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Sexism, Racism, Ableism, Ageism, Classism Essay

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Updated: Jun 7th, 2021

Sexism

Description

A recent example of sexism that became popular in the news is the fact that, unlike men, women are not provided basic hygienic products in prisons, particularly those related to gynecological health. Women experienced monthly humiliation due to menstruation and lack of feminine hygiene leading to inhumane treatment. Meanwhile, state legislatures such as the Arizona House Representatives felt “discomfort” and regret about the subject of a law attempting to fix the problem, demonstrating utmost sexism in regard to the policy that addresses women’s issues.

Relation to class material

This incident directly relates to many concepts of sexism which were covered in this course. Patriarchy is seen through gender politics as state legislatures are dominated by men and the privilege of policymaking and power is held disproportionately by men. Sexism is present as men’s prisons are usually larger, more well-funded, and provided with basic hygienic needs unlike women’s facilities under the excuse of “lack of funding” for supposedly unnecessary products.

This demonstrates the overall sexist culture and attitudes which are prevalent in the justice system where women are commonly humiliated during menstruation. Misogyny was present during the Arizona congress meeting where men publicly expressed disgust and regret discussing a bill meant to address the issue, demonstrating belittling and social exclusion of women. Finally, the social backlash and public support can be attributed to feminism, a movement meant to change the status quo and support women.

The insight gained from the incident

The absurdity and blatant sexism of this issue made me angry at how the United States is unable to resolve and overcome the lack of gender equality. While in the EU and many other developed nations, hygiene products are a guaranteed human right, the United States continues to lag behind. The public backlash demonstrates that society is shifting towards a more progressive and liberal approach. However, policymakers and legislatures, which remain primarily male, lack the sympathy or understanding of these problems. Unfortunately, it seems that until there is a better representation of all types of the population in the legislative branch, little progress will be made on such “discomforting,” but fundamental women’s rights.

Racism

Description

A blatant example of racism that occurred in the news was an incident with a white woman blocking a black man from entering the apartment building where he lived due to her prejudiced “security” concerns. The incident was recorded by the man as for several minutes he was unable to gain entry and faced harassment from the young woman. When finally using some force and getting through, he was followed to his apartment under continuous harassment, which was evidently a result of racial profiling.

Relation to class material

The incident directly relates to the class topic regarding racism and race relations by exemplifying aspects of prejudice, white privilege, and inequality. The concept of a model minority may fit into this context. The white woman did not believe that a black man could possibly afford to live in the apartment building, suggesting that he achieved a moderate degree of success and she felt that he was out of place.

The history of racism and the Civil Rights Movement studied in the course covered many aspects, ranging from slavery to discrimination in schools and employment. Now that direct discrimination is illegal, racism has taken on a new form of covert racism which is subtler and disguised under different tones. For example, the woman did not directly cite the skin color of the man as the reasoning for her actions, but rather security concerns. It is an undeniable remnant of the Jim Crow era and other similar events which have integrated cultural distrust between African Americans and white populations in the United States.

The insight gained from the incident

Situations like this arise on a consistent basis in the news and from conversations with others. Unfortunately, this is a result of deeply integrated racism in some families and communities as well as a result of negative media portrayal of minorities as criminals. A lack of understanding and education leads to such behaviors. In the eyes of the woman, she was demonstrating a public safety concern and did not do anything morally wrong. However, to the man, and the African-American community, she was demonstrating an egregious example of racism which many times results in discrimination and violence.

Ableism

Description

In a discussion with friends at one point, I found myself in an uncomfortable situation where the friend group was making fun from a distance of a child with Down syndrome having trouble at a basic activity that other kids could easily do. Terms such as “retard” were thrown out and jokes were made regarding someone from the friend group being “autistic” for a bad decision they made. Overall, it was a toxic environment, and knowing that one of my best friends in that group has a hidden learning disability, I could see she was upset at the attitudes presented by the others.

Relation to class material

Ableism was not a large topic of discussion in the course, but it relates to the general aspect of discrimination and attitudes which favor able-bodied individuals. As seen by the incident, ableism is more of a social prejudice as direct discrimination in employment, education, and other institutions is punishable by law. Although historically, this has not always been the case as, throughout the 20th century, people with disabilities faced harsh treatment and even persecution. The incident demonstrated how people with disabilities such as Down syndrome are assigned certain characteristics which define them as inferior.

Stereotypes are formed against individuals with disabilities, which serve as the basis of not only ableist practices such as discrimination and exclusion but are even used as insults as part of the English slang. Disabilities commonly make individuals highly uncomfortable, often resulting in inappropriate reactions that can be labeled as ableist.

The insight gained from the incident

Overall, it seems that our culture has become desensitized to concepts of ableism. This may be because there is no inherent stigma or extreme negative consequence of demonstrating ableism such as there would be with racism and sexism. I found from observation and material that people of disability remain inherently vulnerable, particularly socially as individuals are more likely to harass or not include such people in social circles. The prevalence of ableism is surprising, considering how many people are struggling with various types of learning disabilities and health issues that could potentially cause problems. Therefore, many do not consider other’s viewpoints when engaging in ableism.

Ageism

Description

A close elderly family member had recently lost her job at a medical clinic where she had worked for over 15 years. She felt that she wanted to continue working in healthcare, adding her expertise to mentoring nurses and younger staff. However, as she continues to apply for jobs, she is consistently being denied, despite the significant experience and glowing recommendations. Many employers and recruiters provide her with explanations such as “the industry are looking for young college graduates” or “you do not have the necessary technology-based skills to succeed.” Many employers are not offering interviews, and those that do, lack the sincere interest in hiring anyone of that age unless they are a highly qualified specialist.

Relation to class material

Ageism refers to prejudicial practices and attitudes towards older people. The incident demonstrates a clear instance of discrimination in job hiring due to age. While the ADEA of 1967 is meant to protect individuals, it is not as commonly enforced as other elements of the EEOC (29 suits annually in the whole country) and companies find ways around it, often without having the intent to discriminate, rather it is just not something they are looking for in candidates. As the older generation is increasing due to demographic trends, these practices and double standards are becoming more prevalent. This can be related to the various stereotypes learned in the course that older people are rigid and inflexible as well as cognitively impaired, which are characteristics that are discouraged in modern workplaces.

The insight gained from the incident

To many people, ageism is not as evident as other types of social prejudice, particularly if an elderly woman is white and fully capable. It always seems to be a subject matter of jokes, but for me, this incident with my family member opened my eyes to how prevalent ageism occurs in daily interactions and specifically, employment-related issues. I believe that there are not enough protections and support systems in place for the elderly, with people viewing them as a burden, let it be in the workplace or even family members that must be accommodated in difficult times.

Classism

Description

One of the most blatant examples of public classism occurred in recent months when the U.S. government underwent a shutdown for several weeks, forcing many basic employees out of work and not receiving paychecks, including for hours already worked. As the shutdown was prolonged, many people faced financial struggles, ranging from the ability to pay rent and mortgage to buy basic groceries and necessities. At this time, the Trump administration and the Republican party expressed numerous instances of classism, “wondering” how people could not survive on savings to making absurd suggestions for people to work for their landlords.

Relation to class material

This directly relates to the class material regarding the study of privilege and obsession. The differences in social class are part of a social construct that is meant to create a certain “quality” of individuals based on their characteristics, one of which is wealth and power. It is a concrete example of privilege, something of value that one group holds over the other. The dominant group suffers from the “luxury of obliviousness” where they lack awareness about the issues faced by the lower class. This is an example of privilege as a paradox, where these politicians are part of an elite group, not because of their personal characteristics, but their wealth and power, usually created through family generations.

The insight gained from the incident

From this incident, I learned that prejudice and privilege extend heavily into politics and socio-economic class. The class divide is becoming more apparent, particularly as government or industry leaders who earn multimillion-dollar salaries cannot understand the difficulties that middle- and lower-class citizens experience, especially those with financial pressures and the inability to make ends meet. As a result, a phenomenon of classism occurs as the needs and wants of those without money are not considered. Individuals with money and power are able to maintain their salaries even during government shutdowns and express such insensitive statements disregarding the status quo.

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"Sexism, Racism, Ableism, Ageism, Classism." IvyPanda, 7 June 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/sexism-racism-ableism-ageism-classism/.

1. IvyPanda. "Sexism, Racism, Ableism, Ageism, Classism." June 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sexism-racism-ableism-ageism-classism/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Sexism, Racism, Ableism, Ageism, Classism." June 7, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sexism-racism-ableism-ageism-classism/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Sexism, Racism, Ableism, Ageism, Classism'. 7 June.

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