Firstly, despite several rights won over by women, our society is largely a patriarchal one. The most important offices of cultural institutions are still disproportionately occupied by men. And since these influential men tend to be drawn from an elite group of Caucasians, it is inevitable that their idea of beauty and appeal is imposed on cultural content. While it is true that men prefer and desire certain body features of women; but what is hardly noted is whether women agree with this. To the contrary, due to their powerlessness to change the situation, women seem to assent to the imposed cultural norms of bodily beauty. Without this sort of socio-cultural conditioning, it is very likely that more women would be happy with the bodies they’ve got and think of themselves as beautiful. Instead, what we’ve got now is a long list of psychosomatic disorders suffered by women that are born out of obsession with the body, including bulimia nervosa, anorexia, . . . Read More
Throughout human history violent forms of entertainment have existed alongside refined ones. In Ancient Rome, for example, when modern mediums of entertainment such as Television, video games, etc did not exist, gladiator fights were a popular pass-time. This prompted Saint Augustine to note that not only did people liked violence as passive spectators, but it has also induced in them a ‘fascination for blood’. Today, such violence-ridden games like gladiator fights are forbidden by law and social norms. But the ‘fascination for blood’, apparently inherent to human nature, is exploited by movie makers and video-game manufacturers. The movie titled Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, is one example of this phenomenon; the controversial rape simulator video game produced in Japan is another key example. While the former is legally permitted and is accepted by mainstream audiences and commentators, the latter has not gained approval on both legal . . . Read More
For much of the long history of human civilization women and men evolved to assume different roles within the family and larger society. But in most societies, women were made to take a subordinate social and domestic role to men. This situation has gradually changed in the last fifty years and there is more equality between the statuses of the two sexes. Two important circumstances have made female emancipation possible. Firstly, as works of female authors started to get published, societies got exposed to the feminine perspective on various subjects. Secondly, events such as the Second World War had radically altered women’s roles by bringing them out of their homes and into factories. The women suffragette movement that took place in the early decades of the 20th century and the Women’s rights movement of the 1960s were also instrumental in bringing about substantial change in the status and role of women (Allan & Crow, 2001, p.21). These changes . . . Read More
Galileo Galilei was one of the most influential scientists of the modern era. His discovery and development of telescopes and his study of the cosmos revolutionized scientific understanding of the day. But his discoveries and inferences were disliked by the dominant religious institutions of his time, for they challenged the Christian theocratic view of the Universe and its origins. As a result, Galileo was subject to threat, coercion, torture and ultimately confinement for a significant portion of his later life. In some ways these controversial aspects of Galileo’s life have overshadowed his brilliant scientific discoveries.
Dana Sobels’ book titled Galileo’s Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love makes accessible to the reader key facts about the life of Galileo. The primary source material for the book is the compendium of letters written by Sister Maria Celeste, the eldest of Galileo’s daughters. The reciprocal letters sent by Galileo to . . . Read More
Ulrich argues that housekeeping can be a challenging, complex task requiring real skill and intelligence. How so?
At the beginning of the essay, Ulrich sets out the details of some of the daily chores that women in Colonial America performed each day. Unlike the electronic amenities and appliances available to women in modern times, the colonial era was not technologically advanced. As a result, apparently simple activities such as cooking and cleaning took up lots of time and energy. And contrary to common beliefs, these tasks required real skill and intelligence. For example, colonial housewives were experts who understood the “ticklish chemical processes which changed milk into cheese, meal into bread, malt into beer, and flesh into bacon.” (Ulrich, p.48) Further, “preparing the simplest of meals required both judgment and skill…The most basic of housewife’s skills was building and regulating fires – a task so fundamental thtat it must . . . Read More
Brent Staples’ essay titled ‘Just walk on by: A black man ponders his power to alter public space’ is an outstanding piece of minority literature of the twentieth century. Not only is the essay a high quality literary work, the point the author makes is also highly relevant to blacks and other ethnic minorities. Through the course of the essay, the author makes several valid observations and poignant remarks about the injustices meted out to blacks in everyday social situations. He rightly expresses his indignation at deep-rooted prejudice and the occasional hatred that blacks are subjected to. This aspect of his essay is not unique, for minority literature in America is full of such themes. But what makes Staples’ essay stand out from the rest is his proposed solution for the problem. Instead of adopting a radical standpoint of aggressive confrontation or even militant retaliation against racial injustices, Brent Staples attempts to see the problem from White Americans’ . . . Read More
The association between rape and war goes as far back as recorded history. Among all evil actions that human beings are known to commit, rape is only next to murder in terms of its barbarity and cruelty. It is also a sad fact that irrespective of widespread acknowledgement of the tendency of human beings to indulge in rape, no significant progress is made to prevent this social evil. Most instances of rape tend to coincide with war and its immediate aftermath. This has parallels in the animal kingdom when males of most species combat with each other to win access to females in heat. But the crucial distinction to be applied in this regard is that the animals are acting as per their nature. In the case of humans, they have a developed mental faculty that is capable of applying ethical principles to their actions. Hence there is no justification in mimicking animal behavior while at the same time undermining the faculty of reason and justice that is so uniquely human. While it is . . . Read More
Judith Jarvis Thomson’s essay titled A Defense of Abortion serves as a polemic against some of the common objections made by pro-lifers. The first of her objections to the pro-life standpoint is regarding the status assigned to a human fetus. The pro-lifers argue that right from the moment of conception the fetus has to be assigned the same rights and respect that is granted to born individuals. Thomson takes issue with this assessment, arguing that a fetus cannot be equated with a born individual since the moment of conception, although she concedes that it is very difficult to exactly ascertain when a developing fetus deserves recognition as a human being.
The other point she makes is that on what grounds would pro-lifers oppose abortion when the pregnancy was the result of a rape. Judith Thomson is essentially trying to differentiate between cases of pregnancies that result due to negligence or indifference of either of the partners, and those which arise due to . . . Read More
One of the issues that elicit a broad range of views from politicians, scholars and intelligentsia is rights for same-sex couples. At the very minimum, these rights would entail legal recognition for same-sex partners and enable them to adopt children. As same-sex partnerships gain greater acceptance in society, the members of this community expect to attain financial benefits and custodial rights that are on par with heterosexual couples. This essay will foray into the main arguments for and against such legal grants by way of citing scholarly sources.
It deserves mention in the outset that the political atmosphere here in the United Statesis much more hostile to the practice of homosexuality than elsewhere in the developed world. The primary resistance to homosexuality in the country comes from the powerful and influential Republican Party, especially the more orthodox of its members. The functioning of the party over the years suggests a disregard for the notion . . . Read More
America society has progressed a lot over the course of last fifty years. But, the country has always boasted of a long tradition of radical advancement, starting with the momentous Declaration of Independence two centuries ago to the more recent mandate for an African American president. While there is no doubt that America is at the forefront of dismantling prejudices and following the path of progress, these victories have not been offered on a plate. This is applicable to the issue of homosexuality as well. Just as in other cases, gay and lesbian Americans had had to persistently struggle for gaining equitable rights. The rest of this essay will assess the underlying causes for this turnaround in people’s attitude toward homosexuality and also ascertain its implications for American culture.
A brief glance at the cultural history of the United States would reveal that minority communities have been discriminated against. This could be racial or ethnic or sexual . . . Read More