Extra Credit Field Trip Afghanistan

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Above is my Avatar venturing through the virtual Afghanistan museum.

 

     I ventured to Second Life’s virtual Afghanistan.  I decided to stray away from an American setting and try out my “virtual foreign travel” comfort zone, by expanding my experiences.  I learned about Afghanistan’s culture and its unique features during my visit in the museum.  Three native animals include the Marco Polo Sheep, the Himalayan Brown Bear and the Siberian Ibex.  Afghanistan has such a wide variety of animals and I was surprised to see even snow leopards and lizards!  I ventured upstairs to a balcony-like area, and perused the menu.  I clicked on the yellow button and a large cloth, called a disterkhan” appeared, establishing the eating area on the ground to the left of my feet.  The nana (whole wheat bread with sesame seeds) or the kebabs (lamb cuts spiced with salt) sounded pretty appetizing!  I visited the musical instrument part of the museum and learned about the saunter, a three octave dulcimer, as well as the tambur, which is a wooden lute-like instrument.

     I discovered the Nuristani people, a group living in the east corner of Afghanistan accessible mostly by foot.  Despite my expectations, the Nuristani people are known for blonde hair and blue eyes.  This puzzled me a bit due to my natural instincts to lean towards a Middle-Eastern looking individual.  The Nuristani are herders and farmers, as well as loggers and miners.  Another cultural fact I learned was that the burqa or burka was not introduced by the Taliban, but merely enforced by them.  The burqa was a pre-Islamic cap, veil and mesh face covering.  In addition to the burka, most Afghan women also wear a long colorful dress, baggy trousers, and footwear.  The entire outfit is called a kale Afghani.

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Above is my Avatar exploring the RAWA exhibit.

 

     The RAWA exhibit enlightened me with a whole new perspective about war and its effects on not only the government and soldiers, but also the innocent civilians.  According to their website, RAWA is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women’s rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan since 1977 (RAWA, 2013).  RAWA pushes to provide lasting educational and social work for the women and children of the currently destroyed Afghanistan.  I was uncomfortable from the get go with the exhibit, but it felt like I positively benefitted from the information I learned.

     From a historical standpoint, the Afghanistan War has been going on for over a decade (Gannon, 2011).  The war has taken a tool on the people of Afghanistan.  An entire generation of children have grown up amidst daily bombings and the sights of military personnel in full combat gear.  Despite the fact that schools have been improved and reopened due to the United Nations’ organizational efforts, Afghanistan’s future looks grim and many citizens are losing hope.

     The women of Afghanistan have also been severely affected by the war, especially in terms of violence.  Women and children are joining efforts with the Afghan Women’s Mission to spread the word the the war should end in order to prevent further bloodshed of innocent lives and to also decrease abuse between the soldiers and men of Afghanistan and the innocent civilian women (Linkins, 2010).  Many women are afraid to voice their negativity towards the war and its effect on their lives, mainly due to Taliban fear and retaliation.

     An anti-American component of the exhibit is the mural of the man or woman (I cannot tell) shouting in a speech bubble “neither the US nor Jihadis nor the Taliban, long live the struggle of independent and democratic forces of Afghanistan.”  From what I saw on the news the past 5 to 10 years, our American forces helped stabilize the country of Afghanistan, we are keeping the Taliban out of the country and we are improving the education of the citizens.  Maybe this individual has experienced a extremely negative series of events to cause them to not want American help.  I do not know the context, but that is my opinion from face value.

 

 

 

Text Sources:

Gannon, K. (2011, October 5). 10 years on and life grim for afghans read more: http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2011/10/05/10-years-on-and-life-grim-for-afghans.html?

 

Linkins, J. (2010, July 30). Is the war in afghanistan good for women?. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/30/is-the-war-in-afghanistan_n_665044.html

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). (2013). About rawa. Retrieved from http://www.rawa.org/index.php

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Looking Back…

     Throughout this semester, I enjoyed blogging about various topics.  From poverty to corporate women to environmental racism to contraception, my perspective of our world’s social issues in relationship to the theme of feminism has changed drastically.  Initially, I thought feminism was a movement by women that started in the early suffrage days and continued today as “old women that cannot let an issue die.”  Well boy was I wrong.  I have learned that feminists have influenced government policy, led civil movements, and fought for freedoms for individuals other than themselves.

     This course has intrigued my interest in gender studies and how women and men’s opinionated differences have affected America historically.  So, I have decided to enroll in WGSST 2367.01.  This course will expand my views of American women and how they have influenced our gender and sexuality studies in the twenty-first century.

     One of my favorite posts was when I took on the view of a woman running from domestic violence (https://thesouthernbelle17.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-costs-of-running-from-domestic-violence/).  While writing the blog, I got chills in my spine imagining the fear and panic I would experience financially and emotionally if I were the woman in the scenario I created.

     The post about racism beyond our real world and how it extends into the virtual world shocked me.  I was surprised that people are just as harsh in the real world, and if not harsher in the virtual world.  Perhaps it’s the lack of interface and distance provided by technology through the computer screen.  Less emotions might be associated with internet communication due to not knowing people closely when communicating in virtual world settings.

     Throughout the semester, I enjoyed reading benredskin7’s bold posts (http://benredskin7.wordpress.com/).  He offered a similar perspective to mine on various topics, but also had slight differences of opinion (few and far between).  Shockingly enough, he tested the waters of virtual birthing world in SecondLife.  I chuckled at the thought of a guy manipulating his Avatar into birthing positions, but the overall concept was highly educational, and actually intrigued my interest.  So, I plan to experience the virtual birthing center as well this week.

 

     Well, that’s all for me this semester.  See yah WGSST 1110!

Girl Power: United and Strong

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Girl Power is a program through Girl Scouts in which individuals learn about important female’s contributions to America in various fields, such as sports, sciences, and arts (Custom Content, 2013).

 

     Project Girl was founded by Ashley Marianaccio and Elizabeth Koke in 2008, almost as a side-product, of their works for the Estrogenous Festival, an event that celebrates women’s contribution to theater and arts.  The two expanded their idea into a program that allows girls of all ages to submit their own creative artwork.  Some girls wrote from the perspective of a woman enduring the horrors of human trafficking, others  created songs or raps about what it means to be a strong girl in society.

     Their website (http://www.projectgirlperformancecollective.org/) includes links to programs, productions and other educational resources developed by the Project Girl organization.  One show that intrigued me was “Trafficked,” which was described to be a drama that tells the story of 15 women’s perspective on human trafficking.  I worked a benefit dinner for a local human trafficking prevention organization back home when I was in high school, and have become a supporter to ending this horrible industry ever since.  If I have the opportunity, I would love to see the performance in New York.  Another educational opportunity Project Girls provides is called “Girl Be Heard,” which was highlighted in the video I watched.  The curriculum in the program supports and shows girls how to be artistically creative while expressing their ideas about gender, race and class issues via mediums of theater and performance.

     My favorite quote from the short three-minute video was towards the end where a girl simply stated “I want to give a voice to the girls who do not have one.”  That is such a powerful statement that can be applied to many issues beyond the realm of feminism.  Free expression through our country’s first amendment has granted unknown freedoms to thousands of individuals who have no voice, through the works of others.  Liberators speak on the corners of streets and pass out flyers, hoping that one influential person will support them, maybe causing others to follow, and thus creating a movement with lasting impacts.

     This movement reminded me of a Girl Scout program/patch that I attended and completed as a teenager called “Girl Power” (hence, my title).  The program promoted girls to show their independence, creativity and passion through jewelry, music or writing.  The concept was the same promoted by Project Girl.  Girls of all ages, even women, should know that their voice deserves to be heard, even if the world seems to ignore them.

 

Photo Source: Custom Content. (2013). Featured content. Retrieved from http://www.timeincnewsgroupcustompub.com/

Workhorse Women

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Women can be equally successful in the corporate world as men can….can’t they?(Halmi, 2013)

 

     “The Corporation,” a documentary covering the development and animalistic characteristics of today’s corporations, enlightened my perspective of the role gender takes in the business world.

      Women are immediately at a disadvantage in the business world, hands down, no arguments here.  When one thinks of the words “CEO” or “corporate executive” or “administrator,” they think of a strong, Clark Kent or George Clooney -esque male donning a Men’s Warehouse suit with a different tie each day, followed by his short, blonde, attractive FEMALE personal assistant.  Those words have  sharp sound, a masculine connotation associated with them.  In history, women have always gained their rights more oftentimes after men or at the same time, but NEVER before.  Hence, the history of executives and their corporations that date back to the mid to late 1800’s justifies a woman’s immediate advantage in the corporate world.

      Women have been viewed as cookie cutter housewives that raise children and keep the house running, but this perspective is changing quickly in twenty-first century corporate America.  Companies such as Avon, Ann Taylor, PepsiCo and DuPont (shocker there) are all led by mothers (Working Mother, 2013).  Corporate women, especially mothers, balance busy lives by taking on what are generally assumed to be the typical male’s duties, which include commuting to and from work, being the breadwinners of the family, and wearing business-like attire.  I come from a family where my dad worked and my mom stayed at home keeping the family in one piece.  When my mom went back to work as a part-time teacher, it was a bit of a fashion adjustment to see her in business-looking professional wear and heels.  Never in my 19 years had she looked like that!  Typically it was what I call “Soccer Mom” attire: tennis shoes, a sporty t-shirt, exercise pants or shorts, a natural makeup look, and her hair in a short pony tail.  Talk a bout a transition from that to hosiery, heels, styled hair, jewelry, makeup, and business jackets!

      Men, on the other hand, clearly have an advantage in the corporate world, and I noticed this in the first eight to ten minutes of the documentary.  Nearly every individual that commented (minus the narrator) or was interviewed was male.  Every CEO from the “early days of business” was a male!  Again, back to women having voting rights and what not, men dominated the national government, local public office as well as every other profession field, maybe except for midwifery.  Every man’s natural tendency is to become defensive and puff his chest a bit when competition intrudes.  This behavior clearly put early business women at a disadvantage, especially agains the army of corporate men that dominated the American economy.

     Since the gender switches of the World Wars, women have shoved both feet into the American economy and greatly impacted American businesses in a positive manner.  Strong, independent, yet still family-oriented female CEO’s provide role models for aspiring women who feel inferior to men in the business world.  Grab your suit and tie ladies…it’s time to go to work!

 

  

 

Video Source:  “The Corporation”, via Ohio State’s Secured Media Library website

Photo Source:   Halmi, K. (2013). How women succeed in corporate america. Retrieved from http://excelle.monster.com/benefits/articles/1118-how-women-succeed-in-corporate-america

 

Text Source: Working Mother. (2013). Most powerful moms: America’s ceos. Retrieved from http://www.workingmother.com/most-powerful-moms/most-powerful-moms-americas-ceos

We Have Sweatshops In America???

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     Above is a picture of a sweatshop in Asia, depicting the cramped and sardine-like work conditions the minimum wage employees endure for exhausting hours each day (Ebersole, 2012).

 

     In March of 2012, New York fashion icon Alexander Wang, a lead designer in women’s apparel and accessories in America and Europe, was dealt a staggering accusation: Wenyu Lu, a worker in his clothing factory, stated that he worked over 25 hours in a windowless and poorly ventilated room sewing clothes for the fashion icon (Kay, 2012).  Lu was not the only employee to file a law suit against Wang, he was just the start of a movement of several other sweatshop workers that collaborated and took a stand against mistreatment of employees.  This is just one example of many scenarios in the United States fashion industry that often go unnoticed or ignored by the media.  Imagine if the world publicized information about the great country of the United States having sweat shops support our fashion icons’ industry?

     Like the article states, people automatically associate clothing tags that state “Made in USA” with prestige and human rights, in terms of the employer and employee relationship.  Sweatshops associate a connotation of negativity, poverty, inhumanness and malnutrition with countries that are known to have them.  I think of filthy working conditions, sweaty people, a haze of foggy air over the work space and little to no food or water.  Sounds like the perfect office space right? NOT!

     Consumers today have a choice to make.  They can voice their opinion about sweatshop production in the twenty-first century as something illegal and immoral.  Also, like my aunt actively does, consumers can refuse to purchase goods from countries and companies that do not respect their workers.  Specifically, my aunt refuses to purchase any item that states “Made In China” simply because they are notorious for supporting large companies needing locations for sweatshops and mass manual labor.  This is her way of actively protesting this form of industry.  If many people did the same, it could have an effect on the economic views of countries when it comes to human rights and labor, but it would take thousands of people standing up for what is right.

     Overall, sweatshops seem to be hidden in the dark secrets of the global fashion industry, but need to have light shed on them.  The more people become aware of injustice, the quicker they react (for example, the customers of LuluLemon becoming outrageously upset over their “see through” yoga pants and demanding a recall and refund).  Although it only takes one person to spark a revolution, shoppers can create a storm of justice to take down big companies and countries supporting sweatshops.

 

 

Text Source:

Kay, T. (2012, March 12). Ethical style: There are still sweatshops in america. Retrieved from http://www.good.is/posts/ethical-style-there-are-still-sweatshops-in-america

 

Photo Source:

Ebersole, P. (2012, March 12). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://philebersole.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/the-debate-over-asian-sweatshops/

The Death of Birth, According to Vandana Shiva

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     Biotechnology and its application to agriculture is the beginning of the “death of birth.”  However, this scientific application to the most basic fundamentals of survival could be our key to the food future (Strickland, 2013).

 

     Vandana Shiva, states that “the death of birth” is similar to a term called “thanotechnology,” which involves undermining farmer technology and cheating the agricultural system by producing seeds that cannot reproduce on their own and require repurchasing before each growing season (Barsamian, 2002).  She argues that the farmers, through this demoralizing process, lose their identity, socially, culturally and economically as producers.  She says that the farmer now consumes the costly seed and chemicals produced by the powerful companies, instead of traditional agricultural methods where farmers dominate seed production and sale.

     Similar to seeds leading to the birth of death, biotechnology and the “Green Revolution,” two movements exalted to agriculture, are contributing to farmers having less and less power over their role in the economy.  Our society’s birth has been at the root of agriculture, that is what our ancestors relied upon.  It is a way of life that has driven our success for centuries.  The death of this movement is changing the way we live, especially our perspective on how agriculture can be changed for the future.  Biotechnology can increase our genetic success at producing foods that are have higher protein or fiber content, decrease the chance of insects affecting production, and significantly increase our production amounts.

      Besides the benefits of of biotechnology, the negatives of new agricultural genetics must also be considered.  Some crops are genetically altered to contain a pesticide alternative called Bt, which once implanted, is produced from that point on in every cell of the plant.  Although initially effective, Bt seeped into the ground and ecosystems.  Eventually, the very pest that Bt was supposed to deter, earthworms, developed significant resistance to the original solution.  So, this issue is another factor scientists must consider, because as the genetic creations become more advanced, the life they affect becomes “smarter” and adapts in more extreme ways.

     Personally, I value the benefits of genetic crops, crop cycling and other various scientific methods that have ben applied to agriculture for the world’s benefit.  Without preservatives, we wouldn’t be able to consume half of the foods we eat today.  So, as a whole, we can thank scientists for their brilliant work, but also remind ourselves of the dangers of messing with the power of Mother Nature.

 

Text Source:

Barsamian, D. (2002). Monocultures of the mind, and interview with vandana shiva . Retrieved from https://carmen.osu.edu/content/1132/WGSST/1110/wgsst_1110_sp2013_19643/readings/shiva.htm?_&d2lSessionVal=FlSwoYOmyQLZehnFhRb3ufuUI

 

Photo Source:

Strickland, J. (2013). How stuff works. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/genetic/agricultural-biotechnology.htm