Aside

Blog 8 Week 12 Lecture 23

 

I chose to respond to the video on genetically engineered crops for my blog today. My major is Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, so this is a topic I have been educated about, and I feel strongly connected to the issues.

 

I think it is important to know the difference between ‘genetically engineered food’ and ‘monocultures.’ A monoculture is a singular form of food lacking genetic diversity that may be a consequence of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is any form of altering food, like DNA modification and even includes natural or artificial selection. One of my favorite scientists, Neil deGrasse Tyson, said it best:

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Taken from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s twitter account

 

Monocultures can be a dangerous thing, because with no genetic diversity, species are more vulnerable. For example, if a potent string of bacteria wiped out all red apples, we would still have green apples left. But, if all apples were red, the bacteria would eliminate them all, and we would have none left. Another example is the banana. The common banana that weall know and love is a species called the Cavendish, and is expected to become extinct within my generation’s lifetime. Originally, bananas were full of little brown seeds. People who consume bananas enjoyed the seedless ones more, so bananas were engineered to have less and less seeds. Now, bananas have no seeds, and this makes them impossible to reproduce naturally. In fact, all the bananas that we consume today are clones of a previous Cavendish banana.

 

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Banana with seeds

 

Genetic engineering, however, can be a very useful and good thing. For example, my dad is a Food and Agricultural scientist, and one of his projects was adding nutrients to rice. Rice is a very important crop, and for some rural Asian countries, it is the main staple of their diet. Creating a better form of rice with vital nutrients would help these poorer Asian cultures to be healthier.

 

I’m sure we’ve all seen the asterisk warning next to protein items in restaurants, warning that products not fully cooked could be dangerous. Another one of my dad’s projects was eliminating this fear of undercooked eggs by injecting them with ozone. The ozone reacted with the egg in a way that eliminated harmful bacteria, and made the food safer.

 

I think the real problem of this issue is the consumer. Monocultures arise because we demand them. The produce that arrives in grocery stores are only the ones that look nice, and are the certain size and shape that we accept and choose to buy. Many crops are altered to fit this standard, otherwise farmers and food producers just won’t be able to sell their crops and make a living. I think we need to be more open to different varieties of fruits and vegetables, and remember that just because it may have spots or look weird, it will still taste good!

 

Week 11 Blog 7 Lecture 21

What’s your view on the recent kerfuffle about Melinda Gates and the Pope? Outline the issue, weigh in with your opinions.

 

Melinda Gates graduated from Duke University in 1986, with a master’s in business administration from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in 1987. She went to work for Microsoft in 1987, where she met Bill Gates. The couple is currently married with three children. Melinda left Microsoft in 1996 to direct energy towards her family and her foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation aims to improve equity in the United States and around the world, and is privately funded by the pair. Melinda’s attention had currently been turned to Family Planning, with the goal of delivering contraceptives to an additional 120 million women in developing countries by 2020. Controversy arises concerning this goal within the Catholic Church, which is against modern contraceptives. Melinda has an opinion of interest in this matter because of her Catholic background and because she is an influential woman capable of funding and executing the Foundation’s goal.

My opinion in this matter is unnerving support of Melinda’s efforts. Regardless of religion or personal opinion, the main concern in this issue is saving the lives of women and children, which should be something humanity agrees upon globally. According to Melinda, the Catholic Church supports “natural” birth control methods, such as waiting between children and “conceptus interrupt” a.k.a. “pulling out.” The fact that they support this method of birth control, but not modern contraceptives is just flat out stupid to me. Denying modern birth control is comparable to denying modern medicine—the technology is out there for women to keep themselves healthy and safe, yet religions are refusing to acknowledge it’s viability as such a tool, and instead view it as a threat against the sanctity of the traditional family. If the Catholic Church can recognize that modern people have sex for reasons other than reproduction, they should acknowledge the ability to keep themselves safe while doing so. Modern contraceptives protect against STD’s, as well as safeguard against unintentional pregnancy, which could lead to a litany of health complications and even death if the woman isn’t ready, such as in the example Melinda gave of women who are too young to have children who die from childbirth. Not to mention, use of a contraceptive would prevent women from having to perhaps consider an abortion later down the road, which the Catholic Church vehemently disagrees against (and you would think they would like to prevent pathways leading to this), but that’s a whole different issue. I don’t think that religious and moral beliefs should ever come between the safety and well being of humanity.

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Information on the Bill & Melinda Foundation: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/leadership/management-committee/melinda-gates

 

Interview with Melinda Gates on inner struggle with Catholicism and Modern Contraceptives:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/melinda-gates-disagrees-with-vatican_n_1665160.html

 

 

Blog 6 Lecture 20 Week 11

What is the source of friction between the La Leche League and feminist critics, according to Wolf? Do you believe that this kind of conflict is responsible for the low rate of breastfeeding today?

The La Leche League was originated from a group of seven white, middle-class, Roman Catholic women. It started in a Chicago suburb in 1956, and its mission was to educate mothers and women on the benefits of ‘natural mothering,’ referring to breastfeeding, natural childbirth, and less dependence on doctors and pediatricians (407). Support of the League blossomed in the eras of social activism in the 1960’s and 70’s, and continued to rise with the aid of growing environmental movements. Today, the League is well known and fully established, and is the foremost expert on breastfeeding in the United States (408).

The overwhelming majority and prominence of the League makes some feminists wary about taking a stance on breastfeeding. Modern women now work outside the home, and desire to have established careers as well as partake in motherhood. The League insists that motherhood should be the primary activity in women’s lives, and it is necessary to devote all time to parenting in order to raise healthy children (408). Wolf quotes historian Lynn y. Weiner describing the League’s mentality in the 1960’s; “The basic requirement for successful child rearing was a full-time, attentive mother who understood and accepted her ‘special vocation in life.’”

I do believe that this conflict is partly responsible for the low rate of breastfeeding today, but not entirely. There is no way of getting around it, having a career will definitely hinder a mother’s amount of time she is able to devote to her child. Do I think it is necessary that a mother should hover over her newborn 24/7? Of course not, but the fact is that with a job, she will not be able to. This time constraint may put more pressure on a mother to formula feed her child, since she may not have enough time to pump breast milk or sit down and feed her child the instant he or she is hungry.

I think that this conflict is only party responsible, however, because the conflict is not only attributable to the mother’s decision to return to work. Factors in our society further debilitate a mother’s ability to breastfeed her child. For example, many people oppose breastfeeding in public or at the work place, which further limits a working mother to only breastfeed in the closed off confinement of her own home. Additionally, not every workplace offers childcare in the office, meaning that a mother must leave her baby at home during work hours. Some workplaces don’t offer substantial maternity leave, and mothers may have to come back to work sooner than they feel comfortable. Many opposing societal opinions put pressure on working mothers to just leave her baby at home should she choose to go back to work.

breastfeeding_today.1686

What Feminists Can Do for Breastfeeding and What Breastfeeding Can Do for Feminists

Word Count: 455

Week 6 Blog Post 5 Lecture 11

Are you considering gender in planning your personal finances? Does gender make a difference for you?

In this week’s blog post, I will be responding to the questions above. To begin with, the thought had never crossed my mind whether or not I would prefer to have a male or female handle my money. The division probably never occurred to me since I haven’t ever considered having a financial planner. At this stage in my life, I rarely have enough money to go around, much less need someone else to keep track of it for me. I really had never even considered the difference between having a female or male financial planner, but now that I’m faced with this question directly, I guess I will!

As much as I hate to admit, I’m absolutely terrible with money. I’m great with math and numbers, but I have no idea what a W2 is or what to do with it, and I have no desire to learn. I also am slightly addicted to shopping. So, I most likely will have someone else handle financial matters for me. In my life up to this point, my parents have handled my finances. My mother and father work truly as a team in this aspect. Both are good with numbers; my father is very analytical while my mother is very organized. Together, I supposed they make a pretty good accountant. Their upbringing and the way they handle bills and money as a team may have influenced my impartial views regarding the sex of my future financial planner.

While I may not have a preference of a male or female financial planner, it seems more likely that the position would be filled by a male. Men mostly hold Mathematical and Scientific occupations.1As an engineering major, I can attest that most of my classmates in these types of courses are male. Lately, accountable to this class, I have been paying attention to these ratios, and it is not drastic. While this divide may be just due to the differences in thought processes in females to males, i.e., left brain vs. right brain mindsets, females are also at a huge disadvantage in these career paths to begin with. Females just have an uneven playing field in the workforce.  In an article by Anya Kamenetz, she writes, “Both men and women of this generation are taking on unprecedented debt for their educations, but at 76 cents on the male dollar, women have a harder time working their way into financial stability.”2 This is a pretty daunting reality to face after leaving college and attempting to navigate my way into the workforce.

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Image from: The Economist Online. Working Women: Still Struggling

1 Ceci & Williams. 2010. Cornell University. Sex Differences in Math-Intensive Fields. http://www.human.cornell.edu/hd/upload/Ceci-Williams_Cur_Dir_10-2010.pdf

 

2Kamenetz. 2004. Superwoman 2.0: Your Biological Clock. Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young.” http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0451/kamenetz.php

Week 4 Blog 4 Lecture 7- Factory Fires

In this week’s blog, I’m comparing the 1911 Triangle Waist Factory Fire in New York City with a 2012 factory fire in Bangladesh. The similarities between these fires are haunting. In both, over 120 people were killed, mostly women workers.

The Triangle Waist Factory was the very image of a sweatshop—unsatisfactory conditions, low wages, children workers, and overall unsafe. At the Triangle factory, the owners hired subcontractors to hire workers. The subcontractors often pocketed some of the money meant for the workers, and gave the hired workers what was left. These workers were mostly immigrant women who desperately needed jobs, and were taken advantage of due to their unfamiliarity with American law and their own rights.

The causes of these fires are unknown, but the reason for such a high death toll is the same in each building—the factories were not safe, nor were there enough exits. In the Triangle Factory fire, only one exit was available because the factory owners maintained that the other doors be locked. They locked the doors so that employees had to leave through exits where their purses were checked, so that workers did not steal anything. There were no fire escapes. In the Bangladesh fire, the flames started on the first floor, so workers could not come downstairs, and did not have other methods to exit. In both fires, employees jumped to their deaths rather than burn alive.

An account from a young girl working at the Triangle factory said she was paid only ten dollars a week for six days of work, which is similar to the conditions in Bangladesh, where workers are sometimes paid a government mandated minimum of $37 a month. Factory owners often shrug off responsibilities of these matters due to the subcontractors, claiming that they are not aware of how many workers they have at a time, or what their workers are being paid.

It is important to note that in both fires, the victims were lower class women making clothing garments for middle and upper class women. This division between classes sometimes causes the middle and upper class to turn a blind eye on sweatshops. Cheap labor ultimately yields a cheaper product for them to buy. So, while these conditions in sweatshops are deplorable, and while the women workers there probably need help and someone to advocate for them, the middle and upper class are of divided interests. While this is somewhat greedy and sad, it is undeniable, and is still occurring today. The Bangladesh fire represents this, since it is a recent event, and the factory was making clothing for current popular brands. This is why these fires are an example of how class can deter a social movement.

Word Count: 454

Triangle Factory Fire

Bangladesh Fire

Blog 3 Week 3 Lecture 6 – Response to Oral History Of Her Days As A Slave

Compare the experiences of the slaves in the Davis and Reynolds narratives that we’re reading for today. Do you find differences in the treatment of slaves, and if so, what explains the difference?

 

I will be responding to this question about the narratives of “Oral History Of Her Days As A Slave” by Lucinda Davis, and by Mary Reynolds.

 

Lucinda Davis spoke Creek dialect, and belonged to Tuskaya-hiniha. We learn that this man is a Native American, and has a white mistress named Nancy. Tuskkaya-hiniha and Nancy have two children, one a girl named Luwina. Luwina gives birth to a son, and Lucinda explains she was bought to take care of this boy.

 

Lucinda eats the same food as her master and is given clothing. She doesn’t seem to completely dislike this life, since she had many opportunities to escape growing up. She even says that after the war ended, she stayed with Tuskaya-hiniha. One day, men on horseback come and talk to Tuskaya-hiniha. He then tells Lucinda to go find her family, and sends her with the men. Lucinda is upset that her nice dress gets left behind. She goes to live with her mother and father and has children of her own, expressing pride that they were raised “the Creek way.”

 

A white doctor, named Dr. Kilpatrick, owned Mary. Dr. Kilpatrick had a daughter named Sara, whose mother died in childbirth. Since Sara and Mary were born at the name time, Sara nursed from Mary’s mother. Dr. Kilpatrick sold Mary to a man at a young age, but Sara gets lonely and sick, so he buys Mary back from the man. After Dr. Kilpatrick remarries and has more children, Sara forgets about Mary. Mary worked the fields, and was under the watch of Solomon the slave driver while she worked. She spoke about how she still has scars from her shoes from those days, and how she saw horrible things done to the black slaves in the fields. Once she was hung by her wrists from a tree and beaten. She never had enough to eat and lived in terrible conditions.

 

There is definitely a difference in the way these slaves were treated. While they were both bought as slaves, Mary lived in fear and violence while Lucinda was comfortable enough to stay with her master even after the end of the Civil War. The difference is most likely because of their owners. Dr. Kilpatrick was a plantation owner, and bought many slaves as workers. He used them as forced laborers, and treated them as such. Tuskaya-hiniha bought Lucinda as more of a nanny for his grandson. Also, Native American’s did not traditionally believe in ‘ownership.’ They did not believe man could own land, much less another human’s life. They believed that everything was given to us as a gift by Mother Earth, and should be treated with respect. Where as colonial white men felt fully entitled to land and property ownership after buying it from government. Overall, their masters bought them for different reasons and with different beliefs of the value as a human being.

 

Oral History Of Her Days As A Slave” by Mary Reynolds

Oral History Of Her Days As A Slave” by Lucinda Davis

 

Word Count: 485

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Post 2 Week 2 – Sitting Positions

In this post I’m responding to an activity assigned in “Second Life.” We were presented with 8 different seats, and were told that in each seat our avatars would sit in a different way. Some of these positions appeared to be how men sit, and some appeared to be how women sit. We were asked to identify each as male or female, and answer this question:

Which of the positions are designed for females?  Give a detailed analysis of why you believe these are female positions. What messages are being conveyed by your avatar’s gestures?  What attitudes are conveyed?

I think seat 1 is for females. The legs are crossed as well as the arms. The hand is sort of held aloof daintily. Position 2 is also for females. The legs are again crossed, and the hands are placed on the knee. The avatar’s posture looks proper and polished. Women typically sit more upright than men, who look more relaxed when they sit.

Position 3 is not a female position, but I’ll analyze it for contrast. The legs are open, and the arm is draped over the couch. This is much more casual.

Position 4 is for females. The legs are not crossed, but are still off to the side and not spread open, and the hand is placed close to the face. I feel like women are very aware of their hands, and often keep them close to their face area. This may be a comfort thing. Women typically touch their hair or face frequently. Men’s hair is typically short and out of comfortable reach, and it would be weird if they had their hands at the top of their head all the time. As a woman, I’m pretty aware of my hands. If my nail polish has a chip, or I have a hangnail, etc., I would notice it. This may stem from women’s tendencies to ‘nit-pick’ at things, like how mothers groom their children. I’m also aware of how my hands look while I’m doing things. Some men may be less focused on the appearance of their hands and focus more on the task. 7 and 8 are the most androgynous positions. In 7 the legs are crossed but in a way males do. The crotch area is still open, which isn’t typically of women. The upper body weight is shifted to the elbow on the back of the couch, which is more a male thing. Shifting your body weight in this way typically pushes your chest out, and as a girl I’m always aware if I’m pushing the girls out in other people’s faces. In 8 the legs are crossed and arms are resting held up behind the head.  I feel like this position could really go either way. Overall, I think female positions convey self-consciousness. Not necessarily in a low self-esteem sort of way, but just overall more aware of how they appear. Men sit in a more relaxed and casual fashion.

Position 7