Virtual Afghanistan

I visited Afghanistan in a recent trip through Second Life. It was quite an interesting trip to see some unknown aspects of the country we are at war with. There are two quite distinct areas to visit, with one being a museum of art, and the other an area about a women’s activist group.

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The Afghanistan museum has quite a bit of interesting displays. The museum contains everything from maps of the country, animals in the land, to food that is served. It is a very informative area on the country giving interesting facts and figures. My eyes were opened to aspects of it I never considered due to the conflict existing between our countries. It brings you to realize that the land is filled with other human beings, living animals, and culture just as our country is. One of the interesting facts contained information about the Taliban, the area of the land they occupy, and the clothing they make the women wear. There is even examples of the clothing present for you to examine! Many musical instruments from the nation are on display, many sparking my interest as to how they might sound and be played.

A virtual tour of a tribute room by the activist group RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) is another feature. It has many facts about the women of the country and their oppressed rights, including the troubles brought on by the war our country has staged there. It can raise many feelings being from the United States, as their country is portrayed as the enemy in my land. But trying to remain neutral and un-opinionated, many facts are raised that begin to hit home and make you realize that they are a country of people that have feelings and emotions, just as we do, and that they have just as much of a right to life and freedom as we do!

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It makes you realize how big the world is, as Afghanistan is more than just a picture on the evening news where we are blowing up bombs. It is a land filled with humans, animals, art, and life! They have different customs, characteristics and traits, but this virtual world brings one to realize that it is filled with beauty and life. Something that should not be destroyed by war, but embellished and enjoyed by those in the land! The picture above definitely makes you realize how war has effected this land and makes you wonder what the headlines are on the newspaper in the machine!

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Let’s call it a wrap…

The wrap up of this class has brought me to several realizations about feminism and its effect on our world. My belief coming in to this class was that it would help me to understand my place in a female dominated profession, while understanding their ways, beliefs, and actions more. Boy was I wrong! It may have helped me out with that somewhat, but the true gift this class has given me is the enormous wealth of knowledge and perspective the study of feminism has given me on the ways of my world, including the way our governmental functions are influenced and manipulated.

My belief of feminism before taking this class was limited to thinking a feminist just wanted all the women in America to receive equal pay and job advancement the same as men, along with fair pay and the ability to vote. I now see that they want fair treatment of many races, social classes, and subcultures. I never realized the effect feminists had on racist movements.

When it came to the blog on breast cancer awareness and the feminist stance when it comes to the ‘cult of pink,’ I was quite surprised with my findings. Little did I know that feminists did not run breast cancer awareness groups? My limited thinking previously had me believing that they ran them. As I showed in my post (https://benredskin7.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/cult-of-pink/), breast cancer awareness groups are trying to make you aware of fundraisers, not for the benefit of women and cancer research!

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This class has been time consuming with blog posts two days apart with multiple readings and time-consuming videos, but the end result is a much wider respect and admiration for them. Many feminists, such as Alice Paul, have been at the forefront of pushing for changes that needed made in our country to promote equality and fairness for all races and genders. I now have much more respect for all facets of the patients I care for as I come to realize now the various attributes that affect their well-being. Not only is it a matter of race and gender, but socio-economic background, education, and upbringing. These factors allow me to now give a much more accurate assessment and nursing diagnosis for the overall well being of my patients today!

The Corporation

The Corporation is a film about the corporate business world of America and its similarities to life and humanity. It makes the point that in the year 1886, a corporation was made to be the equivalent of a “person.” It could have a voice and an influence in the social, economic, and governmental worlds. These corporations have also taken on characteristics of a person to, including human traits, personalities, and attitudes.

American culture has long had us longing for the bigger, better, best ideals! Whatever we have or attain, we always want it to bigger than previously, better than we had before, and we don’t want anyone to have something considered better. Ours has to be the best! The corporations have played right in to this ideology and actually helped to sustain and cultivate it. With corporations being considered a “person,” they could have a voice in our society and influence many people. They had to produce the “best” from their corporation, something that when portrayed to the individuals of our country made them want to get it as they would feel their status elevated by it. This is very evident in teenage years as they have to have the name brand electronics, clothes, and shoes that help them to be part of the “in” crowd and accepted by all.

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Corporate Greed has fueled this fire with their voice as a person. They have helped to influence international labor laws so that the biggest American corporations could manufacture their products overseas at labor costs unheard of in the greed filled USA. Then, they can bring these products back to our country, sell them at enormously profitable mark-ups, then use their gains to market and develop their products further and make people even want them more! This has caused many people in developing countries to be subjected to substandard working conditions for less than life-sustaining incomes. The greed of the corporation though and their need for a positive bottom-line has them ignore the humanity of those acts. They use the international labor laws to their advantage to maximize their profits, which in turn continues their increasing influence as a “person” in the United States since “money talks.”

Our society for decades now has continuously believed that we are being stagnant and lame duck if we are not constantly improving. Corporate America adds to this through their influence as a person in the light of the American government and with their influence over the American population through their power, money, and appeal.

Virtual birthing

The birthing center by SLENZ is a unique virtual experience to give multiple parties of a birthing experience, the mother, father, and midwife, a virtual birthing experience. It provides a wonderful birthing unit with all the amenities and tools one would expect in a maternity hospital.

You enter the maternity unit and have the opportunity to take on the role of midwife or mother after obtaining the needed gear. The delivery rooms actually are a little to good to be true, as they have every conceivable tool and amenity that can assist in the birth of a baby. Everything from a knotted, hanging rope to a birthing tub is present along with your typical crib and birthing bed. You can find all the various instruments and gadgets used by the medical staff that is necessary for a successful delivery.

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It allows your avatar to assume the body of a pregnant person when choosing to be the expectant mother. It created quite an interesting scene having a male avatar presenting as pregnant! It made me feel quite odd, as you grow accustomed to your avatar in these reality worlds, as they become a representation of your self, or at least some aspect usually. Many people choose to have different physiques or traits, but gender is often a maintained virtue.

To be able to assume the figure of a pregnant woman, and all of a sudden have breasts expectant of a child, gave me a whole new perspective. I tried to assume many of the different birthing positions in order to come to understand the realities that the mother of my children endured. The virtual realities of it make it hard to imagine what the human body must go through in times of labor and childbirth.

The idea of the room was a well-conceived notion, designed to help assimilate real world scenarios in the training of midwifes. In the end, I don’t think you can ever get the total feel for a real life medical situation, be it birth or surgery, from a cyber experience. However, it does give you a concept of the environment, the scenarios, and the expectations you might be subjected to.

The SLENZ birth center was a wonderful idea, and it reminded me of why I chose to be a critical care nurse when I graduated nursing school, as this was not my cup of tea! It does however help me to realize the trenches these mothers and nurses must face every day in maternity hospitals through labor and deliver

Sweatshops in 21st century America

Sweatshops and inhumane working conditions were believed banished from the American workplace and labor industry in the early 20th century.  A word for the wise – THEY STILL EXIST! 21st century Americans still have them, just in a much less telling way.

There has always been a running joke in my circles and neighborhoods when it comes to how certain people or companies continue to make their money, especially while selling their goods or merchandise relatively cheap. The joke is that they must have had the Mexicans do the work! I know when you see homes being built in most Dayton suburbs and neighborhoods, you see Mexican workers doing the labor. These people come to our country chasing the American dream – freedom and fair labor. Little did they realize that they were being taken advantage of as soon as they stepped foot in our country.

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The Texas Observer, an online magazine that dives in to stories that don’t get as much media attention and detail, made note of the fact that various discoveries had been made around the country of various situations similar to the early 20th century sweatshops. Most of the laborers were illegal Mexican immigrants and that certain companies “had become notorious for illegally hiring migrant workers from Mexico and using manipulation, financial coercion, deportation threats, and even violence (up to and including murder) to maintain a work force of essentially unpaid and terrified slave labor that had little or no recourse to the American legal system” (Rosenblatt, 2007). While many may say that Mexicans provide the cheap labor by choice, this is America and we are supposed to be land of the free, but still have labor laws that apply to all. Many use the illegal immigrant status of the Mexicans and hold it over their heads, allowing them to not apply the labor laws of our land to these employees.

These working conditions can vary greatly, and it is most readily seen in the construction industry when you see these Mexicans working outside in any and all conditions of heat, rain, snow, and ice, and continue to work for the lower wages, which allows the construction to be completed at much lower labor costs for a wider profit margin for those involved. The conditions they work in here are natural, but can still be inhumane when they are working in hot clothes in 90+ degree temperatures with sweat dripping from their bodies and little-to-know benefits being provided to cover any related health concerns. But since they are not American citizens, many wonder, do our laws still apply?

Rosenblatt, J. (2007, Dec 14). Buy some stuff, enslave somebody. The Texas Observer, Retrieved from http://www.texasobserver.org/2654-buy-some-stuff-enslave-somebody/

Have I “dung” enough work?

“Invisible work” does not play a direct role in the economy of a country. It is the work of family members and volunteers that is unpaid and helps to provide existence and sustenance for people of the environment. It is the work family members do to provide for the needs of their family and loved ones. They don’t market it, or look to be reimbursed for it. They do it for the satisfaction and gratitude of providing for the people in their care.

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Marilyn Waring talks about this work and its impact on those involved. The women that harvest dung can use it for various means such as providing fuel, as a basic material in construction, and as fertilizer. “Dung is one of the most valuable resources in arid countries: traditional communities all over the world use it for heating, cooking, building and decorative purposes”  (Lancelotti & Madella, 2011). These women would work many long, monotonous hours harvesting, transporting and preparing this dung for the use of their family. All this “invisible work” has quite a payoff in their family, as it provides a much-needed resource such as those mentioned above. It does not, however, provide any type of economic assistance to the economy of her country, as it is not counted and tallied in the economic crop of her area. It is useless work when it comes to the economy, despite the readily evident benefits to her family.

Her country’s environment can feel the effects of it. The dung used can take away from crops produced, from fuel sources purchased from other economies, and the labor production of a nation. The labor spent harvesting the dung, preparing, and then using it for family and sustenance purposes are hours of labor removed from the products of the market of that nation. In other words, the bottom dollar is affected as it doesn’t produce money for the government of that country and is considered useless despite the fact that it helps that family survive another day.

What it boils down to is this, the work and product people produce, be it an essential item for use or lactation milk for consumption, doesn’t have an economic value if consumed by the producers. Therefore it is considered useless to the economy and environment. But for the sustenance farmer, they used it to survive another day and keep their family alive! I would never hesitate in thinking that it wasn’t worth it for my family!

Lancelotti, C., & Madella, M. (2011). The ‘invisible’ product: Developing markers for identifying dung in archaeological contexts. Journal of Archaeological Science11(007), 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.11.007

 

Environmental Racism

Environmental Racism is a term that has taken on many definitions from various sources. According to Robert Bullard (2002), environmental racism is a form of institutionalized discrimination, defined as “actions or practices carried out by members of dominant (racial or ethnic) groups that have differential and negative impact on members of subordinate (racial and ethnic) groups.” The dominant group, be it gender or race, intentionally creates laws, excludes members from boards or governing bodies, or might build waste facilities that effect lower economic or socially disadvantaged cultures, groups, and areas according to many suggested definitions. There has never been a consensus definition reached.

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This can come in many forms. In the beginning of our country the blacks were disadvantaged in this way by not being allowed to vote as they were simply used for labor. Women were not allowed to vote either, as their societal role did not allow it. Indians were not incorporated in to the cities and dwelling established by the dominant white, male culture developed by the settlers, as they were pushed to the Midwest where land was not yet developed.

Many efforts are made today to avoid such discrimination, but some of it cannot be avoided due to things already having been in place from generations past. A small example of this could be found in the Dayton area where the west side of town is commonly known as the “dark” side of town. They have subsequently place the power generation station, garbage dumps, and other blue-collar, pollution producing business in this location. A common argument among for this practice is that the workers for these facilities live in this area, and it allows for an easier commute being close to work. Based on the premises outlined in many of the definitions of environmental racism, these areas are inhabited by subordinate groups and the negative impact isn’t as significant as a result.

In an ideal world, which in reality can never be attained, there would be no discrimination based on race, creed, ethnicity, or social status. Our waste facilities and laws would not be placed with any reference to where it may “fit” according to the people nearby, but only placed where they show no bias or negativity to those near them or that would be effected by them.

Bullard, R. D. (2002, July 2). Poverty, pollution and environmental racism strategies for building healthy and sustainable communities. Retrieved from http://www.ejrc.cau.edu/PovpolEj.html