The Shiva

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Shiva is an advocate for all natural, non-genetically grown products. She is an independent and intelligent woman who freely speaks her mind.
I was often amused during the article, especially after she was asked a question. I feel like she was a very spunky woman.
Genetically engineered plants are becoming more popular in the farming community (and also more expensive) because most are thought to grow more quickly (though there is nothing to suggest they grow any faster than regularly grown crops) and with the use of less pesticides. The seeds are incorporated with chemicals that are ‘needed’ to fend off harmful pests; however, these chemicals are in all the products we eat. Whether we are directly consuming the seed that has these harsh chemicals or if we’re getting them through the meat we eat (cattle, chickens and etc.), we are still consuming these products (which have been connected to environmental causes of cancer).
One topic that she also brought up was the concept that we have enough food in the world and yet so many people are starving every day. How is it possible to have enough food in the world and yet not every mouth is being fed? The answer is simple: distribution. If the food isn’t being evenly distributed, it doesn’t matter if we have an over abundance of food. Every year, I participate in the 30-hour famine. One country we specifically focus on is Africa. What’s different about the foundation we go through is that they create sustainable food networks instead of simply shipping food over to these countries. One major problem faced by these countries isn’t just a lack of food, it’s also unclean water that they aren’t able to drink (which is another point Shiva touches briefly on in the beginning).


What specifically does Shiva mean “the death of birth” during this interview then?  I believe she’s referring to the death of naturally grown products and the rebirth of genetically altered seeds. Not only is the detrimental to our health and well-being, it is also advancing big corporations and creating more and more monopolies. What happens when monopolies are created? These corporations are able to raise prices on their goods. When prices are raised on goods, the people who NEED to purchase them are no longer able to. Not only that, but as more chemicals are added to these seeds, more ‘super bugs’ are created.
Shiva firmly believes, though, that there is hope in our futures. She says that ‘the system will crack’ eventually. First diseases will outbreak and when people start to die, the community will become suspicious and want to know exactly where their product is coming from. Secondly, especially in America, we like power and control; monopolies don’t allow this. And lastly, Shiva believes that by taking small, baby steps towards change, we can eventually sway the world. In the end, it is up to us to move away from this notion that genetically engineered farming is the way to go.

Affordable Care Act

Today I attended a field trip in Second Life. It was presentation on the Affordable Care Act and the affects it has on persons’ with disabilities. The presentation was given by Jayme Nelson (or as known in SL as Jayme Xaris). The field trip was very enlightening, as I did not know anything about this ‘new’ idea of our health care system. Not only was the information enlightening, I was delighted to hear stories of individuals who are disabled and were actually facing problems with insurance companies not paying out; some even talked about how they had to file for bankruptcy because their insurance companies ‘cut them off’.

Being a nineteen year old, I am still covered under my mother’s insurance (and she thankfully has amazing coverage). According to this Affordable care act, I can choose to be insured under my mother until I’m 26 years of age. It’s scary to think how I’ll end up once I’m not insured, but it’s honestly something I’ve never sat down and thought about.

On February 16th, just this past weekend, acceptance for this program across the states was suspended, although they’ll still be accepting applications for the rest of the month. The main intent of the Affordable care act, as stated by Jayme is:

  1. expand access to insurance,
  2. increase consumer protections,
  3. emphasize health care prevention and wellness,
  4. improve the quality and performance of the health care system,
  5. expand the health care workforce (necessary given the expanded access),
  6. and curb rising health care costs.

and it has ten essential benefits:

  1. dental and vision care for children,
  2. mental health services
  3. rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  4. other critical disability services (like they support someone, often with a developmental disability. (often like social skills: ie. Developmental disabilities))

Not only will these factors be provided in the ACA, but consumers will also have more protections. The most important I found from the presentation would probably have to be the prohibition of rescission. A rescission is “when your insurance coverage was retroactively cancelled when you developed an expensive health condition.” (Jayme, 2013). These health conditions can range from anything from a transplant to cancer. Many women spoke up here about how some lost their houses, cars and couldn’t feed their children because they were denied insurance when they developed ‘expensive illnesses’. Many had to file for bankruptcy.

While the ACA seems like a fantastic idea, there are negative outcomes from this situation which include no longer giving funding for wheelchairs (to be bought; funding will still be provided for wheelchair rentals). Also, states may decide to institute the ACA. However, if they refuse to set up a system, it’ll be handed over to the feds.

I am so happy I went to this discussion. It was so enlightening and heartbreaking to hear these stories from these women. Persons’ with disabilities are the most affected by insurance companies not wanting to pay out and I fully believe the ACA may be the direction America should head in. 

 

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White Power

In “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, Peggy McIntosh states something that I feel is very true for many of us; “I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.”. Even until today, when I read this, I didn’t think of myself as racist. It’s true, I wouldn’t consider myself superior or racist, but then maybe I’d jump to the conclusion that ‘it’s not my fault I was born white’.

 

Today, after taking the ‘Sorting People’ quiz on a PBS website, I discovered that I also determined race on how someone looked. I am very aware that the color of one’s skin, or perhaps the shape of their eyes, does not determine what your race is and yet still find myself making that assumption. When a person has slanted eyes, I automatically assume they are Asian. If they have black/brown skin, I am going to assume they are African American.

Why do we do this? Why does our culture teach us to do these things? It’s as if we’re conforming to the consensus our world has made for us.

I found this ‘white privilege’ topic that McIntosh brought up to be quite intriguing. When I think about racism, I think about being cruel to someone for the way they look, the person that they are. I’ve never considered having advantages over someone else because I’m white to be racist. Even when she makes the point “I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust”. How often are black people followed around in stores, or better yet how often were you told to avoid them because they’re ‘dangerous’. I know I have (in the past) felt in comfortable in a room, alone, with a black man; more uncomfortable than I would’ve felt had I been in a room with a white man.

This saddens me greatly. Why did my parents raise me that way? Why did their parents raise them that way? It drives me insane that I might never know the answer to these questions. Can I change myself? Of course I can. Can I change the world? Maybe not, but I hope I can inspire a few people and that those people can inspire a more. Racism is just as bad, if not worse than the oppression women face every day. A black woman is more oppressed than a black man; like Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream” for equality.

 

I’d Love You Anyways

“The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female.” (Intersex Society of North America)

I am familiar with the ISNA due to taking a Women’s Gender Sexuality Studies course prior to this; it was WGSS in Popular Culture. A huge topic we hit on was the LGTB community as well as the intersex society. It was a complex topic to talk about because how does a parent justify ‘making’ their baby one sex over the other? Do they justify this by saying, “well I always want a boy” or “a girl would be nice”. It was also evident when I studied this topic that, more often than not, whatever sex the parent chose, the child would end up feeling as if it were the other sex. While this isn’t always true, it seemed to be quite evident. (I cannot remember what video I watched citing this).

 

This all leads to the question I intend to answer. What would I do if my child was born intersex?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. I think it’s unfair to determine what sex my child should be but I also think it’s unfair to make them lead a life of confusion until they can figure it all out on their own. Children are cruel and I know it’s not something I’d want me child to have to face every day at school and in society. I also don’t know how I would go about telling my child. What if they never noticed anything ‘different’ about themselves and spent a happy life in the body they had? Would telling them disrupt their happiness? What if they were confused, I told them the truth and that brought even more confusion. Or worst yet, what if I tell them when they’re old enough to understand and they grow up resenting me because I made the ‘wrong’ decision?

These are the things that would constantly be going through my head. Will it make me a bad parent? I like that the ISNA points out “care should be more focused on addressing stigma not solely gender assignment and genital appearance.” In other words, it is MORE important to be concerned over the psychological well-being of an individual than it is to be concerned over the genitalia they have. I think it’s so important to remember that regardless of your sex, it does not determine your foundation as a human being and that gender is individualized not mandatory.  Society dictates too much of what we think and this makes me question my own motives. Am I embarrassed that my child is intersex or am I trying to protect them from embarrassment? In reality, I should realize there shouldn’t be any type of embarrassment involved with this situation, that my child is a PERSON, not a scientific experiment.

The ISNA is taking steps towards the awareness of these individuals and shining light on the crucial decisions they may have to make and the terrific circumstances they will have to overcome. 

A Free Flow Nation

Gender planning isn’t something most people think about on a daily basis. Being a woman, I have to purchase feminine products like tampons, pads, razors, perfume and makeup on a regular basis; did I mention things like gynecology appointments and birth control methods?. While men have to buy razors and deodorant, it is socially acceptable for men not to shave or wear cologne. The article “This is How much It Costs To Own A Vagina: An Itemized List” but Jezebel it’s quite informative.

On average a woman is spending approximately $2663.02 on feminine products and services each year. (Jezebel, 2012) That number is absolutely outrageous. Men do not suffer things like urinary tract infections or cramping quite as often as women do. I certainly never realized just how much money I spent on ‘taking care of myself’ until after I moved away from home and had to start supporting myself. This fact raises another issue. Not only did my mother have to provide this care for herself, she also had to provide it for my sister and me. Being a female also, by society’s standards, makes you responsible for your children. Even when I moved out of my mom’s house at a very young age, she still bought me these items, as it made my father feel ‘uncomfortable’.

The uncomfortable feeling my father faced brings me to another interesting topic. Men very continuously avoid conversations about periods, PMS and even birth control. Why is it that something that’s so evident in women’s lives makes men feel so uncomfortable? Now not only do women have to pay more to take care of themselves, they also have to be private about it because it’s inconsiderate and rude to speak of. I am still in shock with how much women are paying per year for products we need. Like Jezebel says “Could you imagine if we just free-flowed? The entire world would look like a murder scene.” (Jezebel, 2012); now that’s one nasty thought.

Being a woman, I know these issues we face are quite real and quite evident in society. Not only am I responsible for paying for my feminine products like pads, deodorant and razors, but I am also responsible for my gyno appointments and purchasing birth control. If I become pregnant, while it is nice to think the man responsible would be of assistance, it remains a fact that it is my duty to take care of the baby (or even if I decide not to keep it, I would have to go in for an abortion or file adoption procedures). Now not only am I responsible for paying for all my necessities, I have a child. Sheryl Sandberg says in her TED speaking, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”, a woman living with a man does twice the amount of house work and three times the amount of child-care than that man. (Sandberg, 2010) Those numbers are ridiculous and eye-opening. Even though society is promoting equality, I feel there are some things we’ll never escape as women.

I’ll include one of the infamous pictures that has been floating around instagram and twitter lately. OH how true I know most of us wish it was!

The Ambitious Alice

Alice Paul is one of the most influential and determined woman I have ever encountered in history. She had a voice that made people want to listen; she could lead a crowd into a burning forest and they’d follow. During the suffrage movement, Alice Paul was the head honcho, so to speak. She made sure everything went smoothly and planned events and fundraising opportunities. At first, the women she worked side-by-side with would not allow her to stand on a picket line because they feared if her power was cut off the women’s suffrage would end.

But boy, were they wrong. Alice kick started a national phenomenon. Not only did these women face discriminations, they were harassed and beaten, and yet they still stood strong. Many were arrested on ridiculous charges and most were not supported by members of their society. Alice started a revolution among women.

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First, Alice starts her journey in America by organizing a ‘parade’ on the day President Wilson was supposed to make an appearance in Washington. Though the women were attacked, brutalized and undefended, they held their heads high and continued in their fight. The Women’s Suffrage Movement was quickly gaining publicity by stunts such as making posts outside the White House and picketing from dawn until dusk every single day, rain or shine. However, at the start of World War II, these women were faced with even more criticisms and brutalities.

Alice was on the side-line for the beginning of these atrocities, because there was fear that she would be arrested and the movement would be put to a halt. However, she was arrested and through a hunger-strike and determination she was able to draw the attention back to the movement. The country began to sympathize with women; not only were women who fought for this movement recognized, but also the women that had to step up into a man’s role because of the war. We live in a world filled with disappointments and abuses, but individuals like Alice Paul make the world worth fighting for. As stated in Iron Jawed Angels, “this is for our daughters”. In retrospect ‘this is for our future’.

I think it is so important to bring attention to these women today, regardless of how small or pivotal their roles were. It takes one voice, one leader, one person with determination to sway a nation. Yes, the struggles were atrocious, yes the fight was long and hard, but non-the-less successful. If we had more people that were as proactive as Alice Paul, don’t you think women’s equality would be much further than it is? I am not saying we don’t have people in this world that support feminism, who believe we are humans and not objects, but such a movement has not remotely touched what these Suffragists’ faced. Not even close. I hope to one day be as marvelous and determined as Alice Paul.

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The Fires that Shook the World

The Fires that Shook the World

The two stories, one taking place in New York City and the other in Bangladesh, took the lives of innocent people. In the two tragedies, a total of about 270 individual’s lives were taken. Underpaid, overworked and mostly young individuals had their lives taken from them (specifically in the New York fire). The Triangle West Company and Bangladesh’s Garment industry both provided compensations to the families who lost a member due to this incident, and yet both claim that the workers were not placed in unsafe conditions.
Why, then, provide compensations? It could not have been out of the kindness of their hearts. Only guilt can do such things. In New York, there was only one escape route because the owners kept one of the elevators off and the doors locked so no woman could steal. In fact one of the survivors testifies in court and says ” In my testimony I stated that if the front elevator had also been in use and if the front door had been open, there would not have been so many victims.” (Mary Domsky-Abrams). Out of the several accounts I read, Mary (a survivor) stuck out to me and also Rose Cohen. Rose provided my insight with how overworked children were during this time. She was a tough girl who didn’t want to lose her job even though she was being worked to the bone. Mary, however, was my favorite.
She explains how she participated in the workers strike that had happened not too long before the fire had broken out. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to ‘the man’ so-to-speak and I admired her. I further admire her for how she stood up in court and told the world about the poor conditions of the factory, even as she was being called a liar to her face. I think the New York article was much more thorough, and unashamed. There is an entire website dedicated to these individuals who died and even those who survived the fire, honoring their lives. On the other hand, the article on the Bangladesh fire is very closed off. It doesn’t provide any kind of insight into the lives of the individuals who lost their life, nor does it give too much detail other than the factory was unsafe.
Mary states “The Triangle victims were martyrs in the fight for social justice, and the labor movement will always remember them as those who, with their young lives, paved the way for a better world with a more just society, a world free from exploitation, in which equal rights for all will be respected.”. I don’t think anything else could’ve ended her testimony better. It took a tragedy to do something like making sure the water buckets were filled at all times or to make sure there are more fire escapes like in Bangladesh. In our feminist movement, it may take a tragedy to change this world; unfortunately most things happen this way. The Bangladesh workers were very underpaid, very overworked, and poorly treated. After the strike at the Triangle factory, it seems working conditions had gotten better but they still don’t compare to the rules and regulations of today. What will it take for this world to change? I certainly hope another 146 individuals don’t have to die in order to start a movement towards equality.

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Health Care Madness

Health Care Madness

A women argues that she’d rather pay more for her insurance than pay for health insurance that would help provide the poor with insurance as well. According to Lakoff, this woman would be considered a conservative; someone who doesn’t support funding for the needy because it makes them independent on the system. The article says that liberals help “people in need when they support social welfare programs that make people dependent on the government and limit their initiative”. I believe the women refused to pay for the health insurance that would save her money based on the value of the “cost”. I too struggle with understanding of how I can work myself to death at my job full-time, attend college full-time, pay my own rent, utilities, car payment, insurance and etcetera while someone who refuses to work and has five illegitimate children gets the large portion of my tax money that is removed from each of my paychecks. It seems selfish from one human to another to deny someone health insurance, although it would save YOU money, but on the principal of things, it’s difficult to set aside one’s pride and consider that this could save someone’s life. The article also goes on to say how although many individuals consider themselves either a Liberal or a Conservative, we don’t live and breathe our political stand-points constantly. To further explain, I do agree with this woman, in this context. I don’t feel I should have to give my hard-earned money to help someone who lives on welfare. However, if presented with someone, someone like my parents who struggled when I was first born and used programs such as WIC, I wouldn’t be as readily aggressive against changing my health insurance to benefit the poor. Not all poor people are on welfare, some just can’t afford health insurance. I feel in order to change the way someone feels about something, the context of the situation matters. Just as Lakoff states, “Words don’t have meanings in isolation. Words are defined relative to a conceptual system.”; this means that liberals along with conservatives twists words and situations to promote the point they’re trying to get across. If the woman had instead been told, “Will you switch your health insurance to save Joe Smith’s life? He works three jobs, his wife passed away and he has two young children, but no health insurance for either of them”, I feel she would have been much more willing to support such a cause. I do, however, agree that health insurance needs to become more affordable so people like myself, and this lady, are not overwhelmed by a decision to give our money to complete strangers who we may feel don’t deserve it.
Citings provided by:
https://carmen.osu.edu/d2l/lms/content/viewer/view.d2l?tId=5291464&ou=
Moral Politics
George Lakoff