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.