Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weight a Minute?! What's the BIG deal?

Here is my final project, my educational video about breaking down the stigmas associated with fat.  Please enjoy! It's about 20 minutes long.  I'd appreciate any feedback that anyone has (just post comments).  I hope everyone can learn something from it...I know I did.- Stephanie

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Women as victims of medical experimentation

Axelson's article reveals the poor state that African American women have historically recieved from American doctors. Black women were treated like animals because others thought of them as animals. Then to emphasize this, they were regarded as heroes for putting up with the surgeries as if they had a choice (as if they were technically forced to comply anyway) and as if they wanted the surgeries. It seems it would have profited them more to just deal with the uncomfortable illness.
Later on in the article, Axelson notes how the norm is being a European male. They said that everyone is equal in the constitution, but they still justified racism by claiming that anyone other than white males were lower level beings. In fact, women was considered a monstrous error. It makes you wonder how they could say such a thing when, without women there would be no men. Procreation would also be frustrating to figure out. This sentiment against women is also pretty amusing now that we know that being a boy is a deviation from how all babies start out. Females also seem the more sturdy sex between the two seeing as how more girls are born than boys (it is more likely that a couple will have a girl than a boy)and women tend to live longer than men in spite of the way paternalism negatively affects our health and wellness. If anything it would seem we are the ones with the biological advantages.
It is also interesting how they made it a point to ensure that the theories they were coming up with supported their biases. Such things go on today still as The Biology and Gender Group discovered. Science professional write books that support this male domination idea. For example, biology books often depict the fertilization process as a passive female and active male process. The male counterpart (the sperm) is depicted as a courageous soldier and it is inferred that the egg is a village, or even a woman, waiting to be surrendering to it.
The race issue is still big today as well I found out in class and as part of my activist practicum. Minority women are more likely to be targeted and pressured toward contraceptives. I also found out that minority women are more likely to be offered (and expected to accept) epidurals. While the Feminist Women’s Health Center exposed that, in general, the birth process is made convenient for the doctors (if a woman doesn’t dilate or deliver by a certain time, they give her drugs to do so just so they can get her out of the delivery room and free up the bed for other pregnant women) as opposed to the naturally varying process that it is for women.

Toxic Bodies

Berila makes many important observations here. She brings up the issue of clout… people with clout (money, power, authority, connections) are never the ones seen as toxic. It is the poor, the minorities, the homosexuals, the homeless, the ill (i.e. AIDS) that are seen as toxic. This article does forget to mention that the disabled and the overweight however. There are so many cultural and social institutions that continue to objectify women and make them second class citizens simply because they are women. This is regardless of social, political, and economic clout she has. In this case women have little social clout. This article is a good summary of the beef that America has had with second class citizens (listed above). This comes up in the end of the semester with reference to the Inuit people. Because they have no social or “insignificant” (in the eyes of American companies) economic clout, the plight of their mothers and babies is being pushed to the wayside.
Berile states that it is difficult to distinguish the out-group from the in-group sometimes. For example ACT UP members easily infiltrated a few sessions where they were not welcome. But then again they were middle- to upper-class white men. The qualities that qualified them for second-class-citizen-hood were not obvious. If a teenage, Latino or African American boy in baggy jeans and a jersey tried to do the same he would not have gotten past security.
One statement that Berila made was to show your patriotism by consuming. I am not sure what that means….

I Can Fix It!

Though this article may have been a bit harsh for some people, the reality that many people must face as minorities is harsh in itself. When I was first interviewing for jobs, I was nervous that many employers would first see my skin color before the saw my credentials. What many people of the majority race don't realize is that you can never fully understand the plight of a people unless you walk a mile in their shoes. One can try to get a sense of what that person may have to go through on a daily basis, but you can never completely sympathize unless you are in fact in that situation. The same idea goes for the disable. As an able-bodied person, I see the disabled and can only imagine the troubles that they may have but I can never know struggles because I am able-bodied. I feel that the article takes a very direct approach in getting people to understand that racism still exists and that these are the things minorities would like Whites to do so that they could understand our frustrations.

There have been many instances in my life when I wanted to tell a person of the majority race that somethings that they assume about my race are insensitive and that become racism doesn't exist for them doesn't mean that racism does not exist. Therefore, I understood where the author was coming from when she constructed this piece. Walking into a room and being first noticed as black and woman in a society where those two factors can count against me is an uncomfortable feeling, but I love my gender and my race. With the appreciation of other cultures comes understanding and that is what I think I gained most from this class.

power vs prosthesis

In Lorde’s article “Power vs. Prosthesis,” she brings up the very valuable idea of mastectomy as a cosmetic surgeries rather than a life or death surgery. Many women refuse the surgery because they don’t want t lose their “femininity” or “womanhood” because they, themselves, connect such ideas to their breasts. Others feel pressured by society or even their loved ones to refuse the surgery because society encourages such thinking. I had two personal experiences with this. My mother’s late boss lost a daughter to breast cancer because her husband didn’t want her to have a mastectomy. He didn’t want her to lose her woman-hood and her beauty. I also have an aunt right now hasn’t had herself checked for breast cancer in years and has had a painful lump (with other unpleasant and abnormal symptoms) for almost the same amount of time. She was afraid doctors might want to cut off her breast because of a little lump, and as a result, she might very well be dying from breast cancer.
In the video in class, a nurse said “What we are aiming for is to allow women to look decent in clothes…. The aim is for the patient to look normal and natural when she has clothes on her body.” WOW. Normal and natural according to who??? And even if you do look normal and natural with clothes on, what are you supposed to look like (and feel about how you look) when you take them off. This mindset encourages these courageous women feel ashamed even though they survived this life threatening disease. This goes back to what I said before about women’s issues having to be a private battle. Guy with eye patch, vs her with no prosthesis. Idea of invisibility and silence… is it a lie (to yourself) to wear prosthesis?
This is a good example of what Showalter called managing women’s minds. Although she is referring to how women with mental illness are treated, the same amount of control is put on women who are “sane.” Because the women in Showalter’s article were “deviant” (sexually open and honest, had children out of wedlock, didn’t have a Victorian zip on their lip) they were deemed crazy and thrown in an asylum. The breast cancer survivors are treated similarly when they disclose that they do not want prosthesis. Although these women are not thrown in an asylum, doctors and nurses eye them with apprehension and wonder if they are crazy. They are stigmatized, mistreated and pressured into getting one. The class issue is also similar here to. If a lower class woman were to go without prosthesis, she would be deemed ignorant and strange/crazy (not literally… or is it?). If an upper class woman were to go without a prosthesis, she would be more likely to be called courageous although they would still think her strange (and maybe crazy too).
In issues as sensitive as breast cancer, however, doctors should be extra sensitive to the patient's wishes. They should ask patients what they want and support it. Doctors are supposed to be liaisons and partners not commanders . As Alice Walker calls it, it should be seen as a warrior mark, not a deformity.

Selective abortion

I see a dilemma in Saxon’s article. Selective abortion is controversial in that actualizes eugenics. But then again how do you care for a child if you cannot guarantee it the most comfortable life possible. Suppose you do not have enough money and/or adequate access to other resources necessary to care for a disabled child? It is a difficult decision to make. I suppose my personal feelings on abortion are slightly contradictory as well. I don’t believe anyone should be deprived of the right to life. However, I do believe that people should not be born unless you can guarantee a certain amount of comfort for the child. This is not to say that any one child should be aborted because of one reason over another though. All children are extremely expensive and with the price of living going up, they are only becoming more so. Therefore, if a couple know that they cannot afford a differently abled child, they might want to fully assess if they can afford any child at all. I believe having a child is a privilege and an honor that people should carefully plan to ensure the greatest possible amount of comfort. I realize the controversy that can arise and that this can bring up questions like the following: Should people in the bottom of the socio-economic class have children. I am not suggesting that there should be a guideline detailing who should have children; I am only encouraging people to plan their children better to avoid bringing children up environments that will most likely be emotionally and or psychologically damaging. I realize that utopia is possible, but I am always an advocate for striving towards it…. Perhaps I am a bit na├»ve and/or idealistic that way…. Children deserve the greatest amount of love and support possible. And while people have to right to have children, I think people should also regard it as a privilege and an honor. That way, women, especially those who do not see or have abortion as an option, would take more precautions to avoid accidental pregnancies.
Similar to the discussion on eugenics in Puerto Rico mentioned in the video La Operacion. I mentioned a “proper environment” and circumstance to have kids. I admit, this is along the lines of the thought processes that caused the large number of women to be sterilized without their full informed consent. Americans claimed that they wanted to create a better living environment for the natives; however, as the documentary revealed, Americans wanted to control the population growth in order to make the island more comfortable and profitable for themselves. This is the big difference between what I believe and what Americans did. I think my beliefs are closer to planned parenthood while America exercised eugenics.
I AM NOT COMPLETELY convinced by this article. As I said before I feel like all the situational factors need to be considered. I still feel like it is a good idea to screen for these disabilities, especially if people feel like they would not be able to adequately care for the child.

No Remedy for the Inuit

I was very touched by the article and video we watched about the Inuit and the toxins that were unknowingly placed in their bodies. The passage at the beginning of the article that states "As we put our baby to our breasts, we feed them a noxious chemical cocktail that foreshadows neurological disorders, cancer, kidney failure, reproductive dysfunction" speaks clearly the frustrations of the Inuit people. Dioxins store in the fat of animals and humans, and because the Inuit have a diet that consists of animal fat they are more susceptible to the toxin. It is almost like a never ending cycle and that is why the title is so appropriate for the situation. Mothers must breast feed their babies and the Inuit must eat from the land, so the dioxins will continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

This reminded me so much of the Tuskegee experiment and our talks about the environment. Unlike the Tuskegee experiment, these people weren't tricked into their dangerous fates; however, in both cases a responsible party knew the consequences of their actions but did not take into account the pain and suffering they causes these people. We live in a society that cares so much about technology and advancement that we don't take the time to see if they will be harmful to both the environment and people. These Inuit people were not in direct contact with the pollutants but the choices that wer made by these companies to produce them has changed the lives of many people forever.