Monday, February 29, 2016

Women Stepping Out Into the Battlefield

Up until recently, women in the United States military were restricted from certain positions of leadership and in the field. It wasn't until 2008 that Ann Dunwoody was promoted to become the first female four star general. It took her 37 years to reach obtain such a job in the Army. This leads me to question why it has taken so long for a woman to become a high ranked general like Dunwoody. Why are there such few female soldiers that hold leadership positions in the military?

At the end of 2015, the Secretary of Defense, Ashton B. Carter, announced that the Pentagon would open all combat positions to women, no exceptions. This now means that a woman could drive a tank, fight in the front lines, train to become snipers, and even become part of the special forces of the military like the Navy Seals. This is amazing step for gender equality in the military, but this doesn't mean that there will be a dramatic change soon. Despite the opportunities to hold new positions, women still have to pass tasks that could be physically and mentally grueling. They may be so intense that many male soldiers cannot pass.

The Marine Infantry Officer Course is one of the last all-male batalions since all 26 women who have attempted the course have failed. The course is made up of physical and mental challenges spread out 16 miles hwere soldiers set out at dawn carry a 30 lb pack and rifle for tens of hours.  112 women had made it through the less demanding infantry training that has a success rate of 34%. A factor that has to be considered is that a woman's body structure, specifically her hips, makes it more difficult to carry loads twice their body weight. Despite these disadvantages, female soldiers still fight on and are determined to become like their common hero, General Dunwoody.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ehrenreich Can't Get No Satisfaction

Throughout Barbara Ehrenreich's novel, Nickel and Dimed, she steps away from her life as a successful writer and devotes her life to living off of low paying jobs like waiting on the masses and refolding shirts in the women's section of the nation's largest super store.

When arriving at her afternoon shift at Walmart, Barbara grabs the daily newspaper from the overflowing garbage outside. The headline describes how the "1,450 hotel workers, members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, strike nine local hotels. A business writer in the Pioneer Press, [comments] on this plus a Teamsters' striking at the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant and a march by workers demanding union recognition at a St. Pail meatpacking plant (187). This seems to light a fire in Ehrenreich's heart and she expresses her feelings toward starting a union with her fellow employees. Similar to before at her maid job, she feels an initiative to stand up for the other voiceless workers, but in this case, she is not the first to do so. After this headline is when she starts expressing her opinion once more to those who would listen, and saw that many felt the same way that she did. Everyone seemed to want higher wages, more reasonable break times, and more voice with their superiors who they lived in fear of, even if they were thirty years younger then them. When Barbara confronted her boss when she worked at The Maids, she was able to get a raise and ensure that her injured friend continued to get paid after hurting her ankle while on the job. When she tells her friend Melissa that she is planning on quitting their Walmart job, Melissa felt the same way and planned on applying for a job at a local factory for higher wages. Even the news report of strikes and unions made another coworker of hers ecstatic in the break room and even swore from excitement, breaking one of the major rules of the job.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sticking It to the Man In the Workplace

Barbara Ehrenreich is a writer to stands up for individuals in poverty and the treatment that they receive because of it. In her novel, Nickel and Dimed, she describes her life when she experimented with disconnecting herself from her past world and completely devoting her time to work low paying jobs and living in cramped spaces. In reality, the test seems to show how difficult it is to get by on such little payments and being looked down on by others.

When she moves to Main
e to see if she could get by on a different set of jobs, she takes on a cleaning job for The Maids. They work long and strenuous hours in relatively expensive houses and are paid very little for vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing. Their boss, Ted, holds all of the power and none of the other maids have the courage to stick up for themselves. When Barbara expresses her frustrations on their drive back to the office after Holly had hurt her ankle while on the job, the other women do not stir or say a word. She explains how she was "shaking with anger (at Ted), betrayal (in the cases of Marge and Denise), and most of all at my own total helplessness" (112). Barbara is so affected that she takes matters into her own hands. When Holly agrees to call Ted to report her incident, she repetively apologizes and wheeps over the phone. Enraged,  Barbara takes the phone and yells at Ted that he "can't keep putting money above his employees' health and [she doesn't] want to hear about 'working through it,' because [Holly] is in really bad shape" (110). Luckily her rant turns out to only help her as well as Holly when she returns to the office. When she confronts Ted, he rewards her with a raise to $6.75 an hour and excuses Holly to go home, but still get paid for the day.

Sticking up to a boss is intimidating for anyone, especially if you work for very little and could be replaced in a heartbeat. Awful work conditions have lasted throughout centuries all around the world sand very few people take the initiative to use what little voice they have and stick up for themselves and their coworkers. Barbara is still keeping her secret about her project from the new people that she meets, but cannot stand such oppression and little voice that these women have gotten in the work place. How they support multiple family members on a salary meant for one person while their corporate leaders make money without a care.