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A Community's Right Relationships: Urban Gardening


    The difference that Humbach makes between rights and right relationships can be teased out within the debate on food security/sovereignty. Food security, as an ideal, is the right for all people and communities to have enough culturally appropriate food. Food sovereignty builds upon this by accentuating the importance of process in food acquisition. It places importance on community food systems, non-exploitation, and health.
    The issues of food justice and food security have always been important to me. On the surface, they are merely about food: having enough, access and availability. And on the surface, these are simple problems to fix, right? To fix hunger, farmers should plant more. Grocery chains should build stores in neighborhoods that lack them. But relationships always prove to be more complicated than their surface implications.

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Hillary Clinton's speech

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say that I'm heartened that this space will live on past the official ending of our class/ semester. In the spirit of perpetual online communities I thought I would make one more post regarding activism and current events.

Has anyone seen this?? It speaks to the concept of rights in regards to cultural relativism. We've been talking a lot about the importance of individual activism on a structural level. It's rather hard to conceptualize how an individual such as myself could possibly go about creating change on anything but an individual level. I'm not a member of congress. I'm not a millionaire. I'm certainly not Paul Farmer.

Believe me, I appreciate the value of social movements and the inherent potential of many voices mobilized against oppressive power structures. But we also have to think about our elected leaders as resources for change. While social movements are vital to cultural structural change, government leaders have the capacity for structural and legal change. The symbolic power of government public protection and recognition can go a long way for both activists and opponents.

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Right Relationships in Urban Gardening - Overcoming the Race/Class Divide

     The difference that Humbach makes between rights and right relationships can be teased out within the debate on food security/sovereignty. Food security, as an ideal, is the right for all people and communities to have enough culturally appropriate food. Food sovereignty builds upon this by accentuating the importance of process in food acquisition. It places importance on community food systems, non-exploitation, and health.
      The issues of food justice and food security have always been important to me. On the surface, they are merely about food: having enough, access and availability. And on the surface, these are simple problems to fix, right? To fix hunger, farmers should plant more. Grocery chains should build stores in neighborhoods that lack them. But relationships always prove to be more complicated than their surface implications.

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"Men steal women to show that they are men"

This semester I'm taking a class in Business Ethics. Last week we discussed the benefits and pitfalls of moral relativism versus moral absolutism. The example given in class was about the Kyrgyzstan custom of ala kachuu (translation: grab-and run). Basically, a man kidnaps a women and forces her to marry him. It is estimated that 1/3 of Kyrgyzstan brides are kidnapped this way.

The anxiety, fear, and refusal of the kidnapped women are all accepted as routine. Many fight back. But, according to this New York Time's Article 80% of women relent and agree to marriage.

Now that we've started studying global conditions of women in our class, I think it's necessary we address our own framing strategies and biases. There's something to be said for cultural relativism - to a point. It's hard to recognize the line at which one crosses over from a global to western perspective (in part because we help dominate the shaping of global values).

This is extremely important to think about in terms of activism. I know Judith Butler mentioned the importance of outside, (i.e) objective help and critical distance. But does distance give us objectivity? Doesn't it just give us another kind of bias? Would it be OK for Americans to interfere with the traditions of another country because we see them as backwards? As harmful and violent against women? What would make our interference (speaking on a personal not national level) less imperialistic?

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Lesson Plan : Intersex

Hello All,
I would just like to preface this web event with a short explanation of my format/subject choice. When I was in the 9th grade, I had a biology teacher who, one day, convinced a male classmate that men menstruate. The teacher continued the prank, asking “***** have you really not gotten your period yet?” This boy began to get visibly anxious, as he oscillated between belief and skepticism. Everything he had learned about menstruation through popular culture led him to believe menstruation and masculinity did not mix. And yet, here before him was a science teacher testing the malleability of a mind by trying to convince him otherwise.

Knowledge comes to us from all directions - which means that (mis)information can be conveyed  through a plurality of sources. It’s as important to disentangle popular myths as it is to build up scientific “truths.” The following is a lesson plan designed for high school health teachers who wish to confront the issue of (inter)sex from more than one perspective. In order to learn something, it is instrumental to unlearn false truths first, we must sift through the myths surrounding the sexual binary.

High School Teacher Lesson Plan / Guidelines for Teaching Biology and Representation of Intersex bodies.  

Goals:
To explore and discuss the scientific continuum between the sexes
and the culturally constructed binary of male/female
To unlearn myths/half truths about intersex

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Class and gender

    I'm still thinking about last class' medical/legislative activity, where, assuming a different professional role we were all supposed to give our advice about genital reassignment surgery. I was the legislator, in charge of making policy decisions regarding whether or not this surgery should be covered by healthcare. Although I am deeply uncomfortable that parents can choose this surgery for their children, it worries me more that this policy represents a limitation at the convergence of gender and class. The consequences of government policies are amplified for individuals with less money. People would still be getting gender reassignment surgery, but only people with money.  The poor are tied to their bodies in a way the wealthy are not. This is a simplified dichotomy, but a true one regardless.
    We briefly mentioned how much our discussion on genital modification reminded us of the discourse surrounding abortion (waiting periods, prescribed education,  counseling etc). The similarities extend to the legislative venue as well. When Legislators want to stop abortions, knowing full well they can't outlaw them, their solution is regulation. To make them as hard to get, for as many women. Women with means don't generally have difficulty getting around these regulations They can pay for the childcare, they can afford to travel the sometimes hundreds of miles for their procedure. The women who lack the means however, may be stuck in their pregnant bodies.

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Chests versus Breasts

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/05/18/what-makes-a-body-obscene/

Andrej Pejic is a young male model whose career is centered around his androgynous look, successfully modeling both male and female clothing lines. Sometimes in the same show. Last winter he was featured on the cover of New York based Dossier Journal (picture above) hair curled and shirt in the process of being removed. Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores "bagged" the magazine - a practice usually reserved for explicitly pornographic magazines.

In our culture male chests are not viewed as pornographic. We see them all the time as a ubiquitous feature on many men's health magazine covers. Even if we hold off on the greater question of why male torsos are appropriate and female torsos obscene, why would America's two largest booksellers (at the time) force a pornographic blinder on what they knew and accepted to be a male figure? 

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Culturally constructed sexuality


    When I read “Living the Good Lie” I was skeptical that any human could repress biological aspects of their being in favor of social ones. Could a gay man really choose a heterosexual lifestyle because he identifies more closely with his religion? It didn’t seem plausible, possible, or pleasant. And yet, there was something that drew me to closer examination. Was the distinction between the biological/social as clearcut as I had always assumed?  Biologically, I am female, and socially, I identify as a woman. But untangling the biological/social for sexuality proved more difficult than I had anticipated. The intersection of sexual orientation and society is as deeply entwined as Foucault’s theory of power/knowledge. Because we live in an era and culture that accepts a sexual spectrum from hetero to bi to gay, we assume these identities have always been. Subjectively, they are abstract cultural markers that precede us, making it feel as if they have always preceded us. When in fact personal identification on the basis of sexuality is relatively recent, and marks a shifting scientific obsession on sexual studies (Foucault).
    In America, (especially for men), we seem to subscribe to a”one-drop-rule” on the sexual spectrum. For a man, one sexual encounter with another man will (for some people) forever brand him as gay. We are easily and rigidly defined by our sexual choices. Which brings me to this picture.  

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Men on TV

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/09/29/140915714/congratulations-television-you-are-even-worse-at-masculinity-than-femininity

"It really takes some effort to match television's historically disastrous relationship with femininity, but at this point, I'm prepared to say it: Right at this moment, I'm more comfortable with what scripted television thinks being a woman means than I am with what scripted television thinks being a man means.

 

I'm fascinated with media/television portrayal of gender and sexuality. But I'm not familiar with any of these shows - have you guys seen them? What do you think?

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The proliferation of Atypical minds and the Ivory Tower of Education

Has anyone ever heard the song Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches? (Here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8BWBn26bX0). Now, I'm not going to pretend to understand this song or video, but It played while I was listening to my Ratatat station on Pandora, and the opening bit seemed to connect with what I was reading in Price's "Mad at School." It goes,

"Is Dexter ill today, Mr Kirk, Dexter's in school
I'm afraid he's not, Miss Fishpaw
Dexter's truancy problem is way out of hand
The Baltimore County school board have decided to expel
Dexter from the entire public school system
Oh Mr Kirk, I'm as upset as you to learn of Dexter's truancy
But surely, expulsion is not the answer!
I'm afraid expulsion is the only answer
It's the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane
That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic"

This touches on the systematic connection between a child (for whatever reason) not working well within institutionalized education, and mental disease.  If one is true, then the other must be also.

Price states that "atypical minds are entering academe in unprecedented numbers...or simply being noticed more often" (7). She spins this as a positive turn, an upswing. But I'm not sure it's so unambiguously good. Isn't the reason more students are open about depression and attention deficit disorder because more students are being treated for these "diseases." Is over prescribing and medicating the way to embrace these atypical minds?

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