Feminism

Feminism isn’t a scary word or something to distance yourself away from. Being a feminist just means that one believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Feminism is one of the biggest issues in our country. One would think that equality of gender is a given, but sadly, it’s not. We have come a long way since the 1900s, but equality is still not there. Women are still not being paid equally, women still need a higher degree to get a job a man can get with a lower degree, and women are still underrepresented in our government and media. The pay gap affects many women, yet some companies still do not fight for pay equality. The glass ceiling applies to women who are kept from advancing higher in their careers because they are women. Many people in today’s society think that women are treated equally with men, but so many of these people have internalized misogyny that they are blindsided by reality.

Feminists advocate for equal opportunities and rights in our society. They also hope to bring more representation of females in our media and government in order to maintain a balance between both genders. In the late 1960s, the second wave feminist movement took place. The goals of the second wave feminist movement were simple: let women have freedom, equal opportunity and control over their lives. The movement fought for women’s education, employment, right to own property, rights to their bodies, and for the protection of women from domestic violence. Many of the rights women have today, like the right to education and divorce, were fought for by feminists in the past, but the fight is still not over. In 2013, there were over 700 bills proposed to regulate a woman’s body, and for men, the rightful number of zero. By the time the average woman reaches 60 years old, she will have made $450,000 less a man in the same exact position. People need to stand up for the feminist movement and fight for the rights of equality. Our society needs to fix the representation problem, the wage inequality problem, and society needs to fix the fact that women are still seen as second class citizens.

The subcategory of Feminism is sexism, and this does not only affect women. Men face societal pressures too, like the pressure to be tall, or strong, to push down feelings, like fear or sadness, the pressure to be the breadwinner, and to be the, “man of the household.” Sexism is about exclusion and unequal power in society. It is about shaming and belittling and devaluing the feminine. Notice how many pressures that boys face come down to defining themselves against women. There is this societal pressure to not be like girls. Boys need to know how to throw a ball, unlike girls. Boys need to be tall and strong, unlike girls. Boys are told to not be emotional like girls. These gender specific pressures are a side effect of sexism. All that is where feminists step in and say that there is more than one way to be a man or a woman. We all have a combination of feminine and masculine traits, it’s about being human.

We need to teach all people equality, respect, and nonviolence rather than power, domination, and aggression. We need to build a world where boys and girls can feel and cry when they’re sad, where anyone can be a stay-at-home parent, where boys and girls can be leaders, a fully dynamic human who can’t be shoved into a box and be told who to be. Understanding how these inequalities and attitudes permeate our society and working to correct them, is in the best interest of everyone.

— Stacey

 

Racism

Growing up half Chinese and half white, raised by a mother who is white and father Chinese, made the world look at me and my sister as full Chinese. My parents did not raise us as a strictly Chinese family, nor did we practice many Chinese traditions. I was raised in Lansing, Michigan my whole life, which explains why I see myself as culturally white compared to what other people see, which is my race. This exemplifies stereotypical racial profiling, which in itself is a form of racism, which allows myself and others to be clumped together as a race instead of how we self identify.  As defined Anup Shah,“Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributes to people simply on the basis of the race and that some racial groups are superior than others” (Globalization and Racism). How does this effect the world socially and ethnically?

According to a Vox education article,  a new lawsuit alleges Harvard has a quota system for Asian students. Author Libby Nelson states, “Asian-American students make up a higher proportion of the student body at selective colleges than they do the population as a whole. But they are also rejected at higher rates than white students, and those admitted tend to have higher test scores than students of other races.”(4) It’s not like this hasn’t happened in the past.   According to the New York Times, controversy between the Ivy League Colleges and minority communities are nothing new.   Statistics indicate an Ivy League  Quota system was used in the past, (1)“Just as their predecessors of the 1920s always denied the existence of Jewish quotas,” top officials at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other Ivy League schools today strongly deny the existence of “Asian quotas.” But there exists powerful statistical evidence to the contrary.

Each year, American universities provide their racial enrollment data to the Nation Center of Education Statistics, which makes this information available online. After the Justice Department closed an investigation in the early 1990s into charges that Harvard University discriminated against Asian-American applicants, Harvard’s reported enrollment of Asian-Americans began gradually declining, falling from 20.6 percent in 1993 to about 16.5 percent over most of the last decade.

This relates to me because people see me as more Asian than Caucasian even though I see myself more culturally American. It effects me because many people think Asians are supposed to be one way or another and that’s simply not true. People who are exposed to different cultures and types of people would know this better then people who are not. In addition to this, my parents are not typically driven by culture or Asian traditions, instead culture in our family is freely expressed by individual family members.

— Kalisyn

Works Cited:

1.Ron Unz, “http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/19/fears-of-an- asian-quota-in-the-ivy-league/statistics-indicate-an-ivy-league-asian-quota” Dec. 13 2013, New York Times, Nov 28 2014

2. Anup Shah “http://www.globalissues.org/article/165/racism#GlobalizationandRacism” Aug 08 2010, Global Issues, Nov 26 2014

3.Libby Nelson “http://www.vox.com/2014/11/20/7254903/harvard-affirmative-action- asians” Nov 20 2014, Vox, Nov 20 2014

Kristen A Goss http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1985/1/16/college-clears-up-asian- controversy-pharvard/ Jan 16 1985, The Harvard Crimson, Nov 28th 2014

Religious Discrimination

The Overlooked “-ism”

         The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion – the government cannot stop you from believing one thing or disbelieving another. No one disputes this, and the right to your own thoughts is considered by many to be our most valuable right. After all, without our own opinions, what else do we have? If this is really true, why do we always overlook violence and hatred based on religion overseas? And the slowly increasing intolerance and persecution of Christianity in our own country?

For instance, a worldwide study conducted two to three years ago found that 100,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year. The Arab Spring revolutions that occurred since then can only have exacerbated matters. And it is not only in the Middle East – although they are the worst offenders – where Christians and other religions face oppression. There is the Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, the government killings of over a million in Sudan and South Sudan, and China, home to one of the largest and fastest-growing Christian populations in the world (Black). How many people in America even heard about any of this?

Which brings us back here to the United States. While we don’t face as dramatic an issue as thousands of deaths per year, intolerance towards Christians is growing at an alarming rate – and freedom of religion is becoming freedom from religion. For years, I have had to deal with “jokes” about Catholics being pedophiles, hearing that I believe in fairy tales, that my religion is mythology, my faith is false hope, and hearing that all Christians are hateful and insensitive. And at the same time, the government is mandating that we Christians must defer on issues like abortion and healthcare coverage of contraception, even if it violates our basic religious beliefs.

But the issue here is not about legislation. It’s about faithism, which deserves the same status as racism and sexism. We say we fight for equality and civil rights, but we continue to overlook atrocities committed around the world and treat people unjustly at home. There is no difference between religious discrimination and racism or homophobia, and it’s about time people stopped acting like there is.

— Joshua

Work Cited:  Black, Conrad. “Global Persecution of Christians.” Nationalreview.com. National Review Online, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Caste System

So, what is there to say about caste systems? Well, they’re based on what caste a person is born to and are designed to keep order within society based. The way I see a caste system is that there are levels of power and in no way can you ever move up or down to experience any other one of the castes.

Caste systems maintain the power structure and at the same time, they limit access to power. When born in a caste, you have no chance of mobility and have no idea how the other castes live and prosper. During the Middle Ages in Europe, society was like a caste system; Kings and Queens were at the top, knights were the next stage down and at the bottom were the peasants.  It was an extremely rare occurrence for someone to experience mobility at that time.  There were exceptions like Joan of Arc who was born a peasant girl, having no chance of ever being anywhere but the bottom. But, by the age of 17, she was hearing voices from God and was chosen to lead the French armies into battle and experienced upward mobility as a result (Deadliest Warrior: Season 3, Episode 2. Los Angeles: Spike TV, 2011. N. pag. Web. 27 July 2011).

But for the most part, caste systems are made to keep organization among the masses; it’s mainly set around the characteristic traits that you inherit at birth. And with this specific trait, society sees you as nothing more than that person. You are basically type caste by society, meaning you are known for that one trait and nothing can change that; you live in your caste.

While the United States isn’t based on a caste system, the country of India has a caste system of five castes: you have your priests, the warriors or military, merchants which are your traders or officials, the unskilled workers which are your equivalent to the American blue-collar occupations, and the untouchables who are subjected to doing the jobs that no one wants to take. Thet are trash collectors, window washers, janitors, pretty much the untouchables do the dirty work for the people of India.

A caste system could also be linked to a slave system as well, because, slave systems work a bit like a caste.   Slaves have children, and they too become slaves because of their parents status. They typically were not allowed to move up in status.

Caste systems may be justified based upon stereotypes of how the people are built physically and then subject to jobs that best suit that physique. Caste requires endogamy, and thus  people reproduce with similar individuals and pass on these traits, so it is claimed. For instance, if some people appear to be big and strong, you would label them only useful for a physically demanding jobs like construction or firefighting. Or, an individual with a more slender appearance may only be labeled as a banker or teacher; because that’s pretty much all that they are useful for. But this is discriminatory, because you are labeling and stereotyping people based on appearance and and using this to justify caste discrimination. In my view, I see this as an unnatural way to keep order.

Caste levels can be made based shared physical traits, such as the racially based systems of segregation in the U.S. and South Africa.  A critique of these systems can be found in the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes”, in which the system of caste was based on the species of simian. In this movie, gorillas were the hunters and military based on their size and muscularity. Orangutans were the leaders and government officials because of their ability to cooperate and debate. And chimpanzees were the scholars, teachers, and scientists of the Planet of the Apes (Watchmojo: Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospective. N.p.: YouTube, 2011. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.) In this system, no one from any castef could move up or down, even those who made the system. In this system, the law forbids you to change caste.  For example, a rich person just sitting around one day thinking, “Gee, I wonder what it’s like to collect trash, or teach children at a school, or even repair a motorcycle for a living,” wouldn’t be allowed to try any of these occupations.

Orangutans

 

 

 

 

Gorillas

Chimpanzeees

 

 

 

 

In a democratic society like the United States, people can experience any occupation. But in a caste system, it’s like being in a box with only one window that doesn’t open so that you can only see what happens and not actually participate. This is similar to a slave system, where there is no chance of mobility through heredity. But for a slave, there is a way out; it’s just very difficult to pry up one of the walls of the box enough in order to get out. Those who are lucky enough to escape the box broke the code of slave and caste to experience social mobility.

In some ways, social class is comparable to a caste. As you know, castes are like being in a box with no door, but social class is like the box with one difference, there’s a door. But there’s a rule for this: in order to experience mobility in a social class system, you need to have some wealth and a little education to move up. It often feels like you are going to be in the class for your whole life, but with that American dream of working hard, you can move up from the bottom.  This is compared to a caste, where no matter how hard you work, you are never going to move up or down; it’s always the same.

Perhaps we can overlook the “always the same” idea by taking a look at the novel Divergent; a society divided by five factions represented by one personality trait. How this type of caste system works is that all 16-year old children actually have a chance of mobility. They all have a simulation test that will determine what traits they possess. When finished, the instructor informs them which traits they presented, and they ultimately change caste by blood oath and remain there for the remainder of their days. This concept plays like a caste system that experiences limited mobility. (Roth, Veronica. Divergent. N.p.: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013. Web. 22 Oct. 2013). How about that, huh?

Sometimes it’s difficult for people to have mobility based on wealth and income because of their occupation. The people who are in the lower class have it the hardest, they have low paying jobs that almost never experience college education and therefore cannot move up the social ladder. It’s hard to pay for school because they earn very little to pay for it. In contrast, children who are born to wealth, have a much higher chance of attending college, mainly due to the fact that they have the wealth to pay for it. Therefore it’s easier for them to become educated and successful. But it does make me think what their parents or grandparents did to earn that wealth because they may have started with little money as well and their children were just born to rich parents. The parents thought about the American dream and succeeded, but their kids could actually ask their parents for the money and go to college and become whatever they want without really working hard. Think about it.

I feel like that there really is no need for caste systems. Because even though it’s a way to keep peace and order and avoid chaos, we have to realize that people are not going to follow only one person’s system forever. Those people may one day realize that they have more to offer than to just one trait or one occupation,  like the groups in the Planet of the Apes film. We should not label people as belonging to a certain group or otherwise that’s what society is just going to see them as. We also shouldn’t build a society based on what group people are born into, but we should build one based on what they can do.  Stratification systems should be built on talent and freedom, never heredity. What do you think?

— Alexander

Work Cited

Deadliest Warrior: Season 3, Episode 2. Los Angeles: Spike TV, 2011. N. pag. Web. 27 July 2011.

Roth, Veronica. Divergent. N.p.: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

Watchmojo: Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospective. N.p.: YouTube, 2011. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.

Feminist Movements

The Feminist movements came in three waves from the mid-19th century to the early 1990’s. The first wave started with white women from the middle to upper class which then transformed in the 1960’s to start including women from different races and classes. The first wave fought for women’s suffrage which means they fought for women to be able to vote and run for office. The second wave fought for gender equality in culture and laws. The third wave fought for race equality and to get young people involved. In the 1920’s, middle class women laid the foundation for later generations of feminists by gaining human rights for women, like having the ability to own land, the right to divorce, the right to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy, and the beginning of access to higher education for women by adding an amendment to the Bill of Rights. The 1960’s feminists worked to break the glass ceiling and get women into the work force.  They also worked to make higher education more available to the masses, and to end gender discrimination in the work place. They also fought for equal opportunity legislation. In addition, they helped break stereotypes about women like the idea that a woman’s place is at home with the children. In the 1970s and 80s, feminists began involving minority women so they could have a united front fighting for liberation of women in America. In the 1990s women continued the work of the second wave by focusing on the different achievements of women in America. They also helped incorporate women whose voices has not yet been heard by starting voter registration drives in poor minority communities. The third wave is most famous for rallying the young. The feminist movements accomplished so much yet we still have more to accomplish like breaking the glass ceiling for good, making politics more equal for women and making corporate America equal as well.

— Brittany

 

 

Works Cited:

“Feminist Movement”. Academicroom.n.p, 2013.Web.21 Nov.2014.

Witt.SOC.New York: McGraw Hill, 2014.Print.

Discrimination

Discrimination is something that most individuals run into at some point in their lives. Discrimination can be found at school, in public places and so forth. Discrimination is defined as the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs, rather than on individual merit. Generally discrimination tends to be a negative, as people are treated poorly for being different — being of a different race or religion, being part of a different social class and so on. One could be agitated that another person is from Canada, a country that they may not like, and said person could alienate that person, or treat them poorly because of it. Discrimination can be considered similar to racism and sexism, as both attempt to put down others for being different and for not conforming to ones expectations.

Discrimination is a substantial problem in our society, as it is very damaging to the emotional well being of others, as well as being completely unjust and unreasonable. No one person should be discriminated against because they have different interests, different beliefs or have a different skin color. A potential solution to discrimination is tolerance. If we all accept that others are different than us, and we can put up with these differences, there’s no reason to act negatively towards others. While discrimination is very easily preventable, it has continued to exist since the dawn of human interaction, and unfortunately will continue.

— Jake

Racism

Racism is often a reoccurring theme when resources in society are distributed unevenly. It is found nearly everywhere, and they judge you based on two things. One, they judge you on things that you cannot change, and they judge you on things that you can change. The most common form of racism found in our current society, is racism targeting African Americans.

Racism is nearly everywhere in our society, and the reason that we see it so much now is because its extremely easy to separate races in America, because it can be done visually. You can separate races by just looking at someone. Thanks to the Civil Rights movement you would think that we made a positive leap toward a desegregated America. One of my favorite philosophers, Malcolm X, said this, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made….” I believe that eventually there will be no racism because people continue to marry and have children outside of their race. This will create one major race, so will no longer be a way to separate people into classes. Earlier I expressed the fact that racism exists when resources in a society are distributed unevenly and I believe that the prime resource that happens to be distributed unevenly is wealth.

Whether we believe it or not, a glass ceiling still exists. This glass ceiling happens to exist everywhere, not just in the work place but in hospitals and schools as well. The elite make healthcare unaffordable for the poor, as well as provide them with foods that are loaded with hormones that will have a negative affect on lives after consumed. All in all, I believe that the elite are trying to make it nearly impossible for the lower class people to survive by controlling a considerable amount of wealth.

A lot of this hate has been built up over the years and no one has really taken care of it. It’s a constantly building time bomb that is ready to explode. I believe that in order for us to change our country and stop people from being so racist, we have to reform our social systems so that they benefit everyone. I don’t see this happening in my life or the next, but eventually we’ll be able to pull that knife out and dress the wound.

— Marvin

Social Mobility

Social class is a social ranking. Your social class is often determined by how much money make, but it can also be determined by how you dress, the kind of food you eat, music you listen to, and people you hang out with. Many people in America try to deny that social classes exist. Yet many people try to move into higher social rankings. That process is called social mobility. With social mobility you can move up into higher “better” social class, which is called vertical mobility. Other types of social mobility are horizontal mobility, moving from one social position to another in the same social rank. So you are actually not improving or decreasing your class. An example of this would be working at McDonalds making minimum wage, and leaving McDonalds to take another different type of minimum wage job, such as a maid at Holiday Inn. Intergenerational mobility is changing your social position from that of your parents. An example of this would be if someone’s mom was a dentist and their child became a store clerk; that is an example of downward intergenerational mobility. Upward intergeneration mobility would be if your mother was a high school teacher and you became an engineer.  In this, you would be experience upward intergenerational mobility. The last form of social mobility is intragenerational mobility is moving up in social class as an adult. An example of this would be starting your adult life as a dental assistant and then becoming a dentist.

Horizontal mobility is the mobility that many people go through. I have personally experienced and have witnessed other people go through this experience. When I turned 16 I got my first job at a clothing store, and since turning 16 I have had three other jobs at other clothing stores. So I continue to move to different jobs but they always have the same ranking. A different example of horizontal mobility that I have witnessed is with my dad. My dad graduated high school, but did not continue his education, and because of that my dad has not been able to move upward. He worked at a warehouse for about ten years packing and unpacking foods to prisons, and once he became tired of that he started a different job as a truck driver. Even though the jobs have different titles, they both have the same social rank. Vertical mobility does not happen as often as horizontal mobility but it does happen. Some examples of this date back all the way back to pre-Civil War America. Before President Abraham Lincoln took office, he was born into a poor family and had little money to his name. Lincoln would often use his vertical mobility successes as a way to show people that anyone can achieve this American dream like he did, as long as you work hard.

Karl Marx says social status relates to who owns the means of production. Owning the means of production give higher status people a leg up and differentiating them from those who are the workers.   As long capitalism exists there will always be a division in classes. A counter to Marx’s ideas is the belief in the American Dream.  Since competition is at the heart of capitalism it always is showing people that as long as you work harder than the group who is currently dominant, then you have a chance to experience vertical mobility and this type of competition is what keeps the American dream alive.

1-4However there are many problems associated with social mobility. An example of this would be blacks trying to climb the social ladder. Since America was founded, blacks were always on the bottom of the social ladder. Back in the 1900’s, many lower class whites would take pride in the fact that “at least they were not black.” Now in the twenty-first century, blacks are treated as equal, but blacks and whites still think of blacks as lower class.  They think like this without even realizing this is what they are doing.  When blacks start to climb the social ladder, many other blacks start saying things to them like “you are acting white” and other degrading things. Many blacks who try to climb the social ladder and improve on their social status would say things like, “we not only have to prove that we are good enough to move up in class, but we have to prove that we are better than “black”.” An example of this is when Jamelle Bouie, a Slate staff writer, who talks about politics and race talks about how even if a white family and a black family grew up exactly the same, the white family would experience more social mobility than the black. “If you took two children – one white, one black – and gave them parents with similar jobs, similar educations, and similar values, the black child would be much more likely to grow up in a neighborhood with higher poverty, worse schools, and more violence.”(Why black Americans have a hard time climbing the social ladder.)

Many Americans try to ignore the fact that social mobility exists; this is the root of the problem. If people accepted the fact that social mobility was a very common thing that people tried to do every day, then people would not be so tough on those who are openly trying to have vertical social mobility. It’s almost as if these people are trying to make fun of the people they are trying to become. An example of this would be celebrities; everybody always makes fun of the things they do and ignore their accomplishments.  Maybe some of these critics are actually just wishing to experience the mobility that these stars have achieved.

— Meeshon

 

Work cited:  Bouie, Jamelle.”Why black Americans have a hard time climbing the economic ladder: Slat opinion.” Oregonlive.com. n.b. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.

 

 

Gender and Sex

Many people think of Gender and Sex as one in the same, but in reality Gender and Sex are two completely different things. Every country has their own idea of what Gender and Sex is within their culture. Our culture in the United States has put very strong gender roles based on a person’s sex, which is why many people assume Sex and Gender are the same thing.  Sex refers to the physical and biological characteristics that define men and women. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, and activities that a society considers appropriate for men and women.

When we were born we were already given a gender identity the common blue or pink blanket that gets wrapped around us — boys get the blue and the pink for girls. The idea is that a certain color should be tied to a certain gender based on the sex. As we grow up from baby to toddler we start to get different things, such as toy trucks or baby dolls. Behaviors become programmed in us, as well.  Boys are taught to not cry when they get hurt and to hide any emotion or they will seem weak, while girls are taught to be weak, pampered and want help.

 

There is also a double standard in our gender roles.   When girls play with boy toys they are considered a “tomboy,’ but if a boy wants to play with a doll it is completely vulgar and unnecessary.  In the childhood years it only gets worse because by now they understand the idea of gender and have already been sanctioned enough to start to conform to the roles that society has formed for them. They will soon come to the conclusion that what parts they were born with is the gender they are, even if they are uncomfortable with being that gender.

Even in adulthood we can’t escape these gender roles no matter how much we try. The society we live in will sanction us back into our roles. Our sex also confines us in the work place, along with our gender. If a female in a business stated an opinion, she would seem bossy, but if the same opinion was stated by a male, he would seem as a leader.

While some people accept that we are all different regarding gender, the majority of the society doesn’t accept gender diversity, which is why this is such hard topic to talk about. The reason why I think many people don’t want to accept gender diversity, is because it can seem confusing. We as humans like simple and easily explainable answers and if something is hard to understand, we don’t want any part of it. Hopefully one day gender will no longer be a restrictive role played by boy or girl and people can freely express who they want to be without being sanctioned.

— Grace

Social Class

While growing up in America, you learn that people are categorized by their class, which is based on their wealth. The different social classes are the lower class, which is known to most to be poverty, homeless, and unemployed and lacking education. The next class is the working class, the people in this class are considered to be manual laborers. Jobs that you would associate with this class are construction workers, builders, plumbers, and even electricians. Then there is the middle class which most people in the United States would define themselves as. There is an upper middle class and also a lower middle class, usually the upper middle class workers have a good education and a great job, whereas the lower middle class has less of an education and gets paid less. Finally there is the upper class which is comprised of only 1 to 3 percent of the United States population and holds more than 25 percent of the nation’s wealth.  This class divides into two groups:  “old money” and “new money”. Old money are the big dogs at the top of the food chain; they are the most prestigious and were born into wealth.  An example of this would be the Rockefellers.

This picture illustrates the differences in appearance of people in different social classes.

An important belief in the United States is that anyone can advance past the status that they were born into, this belief is what drives many entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas. Social mobility is what keeps people working hard and trying to succeed.  Even though it is rare for someone to change their ascribed class, it is by no means impossible, all it usually takes is hard work and determination. One of the biggest barriers to social mobility is the social inequality that society faces. An example of social inequality is the differences in educational opportunities, a homeless man will be unable to go to college where he can earn a degree which could help him get a job.

— Jason

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