Feminism and Discrimination
Philosophy and Feminism Assignment 1: Case Study Binh P. H Tran – Nick “Women cannot be sexist. Only men can be sexist because they are the privileged group” This is one of the statements my boss made, when I first started working in the Multicultural Information. Even though I did not say so, I did have serious doubt. Can a woman be sexist? What, exactly, is sexual discrimination? The fact is indisputable that men are generally treated better than women. They are better paid for the same amount of work. They don’t have the same social pressure to be submissive.
However, they can certainly be oppressed. Minority men have certainly been and will continue being oppressed. The issue here is that can a man be oppressed by a woman? Consequently, if both sides are equally capable of oppressing each other, is it a fair society? First of all, to understand these questions, we need to understand the nature of sexism, prejudice or discrimination based on sex and prejudice, an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Additionally, prejudice is rooted in the view that the discriminator’s group is somehow superior to the oppressed group, which is the justification for the oppression. The current U. S society has the prejudice that men, as a group, are somehow superior to women. This discrimination serves to justify the double standards between men and women and the injustice done to women by society in general. Nevertheless, we need to determine whether men derive their power from being oppressive or they are being oppressive because they are powerful.
Other instances of oppression such as between masters and slaves may convince us that the Caucasian group is oppressive because they are more powerful. However, it is certainly possible that the African American could be the oppressive group if they are more powerful. Thus, it may be possible if women, as a group, are more powerful than men, they could be oppressive. The statement that my boss make is that it takes the statement that is generally true “women, as a group, is oppressed by men” to be always true “only men can be sexist”.
While it is undeniable that in a macro level, men is more powerful and more oppressive toward women, my boss may have discounted the possibility that on a micro level, some women can be oppressing men. For example, in organizations that have a majority of women in the higher position, they could enforce similar discriminatory practices against men because of their gender. Another example would be a group of women sexually harass a male janitor by threatening to fire him.
In those instances, those women would be practicing sexism, an irrational hostility against a person base on their gender. Just like a group of African Americans is not incapable of killing a white man because white men are generally oppressive toward African Americans, no group is incapable of being oppressive just because they, themselves are being oppressed. The reason that I am bring this issue up is because that sometimes one is too preoccupied with being oppressed that one may act oppressive as a revenge, which some feminists may suggests.
Activism is about fixing an injustice, not about seeking revenge on what have been done. Women cannot have more votes now because they were deprived of votes for hundreds of years. A female teacher who has sexual intercourse with her male student should receive the same punishment as a male teacher who did the same to his female student. The third wave of feminism is correct in suggesting treating everyone as individuals instead of lumping everyone in a group that deserve a certain kind of treatment. Majority tyranny is every bit as oppressive as sexism.