The Last Refuge of the Bigot

From the MIT report on women science faculty:

Each generation of young women, including those who are currently senior faculty, began by believing that gender discrimination was “solved” in the previous generation and would not touch them. Gradually however, their eyes were opened to the realization that the playing field is not level after all, and that they had paid a high price both personally and professionally as a result.

And:

Once and for all we must recognize that the heart and soul of discrimination, the last refuge of the bigot, is to say that those who are discriminated against deserve it because they are less good.

In my research on racism and sexism, I encounter many, many, many people who want to say the problem of discrimination is solved.  Consequently, if we’re still seeing unequal opportunities for women and people of color, it means there must be something wrong with them.  My dissertation work looks at how to change exactly these ideas, which means I struggle with when to engage and when to walk away from the inevitable Stupid Internet Arguments.

Books like Microaggressions in Everyday Life, Racism Without Racists and The Mismeasure of Woman do a wonderful job of shredding these approaches and showing the harm they do, but I can’t pull out a book-length argument every time these issues come up.  As my brother pointed out, I need an elevator pitch for what I’m working on, or no one’s going to listen to me but other academics.  I think I’ve found mine in this report, or at least a direction for shaping one.

One comment

  1. Well, both male and females had their respective discrimination, advantages and disadvantages.

    Discrimination is something that often happen to the minority group. Just like how a male nurse could be discriminated in hospital dominated by female nurses.etc

    What most important for me though, is that any sort of equality awareness program (whether it’s gender or race.etc) should try not to tread on the line of making people feel that (Whether it’s intended or not):

    “We are featuring them because they are the minority, we give them awards/grants because they are the minority, even though someone in the majority group scored much higher marks than him/her.”

    This is what I feel is an indirect insult to the minority group.

    However I could yet to figure out a way on how to highlight equality awareness in a better way than these common methods which rewards the minority for their hard earned efforts at the possibility of giving off an indirect insult message unintentionally.

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