What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the prejudiced treatment of different categories of people, especially on the basis of race, age, and sex. Sexual discrimination is typically seen through the lens of males discriminating against females, a pervasive problem in the work place. What is less frequently commented upon is discrimination of women against other women with particular characteristics.

Women often engage in subtle discrimination against certain types of women. The media’s portrayal of women in advertising and the news business sends messages that females are expected to be super-skinny and gorgeous. Attractive females are presumed to be friendlier, more virtuous, smarter, and higher in socioeconomic standing, which is known as the “beauty is good” effect. A number of attractive women have complained that female bosses who were jealous of their looks and insecure about their own have denied them promotions at work. It is also no coincidence that we rarely see fat, older, and unattractive women delivering the news or in front of a camera.  Many decisions to hire people for these jobs are often made by female news executives, who face pressure to put a “pretty face” in front of the camera.  Finally, according to Sheila Jeffreys in “Keeping Women Down and Out,” intense competition among strippers and their desire to keep their jobs fuels their discrimination against other women to make them look bad.

In conclusion, some women who lack self-confidence often discriminate against other females who are prettier to make them feel better about themselves. Women often deny women promotion opportunities because of the way they look.  This kind of discrimination needs to stop. Females should be more sensitive to the adverse effects of discrimination because they frequently face it from males; the last thing they should want to do is to emulate this behavior.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/08/06/thin-is-in-for-executive-women-as-weight-discrimination-contributes-to-glass-ceiling/

http://intentious.com/2012/04/04/the-downsides-to-looking-pretty-discrimination-against-beautiful-women/

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About connormclaren

I have two cochlear implants that help me to hear. Without them I hear virtually nothing, but with them I hear almost as well as a hearing person. I am incredibly grateful for this amazing technology. My favorite academic subjects are Psychology, foreign languages, English, and Philosophy. I love to write poetry and am fascinated with foreign languages and words. I aspire to learn several languages in my lifetime and their corresponding sign languages. My short-term goal after college is to teach for a couple of years, most likely Psychology, American Sign Language (ASL), or another language at the high school level before going to graduate school. My long-term goal is to become a psychologist who works not only with hearing people, but also with the deaf through the use of ASL. I'd also like to combine my passion for foreign language with my passion for psychology and treat foreigners in their native languages (French, Spanish, German, etc). And of course, I'd love to write one or two best-selling novels on the side. But when it comes right down to it, I'm always open to change and will see where life takes me.
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4 Responses to What is discrimination?

  1. irism999 says:

    I am glad to see that the issue of women discriminating against other women has been brought up. It is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed immediately if women are to continue to make advancements in society. I also agree that such discrimination is not “innate” as it is made to seem by some, and thus it is not permissible of human beings. I would like to strengthen your argument by providing another example as to how women have discriminated against other women and how this sort of conduct has been detrimental to certain movements, specifically the campaign for birth control led by feminists in the 19th Century.

    In her article, “Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights,” Angela Davis details how the birth control campaign, a movement directly connected to woman’s emancipation, was blatantly racist and classist by excluding women of color and lower socioeconomic status. The fact that white upper-middle class women presented birth control as a form of woman’s freedom, a way for women to access career and higher educational paths, was totally insensitive to African American women who did not see birth control and abortions as a “stepping stone to freedom,” but rather a difficult choice during times of desperation and oppression (208). Furthermore, the birth control campaign had previously advocated for involuntary sterilization and was centered on a race-suicide idea in which white feminists promoted birth control as a “means of preventing the proliferation of the ‘lower classes.’” It was this sort of behavior that caused women of ethnic minorities to dismiss and resent the birth control movement. Had the white upper middle class women been more sensitive to the perspectives of the other women in the society as well as more aware of the history behind abortion-rights, the birth control movement may have advanced more quickly and benefited women of all socioeconomic and ethic backgrounds. Women cannot continue to divide and discriminate amongst themselves. Dialogue needs to take place in order for women to unite and progress in their fight for equality. A fragmented movement will not do away with the discrimination that women face from males in society already.

  2. Emily Kalenik says:

    This reminds me of the controversy and gossip that surrounded Ashley Judd in March and April.

    Ashley Judd was sick and was treated with multiple rounds of steroids, which caused her face to puff up. When she stepped into the public, people were quick to tear apart her appearance and circulate criticisms and assumptions about her face. Other women were central in this criticism

    She published a very thoughtful reply to this scandal (link below). Her reply first mentions why she has decided to write a response to the criticism, and then she goes into some of the narratives that news outlets forcefully touted. These include allegations of plastic surgery, pointing out her “loss of beauty”, calling her a “pig” for gaining weight, claiming that her husband would leave her because of her weight, and other scathing comments.

    Women were a very strong part of this narrative. She points out that ‘patriarchy’ is a system that encompasses both men and women, and it has been forcefully ingrained into women’s heads. I think one of the first steps to ending this discrimination is having women take a stand against it. When women participate in discrimination against themselves, it can provide a scapegoat for males who are doing the same. If a certain group of people is ridiculing themselves, this makes it more acceptable for outsiders to ridicule them as well. Of course this is very difficult when appearance is an important attribute to being a woman and disparaging others’ appearance might make you look more attractive in comparison. So perhaps the first step is to devalue the appearance of women and make it a less essential aspect of womanhood.

    Her response: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/09/ashley-judd-slaps-media-in-the-face-for-speculation-over-her-puffy-appearance.html

  3. shivanis1 says:

    I agree with you that women should be more conscious of continuing discrimination against other women. This reminds me of an article I read earlier this year: “Why are Women Biased Against Other Women?” (http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/04/womens-inhumanity-to-women/). You’ve already shown how this discrimination occurs in media-related industries, and this article forwards some other examples. For example, it discusses how women scientists are more likely to hire male scientists even when females are equally qualified. However, this article also seeks to explain this behavior by talking about how biases are “innate” to human beings. Though the author makes some concession to how “contemporary culture” allows for bias, her focus seems to be on showing how bias is fundamental to all human beings and cannot ever be totally eliminated. I feel as though this also fits into our discussion about the medicalization of humans in general and gender roles in particular. If we accept that biases are innate and can only be controlled, not eradicated, we can continue making excuses for why they exist in society and accept them. But, as you say and the article also notes, what is important in the end is being conscious of these biases- and the discrimination they allow- and combating these things.

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