Essay on Minority Women

The Matrix of Domination

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl,” – this famous phrase of Shirley Chisholm, the outstanding American politician, clearly illustrates the position of women in modern world. Indeed, stereotypes are the cornerstone of women status, especially in the patriarchate society. Being a woman imposes certain obligations, and many of them have illogical nature. Some women get in even more difficult position that they cannot change – they belong to so-called “minority groups”. It takes much more patience and courage for minority women to make our society to recognize their status. However, despite all difficulties, modern minority women learnt to fight for their rights, recognition, success and happiness.

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Minority group is a term used to describe the sociological group of people that do not constitute the majority of total population within a particular society. If in terms of certain criterion, there exists a group of definite majority, the rest will constitute minority. This term works for certain sociological criteria only. Technically, it is possible to identify minority group in many criteria. For instance, if more than half population prefers denim jeans, others who wear classic trousers or other clothes may be called the minority. However, since the clothes preferences do not affect social life, this criterion may not be called a sociological factor. Thus, the minority groups are limited to certain social factors, such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, and some others. I would define these criteria as some factors that person cannot normally alter – like we cannot change our age, gender, or race (religion may be altered, still in most cases it is given after child is born and is not changed). Oftentimes the term “minority group” is substituted by “subordinate group” to avoid confusion.

Some sociologist define minority groups as groups of people that are separated from other society due to certain differences in social factors, and are object of discrimination. Indeed, oftentimes minority groups to more or less extent suffered from various types of discrimination in society. It mostly concerns the largest categories of subordinate groups –gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. There are other categories of minority groups, like disabled or age subordinate groups, but their minority status is not as significant as others. Thus, race, gender, ethnicity, and religion present the most significant social criteria of dividing people that form appropriate categories of minority.

Gender minority presents the most controversial category of minority group. Although it may seem very simple to divide people to male and female, there exist many other gender groups nowadays, like intersexuals, transgender, homo- and bisexuals, transsexuals, and some others. However, these subgroups rather constitute sex minority group. The main gender minority is women, although population of men and women is approximately equal. Women present rather social than numerical minority, which is expressed in various levels of discrimination. Since being women means already belonging to gender minority, women that belong to other minority groups may be subjected to even more discrimination in society.

Race and ethnicity is another major category of subordinate groups. This category is, probably, the most historically addressed factor among minority groups. Racial inequality presented an acute social issue for many years in numerous countries. In the United States of America, for example, Afro-American people constitute the most socially challenged group of racial minority. Racial subordinate group does not necessarily present numerical minority – in South Africa, for instance, the population of black people exceeds whites, and still they are considered a social minority. Besides race, ethnicity is an important factor. Since population of some countries may not contain racial minority, it is full of people of various ethnicity – emigrants, indigenous people, and so on. Hence, ethnicity presents a minority category that is also significant. Of course, women of non-white race and minority ethnicity belong to “double minority”, which is more socially stereotyping.

Religion has also presented a cornerstone of various issues in history between dominant and subordinate groups. Religious minority is a group of people having religion other than majority does. It may also be atheism – no religion al all. Although the law of free religion works in many countries, some regions forbid citizens to alter their religion. Religious minority may suffer from sound discrimination in society – for example, the status of atheists is considered to be lower than gays and lesbians, Muslims, and other minority groups in American society. It is, of course, especially acute when a person belongs to several minority categories – black immigrant atheist women will feel less comfortable in society.

The existence of minority groups in society was always accompanied with certain social and political steps taken to elevate the status of minority group members. For example, various policies like affirmative actions, so-called positive discrimination policies, or targeted recruitment/education program are taken to help minority groups get wider access to institutions, education, and employment and redeem historical discrimination. However, these policies are oftentimes considered another form of discrimination. Some initiatives taken towards recognition of minority group members are the U.S. Committee on Status of Women and Minority Groups (conducts surveys and research on education and employment of minority women), American Medical Women’s Association program of Health Care for Minority Women (researches improvement of minority women health), various local programs and studies of evaluation and analysis of minority women status in different institutions. In general, the subject of women in minority groups is addressed regularly in legal, social, and political initiatives in order to elevate the status of minority group members.

Unfortunately, our civilization was developed in such a way, that the term “minority group” had to emerge. In a hypothetical perfect society this term would never exist, as true social equality would never allow any majority or minority. However, our society was never perfect, and our history contains numerous facts of discrimination and oppression of minority.

The nature of this discrimination is a subject of separate research, but the result is obvious – some social categories of people are discriminated. Prejudice, negative attitude, neglect – these are some of the phenomena that minority groups members, especially women, had to undergo in our society. “I ask no favors for my sex…. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks,” – said Sarah Moore Grimke, a famous women emancipation advocate. And I am sure many minority women would put their signatures under these words.

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