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There are various factors which can be associated with an individual’s behavior or code of conduct since people tend to develop character traits and attitudes from what they either observe, experience or even associate with. The factors may be economic, social, cultural, political or even sociopolitical.
Among the sociopolitical factors that may have either positive or negative impact on an individual are; Stereotyping, Prejudice, Racism, Discrimination, Sexism, Disenfranchisement, Oppression, Sexual harassment, Concept of the glass ceiling, Human/Civil rights, Homelessness, Unequal education, Unequal pay, Minimum wage, Health care, Slavery, Immigration, Ageism, and Employment.
This paper will discuss some of the sociopolitical factors and their potential impact on psychological development, distress, and behavior on a culturally diverse individual with much emphasis given to oppression, sexual harassment, and employment.
Oppression can be defined as a brutal exercise carried on an individual where power and authority is involved. It usually affects ones body and mind as he or she tries to cope with the situation. Oppression is a broad concept and affects a majority of people in the society either directly or indirectly.
It takes various forms depending on the situation and the particular unjust activity in question, for instance, classism, ageism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism. Oppression is suffered by people of all ages from the young children, the youths to the elderly.
Some children develop the attitude to accept oppression as a normal or acceptable issue from very early ages as their parents present the world as a bad place full of dangerous and hurtful people hence instilling fear in the children making them feel powerless and without control of what may come their way.
Oppression causes emotional distress and affects a person’s psychological development and in the long run determines the person’s conduct or behavior when faced with various situations in life. For example, fear instilled by the parents or adults to children makes a child get a wrong picture of the general world and any information got by the child is received wrongly making the child distressed and subsequent information is received in the same way forming a pattern.
The experience therefore becomes chronic and the individual acts in some illogical manner based on what he or she believes and in most cases may tend to revenge by oppressing others. Taking racism as a form of oppression, there could be discrimination of the blacks by the whites or vice versa.
At early ages children tend to be very friendly to all people without discrimination, for instance, children of the whites have lots of love and affection towards their black servants and get distressed by their parents’ behavior of despising the blacks through their hateful talks with other whites. They usually develop a sense of guilt especially when their parents are in their presence as they have fun with the blacks.
Some also develop fears towards things, for example, association with blacks as they observe their parent’s behavior and may end up avoiding or rejecting them in their entire life. Oppression operates in distress situations and observation or experience of oppression activities being carried out by those we honor and respect kills our morale of doing well to others.
The distress patterns formed during early age through parents and other adults makes one to accept other oppressions in life and live as an oppressed individual. Sexism is also a form of oppression where one gender is perceived as being superior to the other more often than not, the male. The women therefore grow up knowing that men should pursue the best education courses and therefore take up the best careers.
Through the distress pattern developed from early age, the psychological development of women is affected negatively and they are forced to behave as less adequate as compared to the men.
Most people who suffer from oppression acts usually exercise oppression on others and so the cycle continues as the oppressed learn to oppress others. In general, any form of oppression involves lack of respect and humanity by the oppressors towards the oppressed, and a feeling of powerlessness, low self esteem; self hate and self guilt in regard to the oppressor (Harris and Holdt, 1997).
Sexual harassment can be defined as any form of physical or verbal conduct pertaining to indulgence in sex without consent. It can be done towards a particular individual or a group of persons in an institutional setting, for instance, in the workplace usually by a person in authority such as an employer. It generally involves sexual advances that interfere with the smooth running of activities in the working environment.
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It is a form of sex discrimination as the person being sexually harassed usually has no feelings for the person involved and the sexual advances are unwelcome. The victims do not have consent to the sexual activities and is done through use force as the perpetrators considers the victims to be powerless for instance in terms of finances and even physical strength.
It makes working uncomfortable to the employee as she or he becomes distressed and develops negative attitudes towards employers especially of the opposite sex.
Sexual harassment can take two forms, where the sexual behavior in question is meant to be an exchange for an agreed benefit, for instance, a promotion in employment position or staying away from some form of punishment after committing an offence and where the sexual harassment is just meant to create an intimidating and unfavorable environment for the employee or any other person being harassed.
Sexual harassment may also occur in academic institutions, for example, universities where lecturers and instructors take advantage of their power and authority to harass the female students. The lecturers and instructors often threaten to give low marks to the students if they deny them the sexual favors they ask for and in some instances, the students give in with the fear of bad academic performance.
Most victims are women although there are some few incidents where men are harassed. This is because of the perception by the society that men should always dominate while women should be submissive making them more susceptible to this harassment.
Most of the sexual harassment incidences go unreported for many reasons for example, the fear of convincing people since there is no evidence, the fear of revenge by the perpetrators, for instance, getting fired from job or demotion or failing in examinations, embarrassment and guilt and also lack of proper information on how to report such cases.
Lack of reporting makes the effects of the problem even more severe as the victims are distressed by confiding in themselves and in most cases their psychological development is affected as the bad memories keep on recurring in their lives.
The victims’ behavior is affected by the experiences and they tend to develop fear and hatred towards people of the opposite sex especially their seniors as they see them as opportunists who are there to gain sexual satisfaction from them regardless of the consequences.
It also have negative effects on an individual’s performance for example in school or work place, health due to psychological stress, career as there are always obstacles to its natural prosperity and also on the general livelihood as a person do not live according to his or her standards but under the influence of the perpetrators.
Also one always have a guilt conscience and his or her social and sexual life is usually affected as most of the victims may opt never to be involved in sexual acts or develop phobia. Since sexual harassment is a major issue especially in work places, it should be under all circumstances be prevented by educating the employees on ways of identifying sexual advances and the best way of dealing with such situations for example through speaking up and not giving chances for victimization.
There should also be combined efforts of the society, the government, employers and employees towards combating this problem of sexual harassment (Jill, 2006).
Employment can be termed as a contract between an employer and an employee. The employer usually has control over the employees and governs their activities including payment. The employer may be the government for instance where employees are civil servants, a nongovernmental organization, a private institution or even an individual.
Employment is very essential in each and every ones life as it is the means through which one gets a source of living through the finances received either as salary or wages and other benefits. It is also a source of identity and accomplishment. People go through education programs and systems with an aim of securing good employment opportunities after completion of their studies.
Not all people are however lucky as some spend many years searching for jobs but in vain while others end up landing in poor and unsatisfying jobs, which distress them for their entire lifetime. Unemployment is a major issue in both developed and developing countries especially due to its impacts among those who lack job opportunities.
It is a key cause of depression especially among the youths as their expectations are not met living them hopeless and vulnerable to criminal activities as a means of dealing with their disappointments in life.
People generally are optimistic of getting job opportunities either for the first time or after losing their jobs but the hopes usually fades away with time bringing a sense of low self esteem, anxiety, and hence a possibility of being involved in criminal activities like drug abuse as their mental health deteriorates and have self guilt blaming oneself for the inability to secure a job.
The only ways of dealing with this problem is the provision of psychotherapy and finally a job opportunity to the victims. Availability of favorable job opportunities on the other hand contributes to positive living as individuals have high self esteem and are optimistic towards various aspects of life. Their health is therefore good as they are able to deal with aspects like depression, which is brought by unemployment and dissatisfaction in life (Goddard, 2003).
An individual’s life in terms of psychological development and general behavior is determined by various factors for instance a person who faces oppression, sexual harassment, and poor or lack of employment opportunities is likely to be negatively affected psychologically and also may behave in an illogical manner due to low self esteem and hatred towards others.
Goddard, R. (2003). Psychological distress and burnout in Australian employment service workers: two years on. Journal of Employment Counseling. Web.
Harris, T., and Holdt, J. (1997). Insight about Oppression. Web.
Jill, S. L. (2006). Sexual Harassment or Consensual Sexual Relations? Implications for Social Work Education. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, Volume 3, Number 2. Web.