Breastfeeding and Jury Duty

While this isn’t exactly about breast cancer or the environment, it still kind of falls within my motto of “duty to inquire.”  Plus, this article caught my attention and I felt like sharing.

The article: Michigan may exempt nursing moms from jury duty
“Michigan lawmakers have approved a bill that would exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty.”

While the idea behind it makes sense, what I’m curious about here is why there has to be a law about it.  What does it say that the Michigan legislator was so quick to agree to create this bill.  Is this the most urgent legislation to get to?  One commenter was very eloquent when s/he stated “Good Lord Almighty. What the hell are our lawmakers doing? Coming up with ridiculous bills when so many Americans are out of work.”

Some might argue that the reason this is offensive is because it solidly puts women “back” into the domestic sphere (where they belong).  It allows women to politely excuse themselves from the political “man’s world” while they busy themselves being proper mothers.  Another commenter stated “They are only doing this because it is a well known fact that nursing woman cannot make good decisions.”  While this may very well be a joke (I sure hope so), it’s true that this sentiment exists in society at large.  Women’s nursing ties them very closely to their bodies, more specifically their breasts.  This could then be further supported by the fact that women have long been connected to their bodies and more importantly not to their minds. I’m still thinking through if this is really worth my attention, but it certainly caught my ear when I heard about it on NPR.

Are my possible interpretations a stretch?  What do you think this legislation could mean for women?

Science & Gender

While I was perusing the Scientific American, I stumbled on an article talking about “How Skulls Speak.”  This article kind of bothered me a little, mostly because it touched on a lot of gendered notions of biological differences between males and females.  I couldn’t help wondering if the adjectives they were using could have been a little more neutral. 

The basic argument was that scientists were creating 3-D software that would help “scientists identify the sex and ancestral origins of human remains with greater speed and precision.”  This I don’t mind.  I suppose we aren’t allowed to question the scientists as to whether or not there are biological/innate differences between different sexes. 

The article posed an image of a male and a female skull side by side.  As I kept reading, I couldn’t help recall an article by Schiebinger about how science has continually tried to ascribe certain features and characteristics to male and female biology that also take on the scientists’ gender biases.  The article in the Scientific American says that concerning the forehead, “Women’s foreheads are more vertical than men’s, which gives them a childlike appearance, Ross says.  Men tend to have sloping foreheads.”  Male’s nuchal crest is also typically “rugged and has a hook”  whereas “this area…is smooth and rounded in women.”  One thing I like (not) is how quickly the author slides between males, men, females, and women.  According to the article, males “typically have a broad, square jaw” whereas “a female jaw is often smaller than a man’s and is either pointed or rounded” [italics added].  There they go again with the interlacing of sex and gender.  And all these descriptions I’ve highlighted here seem to be doused in gendered connotations.

Pink Ribbons Inc.

Everyone is allowed some skepticism.  The women that created the movie, Pink Ribbons Inc., have taken that to the next level and come up with some pretty compelling evidence for their skepticism.  The entire pink ribbon “culture” that created the “cause marketing phenomena,” seems to have gotten a little out of control.  Watch the trailer for this movie and learn a little about what goes on behind the pink ribbon.  Of course there is never a black and white to any issue, but I think we still need to ask questions.  How much of the money spent and money raised in the name of breast cancer is actually going towards breast cancer research, prevention, and treatment?  And what happened to learning about why women get breast cancer get it in the first place?  When did this turn into a one way street towards a cure?  Keep inquiring!

Check out the movie here.

Einstein & our delusion of consciousness

Einstein

In a section of Grace Lee Boggs‘ book The Next American Revolution, Boggs quotes Einstein as she explains why now is the time to grow our souls

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”

Beyond this simply being a very powerful statement for me personally (as a vegetarian and pending pacifistic), I’m also curious as to how it relates to people’s relationships with each other or even with themselves.  Can we live our lives in a bubble, believing that our own actions only affect ourselves a select few?

When it comes to our own bodies there are so many images out there telling us how we can save our bodies.  Eat dark chocolate and fish and drink wine to live longer.  Eat flax seeds, have children early, and avoid alcohol to prevent breast cancer.  The list goes on…

As I read about all these things that could save my life, I get really excited about what I should go out and buy during my next grocery trip or what sorts of New Years resolutions I should come up with to implement a new exercise regimen or diet into my already busy lifestyle.  But I want to take a step back and ask, are these things that I decide the only influences on my body?  Of course choosing a healthy lifestyle and taking charge of my body by being more aware of what goes in and how I treat it are very important, but what about how I connect with the rest of my external environment?  If I am in fact a “part of the whole,” there must be more to my body than me.