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November 30, 2006

religion, women and politics

As we were discussing the articles in class on Tuesday about religion and how it affects an individual’s life, I thought about how religion still significantly revolves around men and the limitations of women. We discussed the protest about the morning after pill and how some pharmacists are refusing to even give out birth control pills out to women that are not married. Why is it their choice? There are arguments about a scarf around women’s heads, abortion, and many others. Every person has their own idea about how a life should be lived and what is morally right. But why does the government, pharmacists and voters get to decide if a girl can wear a head scarf? Or if a mistake happened and a woman needs to take the morning after pill or tell women that they can not take birth control pills because they weren’t married? These are just a few clear results about religion stepping into politics and preventing women from freedom of choice over their own bodies. Religion plays many roles in politics, but as the US is becoming more and more culturally diverse and there are more followers of different religions, the government and the voters are going to have to separate their religion from politics. One friend of mine votes republican because of one issue, abortion. Americans need to open their eyes and realize that we have many more issues to vote on that are much more urgent. A woman’s right and religion and politics are not a good mix. (and yes I know this is wishful thinking and that politics and religion will always remain an issue, but its nice to think that maybe one day they could be separated.)

November 29, 2006

Equality

I read an article online recently about a gender institute that is going to be started in the EU. This institute will review all existing EU gender equality law, increase awareness of gender inequality, ensure gender equality is considered in all policies, and press for better statistics. The EU decided to bring this about because of the huge gender gap still rising on that continent. More men than women are graduating universities every year, but still women get lower pay, and fewer top jobs. Another reason this institute was brought about, is so the EU has a base for their roadmap of policies designed to end gender inequality.

This article tied nicely with the gender and genes issues we were discussing in class. The speech that Summers gave about women came to mind. He stated, “the most prestigious activities in our society expect of people who are going to rise to leadership positions in their forties near total commitments to their work…it is a fact about our society that that is a commitment that a much higher fraction of married men have been historically prepared to make than that of married women.? This is a ludicrous statement, because if he would look at the facts, and like the facts above. More and more women are achieving great things in life, even if they are married or not. He only chooses to remain in the dark ages.

The bus-driver situation

The article that my group read in class on tuesday was the one concerning the bus-driver who was excused from driving buses that had an advertisment for a homosexually-geared magazine because she said it went against her religion. The bus company excused her from driving any of the buses that had this advertisment on it, and that has raised several questions. The conflict that comes to my mind concerns something that Susan Moller Okin wrote in her article. If a female bus driver asked to be excused from a bus that had an add that was demeaning towards women, for example a liquor ad which are generally known to portray women as sexual objects, would she be excused from all of those buses?

My guess to the answer of this question would have to be no, she would not be excused. I may be wrong, but buses are tools, advertisements on wheels, and for someone to say because they do not like a liquor ad that they do not want to drive the bus would be looked at as petty or unneccesary. Because it has nothing to do with religion, it may be looked at as a lesser conflict, a non-issue. The ad's are not meant to reflect the drivers, they are simply a way for the bus companies to make extra profit. So then why would it be possible for one bus driver to be excused from the buses simply because of her religion while another might not? Okin's article discusses how most of the cultures today were based upon one's where the men controlled the women. She also says these cultural basics are not being addressed today, where as differences among and between groups are. This might be the start of an answer to why the religious bus-driver was excused from the buses because of her religion, a difference that sets her apart from another group, while a female offended by an ad that demeans other females might not be excused, because her gender is her status within a group.

bridging the gap of men and women in NFL

“Commissioner says NFL keen to court women fans? talk about how the NFL is trying to market women fans. In the past years, they had been commercializing cars, electronics, and beers. These products are gear toward male gender. Last year Super Bowl 40% of the viewer was female. This year in the Word Cup many viewers were women, but many advertisers overlooked them. NASCAR has been marketing for women as well as men. Now the NFL is starting to sell women fan gears and trying to reach out for the women audiences. http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=reu-womendc&prov=reuters&type=lgns
Sports are dominant by the male population. Now women are breaking in the tradition. This is a good way to shorten the gap between gender inequalities. This is smart strategy for the advertiser to market their products toward women; it also encourages women to watch and participates in sports events. A few years ago, it was hard for a high school to have a separate women sport team. As a society we have move a few steps closer to gender equalities. There is still gender discrimination in sports such as football. Football represents the ultimate male sport. There are rare cases in high school where a female play in football and their position would be a kicker. Hopefully in the next twenty years they would have a women play in profession football.

November 28, 2006

Chimps and Humans

Are humans ancestors of apes? This is probably one of the most controversial topics there is, that humans derived from apes. This may or may not be true, but we both share very common characteristics and behaviors, such that in an article found on cnn.com which explains that younger chimps act a lot like a human, or more specifically, act like a toddler. Even though there is scientific proof that proves this the theory of humans sharing common characteristics, there is also proof that chimps also experience the same learning abilities such that of a toddler. The article explains this theory with an example of chimps searching for termites with a stick. A toddler would also relate to this action..digging through dirt with a stick, looking for insects. (The photo in the article also shows a lot of what the behavior may be between a chimp and a toddler; squatting low to the ground...looking) because this would be typical for such a young age, such as the article states, "The study involved animals as young as 3 months and as old as 11 years." This article is also about roles between genders. Females in the chimp colonies and their daughters were found to be gathering food for the family rather than males. Males on the other hand, were found to be nearby playing within the trees. A quote from Tomi Hall, found near the end of the article explains this concept very clearly, ""Boys at this age tend to be a little bit more playful, and the girls tend to be a little bit more grown up acting, and more responsible...I can call on the girls a lot of times to do things that I know they will carry through and do, whereas sometimes I have to follow the boys around so they do what I've asked them to do." I chose this article because it can relate to our discussion between chimps and bonobos. I find it interesting to see the similarities and differences between other species, especially ones so controversial, like this example of chimps vs. humans. Continue reading at http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/04/19/chimp.termites/index.html

November 20, 2006

Gender Differences May Prove Beneficial

The information on gender differences has long been conflicting. Specific research, scientists, and groups go back and forth over the issue of gender equity of the brain. To be quite honest I don’t know which side to believe. Pinker argues that equality of the male and female brains does not necessarily imply that they are the same. He describes differences to exist without question, but that these differences do not make one gender “better? than the other rather than serve as counterparts to one another. Cultures and mammals around the world show a regular pattern of male dominance and protection and female nurturing and childrearing. This argument, however, often sparks a lot of controversy as well, especially among feminist groups. Just because a women is naturally less aggressive, more nurturing, and overall better equipped for caring for children does not mean that she must be confined to that role. Just because someone is good at arguing does not mean that they have to be a lawyer. The topic of gender differences has actually come up in another one of my classes recently and a piece of information I found interesting was that males that had lower amounts of testosterone than average males actually had higher IQs and females that had higher levels of testosterone than average females had higher IQs. This may point us back to thinking that there really isn’t a real difference between the male and female brain; even though many researchers often cite hormones as the main cause for these gender differences.

I see a lot of this controversy showing up in politics today. With women such as Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton potentially assuming roles of unprecedented female power they are receiving a lot of criticism from their peers and the public. After reading Pinker’s chapter on gender, however, it sounds like those qualities that are innate to women may actually prove extremely beneficial to them. The natural verbal and communication skills that a female possesses may actually make a woman like Nancy Pelosi, very good at being Speaker of the House. There has never been a woman in this position, and she may in fact, excel at it. Other characteristics of women such as being less impulsive, less aggressive, better at reading facial expressions and body language, more empathetic, and better at perceiving underlying or implied messages may be characteristics of a very good leader. A poll done on CNN was released today showing Hilary Clinton leading the race for the democratic nominee for President with 33% support. http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/20/2008.poll/index.htmlThis is not to say that because men do not innately possess these qualities that they are not good at these positions it will just be interesting to see the difference in styles. Again, this goes back to the analogy just because some is good at arguing doesn’t mean they will make a good lawyer. The women may potentially flop in their positions. We cannot use gender to predict how these women will handle these positions (if elected) but by all accounts of the female characteristics they are naturally equipped to do well and hopefully they will.

October 31, 2006

Male and female roles in leadership

While reading Robert Schaeffer’s Understating Globalization, I found out that dictatorship were male-dominated political institutions. Schaeffer states that no post war dictatorship anywhere was led by a woman. In capitalist dictatorships, jobs in military and bureaucracy were offered to some men, and women were at a disadvantage- expecting to stay at home and raise children. However in communist regimes, governments provided benefits to men but at the same time extended benefits to women. Furthermore, when dictatorship fell, men and women were able to create democratic political institutions that provided opportunities to men and women outside the elites. Schaeffer argues that now, women more often run for office, and in few cases, they are serve as presidents.

Continue reading "Male and female roles in leadership" »

October 2, 2006

Women Taking Breaks From Work

An article on Abcnews.com wrote about how these days more and more women are taking time off work or quitting to be with their children. Many of these professional women have hectic scheldules and don't feel the connection that they're supposed to have with their children. One women says:

"I was always dealing with things, and I started to realize, I'm not really listening to my kids. I'm not really present with them."

This has been an occurring trend where almost half don't return and when they do, they don't find better jobs. To solve this problem many companies have come up with programs where they can take an extended leave without having to put a halt in their career. They can come back to the company after they are ready. They are also kept up to date with what is going on at the company and are invited to the parties.

This is basically a really great thing where women can have a sense of security in the workforce. This will help lift off the burden of having to leave work forever and having to start fresh if they were to come back to the workforce. By being able to stay with the kids, these women will have more time to be involved in the community. As Putnam points out, full-time homemakers attend more club meetings then their working full-time counterparts. Another important point with these new programs is that these women are not loosing their connections and networking to the outside world. Their social capital will more or likely remain the same or minimal to what they already have because they are informed about what's going on at the company and are invited to social gatherings & events.

September 13, 2006

"Gays Renew Drive Against Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

"Two were college students, and the other was a college graduate. They had no criminal records. They were fit and eager to serve at a time when wars on two fronts have put a strain on American troops and the need for qualified recruits is great. But the recruiter was forced to turn them away, for one reason: they are gay and unwilling to conceal it" Lizette Alvarez, New York Times.

I was skimming the New York Times and this article concerning the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy caught my attention immediately. This policy states that gay men and women must serve in silence and refrain from homosexual activity, and that recruiters and commanders cannot ask them about their sexual orientation unless there is evidence that homosexual acts have occured.

This policy is based on the idea that open homosexuality is damaging to unit morale and cohesion. President of the Conservative Center for Military Readiness, Elaine Donnelly, stated that "people in the military live in conditions of little or no privacy. In conditions of forced intimacy, people should not have to expose themselves to other persons who are sexually attracted to them." This argument seems increadibly silly to me because whether one is openly homosexual or keeping his/her sexual orientation a secret is not going to change whether one is sexually attracted to another member or not. Wouldn't it be easier to address this issue if we were just open about the situation from the get go?

Concerning the argument that open homosexuality would be damaging to unit cohesion: the article also states that "24 foreign armies, most notably those of Britain and Israel, have integrated openly gay people into their ranks with little impact on effectivenss and recruitment." If it works there, why couldn't it work here? Afterall, the U.S. military states that they are a reflection of America, representing virtually every possible ethnic and religious group. Aren't they being just a bit hipocritical? So this leads me to wonder that maybe this policy and the determination to keep enforcing it has little do to with whether it would be damaging to the military or not, and more based on the fear of the political controversies it would bring up, especially in a time of war during a tough election year. I understand that this is an increadibly contreversial topic, but it's something to think about.

Michigan six grade girls required to take cervical cancer shot

In a news article on AbcNews.com, starting next year girls entering the sixth grade in Michigan will have to take a vaccine that fights against cervical cancer. Michigan will become the first of its kind to require such a vaccine being backed by the legislation. The vaccine is supposed to prevent infections from some strains of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, which can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Even though it's required, the 3-shot vaccination which costs $360 may not be covered by all insurance. Even so, poltiticians still think this as a major breakthough in the prevention of cancer and as a life saver.

"We believe we can save the lives of these girls," states Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom


I think this vaccine is a great thing. It prevents one of the deadliest killers in human beings, cancer. It will give women some relief in their life knowing that they will not get cervical cancer. In the other hand, what if the government made it a requirement for school enrollment? Everybody will have to be vaccinated and that will cause some problems. The government is definately trying to help save lives, but there are other consequences that shouldn't be overlook. Some people would say that the government may be sending a message that underage sex is okay. I agree with that notion in the sense that if some people/teens know that they are protected by the vaccine, then they will act irresponsibly and take the vaccine for granted. Since underage sex is already a problem, this vaccine will more or likely cause an increase in the problem due to the belief that the vaccine will prevent the contracting of diseases and or viruses that can lead to cervical cancer. The government should put more consideration into account about the future of the girls who are receiving the vaccine. More education needs to be done on the public in order to fulfill the mission of saving lives in the future. The parents & children need to know both the pros and cons of taking this vaccine in order for it to be used successfully.