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Leading By Example, in the 21st Century...

American History Digitized- '09-'10

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American History Digitized- '09-'10

This is the home base for discussions and assignment posting for this course.

Members: 15
Latest Activity: Jun 1, 2010

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The Origins of Environmental Degradation 2 Replies

While Worster's writing is full of many ideas, one central feature of his work is the location of the origins of environmental degradation in capitalist world-views and modes of production that are…Continue

Started by John Trampush. Last reply by Leigh Anne Bonney Mar 3, 2010.

What do we mean by "nature"? 7 Replies

How might you define "nature?"  Assuming the goal of Environmental history (and this is a good assumption) is to re-place nature (or place) into our historical narratives, just what is "nature?"Continue

Started by John Trampush. Last reply by Leigh Anne Bonney Mar 3, 2010.

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Comment by Steve Cothran on April 30, 2010 at 10:22am
I just wanted to follow up on last weeks class with posting the websites I used:
The Alaska Humanities Forum has a good website on AK History which many of you are probably aware. Lots of good information and links, although the content could be better organized. The Russian Reader was where I found the primary sources used in this lesson.
http://www.akhistorycourse.org/

This site is a treasure trove of primary sources regarding the Gold Rush and that time period. Most of the materials I used were found under "Discovery of Gold" and "Our Legacy", both of which have sections pertaining to the effects of the Gold Rush on Native Alaskans.
http://www.eed.state.ak.us/temp_lam_pages/library/goldrush/midmain.htm
Comment by Leigh Anne Bonney on April 8, 2010 at 12:33pm
I agree with Patrica that women should be held to the same standards as men, but think that it should apply to the draft too. If women are able to serve equally in the military, which they are, then they should have to register. If we want to make exemptions about parenthood, then they should apply equally to men and women. How can we expect equality, then it should be in all aspects.
Comment by Rena Jane Witter on April 8, 2010 at 12:04pm
I agree with you that women should be held to the same standard as a man, especially when they apply for work in non-traditional jobs. I'm also glad to see, that women are fighting in the armed forces, if they want to, right along side men. (Actually, they have for centuries, but were not accepted when they applied as women!!) We do need to be responsible for the consequences of what we ask for. As long as the armed services are a voluntary unit, I think equality is great. I'm not sure I'd like to see women forced to enlist, as in the draft in earlier years. I believe they are capable, but if they don't want to, I don't think they should have to. That's the one place where the ERA was problematic, and it was the excuse many men gave for not supporting it.
Comment by Craig Kind on April 7, 2010 at 9:42am
I think John has taken us into a very interesting direction for the current Civil Rights debate, and perhaps I can use it to make my point about the 14th Amendment better. Specifically, John is pointing out the balancing tests that are used when weighing one person’s rights against another's and how difficult that has become as we as a society have expanded the protection of Civil Rights to a greater number of people.

Race & Civil Rights in education is a classic example. While we are still quite a ways away from true equality, most of the barriers of de jure (officially, legally sanctioned) segregation & discrimination have been removed with the modern interpretation of the 14th Amendment & implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 & the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In education that means explicit segregation based on race is illegal, but that leaves de facto segregation & discrimination in place, e.g. schools segregated not by policy but by the demographics of the neighborhood. Historically when we have tried to address de facto segregation & discrimination—busing in Boston in the 1970s or Affirmative Action—things have gotten very complicated (and often quite ugly & even violent).

I wonder if we are at this point with women’s rights—have we moved from the realm of de jure discrimination to de facto discrimination? Have we moved from the egregious examples of discrimination (which one of my students refers to as “WTF discrimination”) to more subtle examples? Violations of the Civil Rights of women were more blatant before the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act & the Family & Medical Leave Act enhanced our interpretation & enforcement of the 14th Amendment.

I consider these acts essential to the progress we have made on Civil Rights & full equality (and I would advocate we go even further on these issues) but John’s question is valid: How do we balance the rights of a worker (female or otherwise) against the rights of an employer? There are still egregious examples of discrimination, but I would argue that the vast majority fall into more subtle categories. And in dealing with the more subtle instances, sometimes in providing Equal Protection for one group, we violate Equal Protection for another. Doing so is a “no brainer” when talking about slavery or segregation in the receding past (Who would argue today slave owners deserved Equal Protection? But that is what they did when abolition was on the table.) John’s example shows how much more difficult these debates on 14th Amendment issues are after significant progress has been achieved.
Comment by Rena Jane Witter on April 6, 2010 at 3:13pm
I didn't mean to imply that it demonstrated bigotry, just profitability. The almighty dollar is the bottom line. Was then, is now, and most likely will be for some time.
Comment by John Trampush on April 6, 2010 at 1:20pm
Let me play Devil's Advocate here, for a minute. I think there is a distinction between "disease" and "disability". And the fact is that pregnant women are not able to work the same number of hours (and consequently accomplish the same number of tasks) in the year around the pregnancy & birth of a child. (Nor do I think they should have to, but that's another story.) Between increased doctor visits, morning sickness & other complications, child birth recovery, and possible family leave time, less work tasks get done. Period.

And from the perspective of a small business owner, living on the bare margins of profitability (or even a larger business just interested in maximizing efficiency), maximizing the number of employee tasks completed in a week/month/year and minimizing the the amount of training/retraining/learning hours that you have to pay when hiring each employee is not necessarily bigotry, it is profit and mathematics...
If corporations were rewarded for things other than quarterly profit, this might have changed a lot faster than it has been. But the system is designed to maximize economic profit and ignore all "externalized" social costs...
Comment by Rena Jane Witter on April 6, 2010 at 11:28am
I'm 63 years old, and remember being discriminated against because I was a young, newly married woman trying to find a job. It became a matter of lying about your future plans if you were looking for a job, and sometimes lying to get a job, if you knew you were pregnant, but really needed the job, anyway. It was demeaning, but since women had few other choices, they just did what they've always done -- lied, or did what they could to get the job, or looked elsewhere for work. It was probably one of the big reasons that women were denied equal wages, and that very few women burst through the "glass ceiling" until the '70's.
Comment by Crystal Ann Mowbray on April 6, 2010 at 10:08am
A few things from last class....

I do agree with Craig. I found it rather shocking that pregnancy was seen as a disease. I could not believe it. Pregnancy is the last thing that I would label as a disease. I was wondering what some of the women in the class who had children thought about that comment.

I am a visual learner and last class was wonderful with the PowerPoint. There were some wonderful pictures and information. Like Patricia said, I thought that it was too ‘lecture heavy’. It is very hard for me to listen to a lecture heavy internet class. I start to drift off and do other things or space out. I need interaction and peer involvement. She had some wonderful statements and ideas, but I wish I knew what some of you were thinking. I know the slide about a proper housewife, I would have loved to hear some more comments from the class.

In her defensive though, she may not have know about the ways in which we do communicate in the course, phones un-muted, big screen chat, etc. I hope that there will be more conversation next class :)
Comment by Rena Jane Witter on April 6, 2010 at 9:45am
This was, and maybe still, Craig, a kind of way for employers to label young, newly married, viable young women as not suitable for a job, since they might get pregnant at any time, and would expect medical coverage for their pregnancy, as well as maternity leave to await and have their child, and then would be questionable if they would return to work as before, or if they would require or request time off for dr. visits, sick children, & other parental reasons. One place the U.S. is sadly far behind Japan and many European countries, is providing support for working parents. Employers rarely if ever consider providing day care, or flexible hours to accomodate mothers who need to breastfeed, or just need care for their young, pre-school aged children. Most companies consider these extras and interruptions, as too expensive and not cost effective enough to provide.
Comment by Craig Kind on April 5, 2010 at 7:10pm
I admit that I was also a bit surprised to hear pregnancy referred to as a disease, especially given that we were going over the rise of modern feminism. Viewing pregnancy as a debilitating disease is reminiscent of the 19th century diagnoses of such “diseases” as neurasthenia & female hysteria. Diagnosing pregnancy as a disease is definitely more 1870s than 1970s, but I think the last chapter of the reading did a good job showing how the issue was not diagnosing pregnancy as a disease but equating it with disease for legal purposes.

Some of this seems to arise out of “difference feminism” & the goal of defining what is essential about being a woman. Certainly the cultural ideas of women being ill-suited for fighting in combat or initiating sexual contact (two rather interesting examples from the readings) are problematic & outmoded, as are the old assumptions of female athletic ability & interest (on my mind with the Final Four playing out on TV). But pregnancy clearly defines the differences between a man & a woman, and if any difference is going to find its way into the law books it would have to be pregnancy. This is very important for the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection before the law (either to ones advantage or disadvantage) for “similarly circumstanced” individuals & groups. Pregnancy would be an example of how & when a person is not similarly circumstanced, therefore, defining when women would warrant special treatment before the law, much as a person suffering from a disease or disability would.
 

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