What is (gender) discrimination? Who does it affect?

The vast majority of people understand gender discrimination through the narrow lens of women’s issues. Though they are indisputably important components of the fight against sexist oppression, our understanding should be more inclusive to those who do not necessarily fall into this traditional definition of gender discrimination, but still suffer for defying society’s expectations of a gender binary. Dean Spade offers a more holistic and inclusive definition in Resisting Medicine, Re/Modeling Gender, saying that “sexist oppression requires that all people adhere to two narrowly defined gender categories; that all people work, dress, reproduce, and generally behave according to the standards set out as appropriate.” With this new definition, we can acknowledge that more than cisgendered women suffer from gendered expectations. As Dean Spade writes, transgendered people suffer gender discrimination as they receive mistreatment and prejudice for failing to adhere to “expectations of the gendered category they have been assigned,” in appearance, demeanor, and behavior. Intersexuals likewise suffer; as activist and intersex person Eden Atwood describes in a youtube video, “out of a great deal of fear and prejudice, a scalpel is raised in order to normalize the genitals and force a gender identity onto the child.” Thus, intersexuals are denied of their autonomy and self-determination, and surgically altered as birth. Even cisgendered men can suffer gender discrimination if they deviate from their masculine expectations, like the father Belkin described the New York Times  that struggled to succeed professionally because he prioritized parenting- a task usually designated for women. Though the plights of these people have often been ignored in the larger understanding of gender discrimination, we as progressive thinkers in the modern era should include them in our goals of ending sexist oppression.

video, “inter thoughts” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ-GNZ5QA4Q

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” New York Times Magazine. The New York Times, 15 June 2008. Web.

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal (2003): 32. Web. 14 July 2003.

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One thought on “What is (gender) discrimination? Who does it affect?

  1. Pingback: Gender Discrimination discussed in the 2nd MEPI Coffee Hour | The MEPI EXPERIENCE

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