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  • idyll

(no subject)

I totally messed up and accidentally put the wrong content essay up initially for today’s essay! It’s now been corrected. Thanks so much to podfic_lover for the heads up!
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  • idyll

Day 2 - Women's Physical and Mental Health (Alt)

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Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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Many thanks to druidspell for providing this essay!

I wanted to make this essay broad and informative when I first volunteered to write for this topic. Then depression resurfaced, and that's just not going to happen. Instead, this essay is going to be deeply personal.

In addition to major depression, I suffer from depersonalization disorder. What this means, for me, is that I don't feel like I inhabit my own body; I don't recognize myself in photographs or in the mirror; I feel like I'm living my life as if I'm watching it on a screen--two dimensional and distant. I'm awful at reading body language and non-verbal cues. I feel deeply disconnected from my emotions and from other people; what's more, I'm aware that these feelings aren't "real" which can make them worse.

My depersonalization affects my life in myriad physical ways, as well as emotionally. I don't feel as if I fully inhabit my body so it's easy to ignore signals like pain, exhaustion, hunger, or thirst--sometimes to extreme consequences (like the fallopian cyst I had to have removed last year that was large enough to place my fallopian tube at risk of rupture: I didn't realize anything was wrong until I couldn't move without a burning pain in my abdomen). I very rarely wear makeup because it makes me into a stranger in the mirror. I can't watch 3D movies because it escalates the sensation of watching my life on a screen and can trigger a dissociative episode.

I became a part of fandom because I needed something to focus on that wasn't the sensation of losing my grip on reality. I relied on this community of fen to carry me through when I couldn't feel my legs to carry myself.

My favorite health organization is the World Health Organization. They are working to reduce the incidence of disease, improve the health of women and children internationally, and decrease the suicide rate among all demographics.
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  • idyll

Day 8 Women and Work/Employment

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Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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Many thanks to verstehen1 for providing today’s essay!

One of my personal heroes is a woman most people have never heard of: Mary Harris Jones. I don’t blame people for never having heard of her; that’s not exactly unusual when it comes to history. Much of the work of women has been dismissed or forgotten or even assigned as the accomplishments of the men around them and in their lives. That’s only one reason she’s forgotten.

The other is that Mother Jones was a successful union organizer.

In the world of 2013, especially in the economically developed perspective of America, we’ve forgotten who and what unions are and do. Many of the things we take for granted about work in 2013 – lunch breaks, overtime pay, 40 hour work weeks, 8-hour work days – were fought and won with blood and bodies of union picketers, strikes, and agitators. Mother Jones, in her fifties when she started working with the United Mine Workers, became a central and inspirational figure of the late 1800s and early 1900s worker’s rights movement. Her most famous quote from her autobiography, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” is one union organizers still use today.

Modern-day conceptions of what unions are and do are essentially founded on the work Mother Jones and other union activists of her time did. “Private sector,” or unions founded within privately owned businesses, was how unions started, particularly for trade unions. In the U.S., unions became a necessity following the injustices and abuses of the industrial revolution. Over time, though, private sector unions became “less relevant” as corporate culture changed. First, the value of the worker dropped as technology began to replace human labor. When the unions fought this change and failed, confidence in unions dropped. Second, the cultural climate changed. Unions were for “blue collar” workers and we were becoming a nation of “white collar” workers who were better paid, didn’t work in dangerous jobs, were used to all the benefits unions had, and started to believe they didn’t need unions.

At the same time, the growth of the information industry led to an expansion of the public sector – people whom work for government agencies – and the beginning of public sector unions. Until the 1960s and 1970s, most public sector unions were actually illegal (Wisconsin was the first state to make public sector unions legal in 1959). And those unions – particularly teachers unions – exploded with membership. They had an advantage many of the private sector unions did not: the presence of minorities.

Mother Jones is a personal hero because of all the passion and work she had for the early labor movement. Her energy, her speeches, and her work inspired thousands during her lifetime and literally changed workplaces for the better. But the reason she did all this work was because she believed that if men had better jobs, women would be able to stay at home with their children. She was not a suffragette and famously said that, “You don’t need a vote to raise hell!” and believed that – despite her actions – women did not belong in politics and should stay at home with their children.

That’s where I disagree with Mother Jones, as much as I respect and admire all the work she did for the early labor movement. I disagree with her because I believe women should be able to stay at home or go to work. They should have the choice of either path or even both without any sort of penalty. Unions are a very effective vehicle to make sure that can happen.

There is a historical link that as union membership decreased and attacks on collective bargaining and basic union representation increased, the number of hours citizens work rises even as their pay stagnates. Unions fight to keep a living wage – and higher – for their members. Department of Labor statistics, workers represented by a union in 2011 have a median salary, on average, of $200 more a week than non-union workers (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012). This contrast is even starker when you look at the numbers based on sex and race where for women of color the averages jump to around $250 more per week than non-union workers.

Unions also gave us sexual harassment laws and fought for “luxuries” that make it easier for women to work – like paid maternity/paternity leave or on-site childcare – and work to create more inclusive workplaces. Unions, by their very nature, are about fighting oppression and inequality – and the workplace has traditionally been a place of severe class inequality. Only more recently have we begun to really explore the "inequality regimes" are set through the business practices of institutions and organizations and perpetuate divisions between different race/class/gender groups within those organizations (Acker 2011). This happens regardless of the organization and is repeated in education (Carter 2011; McGuffey and Rich 2011; Thorne [1993] 2008), health care (Wingfield 2009), the service industry (Williams 2011), and even within strip clubs (Trautner 2011) – all typically female dominated industries. These business practices constrain the ways in which people are able to "do gender" (West and Zimmerman 1987) by creating situations where only certain gender expressions are acceptable. Moving even further outward beyond organizations, gender holds a visible presence within societal institutions such as "work," "family," or "religion." Acker (1992) calls these "gendered institutions" because gender is present within all of the practices, ideologies, and the way power is distributed within those institutions. She also argues that many of these institutions were traditionally defined by the lack of women (family being the sole institution where women have a central, if subordinate, role). She differentiates the workings of these institutions into practices, which are the overt decisions that construct and control gender (e.g., segregation), construction of ideologies which legitimate those practices (e.g., hegemonic masculinity), processes of interaction (e.g., "doing gender"), and internal processes that have been constructed by the other three (e.g., defining yourself male or female). In terms of specifically gendered research, the idea of social control is particularly apparent within the institutions of work and family, as well as research into the struggle to balance the two.

Marriage, for example, is accompanied by several cultural assumptions. The heterosexual relationship is an exchange of resources, with men contributing economic resources and women contributing household resources. Tichenor (2011) points out the unequal balance of power between men and women within marriage, even as women contribute more economically to the family. Women are still socially expected to contribute the same amount of household labor as if they were not working and their jobs often do not encourage or allow for a better balance of work and family. These norms are, however, very culturally specific. In the case of the cultural assumption of breadwinner/homemaker, Hill (2011) points out that black couples are unable to fit these norms. Black women are celebrated for being strong and confident; however, white/dominant relationship norms call for women to be submissive. Further, black men are also often economically disadvantaged and are beginning to earn less than their black female partners; this is a direct contrast to the "breadwinning" male head of household. The tension between the dominant (white) norms and the reality of the black experience create fragile relationships and bitter acrimony between black women and men. For both Tichenor’s (2011) and Hill’s (2011) participants, we see how the cultural assumptions regarding gender in the institutions of work and family dominate the choices people make. Families are now choosing to negotiate those gendered assumptions and gendered institutions in new ways, such as the rising presence of the father at home (Coltrane, Parke, and Adams 2011; Shows and Gerstel 2011) or through other non-“traditional” family arrangements (Dunne 2011).

The ideologies that inform gender presentations and gendered interactions are not just about gender either. One of the bedrock beliefs within America is the ideal of the meritocracy; that is, as Americans, we believe that everyone can earn exactly what they deserve if we work hard enough for it. Roth (2011) debunks this myth when she investigates gender inequalities in Wall Street. The myth of meritocracy actually hides and perpetuates the inequality found in those workplaces by giving a cultural justification for unequal treatment. Acker’s (2011) study of different types of work groups found that business practices perpetuate and shape inequalities. For example, she looks at the differences between team-based and hierarchical organizations and found that women do see more advancement in team-based environments – so long as the women act like the other men. The ideological construct of a “successful” businessperson is one that privileges male-coded behavioral patterns. The ideology regarding these behaviors shaped business practices which, in turn, shape behavioral patterns. Ideologies are, like gender, socially constructed and thus subject to change. In looking at technology plants within the Philippines, McKay (2011) found that companies and supervisors would purposefully shift ideologies about the factory work to pull in the type of workers they needed. Instead of a factory needing a “woman’s patience” for skilled or higher-paying jobs, the ideology was being shifted by managers to one that asked for a “man’s strength” (McKay 2011).

These ideologies influence behavioral patterns and interactions between people. These ideologies are all based on particularly cultural narratives and stereotypes surrounding the intersectional statuses we all have. For example, women in male-dominated careers often experience the “glass ceiling,” which is a spot where they cannot actually achieve more success institutionally because they are women. Conversely, men in female-dominated professions may experience a “glass escalator” that elevates them quickly to high-profile, high-pay management positions. Men are pushed onto that escalator by the women they work with. However, in Wingfield’s (2009) research on black male nurses, she found that black men did not receive the benefits of being male in a “female” profession the way their white colleagues did.

All of the scientific studies and research I just quoted, all of the knowledge we’ve gained, is recent. These are not inequalities of twenty years, or fifty years, or a hundred years ago. We have made inequality – and the privilege it grants certain members of society (e.g., McIntosh 2003) – invisible. Just because we no longer have children working twelve hours a day in sweatshops does not mean we have eradicated workplace inequality, whether that inequality is in differences of pay between men or women, the “glass ceiling” women and men of color, or even creating work spaces that make a home-life balance easier for both men and women.

Unions are, I think, despite their (admittedly somewhat historically well-deserved) reputation as bastions for white men are actually founded on feminist principles. Unions are about a group of people working together to create positive change that reduces inequality and oppression in their lives. That works always begins with consciousness raising and helping others to see their own oppression; this is intimately connected with the feminist ideals of “the personal is the political.” There’s a reason that the highest rates of union membership in the U.S. are among women and black men – and it is not just because of the types of occupations either group are traditionally tracked into working.

Mother Jones believed in unions as a vehicle for change over a hundred years ago. Regardless of her motivations for her activism, she was right. Unions – and especially women coming together to combat inequality – are one of the most powerful ways we have of making a difference in today’s world. Business may have the money but we have something much more important: the people.

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  • idyll

Day 7 - Women and Athletics

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Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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While women have a keen interest in participating in sports, it's very clear that society places more value on male sports endeavors.



Girl's sports were so underfunded, and given such a back seat to boy's sports, that Title IX came into being to force schools to provide equal funding and resources to girl's sports. Women's professional sports leagues receive far less attention and attendance that comparable men's leagues, and there is a huge wage gap between professional male and female athletes.



This is especially upsetting because it's well known that sports involvement helps groom people for leadership roles, and provides a number of other skills that are highly valued and crucial in employment and other aspects of life. And yet, when women's participation in sports is reduced to being the butts of jokes, so too are the skills they gain through such participation undervalued.



The Women's Sports Foundation has a number of programs to fight against this inequity, as well as research on women in sports.

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  • idyll

Link Round Up – Day 3, 4 and 5


14 V Banner Alt
Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.
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Fanworks

Title: The Third Thing People Don't Know About Virginia Potts
Author: April-rainer

Title: Less Traveled
Author: arsenicjade
Fandom/Character: SGA/Teyla
Rating: G
Summary: One surprise, multiple decisions to be made.

Can be found on LJ, DW, my site, and AO3.

Title: Touch of Air
Author: arsenicjade
Fandom/Character: BDB/Autumn
Rating: PG
Summary: Now that she's on earth for good, Autumn's got some settling to do.

Can be found on LJ. DW, my site, and AO3.

Title: Heal Thyself
Author: arsenicjade
Fandom/Character: Rurouni Kenshin (2012 live action)/Takani Megumi
Rating: PG
Summary: Just a little Megumi-POV character piece.

Can be found on LJ

Topical Content

Daybreak777  wrote about the movie Sparkle and a little about Whitney Houston here

Daybreak777  wrote about Sharon Agathon on Battlestar Galactica 2003 here.

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Day 6 - Women and Political Action

Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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In my first ever Political Science course, my professor said that Political Science is the study of power—who has it, and how they exercise it.

That’s a sobering thought if you’re a woman. Women make up more than half of the world’s population. But, in the United States, women have only had the right to vote since 1920. Worldwide, women hold a staggeringly low percentage of high office political seats.

Which begs the question: how can we expect power to be exercised on our behalf in a manner that we need if we aren’t the ones with the power?

The answer is that we can’t. Not fully. Those in power act in a manner to protect their own interests and privileges. In the United States, that can mean the erosion of women’s reproductive rights. Elsewhere, it can mean the legal murder of women by husbands. The situation becomes even more bleak when you consider intersectionality, and how women of color, queer women and trans women have less visibility, less political consideration and protection, and less (if any) political representation.

What I found most interesting about the lack of women in political positions is that women are most often activists for change, from the local to the global scale. We initiate and instigate policy and social changes, yet are absent from holding political power.

Often, this absence—especially in high level positions—is due to public resistance to women in political positions of power. Other times, it is because women avoid running for political positions.

The Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics has an entire section devoted to women in local level of offices, positions of power on small scale that can lead to greater presence and representation on the large, higher scale.

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Day 5 - Women and Domestic/Partner Violence

My apologies! I accidentally posted this to my personal LJ yesterday instead of the Comm! I can't believe I did that, and I'm so sorry!!

Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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TW Domestic Violence, TW Violence Against Women

Thank you to zao-gao/perfectivity for providing today's essay!

There are two common misconceptions that people have about domestic violence,  the first being: “Why do people abuse?”. This was a  question presented to me two years ago, and I diligently listed out all the reasons I could think of: substance abuse, mental health issues, coping mechanisms, anger issues--I came up with every single reason I could, except I the most important one: “Because they choose to.

No matter what excuse we might use to explain abuse, or to dismiss it, in the end, everyone has a choice. Violence has become such a fixture in our society, that we cannot even imagine ourselves free from its reign. Since that day, I find myself questioning more of the things that I see in  television and film, more and more of the anecdotes that my friends tell me about their significant others. I must remind myself, and other women: this is not okay. You did not do anything to deserve this--whether it is being followed, having your privacy violated by someone who goes through  your phone and computer, being slapped, hit, punch, beaten, strangled, being insulted, humiliated, manipulated. Being afraid. No one should ever  do these things to you, especially those whoclaim to love you.

A second misconception about domestic violence is that it is easy for a woman to leave an abusive relationship. This is completely untrue. It can  be the hardest thing that she will ever have to do, and that is telling as she has already lived through the abuse. There can be many reasons for  this: one of the most common is that she wants to stay for her children. After all how can you explain to a child that he or she will have to leave  their father? That their mother is afraid of the one of the people they love the most in the world? On the other hand, can you imagine making the  decision to leave your children, even if it is for your own safety?

There are many other reasons that a woman chooses not to leave her abuser and this is no coincidence. An abuser’s most powerful  weapon is  the control he has over his victim. He may be supporting her financially after convincing her to leave her job. He may have  isolated her from her family and friends and she may have no one to turn to for support.

Culture and her religion can be used as tools to keep her from leaving: an abuser could use the concept of family pride and dishonor, to prevent an Asian woman from leaving her family or speaking of her mistreatment. For those that practice Orthodox Judaism, an abuser might refuse a divorce, meaning that the woman can never remarry under her religion. These are only a few examples of why a woman has trouble leaving.  


Abusive relationships can be different for each person, so I believe the best thing you can do if you mean a survivor of domestic violence is to  meet her where she is--listen to her story: does she want simply want someone to speak to? Has she considered leaving him? Is she ready to  speak to a domestic violence counselor? Let her know that she is not alone, that she does not deserve to be mistreated, that she should not be ashamed. Call the police if she is immediate danger and advise her to do the same.

If you want to get more involved, please consider volunteering at a local domestic violence agency. Volunteers may be needed to do   administrative work, answer hotlines, spend time playing with children, help with events or a number of different things. If you are unable to  volunteer, but want to help those in your community please donate to local domestic violence shelter. Some high-need items are women’s  clothing, food, diapers and other baby items. You can search for domestic violence agencies in your area and speak to a representative about  volunteering or donating. 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Fact Sheet:

www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf


National Network to End Domestic Violence: Coalitions by State

http://www.nnedv.org/resources/coalitions.html

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  • idyll

Day 4 - Women and Sexual Assault

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Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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TW Rape, TW Sexual Assault


The numbers for rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault are staggering, with an estimated 1 in 6 women reporting a rape or attempted rape. The numbers break down differently for various populations, with WOC reporting higher numbers than white women. The statistics for  trans women are hard to come by with any accuracy, but preliminary studies indicate rape and sexual assault against them to be fueled by  gender bias, anti-homosexuality, and misogyny.

But we all know that the numbers are misleading. Statistics are based on reported incidents, and rape and sexual assault are notoriously underreported, especially in populations who have poor trust in or relationships with authorities. As well, confusion and lack of consensus on how to define sexual assault on the parts of survivors, authorities and researchers means that getting even anecdotal numbers on the prevalence of sexual assault is difficult.

Education, most of can agree on, is paramount learning what sexual assault is, learning the full definition of consent, and understanding that our efforts need to be less targeted towards women practicing self-protection and more on teaching men—the majority perpetrators—not to attempt rape or sexual assault.

RAINN works in the areas of policy and education to bring truth and support to the public regarding sexual assault and rape.
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  • idyll

Link Round Up - Day 2 - Women's Physical and Mental Health

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Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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Fanworks

Please check included warnings for individual fanworks


Title: Half Sentences, Daydreams and Misunderstandings

Author: arsenicjade
Fandom/Character: MCU/Jane Foster
Rating: G
Summary: Jane's been told she was crazy her whole life.

Can be found onLJ, on DW, on my site, or on AO3.


Topical Content & Links

Trigger Warning: Please assume there will be discussion of a variety of themes around the daily topic (Physical and Mental Health).

Discussion of mental health and the Silver Linings Playbook here – daybreak777


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  • idyll

Day 3 - Women and Reproductive Rights and Motherhood

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Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.

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TW Abortion, TW Reproductive Rights, TW Rape

Forty years after the victor of the Roe decision, women in America are once again fighting for bodily and reproductive autonomy as our right to chose has become more and more eroded. Currently, there’s only one state left that doesn’t impose and restrictions on abortion. Reproductive rights are worse for women in other, less developed areas of the world.

But reproductive rights and motherhood isn’t just about the right to choose whether to remain pregnant. They involve the right to choose whether or not to become pregnant at all, a choice which involves self-determination, education on family planning and contraceptives, access to reliable and safe birth control, and safety from forced sexual acts.

Women require the sanctity and health of body to prevent medical issues that could negatively affect their reproductive health. Furthermore,  they involve autonomy and choice that extends beyond pregnancy. Women require the right to healthcare to insure safe pregnancies and  deliveries, and the right to exercise bodily rights regarding their own lives as well as the lives of their fetuses.

Unfortunately, despite how long this battle has been raging, our rights are not fully our own in far too many ways.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is an advocacy and policy organization focusing on extending and protecting reproductive rights of  women worldwide, and the National Women’s Law Center “champions laws and policies that work for women and families.”