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Sometimes society may apply double standards when dealing with certain groups even without realizing it. In no situation is this matter more apparent than in gender profiling where principles of profiling are applied in reverse.
Why gender profiling is contradictory
Profiling of any kind is very common in the United States. Some companies do it in order to understand their consumers and hence create products that cater to each group profiled. In marketing, profiling has led to the creation of loyalty cards as well as the concept of personalized advertisements. In the banking sector, especially in this age of information technology, profiling has led to fraud prevention and other similar innovations. In human resources, profiling helps in skills management. In forensics, profiling is normally applied so that specific cases can be solved or so that potential criminals may be found.
Perhaps the most spoken about profiling occurs in law enforcement and security checks in traffic or at airports (Brooks, 2). All these profiling methodologies have brought up a lot of legal and ethical issues. Some people oppose them on the basis of privacy invasion because affected parties are rarely consulted. Others object against the process used to place one in a certain group while others feel that this is discriminatory and tantamount to inequality. Others object the liability that arises out of profiling. Most of these objections are often raised in one of the most common types of profiling i.e. racial profiling. Profiling does not necessarily have to be racially based because sometimes it is gender based. Although these instances are usually few, it still does not undermine the fact that they exist.
The contradictory aspects of gender profiling are quite interesting and they come in different forms and shapes. When a Muslim couple enters the United States through an airport, it is likely that the man will be detained while the female will allowed in. Brook (13) explains that this happened at an international airport to a real couple. The US Justice Department decided that they would make this mandatory for any individuals from Muslim countries after the September eleventh attacks. All men from those countries were required to register their names upon entry and exit from the United States.
Those who failed to do that would be immediately deported to their countries of origin or would serve in jail. These Department-of-justice regulations do not consider any female wrongdoers as most of them would simply pass through and enter the country. One would therefore wonder why there is a difference in treatment of men and women in this kind of setting. The creator of the idea in the Department asserted that almost all terrorists are males and this is the basis for the differential treatment and the gender profiling. However, this was a contradiction of sorts because certain secular groups may still employ the services of female terrorists or suicide bombers.
Gender profiling in this case was defeating the very purpose for setting up the program in Airports in the first place. Terrorists are often very vigilant about the new traits that US authorities are looking for when carrying out searches at Airports and other such venues. When those terrorists realize that there are certain groups that may be allowed to pass through without question then those terrorists will often pretend to belong to that group. Terrorists have already known that women are allowed to enter the US without question and some of them are actually doing this deliberately.
There are also other newer and secular Islamist terror groups that have considered the possibility of recruiting women. In essence, this gender profiling comes in the way of getting to the real culprits because of this differential treatment of sexes. The contradiction in gender profiling lies in the fact that people rarely raise objections to gender profiling yet it does just as much as harm as racial profiling or other conventional types of profiling in solving crimes. Another contradiction lays in the fact that gender profiling actually benefits women rather than harms them (Brook, 7).
The latter concept can be easily witnessed in traffic offenses. It has been shown that men were more likely to be stopped and searched in traffic compared to female drivers. Furthermore, amongst those drivers who are stopped, it has been shown that women are more likely than men to be let off with nothing more than a warning. Male drivers are likely to be fined for their traffic mistakes. This clearly illustrates gender profiling. The interesting issue is that none of these actions have sparked off much debate or complaints from the public. The double standards applied are not fair in any way but they have not raised any eyebrows from male drivers.
A possible explanation could lie in the fact that these instances of gender profiling are few so they have not raised a lot of concern. Alternatively, it could illustrate that when a bias or some form of discrimination tends not to create too much pain then the public is likely to play it down. This is especially so when the issues under consideration are moderately trivial. Traffic offenses are not as serious as robbery or assault charges. In essence, if men tend to commit more traffic offenses then it would make sense if the number of times they are stopped and searched is higher than women, however, when both genders are stopped and one of them is let off easily then this is clear gender profiling. It does not make sense that society quite easily lets it happen.
Gender profiling is a contradiction because it tends to harm the purposes for which it was intended (such as antiterrorism efforts) yet very little public attention has been raised about it. Furthermore, gender profiling offers more opportunities to the subject group rather than hindering them.
Brook, Daniel. Profiling gender’s gap, Legal affairs magazine, 2004.