ImageField Trip to Afghanistan

            Three animals that are native to Afghanistan are the Marco Polo Sheep, the Himalayan Brown Bear, and the Monitor Lizard.  The Nuristani people lived in a 5,000 square mile area in the Hindu Kush in the east corner of Afghanistan that is heavily forested.  The Nuristani are herders and farmers where some men are loggers and others are involved in gem mining.  The Tambur is a traditional Afghan musical instrument.  On the menu at the roof top café are Qorma, Kebabs, Naan, Palao, and Khameerbob.  I chose the Kebabs because they seem the most familiar to me.  Cannabis has been used in Afghanistan for fiber in hemp, medicinal reasons as well as ceremonial and recreational purposes.  Cannabis originates in the Himalayas and has always been an important cash crop for the local people.  It is often referred to as “Hindu Kush”.  In the RAWA exhibit, an article that gave a historical perspective on the Afghanistan war was the article called Bleeding Afghanistan.  The spiral on the door made me feel uneasy about entering the teleport to the exhibit.  I also felt overwhelmed and uneasy when the first thing I saw in the exhibit was the stats on suicide and deaths from terrorism in war.  There was an article that had Women Warlords in the title.  There was a big slide show that was all about stopping the US war in Afghanistan.  That seems anti-American because it doesn’t say the war in Afghanistan but it is labeling the war as America’s responsibility.  I agree with the quote on one of the walls that states that there is no way to peace, but that peace is the way.  I don’t think you are making any progress when pursuing the idea of peace through violent actions to get you there.  You are only causing more conflict in the meantime and stirring up hatred and revenge to come in the future.  The only way to peace to pursue it peacefully.  Meena is a woman who experience the pillaging of her village where it was burned down.  She lost her children who were burned and she had a massive amount of anger that was stored up in her from the blood of her brothers.  She is now claiming herself to be a new woman who has risen out of the turmoil and is no longer being angry about her past.

 

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Wrapping Up

            Throughout this women’s gender study course there have been a great deal of things that I have taken away from the course.  I wouldn’t necessarily say there was a whole lot that I learned for the first time; majority of this course was more of a perspective change or an eye opening look at the lives of women.  One of the things that I did learn about was the factory fires that have occurred over the years, killing hundreds of women working.  I never realized that the factory workers in the sweat shops were mainly women.  I always assumed they were men that were working in the sweat shops.  I figured the workers would be lower class males who were sacrificing trying to put food on the table for their families.  This is obviously a stereotype that I believed.  I guess the thing that stuck with me the most throughout this course was how ridiculous it is that these factory fires continue to happen after basically one hundred years of data showing that the leading cause of death in these fires was the emergency exit doors locking the workers inside.  I can’t wrap my mind around why these continue to occur when we know what the biggest problem is.  Another thing that I took away from this class is the continued discrimination against women that occurs in our country in present day.  It is more so in the sense of abuse, whether physical, emotional, verbal, or even financially in the work force.  With the amount of abuse women take on a day to day basis, it is sickening.  I feel than men have a skewed vision of what it means to lead women.  Instead of loving them, being gentle and humble when leading women, men have a skewed idea that to lead women means to be brute, violent, aggressive, and controlling.  This messed up mindset leads to men thinking they have to be abusive, whether physically, emotionally, verbally, etc. to make a woman follow them.  This only leads to a hurt, broken woman who becomes dependent on others.  This is no way to lead a woman whatsoever.  Financially, I learned that in the workforce, women who have the same credentials, experience, and expertise in an area; who have the same job as a man will get paid significantly lower than a man with that job.  This still doesn’t make sense to me in the world we live in where we claim freedom and equality among genders, yet this is still going on.  These are just a few things that I took away from this course throughout the semester.

The Corporation

                For my class, we had to watch a roughly two hour film called The Corporation.  This film is a 2003 Canadian documentary film that was written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan.  The purpose of this documentary was to examine modern-day corporations, in regards to the consideration of them having legal status as “persons”.  It was also aimed to evaluate the behavior of corporations towards society and the world at large.  In 1866, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the same legal rights and should be treated the same as “natural people” or normal citizens or individuals.  This ruling is significant because it seems to skew the weight and power of individuals in court.  For example, if the Coca-Cola Company is in court and is being represented as a normal citizen would, they being so wealthy and powerful and influential in the world would pull much more weight in the court room than a normal citizen.  Compare this to a middle class working man who is represented in court.  This man has billions and billions less dollars at his disposal to use that Coca-Cola would have.  He would be nowhere near as powerful and influential as Coca-Cola would be.  This would lead to him not being able to hire as good of an attorney as Coca-Cola would.  Also, the media would not have as great an impact if any at all on the middle class man’s case.  If Coke is in a lawsuit of some kind, the media will be all over that, broadcasting updates on the case, reporting facts and inside information to the masses.  This kind of pressure leads to far more tension in the court room and much more pressure on the judges and jury who are witnessing the trial, whatever it may be.  In contrary, there would be no media attention at all about the case involving the middle class man except maybe a listing in the local newspaper the next day.  I don’t see how big time wealthy corporations can be viewed in the same realm and class as your everyday John Doe.  I think corporations that have that much pull and weight and money should be classified in their own class and viewed and tried according to that specific class.  No wonder it seems that big time businesses and corporations seem to get away with a lot more than individual citizens or even small business owners.

Factory Fires

            Earlier in the semester for this class, we read an article that was covering a factory fire in New York City back in the early 1900s.  Many people were killed, most of these women because it was almost a completely female dominant work force.  The women working in this “sweatshop” were pretty much set up for failure in any case of emergency.  Almost all of the exits were locked from the outside which prevented the workers to escape in case of an emergency, in this case a fire.  The women were trapped because of the unusable doors and were either burned alive or forced to jump out of windows and risk a suicide fall.  It has never made sense to me why anyone would have the emergency exits of a building locked, not allowing them to open from the inside.  It makes sense for safety reasons to have them locked so they cannot be accessed from the outside, but from the inside, this is ridiculous.  Over 75 people were killed in this fire both from jumping off the high stories and being consumed by the fire.  It doesn’t make any sense to me how tragedies like this can happen, and as humans we are unable to learn from these incidents.  You would think that someone would wake up and remake the regulations and safety protocols to prevent events like this from happening again.  Yet clearing we haven’t learned our lesson.

            In Pakistan this past year there was an incident very similar to the New York City fire.  In a textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan 300 people were killed in a fire that consumed the building.  Much like the fire in New York, all but one of the exits was locked so the people were not able to escape.  Also, most of the windows were barred preventing them to jump out of the windows to escape.  The only way some people got out was by jumping off of the roof and suffering serious injuries and some died from the jump.  I don’t understand why this building would have all but one of the emergency exits locked as well as barred windows preventing any escape.  This happened in this present age and was far after the fire in New York.  It still baffles me how similar these to tragedies are and how the later did not learn from the number in incidents similar to these that have happened throughout history. 

Environmental Racism

            Environmental racism refers to the geographic relationships between environmental degradation and low – income or minority communities.   What this means is that in low income areas, the environment and community within and around the area are also not looking too great.  The environment is not as clean or healthy or presentable as it would be in a community that has more wealth.  A lot of this has to do with the idea that the poor people live in poor areas, obviously, and if they can’t afford to live in a nice area, then they clearly can’t afford to spend money to make their environment nicer.  The opposite is seen in areas of high income and wealth.  In areas that have a higher income, typically those people will buy nicer housing.  This nicer housing translates to a nicer environment because people will want their yards to look nice and presentable so they are not judged by others around them.  These people can also afford to make their communities nicer and therefore making the environment around better.  Environmental racism will look at a person who lives and a community with not so great of a quality of an environment and therefore that person would be assumed as poor.  In this case environmental racism could relate to the idea that a middle aged white male should live in a suburb with a white picket fence, living the American dream.  And a black person might be associated with a poorer urban setting for living.  This is not only environmental racism, it is also stereotypes set by our society assuming a certain race would be bound to a certain environment. 

            For my class, we read two articles that were written by two separate authors and were written thirty years apart from one another.  These articles were written by Barbara Ehrenreich and Audre Lorde.  Both these women have very strong views towards breast cancer that is definitely contrary to what our society makes of it today.  In our society, breast cancer has taken the media and everyday life by storm.  We see ads all the time about women and breast cancer and the fight that is going on to find a cure.  Everyone who sees the pink ribbon can tell you what it stands for.  In our cities, we have fundraisers and city wide walks and runs to raise money and show support for the cancer foundations.  The breast cancer scene seems to be pleasant and a great cause, but not to the two women who wrote these articles.

            Both of these authors, despite writing thirty years apart from each other, both of these women have an intense anger to this topic of breast cancer.  These women feel as though the breast cancer awareness campaigns are belittling women by making them all associated with the cancer.  Almost as if they are expected to have it.  Barbara Ehrenreich wrote in her article that she was upset about when she turned fifty and was forced to take off her top and have x-rays done on her breasts for breast cancer when she didn’t have any of the risk factors that were used to determine if a woman could potentially have cancer.  Instead she was forced to go into a changing room that was plastered with catch phrases and pink signs and ribbons about breast cancer as if she was dying from it already, before she even had her x-rays.  She felt as though it was pre-determined that she would have cancer.  Both these authors had similar anger towards this subject.

            A website that I found about breast cancer that I would think these two women would be upset about is the Susan G. Komen site for breast cancer (http://ww5.komen.org/).  This website is plastered with the color pink and various slogans about women having a voice.  It is right in the ball park of the frustrations Ehrenreich had with the changing room.  The website provides the idea that breast cancer is in every woman and that they have the right to “own” the cancer and almost make it their identity.  This is an example of a site that these two women authors would have anger and frustrations towards.

What Makes You a Man?

So for my class, we were assigned to watch a documentary type film called “Tough Guise”.  This film was directed to pointing out the flaws that consist in what our culture has told us what being a man really means.  In our culture, being a man is almost always associated with being tough, strong, violent, and in control.  We see this idea of what a man is all over, whether that being in the movies, in the news, in our song lyrics, and even from father to son.  One of the most important relationships a man will have in his lifetime is his relationship with his father.  This relationship will more often than not, define what time of man a boy will become.  This goes for fathers who are supportive and always around and for those who are absent or are non-existent.  Majority of the time this relationship leads to the father describing manhood as being tough, unemotional, and controlling.  This translates into life, and other relationships in the future; that being in the work place, at home, with family, etc.  This is an unending cycle of false identity in manhood.

            As the film points out, this false identity or “guise” will lead to the violence we see in our society today.  It will lead to the school shootings that were brought up such as Columbine.  The shooters said that their motive was to get back at those who bullied them and they retaliated with violence so they would seem tough and more manly, not weak like they were formerly portrayed as.  This is also why 95% of domestic violence cases are resulting in the man beating the woman.  This false identity of what being a man is supposed to look like is debilitating our society. 

            What would it look like if we as a society began to view manhood the way it was created to be?  How would our lives look different?  How would our society benefit and our relationships prosper? What would it look like if instead of engraving the false ideology of manhood in the brains of our youth, we began instilling the truth behind what being a man looks like?  I believe this must start with the father-son relationship.  If a father modeled to his son that being a man means being loving and caring and taking responsibility for the family; not by means of force, belittling, violence or pride, but rather through living a transparent life, being vulnerable and open.  Being a man is being humble, showing humility, being open about emotions and communicating those emotions to those in your life.  If a son sees his dad loving his mom unconditionally and putting the work in he does to best serve his family and not to boost his social status or pride, that son would translate and emulate those action in his own relationships and so on.  We could change society with a revised vision of manhood.