Category: Gender Studies


American writers as critics of war, women’s status & slavery: Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass and Margaret Fuller

All the authors in the title have made key contributions to American literature, culture and politics. They used their literary talent as a means to not only create art but also to transform society. The 19th century was a period of great upheavals in American history. The nation was still young and uncertain of its own identity. It is quite natural that this milieu gave rise to several undercurrents of unrest. On the political front was class struggle between the propertied and un-propertied whites. In terms of social equations, the blacks were hoping for the abolishment of slavery. Women were still thought of as ‘property’ of their fathers or husbands or sons, let alone having the right to vote. In terms of general culture, the population was highly illiterate. It is these pressing issues that writers such as Melville, Douglass and Fuller sought to address through their work. It can be claimed that their efforts were not in vain, given how much the country has progressed in . . . Read More

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Debate Paper: Should single individuals be allowed to adopt children?

NO. There are many conundrums, including legal uncertainties, question marks over suitability and the possibility of gender-based discrimination if single individual adoption is allowed.

Children need both parents for healthy psychological development. To successfully meet various socio-psychological developmental stages a child would ideally need both parents. Moreover, taking care of a child, especially in its early years is a strenuous effort and a couple is better disposed to share that responsibility. Moreover, identification with the same-sex parent is a key developmental milestone. (Samuels, 2012) There are also unanswered questions over the suitability of a single man in raising an adopted daughter, especially with respect to negotiating the biological and psychological upheavals during puberty. If we grant that only women can raise baby girls into maturity, then is it not discriminatory against men?

The other major problem with single individual . . . Read More

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The Soundness of Selective Biomedical Enhancements

Enhancements are Integral to the Evolutionary Process

Buchanan raises a few valid points in support of selective enhancements. He argues that enhancement is an integral feature of human existence[i].  For example, there are over-the-counter memory enhancement pills that many use. Nobody blinks an eye, let alone bring ethical considerations, in this case. Likewise, one could even argue that basic education (literacy and numeracy) in itself endows an individual a marked advantage over someone who cannot read or count.[ii] This advantage is so profound that it has a bearing on critical parameters like life expectancy or quality of life.  Such ‘enhancements’ are no different from those that are likely to be accomplished through the modern scientific methods of genetic engineering[iii]. Moreover, as Buchanan cogently states, even the natural process of evolution through natural selection is one of continuous enhancements. These enhancements, though, . . . Read More

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The Essence of Humanity and the Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement

Effects of BME on the Conventional Idea of Humanity, Human Relations, Intimacy and Reproductive Methods

In Agar’s well researched book he articulates an important reason why radical enhancements should be forbidden.  He argues that the very idea of humanity is intrinsically linked to certain species-specific values and perspectives.  These are contained in our culture, art, relationships and understanding of morality. For example a hallmark of good theatre is the apt combination of logos, pathos and ethos.  The radical enhancement project aims to reduce or eliminate human capacity or necessity for all the three qualities. A human being’s range of expression in these areas is likely to be reduced after radical enhancement.  Moreover, it is imperfections in human behavior and thought that give merit to the near-perfect accomplishments of high art and high culture[i]. By attempting to make humans ‘perfect’ something essential to humanity – . . . Read More

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Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement: Risks and Dangers of BME

Ethical Issues Surrounding Sex Selection During or Prior to Conception

Whenever technological progress throws up great new possibilities there are also attendant ethical dilemmas relating to such possibilities. Such is the case with genetic engineering in general and human biomedical enhancement in particular.  Allan Buchanan is well aware of some immediate pitfalls for society if BME is allowed unregulated[i].  One of the issues he raises is that of sex selection during pregnancy.  In many parts of the world, especially in the developing world, there is a cultural and traditional bias toward male babies.  From a sociological perspective a balance of equal population of male and female individuals is essential for the survival of the species.[ii]  An unfettered BME system would totally skewer the sociological balance and may inadvertently set the species on a self-destructive spiral.  Currently, at least as far as advanced industrial nations . . . Read More

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Women and Global Leadership at Bestfoods – Discussion Questions

  1. Should the headquarters of U.S.-based multinationals promote diversity initiatives in their worldwide subsidiaries? If so, what’s the best way to accomplish this?

There is nothing wrong in U.S.-based headquarters taking the initiative for diversity promotion across other locations in the globe.  The thoughts and measures of Brody and Shoemate are instructive, for they provide a framework that all MNCs could follow.  Since American business culture and social values are somewhat different to that in the rest of the world, the HR Manager taking decisions from U.S. headquarters will have to be culturally sensitive. The HR Manager will also be cognizant of the fact that the definition of diversity is not constant across locations.  Moreover, the HR Manager will have to heed to what configurations of diversity ideally suit local teams. Actually, Bestfoods’ diversity program is a good starting point for any company trying to achieve similar . . . Read More

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Did women have an impact on American political culture through nineteenth century?

In many ways, women are history’s largest minority.  Their voice was for most part suppressed under male domination. It is only in recent decades that they have attained legal and nominal equality with men. America has been a theatre for women’s rights going back to the late 18th and 19th centuries. The Catholic Church provided a semblance of political emancipation for women. This it achieved through allowing Sisters to assume high offices within the rigid hierarchy of the institution.  Though there was a degree of democracy and representation within the Church, in practice, “internal governments combined authoritarian and hierarchical structures with participatory and egalitarian elements.” This meant that Sisters were subject to the authority of officers, but in turn influenced the officers through elections and consultations.  In this somewhat compromised democratic system some members were disenfranchised to vote.  Even in the absence of a . . . Read More

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From the American Revolution to the Reconstruction era: A race & gender perspective

The time period between the American Revolution and the Reconstruction were one of uncertainly and instability in American socio-politics.  Having valiantly won its freedom from the British Crown, the fledgling nation was taking cautious first steps toward self-assertion. But even as America’s presence as a global power was taking root, its society was beset by longstanding issues.  The social issues could be broadly divided across the twin axes of race and gender. Racial discrimination of colored people and gender oppression of women were two chronic malaises.

At the time of the Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution, blacks were considered as unequal to whites.  This is reflected in the early laws of the country where segregation and slavery were legally sanctioned.  The basis of these draconian laws was the prejudiced conception of blacks as only three-fifth human (whereby whites are the benchmark of full humanity).  Such unscientific . . . Read More

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Existential Themes in the film My Life Without Me

The basic plot of the movie – that set on the last days of a dying young woman – hints at being a tear-jerking melodrama.  But contrary to this threat My Life Without Me delivers a surprisingly novel representation of a life about to end.  The announcement of death, instead of limiting the physical and mental possibilities of the young woman Ann, actually liberates her to explore them to the fullest.  The film is rich in its philosophical content, particularly themes central to Existentialism.  This essay will showcase how through the strength of her character and a preference for rationality over sentimentality Ann represents a true existential hero.

Hardly 23 years of age, Ann lives an arduous yet contented life. She lives with her young family in a caravan put out in the backyard of her mother’s house.  Although the relationship with her mother is somewhat troubled, she has a loving husband and two adorable girls.  Her father is . . . Read More

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Theme of Personal Obsession in The Emperor’s Babe and Purple Hibiscus

Both the stories in question have a female, colored protagonist.  The two central characters Zuleika and Kambili are also similarly aged – it is their teenage years that are being explored.  Even before they reach adulthood they go through enormous upheavals in their lives. Moreover, their stories fit into a colonial discourse with attendant features of cultural displacement, social alienation and economic exploitation.  There is yet another interesting similarity between the two heroines, namely, their personal obsessions. But the objects of their obsessions are not the same. Likewise, secondary characters in the two stories have obsessions of their own. This essay endeavors to show how there are a range of psychological dispositions among various characters which account for their obsessions  and how the authors’ own obsessions bear upon them.

The Emperor’s Babe is a fresh and vivid verse narrative of a young woman in Ancient Rome.  Born into poverty and . . . Read More

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