What is discrimination?

In almost every aspect of life, humans employ some form or method of organization to seemingly allow their lives to function smoothly and systematically. For example, the human body itself is an organized system containing various components and systems that work together to allow the body to function properly. However when it comes to the society that we live in, the organizational system put in place is one that is deliberately done so by those at the top of the societal food chain. Societal organization is how discrimination is put into play. It does not allow society to work as an efficient machine, but actually does just the opposite. Lorber points out that “ as a social institution, gender is one of the way human beings organize their lives” (Lorber 114). Other methods in which society organizes are by economic class, race, and religion just to name a few. The dominant societal group or groups don’t use organization as a means to run society smoothly, but more as a means to create separation and to hold others down in an attempt to stave off any possible threat. By putting various groups against one another, this goal can be accomplished. For example, Bell Hooks points out that here is a strong relationship between sexism and racism, however if white feminist and black feminist cannot understand one another, the feminist movement will not reach its full potential. When the idea of an organized system is abused, and is actually used to cause harm to all but one group of people by creating categories and divides amongst other groups, this is discrimination.

Hooks, Bell. “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women” (1986).

Lorber, Judith. “The Social Construction of Gender.” Reconstructing Gender: A

     Multicultural Anthology. Ed. Estelle Disch, 2006.

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One Response to What is discrimination?

  1. nbsc128 says:

    Discrimination is not merely dividing a group of people into sub-groups, but unfairly favoring one group over the other.
    I’ve been very luckily because, until recently, I had never faced overt gender discrimination. My family revolves around women. My mom is the oldest of four accomplished sisters, my grandmother is the eldest, almost all my cousins are girls, and I’m the oldest of three. It wasn’t until I was discussing this class and the genderless children we read about with my boyfriend of 2 years, that I ran smack into a deeply troubling instance of gender bias. He stopped me mid-conversation and announced, not only that he would absolutely prefer a son as his first born, but also that he would be disappointed if his son was anything but a “man”. I was dumbfounded. This is the otherwise very “westernized” man that I love and see a future with.
    Interestingly enough, his reaction reflects not only a gender bias, but also a culture clash; my boyfriend is not an American citizen, he’s South Korean. Korea, as we saw, maintains the largest pay gap between men and women in the world. Further exploration in this topic led me to Insook, Lim’s book Korean Immigrant Women’s Challenge to Gender Inequality at Home. She describes how “the high level of patriarchal tradition… constrain[s] women from challenging gender inequality at home” (33). Despite his having been in America longer than Korea, my boyfriend unconsciously holds these values. That is how deep discrimination can run; it can seem hereditary. He might even simply be witnessing inequality around him, subconsciously wanting the best for his offspring, and translating that into wishing for a son. This seemingly benign tendency to want the best for one’s children explains how discrimination can persist through generations.

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