Gender and Privilege/oppression White Privilege Essay
“White Privilege and Male Privilege” by Peggy McIntosh “Domination and Subordination” by J. B. Miller “Something About the Subject Makes It Hard to Name” by Gloria Yamato “Oppression” by Marilyn Frye 1)The article “White Privilege and Male Privilege” by Peggy Mcintosh discusses how just being born into the race of the majority (for now), and being born a man gives a whole host of helpful things in life that create an advantage over those who were not born Caucasian and/or Male.
This known status is so prevalent throughout our culture that it affects the quality of the employment, education, housing, and social class one is able to achieve in our society. Author J. B. Miller wrote an article called “Domination and Subordination”, which speaks of the situations that cause inequality. Two specific types she mentions are temporary inequality, (situational-i. e. teacher/student relationships) and permanent inequality (characteristics that one is born with, such as race, religion, gender, etc. ) Oppression” by author Marilyn Frye relates how feminism is oppression, although the word has become rhetoric that is used as a joke by men to claim “reverse discrimination”. The gentlemen holding those doors for women may appear to be thoughtful and polite, yet the very act of racing to the entrance door for a female, even though they are more than capable of doing it themselves. This is an example of what most likely amounts to another worthless act of “rescuing” someone needlessly in a way that is actually insulting and demeaning (help me, I am the weak, needy woman…. ).
Gloria Yamato writes about racism today, in its many forms, in “Something About the Subject Makes It Hard to Name”. The four main types of racism in the present are defined as 1) aware/blatant 2)aware/covert 3)unaware/unintentional 4)unaware/self-righteous 2) “White/Male Privilege is an invisible package of unearned assets that can be counted on to be cashed in day (McIntosh, 1988 p. 76). ” This quote speaks to the unconscious oppressiveness and rewards one receives by being born (ascribed privilege) into the majority (either/or white/male) by our society every day, or not (oppressed).
The overwhelming theme of these articles is that life for many is working very hard to just be treated equally. When applying for a job, or a promotion, or going to the first day of school, people are judged almost instantly by those around them. Being white, or male, removes barriers that everyone else must deal with constantly. Racism and sexism is so ingrained in our society that those oppressed often end up “going along” with the idea that they are not equal or “as deserving”.
So this group either begins to lose hope and become disenfranchised or have to become more qualified/knowledgeable/ or experienced than the average white guy to “measure” up. 3)I greatly agree with the notion that women and minorities are oppressed, and must deal with issues/situations that will never present themselves in the world of a Caucasian/Male. The English language is filled with thousands of slang words to make women feel less than human, while the words making fun of white men are markedly less. The butt of jokes are always those “inferior” to the “superior” group that J. B. Miller defines as “subordinates” and “dominants”. This status grouping is created, and propagated by the dominant ones in the group who have decided that the inferiors do not equal their own worth, or are “defective”.
This is usually not the case, and as a whole, the subordinate group ends up understanding the thought process/reasoning of the “superior” ones (Miller, p. 73). “One trait that oppressed people have is that they experience the world where their situations give the individual fewer choices and each option can also bring penalties, and more misfortune (Frye, p. 7). The example given is how women that are called “prude” if not overtly sexual, or sexually inexperienced. On the other hand, when a woman has many sexual partners (or even perceived to have too many), then that woman is called a “slut”, and considered dirty. Another analogy would be calling a woman useless for not “putting out”, and “used”, if she enjoys, or seems to like sex a lot. Regardless the woman is being held up to standards, set up by men, that are impossible to measure up to. Men do not want virgins as brides (usually), nor do they want to be the 8th husband (sorry Elizabeth Taylor). 4)I have always had a career in retail pharmacy.
The men were the pharmacists much of the time, and the technicians/clerks were ALWAYS women. While pharmacists have doctorates, and almost as much knowledge as an MD, the male ones were usually very arrogant and condescending to me, as a blonde woman who looks young when it is NOT convenient. I had my first obscene realization of sexism at my job at 18. As I rang up an elderly man for his pills, he asks for the pharmacist. She comes, and he looks at her, and sneers, “NO, the REAL one, the MAN…”. I informed him my only pharmacist was a woman, and she was also the manager. He was irate and demanded to know who put “all these girls” in charge.
Mind you, I looked like a teen (and was), but my boss and co-workers were in their 30s and 40s. He demanded to see the store manager, which, low and behold, was also a female. A very tall and intimidating one too, who did not take sexism in her store. She proceeded to tell him if he was upset by women in charge he should take his business elsewhere, since we were “all he had”. It was awesome. I was so sad, that even in the 90s, someone thinks literally women cannot manage a store, fill a prescription, or obtain an advanced degree. I found many men who thought we were incompetent and helpless “girls” who should get a “real manager” in charge.
I was very lucky to have my first job teach me that sexism was still very real, but things were changing fast and we did not have to take it anymore. I became a part of that change when I took over two departments a few months later, and that man came back, and saw me running everything, said that he was impressed that we could “hold it together” without any help from “more experienced workers”( he meant “male” help). He continued to shop there, which signaled to all of us he trusted us, and was at least somewhat accepting to the new world of feminism.