Racism, homophobia and sexism are words associated with hate and unrest within our society, so why do they still play a large, horrifying role in so many peoples lifes? Being treated differently due to the colour of your skin, your sexuality or your gender are completely outdated forms of oppression within today’s society.
Tuesday’s lecture not only touched on these issues, but also islamophobia and patriarchy. It was an extremely enriching and thought-provoking input that made me think a lot more about different ways people are treated in our society and how we, as upcoming professionals, will have a direct impact on children regarding these stigmas.
Racism has taken place in many extreme examples throughout history. Within World War 2 and Hitler’s regime, to the workings of the Ku Klux Klan in the USA. Shockingly, however, It still plays part in elements of our society. This outdated and ludicrous idea that people with white skin are ‘superior’ to those of a different race are just that, outdated and ludicrous. So why is it still present today? According to the International Business Times, approximately one third of Scots from ethnic minorities have experienced racial discrimination. To combat this issue, the government provided £3m worth of funding to groups and organizations whose aim is to end racism. On the other hand however, the government has been shown to also contribute to societies views on racism. In 1964, the conservative MP, Peter Griffiths, was voted to power in the general election for Smethwick based solely on the back of his campaign slogan – “If you want a n****r for a neighbor, vote Labour!”. This is not as far back in history as many might think. In fact, many parents of todays teens would have been born in or around this time. Growing up with such hatred being deemed as socially acceptable, would be hard to simply shake off. This is one of the reasons as to why todays younger generations harbor racist views and feelings.
Historically, homosexual men were portrayed on TV to be very over-the-top and extremely feminine. Even with children today, comments such as “That’s so gay!” evidentially keep some of this stereotype going. Being able to reflect o the past, allows us to see where we went wrong, and what we need to do to fix our mistakes. Slowly, society is becoming a more accepting and loving environment, but we still have a long way to go. This is mainly due to movements such as the LGBTQ+ parades, celebrity support and change in laws. During the 60s and 70s, language that was then deemed as appropriate can result in someone spending time in jail or being charged. By criminalizing homophobia, it teaches everyone, especially children, that it is not acceptable in this day in age.
Even today, women are, in some respects, regarded as second-class citizens. Recently, amongst celebrities and businesses, the pay gap between men and women has been revealed with shocking results. According to the UK Governments website, there is still an 18% gap in pay. Yes, this me be the lowest it has ever been, but it is still completely unacceptable! The notion of women being inferior, or incapable of responsibility has delved from thousands and thousands of years ago. Stories such as those in Greek mythology, portrayed women as unable to handle power, usually giving them such resulted in disaster and carnage. This delivered the message that women were incapable of maintaining any sort of power, which led to women being treated as male’s property throughout history. Patriarchy is still present in society, just like racism and homophobia. In 1990, in her novel about Theorising Patriarchy, Walby wrote “… a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women.”. Throughout the 1900s, newspapers contained articles directed at women all about how to keep their husbands happy and how best to clean the house. Fast forward over 100 years, and we still see similar things within the media. With women being referred to as ‘the wife of…’ and ‘childless’, society is in an endless cycle of patriarchy. It is only once we break down the ideas of racism, homophobia and sexism, can society really start to become a more accepting, inclusive and complete environment for everyone.
• International Business Times. 2015. Racism in Scotland: One third of ethnic minority Scots have experienced discrimination. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/racism-scotland-one-third-ethnic-minority-scots-have-experienced-discrimination-1519662. [Accessed 30 September 2018].
• Giddens, A. & Sutton, P. (2013) Sociology (7th. Ed). Cambridge: Polity Press
• GOV.UK. 2016. UK Gender Pay Gap. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-gender-pay-gap. [Accessed 30 September 2018].