuilder, and Suika2. Therefore, while making one’s own game comes with its own obstacles, there are fewer barriers for people to tell the stories they themselves want to read. Queer people who may not necessarily have money to spare or experience with game development can still make affecting content and represent themselves through their work. 

The story-driven nature of visual novels also gives creators the opportunity to humanize and flesh out their characters. Although many mainstream video games have gay and transgender characters, the genre of the game or the game’s writing may sideline these aspects of them. While it is not necessary for good gay and transgender representation, focusing on how the specific identities of LGBTQ+ characters affect them can be a great way to explore individual experiences. Likewise, should they wish to, queer game developers have the power to tell messier LGBTQ+ stories and highlight flaws of LGBTQ+ characters, which is not often seen in mainstream media. 

Historically, the sphere of visual novels in gaming has been a safe space for queer game developers to express themselves and continues to be so today. For gamers who are seeking to understand the LGBTQ+ experience, visual novels that are written by queer game developers may be a good place to start. As mainstream gaming continues to diversify across its sectors, game studios should look to queer people to tell their stories, for they have been telling them through this medium for years. Regarding this visibility, Christine Love, a renowned indie game developer known for her romance visual novels with queer themes, notes that “by an outside perspective, you’re making art that is different and is interesting and isn’t just representing the same sort of well-off white male nerds with a certain history…. You are getting perspective outside of that and as a result, you get better artwork—because I feel like art is just always elevated by being able to pull from different influences and different people’s perspectives” (Wade).

Works Cited

Chan, Harriette. “The History of LGBTQ+ Visual Novels.” TechRadar, 23 Jan. 2021, 

Shaw, Adrienne. “Caper in the Castro.” LGBTQ Video Game Archive, 22 Jan. 2021, 

Wade, Jessie. “Christine Love on Creating Visual Novels – Humans Who Make Games Episode 3.” IGN, 30 Jan. 2019,

Racial and Gendered Stratification of The Reproductive Justice Movement

by Zarya Shaikh, November 3, 2021

The birth control movement, infertility treatments, and abortion rights campaign deliver liberation to all who benefit from them. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) folx are not the intended benefactors of these initiatives. BIPOC individuals, particularly those with lower socioeconomic status in comparison with their white counterparts, are hindered from reaping the benefits of the reproductive justice movement. This is a reflection on “a select group of college-educated, middle and upper-class, married white women” using BIPOC people as a stepping stone towards achieving freedom and privileges in their own lives (Bell, 1984, pg. 1). White women exclude BIPOC folx on the basis that they do not share the same “class, race, religion, sexual preference” (Bell, 1984, pg. 5). This phenomenon occurs on a global scale, stifling the growth and success of BIPOC populations across the world. It is for this reason that the absence of BIPOC folx in these movements is a powerful act of resistance that stands in opposition to BIPOC-life-threatening governmental policies on a day-to-day basis. On a cursory glance, birth control and abortion rights may not seem tied to infertility. However, involuntary infertility and abortion on an institutional level have proved to be a discriminatory implementation of birth control designed to limit populations of BIPOC people. To understand how birth control has been used as a limiting agent, one must first understand the prevalence of infertility. Infertility exists with significant global incidence—“some portion of every human population is affected by the inability to conceive during their reproductive lives” (Inhorn, 2002). It is a genderless occurrence by nature. So why do countries explicitly blame women for infertility when statistically men are predominantly infertile? This is a problem that starts not at the time of testing for pregnancy but when trying for pregnancy. In author Carole S. Vance’s chapter “Social Construction Theory,” Vance discusses the archaic notion of “women’s innate sexual passivity” (Grewal and Kaplan, 2006, pg. 31). Women are thought to be submissive and not have any libido until a man awakens a preconceived, insatiable hunger. Sex is painted as a desire that women yearn for, which can only be fulfilled by men. This association between sexual acts and identities perpetuates harmful stereotypes that can incur real-world consequences as seen by the onus falling on women time and time again for not being able to conceive.

In reality, there are several influencing factors, including reproductive tract infections, that can lead to tubal infertility, postpartum complications, post-abortive complications, dietary or environmental toxins, and more. To counter infertility, whether tubal infertility and/or male infertility, new reproductive technologies (NRTs) have been used. They are expensive and, therefore, accessible only by people who can afford them. NRTs elude people with lower socioeconomic status because in vitro fertilization (IVF) services like this are generally offered by a private sector accessible by “elites” (Inhorn, 2002). Options that are available to people who cannot afford IVF turn to formal healthcare alternatives. Those alternatives neglect the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals they are used on. Tracey Loughran and Gayle Davis, who authored The Palgrave handbook of infertility in history: Approaches, contexts and perspectives, attribute the monopoly of reproductive technologies to the Global North and Global South. These two compete for treatment and “popular, legal, and medical approaches to infertility” (Loughran and Davis, 2017, pg. 397). There is a damning association between status and power in the form of race, gender, and socioeconomic privilege. The feminists of Global North, comprising of developed countries, advocate “for women’s rights to reproductive choice and control . . . [and] that discourse . . . was ill-adapted to the needs of women in other parts of the world” (Loughran and Davis, 2017, pg. 388). The common trend that a select few continue to speak for the collective masses remains true in this case. In the Global South, feminists who work towards accessibility of infertility treatments have been met with pushback from authorities and institutions. Even if there is a recognition of the need for ethical, or at least humane, alternatives to abusive sterilization and birth control, the institutions and authorities in developing countries have made it difficult to find a good support base. While the efforts of these outspoken feminists towards advancements in technologies have been promoted in advertisements as self-empowerment, other feminists condemn the science behind the scenes as unethical and exploitative of women’s bodies.

The histories of birth control, infertility treatments, and abortion movements are fraught with the exploitation and oppression of BIPOC women. In Women, Race and Class, feminist Angela Davis addresses the absence of BIPOC representation in the birth control movement and abortion rights campaign specifically. Davis attributes the apprehension of Black individuals to the underlying danger of the birth control movement—“involuntary sterilization” (Davis, 1982, pg. 354). There is an abhorrent history of abortion among slaves accompanied by limited resources and access to birth control. Starting at the time of slavery and continuing today, the social stratification of feminists is prominent, especially when discussing the rationale for limiting or expanding family size. For instance, lower-income families are expected to restrict their family capacity to accommodate the taxation and superiority complexes of middle-class and rich families. Eugenic, racist and capitalistic views have clouded the “progressive potential of the birth control campaign” (Davis, 1982, pg. 360). In the 20th century, the American Birth Control League dominated the conversation by calling on Black people to pursue birth control as though it were compulsory sterilization. Davis notes, “What was demanded as a ‘right’ for the privileged came to be interpreted as a ‘duty’ for the poor” (Davis, 1982, pg. 358). Years later, we are still seeing the same control enforced through the popular meme: “What’s classy if you’re rich but trashy if you’re poor?” Davis exposes this call as a disillusioned choice that culminates in the forced sterilization of “Native American, Chicana’ Puerto Rican and Black women . . . in disproportionate numbers” (Davis, 1982, pg. 360). One initiative, started under the leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt, forced sterilization of over 35% of all Puerto Rican women. This action was enacted as a means to address the economic problems of Puerto Rico by reducing the birth rate to be less than or equal to the death rate (Davis, 1982, pg. 363). In reality, this surgical sterilization was devastating. It was promoted as an incentive to limit unemployment rates. However, Davis states this is not the case: “The increasing incidence of sterilization has kept pace with the high rates of unemployment” (Davis, 1982, pg. 363). This act of misdirection to harm BIPOC populations is not a new issue.

Daniel J.R. Grey’s ‘She Gets the Taunts and Bears the Blame’: Infertility in Contemporary India presents a timeline of “the relatively abrupt transition from views of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) as morally and medically dubious to their widespread acceptance” (Grey, 2017, pg. 242). Grey discusses the myriad of issues characterizing the population control measures established in India. He highlights the (lack of) morality involved in forcing sterilizations upon women and girls who do not consent with the full understanding that these procedures will bar them from having biological offspring. Fallacies embedded in the Indian government’s five-year plans to achieve a reduction in birth rates resulted in direct and indirect fatalities of surrogates, parents, and children involved. Surrogacy as an alternative to infertility is plastered as a “‘mutual benefit’ to both infertile couples (whether foreign or domestic) and to impoverished Indian women” but is not a realistic expectation (Grey, 2017, pg. 246). These examples epitomize failures of the system to foresee and adapt to changes that may not be politically favorable for the government.

For these reasons, it is important to expose forced sterilizations and provide BIPOC folx with the support they need to safely access birth control and abortion procedures without a double entendre facade. One such organization is the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health which distributes its reproductive health resources to Latine/xs. To make medical decisions, one must have information available to them in an accessible format. Reproductive justice must be for the people it serves just as disability justice advocates for a system that prioritizes disabled peoples and their needs. Piepzna-Samarasinha, a queer disabled femme writer, dreams of disability justice as it relates to the concept of care work. Care work is a practice in which BIPOC individuals also benefit from the work being done behind the scenes and can take care of themselves. Disability justice by itself was created as a counter to white disabled folx who did not recognize or elevate BIPOC activists. White people cannot and should not be at the forefront of conversations intended to prioritize BIPOC peoples. BIPOC and marginalized folx should be able to tell their story and access resources as dictated by what they deem necessary instead of having them dictated by an outsider. 

The Black Mamas Matter Alliance is one organization that approaches reproductive justice by seeking to change policy. They call for Black women-led initiatives and address legislation that leads to poor maternal health outcomes. Alternative modes of resistance can be adjusting literature in academic courses to include BIPOC-perspectives. If not for my Women’s Gender, and Sexuality major, I would not have learned about eugenics. It has not come up in any of the classes I have taken for my Biochemistry major. It is simply not a conversation unless one seeks it out. Universities like our own can be allies to the cause by giving a platform to BIPOC advocates, especially in biology courses that discuss reproduction.


Davis, A. (1982). Racism, birth control and reproductive rights. In Angela Davis, Women, Race and Class (pp. 202–271). Lond: The Women’s Press; New York; Random House, Inc. 

Davis, G., & Loughran, T. (2017). The Palgrave handbook of infertility in history: Approaches, contexts and perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan. 

Grewal, I., & Kaplan, C. (2006). An introduction to women’s studies: Gender in a Transnational World. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. 

Grey, D. (2017). ‘She gets the taunts and bears the blame’: Infertility in contemporary 

India. The Palgrave handbook of infertility in history, Approaches, contexts and perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from

Hooks, B. (1984). Black women: Shaping feminist theory. In bell hooks, Feminist theory: From margin to center (pp. 1–17). Brooklyn, New York: South End Press.

Inhorn, M.C. (2003). Global infertility and the globalization of new reproductive technologies: Illustrations from Egypt. Social Science & Medicine, 56(9), pp. 1837–1851.

Can Lying Ever Be Justified?

by Ayesha Azeem, October 29, 2021

As the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant once asserted, “there is nothing it is possible to think of anywhere in the world, or indeed anything at all outside it, that can be held to be good without limitation, excepting only a good will” (Kant 9). Kantianism focuses on motives rather than consequences. Kant introduces the idea of a categorical imperative, an absolute rule of conduct that cannot have any exceptions and must be followed regardless of our desires; any action against this is immoral. Kant uses the categorical imperative to support his belief that it is immoral to lie; if we lie, we make ourselves the “exception” to the universal moral law, holding ourselves in a different standard than everyone else. Though it is easy to deem an action absolutely immoral, this is impossible due to the fact that not everyone’s moral conduct is the same, and there will always be rightful exceptions to any “universal law” proposed. 

Kant supports that lying is immoral with a famous situation: if a murderer knocks on your door, asking for your friend, it is your moral duty to tell the truth and expose your friend to the murderer. Kant argues that if we choose to lie, even if it was to save a friend from murder, we would violate the categorical imperative, an immoral act. However, the morals of lying are not as black and white as Kant wants them to be. Though lying is sinful in most cultures, one needs to consider the circumstances in which lying may be better. Lying may prevent a situation from becoming worse – in Kant’s example, lying would actually help your friend survive. Rather than ruling lying as absolutely immoral, it is important to compare one’s options and determine which would be beneficial for the majority. For example, during the Holocaust, a situation similar to Kant’s famous example was experienced by many Jewish refugees and the heroes who courageously hid them from torture. If they had followed Kant’s philosophy, they would have surrendered the Jewish refugees to the Nazis, adding to the brutally inflicted crimes against humanity. The moral guilt resulting from being an accessory to murder is far worse than the guilt accompanying the decision to lie; in situations like these, lying may be more moral, and thus should not be ruled out completely. 

Though Kant is right in that we should not make exceptions for ourselves, moral decision-making is not as straightforward enough to have universal laws because one’s sense of morality may be different from another person’s. This holds true especially when one considers how influential a person’s culture is on their moral reasoning. Kant’s ethical theory of deontology is primarily concerned with one’s intentions – the actual consequences of the action don’t matter. Though lying should be considered morally wrong, exceptions should be rightfully made when the motive is genuinely benevolent. This is seen in Lulu Wang’s movie The Farewell (2019) when a family hides the truth about their grandmother’s cancer diagnosis from her to ensure that her last days are filled with only happiness. The family visits their Nai Nai, the Chinese term for grandmother, after years, with the excuse of a wedding, in order to spend their last moments together. Though Kant would argue that even a situation like this does not justify lying, it is clear that the family’s intentions are pure – they just want to prevent as much emotional pain as possible to Nai Nai. In this case, lying to Nai Nai would not have made the situation worse – she was going to die, whether she knew about it or not. Telling her the truth would not be beneficial, as it would only cause more heartache for everyone. Lying was the more morally correct choice, as Nai Nai actually lived longer than the three months the family expected. This may be because she was not emotionally burdened with her diagnosis; the family made the right choice, even though lying is morally wrong under normal circumstances. 

The Farewell depicts how our culture often influences the choices we make. The movie is mostly set in the point-of-view of Billi, a Chinese-American woman morally conflicted between two cultures, Chinese and American, each promoting different sets of values. When she travels to China to say her farewell, Billi often questions her family’s choices. In one scene, Billi asks her parents why they are keeping the diagnosis a secret. Billi, who has lived most of her life in America, does not understand how the family is so willing to lie – she worries that Nai Nai may have unfinished business that needs attending to before her death. Billi’s mother sternly says, “Chinese people have a saying: when people get cancer, they die. But it’s not the cancer that kills them, it’s the fear” (The Farewell). This is a Chinese tradition that has been passed down through generations – Nai Nai lied to her husband about his diagnosis until he was on his deathbed. The reasoning behind this was so that he would not be plagued by the worry of leaving his family behind. 

When Billi expresses her hesitancy in lying, saying that this would not be acceptable in America, her aunt reminds her that they are in China, where morals are different. In some cultures, we are taught not to question the legitimacy of traditions. For example, South Asian culture often forces “compromising,” especially on women, during a marriage. This began with the notion that the couple should communicate effectively to move their marriage forward. Over generations, however, the idea of compromising has instead led to many women suffering through domestic violence due to fear of societal backlash if they go through with a divorce. South Asian culture often blames the woman if there is a divorce between a couple, claiming that it was her fault for failing to compromise. Parents still teach their daughters to tolerate any “obstacles” (though domestic abuse should not be considered an obstacle, but a physically and physiologically scarring reason to leave) during their marriage. Mothers who have suffered through trauma throughout their marriage and fail to get a divorce tell their daughters to also “compromise.” While this has been ingrained in South Asian culture for generations, this does not mean it is morally correct. 

To establish a strong moral foundation, we must think about the moral reasoning behind our decisions, and why we believe we made the right choice, regardless of what our culture may preach. Though lying may be immoral, context is always needed before we can deem a choice to be moral, which Kant fails to account for.

References/Works Cited

The Farewell. Directed by Lulu Wang, Big Beach Films, 2019.

Kant, Immanuel, et al. Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Oxford University Press, 2019.

Maybe June: A Short Story and Analysis

by Sasha Kiniova, October 27, 2021

Pre-Word from the author

When I was writing this piece, I was sitting in my backyard looking at the cherry blossoms and due to the pandemic, I was missing my love for the classical arts. However after thinking about all the years that I trained in ballet, primarily in my middle school and early high school years, I wanted to address the elephant in the room becoming a ballerina is not only hard physically, but it takes so much selfishness to become one. I still admire ballet and will be attending every performance I can, however every person in the ballet field knows that a ballerina’s world is not just surrounded by ballet, ballet becomes God to ballerinas. 

In this work, I use some profanity which in my daily life I would never use, but to understand the characters better and to keep the authenticity of the work, I decided to keep it in. As a Christian I do not suggest using this type of language in the reader’s daily life. When I wrote this piece, I was not yet a practicing Christian which may explain my comfort with such words. I do not condone the use of it and I will avoid using them in my future works. I would also like to add that my analysis of Maybe June is derived from my own personal experiences in the ballet field which should not be completely generalized. I have faith that the ballet field and environment around the world is getting better and mental health issues amongst ballerinas and performers is being addressed. Also, my Christian viewpoint is from an Orthodox Christian perspective, so therefore I cannot speak on the behalf of other denominations or divisions of Christianity.

Maybe June

I don’t understand why the cherry blossoms keep falling this year. 

I remember when they used to flutter down and twirl like a beautiful ballerina dancing on the Mariinsky stage. She would dance, float from one side of the stage to the other. Her grands jetés would go so high in the air, but her landing is what gave her grace. She does a final round of piqué turns around the whole stage, a lame-duck, and she comes to her resting place. 

This year, the ballerina just fell in the pit and is crying because she is not measuring up to her director.  

It is 10:47 in the evening and I am watching the cherry blossoms crash to the ground while laughing hysterically with my friend on her front porch. The porch light is on already and we are just having a good old time, laughing about the dumbest shit in the world.  

We are just being stupid-ass teenagers at last. All year we have to focus on work, and work, work, work work, no social life, work. I don’t understand what adults want from us these days. They tell us ‘Be happy’ and ‘Do what you can while you are still young’ but they forget that we have dumb ass schoolwork shoved down our throats.  

Our faces are both lit under the light and at this point we brought blankets outside because it was getting a little chilly. We kept wheezing like elephants on her porch though. I don’t understand how our neighbors are tolerating this, but honestly if I were an adult I wouldn’t yel- 


The neighbor slams the door and we shut up instantly. I look at Renee and she looks at me. We know we fucked up… but that was the best thing to happen this month. I quietly say, 

“Hey dude, I’m gonna go.” 

“Yeah, that’s a good call Kate. Good night.” 

“Good night broski.” 

We both chuckle as we put the lawn chairs away. That evening I learned two things about my life.  

One is that adults are stupid. 

Two is that so am I.   

The cherry blossoms… they twirl and are able to make such beautiful shapes in the air. Why do I always look so stupid and ugly when I dance. Renee and I, we are so close. I mean… we’ve been friends since level one in the academy. We will always be friends, no matter what.  

It’s been three weeks now and Renee and I haven’t talked even for a minute. Did our neighbor actually scare us? But I mean… no… we were laughing afterwards, we thought it was funny. But… now I don’t know why I was laughing. Is that just what I do when I don’t know what to do? Is that how I express my fear? I am taking psychology this year… I don’t understand what is going on. The only reasonable explanation for this is that my neighbor is probably an actual witch that graduated from Hogwarts.  

The blossoms… they are crashing, crashing, burning. Why do they get to float and do whatever ever they want but I…I…I have to go to school, ballet, sleep and repeat. I don’t see where I excel… where I stand OUT from the others.  

But I don’t stand out and I never will because we are all just simple, delicate looking cherry blossoms in the ballet studio.  

It’s now been almost a year and Renee and I have still not talked. We see each other every day at ballet rehearsal. We pass each other and only give each other a little glance. I’ve only now understood that no matter what… Renee is secretly always going to be my competitor.  

When her feet point, water can run down them. When she poses in arabesque, her smile only becomes tenser. When she goes through her port-de-bras, the teacher always gives her a little nod.   

But the same doesn’t happen to me… 

They look so delicate and nice… but they crash easier every day. I can take one from the air and rip it in half. It will fall to its misery and nothing will help it.  

But when it comes to the ground… all that is left is red.  

“Katerina, could you please understudy Renee’s part in Don Quixote?” my ballet teacher asks, nagging me again to do the same shit every day. I pull a smile out of my gut just for her every time she asks me to understudy mother-fucking Renee.  

“Yes, of course, Ms. Linda, I will understudy the role of Kitri.”  

Renee looks at me with those intense blue eyes of hers. Why does she get fucking everything in life! I comfort her when she is sad, or at least I did. She can’t even speak to me anymore. All she does is dance, dance, dance, and she can’t even have time for me anymore!!!! She is the devil to my sin and I don’t know what to do about it.  

“Hey Renee.”

“Oh hey, Kate!” 

I don’t know what to say. Her devilish evil eyes are just looking at me, judging my weight probably.  

“Yo Renee, do you remember that time in June or something when your neighbo-”

“Got mad at us and told us to leave! Oh my god!! That was hilarious!” 

How dare she cut me off. She cut me off… what does she know. She is just a stupid blonde with nothing but privilege and wealth. I fucking hate her. Renee…Renee…Renee… I wish I could jus- 

“Hey Kate, we should meet up again. Maybe this time we don’t go to my house though so you know… we don’t get chased down by old meany pants.”

She chuckled with that thought. So do I. Was it for the same reason… I really don’t know.  

“Yeah, come to my house tomorrow. We can catch up, maybe be like real friends for once”. 

“Kate… I’m sorry I haven’t been spending so much time with you. I have been so busy with ballet! Ms. Linda is now telling me to be home-schooled, and I don’t know what I should do-“

“I was just kidding Renee.”

After the blossoms crash and burn, the trees then fill with red shiny cherries. I love eating them and finding nothing but the stupid pit that is in the cherry. Renee… she fell into the pit and is crying like always. She is the pit of the cherry and I can eat it at last. Oh…Renee… you are more beautiful than I thought. You are light as ever now, dancing in the air. I guess now you won’t need an understudy, my dude. 

I am sitting on her porch eating some red shiny cherries. They glisten in the sun but look prettier in the trees. The red juice overfills my smile and my heart.  

The ballerina has finally gracefully landed in her final resting place.  

Her ashes pass through the wind and tangle with the cherries. What I did had to be done… it’s easier to do than explain. I am just a teenager and Renee… she was just a teenager. But in ballet… you have to give up everything to achieve your dream.  

That included my friendship with dumb-ass Renee.  


Maybe June does not only end with a metaphorical, yet gruesome ending, it tries to capture the essence of a teenage ballerina. The ideas of obsessions, vengeance, pain and sacrifice are all expressed in this short story. These words may seem very far away from the world of ballet, however true ballet people can see that these words are sadly the truth in the ballet world. Our preconceived notions of ballerinas are that they are gracious and pure people that could not do anything wrong. However, ballerinas are still people making them capable of fostering so much inside which could scare any stranger. 

Katerina or Kate, represents this type of ballerina. She will be willing to achieve her dreams of becoming a prima ballerina if it means being immoral. In the end, the reader obviously sees that her need for this title drove her to ultimately kill her rival ballerina friend Renee. As extreme as this is, I am just further expanding on immoral acts in general. In reality, ballerinas are still able to be immoral by not sharing and having an open heart to their peers, lying or not being completely truthful to their peers so that they gain an advantage, or do not call out clear bias or malpractice by ballet instructors if it benefits them.  

Renee on the other hand is a ballerina that is just trying to be her best. The fact of her being moral or immoral is not really expanded upon to not distract from Kate’s obvious immorality. If anything, I see a lot of Renee in myself when I used to train. My life was so surrounded by ballet, but as a teenager, I was still not sure what I wanted to do with my life. From personal experience, I can say that I have thought very bad things about my peers in ballet. I would also feel angry and not genuinely happy for my peers when they achieved something good in ballet. I used to always be full of envy and jealousy. I was aware that it was wrong and I only came to realization that what I was doing was so abnormal and wrong after I had stopped training rigorously in ballet. The ballet world can become so encompassing and secluded that Sarah Loch who researched ballet student’s attitudes towards ballet stated that ”

Much like Renee, she has the potential to become a professional but she is still not sure if this life is for her, or if she wants to make ballet the god of her life and sacrifice everything for it. This is not an original idea because according to Sarah Loch’s research into four ballet students’ storylines, many talented ballet students are encouraged to not continue regular schooling to pursue ballet.2 One of the participant’s in the study by the name of Andy has shifts in his language when he talks about ballet from just loving it to solidifying and focusing on it.2 Many ballet students may have this type of attitude, which may then make them likely to view ballet as their god further on in their life.

Kate had made ballet the god of her life by sacrificing everything she had for it without the context of morality. As an Orthodox Christian, I do believe in God. However, the major difference is that my sacrifice comes to following God’s will which is still in the context of morality such as abstaining from pre-marital sex. Sex is not an immoral act. It is very natural, but resisting sexual urges till marriage is a sacrifice Christians make. That is how much we love God and want to fulfill His will. Kate does not have moral distinctions given from her god. Her god just fuels her own selfishness and inability to justify her wrongdoing as wrong. 

Victoria Willard and David Lavallee wrote a paper discussing retirement issues with elite dancers. They stated that “in their pursuit of excellence, elite athletes often forego activities outside of their sporting environment. This immersion in their sport creates a limited identity composed almost entirely from this sport commitment.”1 Ballerinas often make their identity about just ballet which Willard and Lavallee state makes it harder for them to adapt and when they retire, they feel as if they had lost something irreplaceable.1 Willard and Lavallee further support my point that this feeling that retiring dancers have is very likely due to the result that they have made ballet their god and once they cannot ’worship’ their god anymore, their life feels meaningless and hopeless. Willard and Lavallee have also observed this same notion that retiring dancers have severe identity crises when they retire due to the fact that many dancers have developed their identities exclusively on ballet.1

The symbolism of the blossom and cherry is to show how as gracious as we are, we all fall down and all that is left of us is our flesh and bones, for the cherry it is the red fruity part and the pit. One thing that people seem to forget is that we are ultimately all people and specifically in the ballet world, we may try to act like something we are not. But we are human. We can work on how we feel, think or act, but at the end of the day, as a Christian would say, we are all sinners. This is a key idea to remember when looking at who is the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ character in Maybe June. We will see Renee as obviously, better; however she is not pure, and it can be seen that she may have done some wrongdoings on her part such as not reaching out to Kate as a true friend and intentionally or unintentionally ignoring her. Renee was Kate’s friend which means she should have stayed in touch with her but with Renee being so focused on ballet, she may have forgotten about Kate which may have only aided in Kate’s downwards spiral since her support system was not helping her.  

This short story brings up a taboo subject that is not just address in the ballet community, but in my experience in life in general. We as people always try to paint ourselves better than we are or we try to act like we could never do any harm. I believe we can all do harm since we do have free will. It is just a matter or using this freedom of choice to still make moral decisions since if you are forced to be moral, I then question if it is then even good anymore. A forced morality is abiding to moral rules with no higher or logical understanding, just following what is conventionally right. If people just follow something but do not understand why it is good, they then can ultimately not understand the goodness of their actions and may betray the forced morality since no transcendental or logical argument helps people understand why some good actions are good. Ultimately, Kate may have just needed true love from a friend, family or even stranger to help her deal with her internal issues since any recovery or support for a person does not come from just one person but from a community. Learning and understanding how to love and care about others and not just about our own desires and wants would have helped Kate and Renee in this story, but I think it would help every person in their life. As a Christian, there is a core understanding if how our life by itself and our wants do not matter if the people around us are not loved and taken care. We must learn to not just feed into our own egos but to love others, care for each other and perhaps have fun times like Katerina and Renee had at the beginning of Maybe


  1. Willard, V.C. & Lavallee, D. (2016). Retirement experiences of elite ballet dancers: Impact of self-identity and social support. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5(3), 266–279.
  2. Loch, S. (2013). Seeing futures in ballet: The storylines of four student ballet dancers. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36(1), 53–68.

Security vs. Free Will in Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report

by Nora Rivera-Larkin, October 26, 2021

This is an analysis of Philip K. Dick’s short story, ‘Minority Report’.

The age-old conflict of what is more valuable to a society: security or free will. In the futuristic society of the Minority Report, crimes are stopped before they begin, with a triad of machines called “precogs” predicting crimes and forming majority and minority reports based on the possible timelines and likelihood of the crime being committed. This allows the police force to put the would-be offender in a detention camp before they can commit the crime. The idea of stopping crime before it happens is idyllic and a tactic highly sought after in government and military forces. But it presents a moral ambiguity about the true guiltiness of the supposed criminal and raises the question of whether this regimented oversight is simply an abuse of power.

The idea of Precrime, the police agency that deals with stopping crimes before they happen, presents an interesting moral conflict to the reader, regarding whether or not someone is guilty of a crime they did not yet commit and how far the prosecution should go based on suspicion. In today’s society, planning out a crime or thinking about a crime is not illegal until you act in some way on the thought. But Precrime takes the calculations and predictions of machines as a guilty verdict and punishes people before they even do something wrong. This system eradicates the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” and does not even inform the person of their supposed crime beforehand, denying them the ability to even go against their predicted future and make a different choice. Even John Anderton, the head of Precrime, admits, “We claim they’re culpable. They, on the other hand, eternally claim they’re innocent. And, in a sense, they are innocent,” (Dick, 229). This system lends to the idea of a heavily controlled military state, where even supposed dissent is met with a sudden end, no matter your true innocence.

Along with the debate of suspicion of crime vs. actual crime comes the issue of abuse of power. The police, and certain army officials, are presumably the only people with definitive access or use of this technology. This raises the issue of malpractice and misuse by these people. Giving a government force complete access and power over a citizenship that has an overall blind belief — but no actual access to a technology that could imprison any one of them — is a life of fear and control, and an example of informational inequality at the expense of the people. The idea of abuse of power is further developed when Anderton is able to evade law enforcement and his supposed rightful fate in a detention center due to a prediction that he will murder someone. He has the ability to deny that the murder is in his future, and the ability to believe he is being set up, because of his powerful influence and access to the technology, a liberty that was not afforded to any of the people who had been detained prior. He directly represents the privilege of the government and of individuals with overwhelming power: the ability to question his own future and the ability to make a choice of who he wants to be and what he wants to do in his life, something not afforded to other citizens.

Precrime deprives the would-be criminals of their free will and of their choice in a criminal action. People are criminalized for something they have not yet done and are not given the true information on the system that puts them in a detention camp. The society is kept safe, by keeping its population in check with the elimination of free will and cognitive liberty. Precrime provides them with a safer community, but at what cost?

Works Cited

Dick, Philip K. “The Minority Report.” Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Pantheon Books, New York, NY, 2002, pp. 227–264.