What is Discrimination?

With a massive global pay gap, disproportionate representation in politics, and a history of different legal statuses, women have a very clear disadvantage against men. This differential treatment has been enshrined into our culture via hierarchical concepts of gender that insist on differential treatment for different genders, to the point where anyone who does not readily fall into the binary- transgender people, genderless children, etc.- is often considered deeply unsettling. By any definition, this differential treatment is discrimination. Similar hierarchies exist, as mentioned by Hooks and Anzaldua, for race, class and sexual orientation. This, too, is discrimination. However, some in the privileged positions claim that they too suffer from discrimination. Men complain women hate them for their gender, white people claim affirmative action denies them jobs, the wealthy assert that the poor wage class warfare, heterosexuals insist the lack of a straight pride festival is a grievous slight, etc. Are these also forms of discrimination? Is discrimination simply different treatment, or is it something necessarily institutionalized? I argue for the latter. Discrimination on an individual level is meaningful only to the individual; only institutionalized discrimination has meaning in any larger context. It can only be against the societal Other, not the Self.

(Edited to fix the title and category, which seems to have been eaten in my last submission.)

Aside | This entry was posted in Big Question Reflection, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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