Monthly Archives: February 2011

March on Blair Mountain: Appalachia is Rising

Check out this link featured on the Friends of Blair Mountain site.  I thought this would be a good post for the day and felt that this was extremely interesting and relevant to Appalachia.  This talks about a rally/march that will be held on the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain, where coal miners rose up against the coal operators in a fight for basic rights to live and work in decent conditions.

This time, the people of Appalachia are rising to preserve Blair Mountain, abolish mountaintop removal in Appalachia, strengthen labor rights, and advocate the creation of sustainable jobs here in Appalachia.

Also, here is a little history for anyone who is interested in the Battle of Blair Mountain as well as the history of coal miner unions. Be sure to browse through the site. There is a lot of great historical, as well as current, information! It is a great opportunity to not only learn a little history, but to educate yourself on the detrimental effects of surface mining and the importance of unionization!

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Gender Issues in our Elementary Schools

I am graduate student in elementary education, hence this post. 🙂  Currently, we are studying gender issued in our elementary schools. At the same time, I am also extensively studying about children’s literature.  I made a connection: children’s literature is infused with predominantly male characters and interests.  Where are the women in these stories? Well, they usually take on passive roles. If a story does happen to portray a female main character, she usually needs the help of a stronger male character to accomplish her goals.   There is also a strew of stereotyping found in children’s literature.  Although children are not aware of the effects, this is one of the first exposures for children to a sexist society!  We start our children off at an early age with defined and separate roles for males and females.  Our early childhood and elementary educators can counteract this continuing trend of gender stereotyping by selecting quality literature that portrays both male and female points of view, interests, and positive/strong male and female main characters that are never limited by their gender.

Not only should teachers avoid stereotyping in literature, but the classroom environment should also promote equality by allowing students to equally participate in various classroom roles. For example, allow both males and females to be class line leader or classroom cleaner.  Additionally, portray both males and females in a variety of occupations. For example, show males as nurses and females as farmers. Encourage students to pursue their interests rather than limiting them because that interest is traditionally male or female. These are only a FEW solutions to gender issues in our classrooms.

I found an article that speaks to my argument. Here is a good quote from the article:

“Children’s books frequently portray girls as acted upon rather than active (Fox, 1993). Girls are represented as sweet, naive, conforming, and dependent, while boys are typically described as strong, adventurous, independent, and capable (Ernst, 1995; Jett-Simpso n & Masland, 1993). Boys tend to have roles as fighters, adventurers and rescuers, while girls in their passive role tend to be caretakers, mothers, princesses in need of rescuing, and characters that support the male figure (Temple, 1993). Often, girl characters achieve their goals because others help them, whereas boys do so because they demonstrate ingenuity and/or perseverance. If females are initially represented as active and assertive, they are often portrayed in a passive light toward the end of the story. Girl characters who retain their active qualities are clearly the exception (Rudman, 1995). Thus, studies indicate that not only are girls portrayed less often than boys in children’s books, but both genders are frequently presented in stereotypical terms as well.”

Amanda

Article in USA Today: Uprising energizes Egyptian women

“Veiled and unveiled, many feel momentum, if not a movement”

This article published February 17, in USA Today speaks not only of the revolution in Egypt, but a spark of feminism that is taking place in Cairo as thousands of women celebrate.  This is the first time, Egyptians say, that women who are veiled, unveiled, religious, secular, rural, and urban have felt safe in public and were able to make their views heard in public. Although these women hold different ideologies, they are not focusing on their differences, but on what is bringing them together!  This is a huge step for feminism in Egypt, considering the sexism and segregation apparent (and widely accepted) in Egyptian society.  It is not uncommon for an Egyptian woman to experience constant harassment, especially sexual harassment/rape on a daily basis.  Many hope that the Egyptian revolution will change attitudes toward women. 

Perhaps this “spark” is a beginning of a full-fledged flame that could change a society where women are not allowed equal rights in property, marriage, crime, and politics.  Before the protests, women’s rights and issues were not of concern.  These women and their supporters need to keep this flame alive and protest a sexist society where women are not granted basic human rights, such as dignity and safety.  A new political system is a step in the right direction.  Women naturally need to be incorporated into this new political system in order to see this spark turn into a fire.  The article points out that many feminist groups have been brainstorming about ideas on how to fit women into the new political system.  One such group discussed the removal of references to Islamic law in the constitution and female representation in political parties.

I would like to hear some of your brainstorming ideas on how feminists can help Egyptian women ignite this spark and make social change for women a reality.

-Amanda

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