The Intersecting Features of Pay Inequality

The network “Good4Utah” recently covered an interesting advocacy experiment. The call for advocacy occurred at Jordan high school in Sandy, Utah where the Young Democrats club sold cookies at the price of 77 cents for women and 1 dollar for men in order to raise awareness on the issue of gender pay inequality. The story itself was reported by two older white men who within racial/gender-based pay comparisons, being a white male would be part of the top percentile. Recent pay comparisons from the U.S. Current Population Survey show that in 2010 in the United States for every 1 dollar a white man earns a white women earns 80.5 cents (“The Wage Gap, by Gender and Race.”). Furthermore, when the intersecting category of race accompanies gender* these statistics show that black men earn 74.5 cents, Hispanic men 65.9 cents, , black women 69.6 cents and Hispanic women 59.8 cents in the United States to a white man’s dollar. This shows that there is not a wage gap, but rather many wage gaps. A look at these wage gap(s) statistic raises questions in regards to pay inequality not only for the Young Democrats of that Utah high school, but for myself as well. It is perhaps easy to mention what should determine a worker’s compensation such as, experience, knowledge, skills etc. What is not easy, is to examine the actual intersecting features and structures that determine a worker’s pay in 21st– century North America. How do the intersecting features of racism, sexism, cissexism, ableism and more really influence pay equality, or rather INequality? A look at examples of the structures that buttress pay inequality as well as discrimination that leads to pay inequality may shed more light on the issue.

The structures that support the various wage gaps among groups include the division of the labour market. In North America labour is quite gender-segregated as social structures/constructs segregate occupations into “men’s work” and “women’s work”. Comments made under this Good4Utah piece show that many in society believe that there are “male skills” and “female skills”. For example, Aaron Webb commented, “. . . some jobs require the male strength and aptitude towards not noticing pain and so forth, most women would freak if they cut their finger off, a guy would probably duct tape it and work the rest of the day before leaving work. . .”. While interviews at Jordan high school showed that not everyone thinks that men and women are genetically predisposed towards different skill sets, it is clear that a large portion of society does. This is evident in the pattern of pay stagflation within fields that are dominated by women (e.g. nurse wages, teaching wages, childcare wages) versus those that are dominated by men (e.g. managers (not retail sales, construction laborers, janitors) (Judy Aulette 194). As well as this pattern of gender-based pay stagflation, patterns of what North-American labour markets hold to be of value arise in the area of emotional labour and invisible labour. Emotional labour (face-to-face/voice-to-contact) components involved in certain female dominated fields (e.g. flight attendant, secretary, etc.) and invisible labour (labour associated with maternal tasks e.g. direct child care, laundry, cooking, etc.) receive no/less monetary compensation which communicates that they are of a lesser value than other labour, that is if they are of any value at all. Moreover, these areas of labour in addition to having lower wage rates are often structured to give less benefits to the workers, for example domestic and clothing factory work are often structured to be part-time at very low wages which disproportionally effects women, and immigrant and lower-wage-class women at that (Aulette 502). These androcentric social structures that intersect with categories of class, race, and more facilitate and support the wage gaps.

In addition to labour structures that support pay inequality indirect and direct discrimination also facilitates wage gaps. Discrimination that stems from racism, cissexism, ableism and sexism often impacts the hiring and wage patterns of varying groups. For example, a study showed that trans women “respondents experienced discrimination in hiring at 55%, compared to 40% of [trans men] respondents. Gender non-conforming respondents experienced this form of discrimination at 32%” (Sohpia Kerby). Thus direct discrimination that stems from systems of oppression such as transphobia impact workers’ labour rights and income. In addition even when “controlling for education, race, occupation, and years of work experience . . . (t)he Williams Institute finds that gay and bisexual men earn 10 percent to 32 percent less than similarly qualified heterosexual men, in a meta-analysis of 12 studies examining earnings and sexual orientation in the United States.” (Crosby Burns). Furthermore race and homophobia intersect in data that shows the average Latina lesbian couple earns $3,000 less than Latino opposite-sex couples (Sohpia Kerby). Indirect discrimination where workers’ are not hired because they’re “just not the right fit” as well as direct discrimination clearly has an impact on labour patterns and the livelihoods of many varying groups.

All in all, it can be seen that the intersecting features of oppression that litter labour structures as well as labour discrimination practices have a large impact on society. These systematic intersecting features arguably make many groups in society more vulnerable. For example, social security benefits are tied to income and as well the gender-segregation of the labour market is part the foundation of the feminization of poverty. In addition, just viewing portions of the article as well as comments made under the article show the social effects of wage gaps. For example comments made by fruitbot, “ (m)en are often taught basic construction skills early by their dads and most women are not.” highlight that wage gaps and representation in different labour markets affects the way we socialize our children. Wage gaps form a part of the socialization process that transparently displays that some people by nature of their personal characteristics are literally worth less than others and is a multi-tiered problem that I’m glad the Young Democrats group at the Utah high school began to address.

*gender in these statistics is limited to cisgender individuals

Sources:

Aulette, Judy Root., Judith G. Wittner, and Kristin Blakely. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Burns, Crosby. “The Gay and Transgender Wage Gap.” Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress, 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Kerby, Sohpia. “How Pay Inequity Hurts Women of Color.” Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress, 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

“The Wage Gap, by Gender and Race.” Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Bake Sale controversy is not an issue

This March, Jordan High School in Utah has gained national attention after a bake sale. 16 year old Kari Schott, president and founder of the Young Democrats Club organized the bake sale and decided to target a specific social issue – the gender wage gap. She did this by charging the students different prices: the boys would pay a dollar, while the girls would pay 77 cents. This was done in order to reflect the statistics that state women earned 77 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2012, in a study targeting men and women who worked full-time, year-round jobs. This number increased in 2013 to 78 cents.

The event has since attracted a lot of media and has been titled controversial, causing a lot of disagreements on social media as well as within the high school. The website Good4Utah.com featured the story along with a 1:31 minute long video. Starting off with the words “sounds strange, but the issue is gender equality”, a reporter talks to Schott and other students at the high school. One comment comes from fellow student Helamen Matmata, who says “I really think that women should be paid equally. A lot of women out there are just as good as men out there”. Another student, Jake Knaphus, states “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them about what they believe in. But the fact that they tell me to go away is kind of disheartening”. In the feature itself, this critique is not brought to Schott by the reporter, but it is evident in the video as well as through the coverage from other media outlets that Schott and her friends handed out information about the cause: “We told them we would be happy to debate them, but only after they took the time to read the fact sheets we had printed up for the event,” Kari said. “When we did that, they walked away.” (huffingtonpost.com)

Nevertheless, this disheartening matter is not mentioned in the Good4Utah report and is left hanging as an unaddressed problem and questions the girls’ credibility and the disbelief in the statistics is echoed online, with people refusing to acknowledge that the wage comparison might be fair and is the result of discrimination and the persistent existence of a glass ceiling in companies. One reader, Beth Mccartney-Faint, comments on buzzfeed.com: “I worked a decade in a place my co-workers called the ‘mens club’. One of the largest companies in the world. I hold business degrees and some of my male equals did not. Busted my ass to get there and had a young man I trained promoted to a lower position than I and promoted to my salary, less time in the company, too, fresh out of college! I confronted my MALE division manager and was told “he is a energetic young man and deserved the salary” As a parent of 3 sons who complain all the time that I work more than dad, I’m happy they are exposed to the reality of non-equality.”

No work is put in by the reporters to clarify, ask for, or provide the source of the statistics, (which is the United States Census Bureau) something news sources such as buzzfeed.com and huffingtonpost.com took time to do.
Overall, the Good4Utah report takes the issue quite lightly and the tone of the piece ends up feeling shallow, resembling a “feel-good”, local piece, undermining the seriousness of the issue that the girls try to bring to light. The story might have benefitted from a few adult voices and their opinions on the issue, but it allows only one, which is a closing quote from Schott’s father, reproduced by the reporter “he’s proud of Kari for getting involved and working for a better future”. It is interesting how the concept of a better future is presented at the end, at the same time as the station chose to start with “sounds strange, but the issue is gender equality”. Apart from this comment, the station makes sure not to voice any opinions themselves, but allows the students to speak. Perhaps some of this lighthearted approach to gender equality comes from the fact that Utah is a Republican state (the most republican state in 2011, gallup.com). A great deal of the comments against the bake sale, have claimed that the girls are pushing a liberal agenda.
The student quotes chosen for the piece serve to further undermine the validity of the situation, with statements such as “a lot of women are as good as men” and the questioning of the statistics without giving any cause for it. These are perhaps statements teenagers do not consider too carefully, but they are statements the channel chose to keep in the feature. The issue is never directly acknowledged. The video ends with the reporter, stating, “It raised some controversy, but it made a point”, with the girls counting their money in the background.

Further, buzzfeed.com, along with people commenting on the case on social media, have chosen to highlight that the wage gap is even greater when it takes race into account. Asian-American women earn an entire 90 % of the amount a white man earns, while other ethnicities range from 65 to 54 %, Hispanic or Latina women earning the least. The evasion of these statistics seems to echo the second wave feminism, the main beneficiaries of which were white middle class women.

http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/gender-equality-bake-sale-causes-stir-at-utah-high/10246/0gE6cCkPA0mvNkLZEjyO4Q

http://www.buzzfeed.com/juliekliegman/social-justice-cookies#.glXGL8mqz
http://www.aauw.org/2014/09/18/gender-pay-gap/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/23/jordan-high-school-gender-equality-bake-sale_n_6925692.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-249.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeswomanfiles/2014/04/07/the-awful-truth-of-the-gender-pay-gap-it-gets-worse-as-women-age/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/148949/hawaii-democratic-utah-republican-state.aspx

The Aggressive Arrest of Martese Johnson by the ABC

A whole new era of race equality seemed to be in sight with the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president. However, the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin in Florida, as well as the violent arrest of Martese Johnson outside a local pub in Virginia are just three of the many cases of the severe mistreatment of African American’s by the police in the United States. Ironically enough, the immanent role of the people within the police force is keeping peace within communities by enforcing the law and preventing acts of misconduct, and yet it seems that the police force in the United States is abusing their rights as officers and taking law enforcement to a whole new dangerous level.

Martese Johnson was arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents outside a Charlottesville’s pub. Photos and videos of his violent arrest circulated through social media and are what sparked protests by students at the University of Virginia. A statement from ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) claimed “uniformed ABC Agents observed and approached an unidentified individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment”; the agents described the behaviour of Johnson as agitated and belligerent. However, a witness stated that there was no reason for Johnson to be tackled because he was not showing any form of aggression. Johnson’s charges were obstruction of justice without force, as well as public swearing and intoxication. Governor McAuliffe from the Democratic governor’s office showed concern regarding the incident, and asked the secretary of public safety to carry out a Virginia State Police investigation specifically on their use and policies of force. Hours after the arrest, hundreds of students from the University of Virginia held a protest; demanding justice for Martese Johnson.

The brutal and unnecessary treatment by the police towards African Americans is not only an example of racism, but intolerance. It seems to be a trend for the police to keep an extra eye out for African American’s, or pay extra attention and feel the need for an unnecessary use of force, placing a gender stereotype on African American people. The racial profiling law known as “Stop & Frisk” gives the authority for any police officer to stop anyone on the street at any time, no matter how insignificant or significant the issue may be [1]. Throughout the years 2006-2009, over three million of these stops took place, and within the three million, ninety percent of the people were male and of African American or Latino descent [1]­, which also proves acts of gender inequality. Statistics such as these prove the targeting of not only African Americans, but people of colour, and the male population of the United States. The majority of these people are innocent and have no reason to be treated in such a brutal manor. Reasons explaining the need for this behaviour may spark many debates and questions. Of course, drastic and aggressive measures must be taken if the person is exhibiting dangerous or threatening behaviour. Perhaps in the specific instances of the killings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, and the violent arrest of Martese Johnson, the officers were racists and perhaps angry people, because not all officers exhibit the behaviour of the officers who performed these aggressive acts.

A solution to this problem may be to introduce stricter and clearer guidelines into the police force when it comes to the treatment of people when an arrest is taking place, and the police officers should be penalized if the guideline is broken. Of course there must already be some sort of guidelines in regards to this, but it is not stopping the brutality of officers towards African Americans and nothing seems to be done about it. Throughout the last half century, the violence against African Americans by the police has sparked many instances of civil outrage and protests. Recent protests have the aim of the reform of police practices and policies, but they have yet to instigate a nationwide change of police reform. If this can be accomplished, the lives of innocent youth such as Trayvon and Michael and the safety of Martese may be saved and protected, and the oppression of these innocent people may be stopped.

Works Cited

“Stop Police Brutality Against Black People.” Change.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

“Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School” Blog

Kari Schott and the Young Democrats Club at Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah are spreading awareness about the gender wage gap throughout out the United States of America selling baked goods Schott and her team decided to run a bake sale in which the same baked goods were sold for different prices, depending on ones gender. More specifically, males were offered to purchase a cookie for one dollar, while the same cookie was offered for purchase to females for only seventy-seven cents. Throughout the clip, several students, who range in gender and race are interviewed and asked where they stand in regards to the main meaning behind the bake sale. The first two students interviewed concur with the bake sale’s main meaning, while the last student states, “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them, about what they believe in. But the fact that they tell me to go away is kind of disheartening.”

Although this bake sale does bring up many issues with gender inequality, the newscast fails to provide certain details that would have ultimately increased their overall story and readership. The third student mentions the use of incorrect statistics. This causes me to ask, what statistics? Although there is footage showing Schott and the Young Democrats Club handing out brochures, the brochures are never discussed. I have tried to reach out to the Young Democrats Club in order to have them send me an e-copy of the brochure, but have yet to receive a response. Moreover, the topic of transgender pay is never discussed, which causes the bake sale to be very gender binary. After watching this clip, I was intrigued in the topic of pay inequality based on gender and wanted more information, especially regarding transgender pay. To this research, I found that the pay gap is even prominent for transgender individuals. Furthermore, the topic of radicalized or estheticized individuals being subjected to even further wage gaps is not brought up either. Perhaps the bake sale initiative could have received fewer backlashes if their documents were explained and all aspects of pay gaps through gender and race were shown to the student body, as well as the viewers of this Good 4 Utah segment. However, even if the statistics provided are not used properly, the fact that women are still paid less then men in today’s society is still very prominent, but is just one segment in a very large issue surrounding unequal pay between a wide range of individuals.

Several comments posted under this news clip stand out, and are very interesting. One commentator decided to state, “It is obvious that women are not as strong as men and therefore, cannot complete the same tasks,” which is a clear example of someone believing in a sexual script by assigning each gender a different role. Another viewer under the username of “TJ Swift” posted,

“ My argument is that this school, this teacher, the author of this article, and you and your friends, continue to try to push a false claim. As for the 5% – just like the 23% statistic before it, is not prima facie evidence of discrimination against women. My point is that the position taken by the #gendergap folks is an anti-scientific lie and perhaps before we take a lie to mean that women are being discriminated against by men, perhaps we should actually look in to it. Bonus points if you can manage to find, for yourself, the literature’s best guess to explain the remaining 5%. If you can’t, just hang your head in shame and come back, and I’ll help you out.”

            The commentator is thinking of things in his own light, and not in the light of others, and in doing so is thinking of things in black and white, when in reality, this issue it a lot more than that. If the gender gap were a “false claim” why would there be numerous stories about gender and race gap occurrences? For example, Maxine Lampe a public school teacher who was told her gender and marital status was a factor in her pay or statistics supporting it. Why is it that ones sex or sexuality is a determinant in whether one should be hired to a certain position and paid a certain amount? This commentator makes many claims that, in later comments, he refuses to provide links to the sources in which he found the aforementioned statistics.

Kari Schott and the Young Democrats Club at Jordan High School raised a lot of awareness surrounding the gender pay gap and their efforts in doing so did not go un-noticed. However, it will take more than one bake sale to convince individuals such as “Tj Swift” that gender pay is only one part of gender inequality along with many other categories such as race inequality and gender-stereotyped jobs. If we want to change the world’s outlook on this, larger efforts must be taken, although this bake sale was a good way to start the movement.

Works Cited

 Burns, Crosby. “The Gay and Transgender Wage Gap.” Center for American Progress. CAP, 6 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2015

 Owens, Elizabeth. “7 Women Shortchanged: Personal Stories of the Gender Pay Gap.” Empowering Women Since 1881 7 Women Shortchanged Personal Stories of the Gender Pay Gap Comments. AAUW, 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

The intersection between transphobia, racism and misogyny – a combined oppression

Laverne Cox sheds light on the intersection of transphobia, racism and misogyny from an insider’s perspective in a video published by Keppler Speakers. According to Laverne Cox, it is the trauma of oppression that still governs the black community’s perception of themselves, and it impacts how the black community treats her, as a transgender woman. This is a community that still struggles to prove itself in a society that is on the verge of transitioning out of racism but doesn’t seem to get there. Cox asks, “what is it about you that you have a problem with?” She goes on to tell stories of harassment and violence which affect the lives of transgender people, and how the harassment is based on several power structures: “they began to argue whether I was the b-word or the n-word”, Cox explains during a retelling of an incident that happened to her in New York.

As Cox shows us, different types of oppressions intersect and it is often hard to separate them. Often, they rely on each other to survive and uphold the hierarchy within a society. So what is being protected?

The Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell published her book “Masculinities” two decades ago, sparking a debate on the subject that would be discussed and evolved for years. This was the first time that the term had been spoken of as plural. In her book, Connell popularized the term hegemonic masculinity and suggested a hierarchy within the gender. Hegemonic masculinity is understood as the dominant form of masculinity – traditionally seen as the ideal, which carries with it connotations of power, strength and government. This type of masculinity is content with the gender binary as well as the hierarchy within their own gender seeing as it suits their interest of maintaining their position in society.

Another category in the hierarchy is the cooperative masculinity, which may not meet the strict standards of hegemonic masculinities, but enjoys the benefits that come along with being a heterosexual male in society. The next group in the hierarchy is the marginalized masculinity, which does not fit into the mainstream model of masculinity. This group largely consists of lgbtq men as well as non-white men, who do not strive to achieve or uphold the status of hegemonic masculinity, and thus challenge its construct.

The feminist movement has caused a lot of unease specifically for their attempts to even the field between genders. One recurring fear is that the equality of women will lead to imbalance in society – the very fear of losing the concept of a woman, which is complementary to the man. People of color, a marginalized group in Western society, as Cox points out, also carries with it a history of oppression which is being reexamined in today’s society. The fear is deepened by the existence of transgender people, which simultaneously undermine the gender binary as well as undermining the masculine hierarchy. What are some of the problems that occur when oppressed groups come together in one body?
The ultimate, combined force of the abovementioned marginalized groups is that they represent unknown territory, and few types of fear are greater than the fear of the unknown. When we remove the social structures we have become so accustomed to, what is left? How do we understand the world around us? The consequence of operating on a system that categorizes people based on color or gender is that it breeds injustice. As we see in society today, this is a system that is oppressive and one that society has outgrown. Despite great strides in equality and ongoing debate concerning all mentioned parties, the biggest obstacle is the internalization of the categories that separate us. We recognize and respond to people who do not fit into the binary and we impose sanctions on their behavior because it contests with our understanding of how the world should be. This circles back to Cox asking, “what is it about you that you have a problem with?” It appears that we as a society punish each other because of the restrictions imposed on us. If I am not allowed to be a free, complete version of myself, then neither are you. Still, what is most important is that these outdated values are challenged and talked about. Historically, human rights movements have often moved forward together, as they are in the current wave of lgbtq, gender and race equality. It is perhaps not a coincidence that these events take place as education rises worldwide (worldbank.org).

– zarmel

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/laverne-cox-intersection-what-to-do/

Connell, R W, Messerschmidt, J W: “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept”

http://gas.sagepub.com/content/19/6/829.short

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.SEC.ENRR/countries/1W?display=graph

http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.ca/2011/07/rw-connell-masculinities-relations.html

Catastrophic Love: A Response to the Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous cultures

The article, An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses discusses the cultural appropriation of Canadian Plain’s culture when non-natives where the headdress of Canada’s Plains peoples. The author, who calls herself, âpihtawikosisân uses comparisons of restricted symbols such as a Bachelor’s degree and military medals to highlight that certain items in any social culture cannot be possessed by just anyone, and as such are restricted. She states that “headdresses are restricted items” and have to be earned through a strict criteria. Thus when non-indigenous people wear the headdress it is an act of offensive cultural appropriation.

To me, cultural appropriation occurs when the most dominant or powerful culture or group takes possession of elements of a foreign and less powerful culture without invitation. When we look at the cultural appropriation of elements indigenous culture it is clear that this cultural appropriation has its roots in settler colonialism. The cultural appropriation of indigenous culture is part of the larger narrative of settlers stealing indigenous lands and systematically raiding and erasing indigenous cultures. This settler colonialism in North America that resulted in the genocide of millions of indigenous peoples in Canada is a notable catastrophe in Canadian history. In the instance of another North American catastrophe, slavery, Rev. Dr. Cornel West describes the social justice work of abolitionists and civil rights activists that was a response to this particular instance of colonialism as ‘catastrophic love’. Catastrophic love can be described as the beauty and work that arises as a response to world catastrophes (Baxter Justice is Love Made Public). According to West the fight for justice in response to catastrophe is a public form of compassion and love in that, “justice is what love looks like in public” (Baxter Justice is Love Made Public).

The idea of catastrophe and catastrophic love can also be applied to the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in Canada and the countless Canadian indigenous struggles for justice that have occurred in response. The justice that indigenous peoples in Canada seek by staging protests, creating social movements, and seeking legal action may be labelled as catastrophic love. As I write this at “Queen’s University” on stolen traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe land I wonder about the love/methods of justice that indigenous peoples such as the author of this article in her patient explanations have shown towards non-indigenous peoples, including myself. What kind of love has been shown to indigenous peoples by us in return?

Examples of responses to the actions of justice seeking activists can be found in the comments of the article that display the wider patterns of love or lack of it present in Canadian society. Comments range from praise of the author for sharing her knowledge of how cultural symbols should be used, to accusations of hypocrisy and comparisons of red face to people dressing up as priests. These comments raise important questions about whether one can ‘appropriate’ a culture that one is a part of (not possible) and questions of the sense of majority entitlement of some when they feel they should have the dominant voice when it comes to matters of a culture that is not their own. These questions can only be answered by looking at responses to catastrophe, the power dynamics between different cultures and looking at how cultures assimilate.

To date, the majority of modern Canadian society have responded to the catastrophe and catastrophic love of indigenous activists with a continued lack of love. For example, when indigenous cultures are reduced to “princess”, “squaw” and other stereotypes is a lack of love. How we culturally appropriate in mass symbols (e.g. the ‘Indian princess’ costumes bought every Canadian Halloween to represent indigenous peoples) of indigenous cultures is a lack of love. Our lack of love in the form of cultural appropriation continues in our representations of indigenous peoples in the media when white actors in films become “one with nature” and take on without a full authentic understanding restricted traditions and mannerisms of an indigenous group (i.e. John Dunbar played by Kevin Cosner in Dances with Wolves, Jake in Avatar). These examples of modern cultural appropriation are a continued pattern of the reductionism of indigenous peoples to negative and false stereotypes.

These patterns of cultural appropriation are not harmless. The appropriation and reduction of indigenous cultures is a way of using cultural hegemony to oppress indigenous peoples. Though Canada prides itself on multiculturalism and the historical advancement of Canada, our pressure on indigenous peoples to assimilate into Canadian culture when we pressure them for example to abandon certain lands and seek jobs that we think are more modern is an example of anglo-conformity and contradictory to Canada’s multicultural mandate. Cultural appropriation in this vein when it represents indigenous peoples as temporarily fixed in the past (e.g. in the media depictions of indigenous peoples) or represents many indigenous groups as one synonymous culture is another hegemonic method of oppressing indigenous peoples. These patterns of cultural hegemony and appropriation that we participate is really part of how we reduce and essentially disappear (#HowWeDisappear) indigenous peoples in Canada and worldwide.

The article by âpihtawikosisân is a presentation of the social justice and love for the public that arises out of catastrophe. Her action of trying to educate majority Canadian society and assist in our unlearning of negative indigenous stereotypes and the assumption that we have a right to parts of indigenous culture whether restricted (headdresses, indigenous facial markings) or unrestricted (moccasins, indigenous art) is the type of response to violent catastrophe that Rev. Dr. West spoke of. This article shows that cultural appropriation has ramifications and that our actions of consuming other cultures needs to be taken up at all times with the utmost respect.

All in all, how we show love to the indigenous activists in return for the love they show when they seek justice in the public sphere is through as the writer states, real celebration of the culture by accessing the unrestricted parts of their culture. The act of showing love to and seeking justice for the indigenous peoples of Canada, our fellow Canadian citizens is not just the responsibility of Canadian policy. We as Canadian citizens need to assure the rights of fellow citizens because as surely as writers such as âpihtawikosisân share their knowledge and search for justice and love with us, we must love them in kind.

‘Laverne Cox on the collision of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny’

“Justice is what love looks like in public”; this powerful yet insightful quote by Cornell West is one which has inspired my opinions and thoughts in regards to an accepting society. What a simple yet captivating thought; that equality and justice of all races and gender reflects love. Laverne Cox provides a unique and powerful insight on the collision of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny. Laverne also suggests a simple solution to these issues by incorporating the idea from the quote by Cornell West. The street harassment which many transgender women experience, the possible relation of harassment and race, and the bullying of LGBT youth are all topics which Laverne highlights in her talk.

The street harassment which many transgender women experience is something that I myself was particularly unaware of. This is an issue which society should become educated on, so that the well-being and safety of many transgender women may be protected. In Laverne’s talk, she gives three examples of street harassment, one including an experience of her own. In all of the examples, the harassment began as sexual and suggestive comments from men, all of which in generally public areas. However, once the men noticed that the women were transgender women, the situation changed completely. In the two cases that did not involve Laverne herself, sexual and suggestive comments transitioned into extreme violence towards the women. Violence so severe, that the women lost their lives. These women are put in danger simply for being who they are, and not conforming to what society deems as ‘normal’. Laverne states in her talk “Our lives are often in danger, simply for being who we are”. No woman should ever feel in physical or emotional danger in any situation.

Laverne offers her insight on a possible and interesting connection between race and the harassment of transgender women. She suggests that a possible yet subconscious reason that some black men have for their beliefs dates back to the trauma of black slavery in the United States. During the period in the United States when slavery was at an all time high, black male bodies were often lynched, meaning that their genitals were cut off. What Cox suggests is that some black men view a black trans woman’s body as a historical emasculation of the black male body and an embodiment of the period where slavery was at a high. This is a very interesting and thought provoking suggestion. It ties the traumatic history of the African-American race in the United States with today’s modern society discrimination issues. In some ways, this idea is rather ironic. Two of the major causes for slavery were issues of inequality and discrimination. If a person were to try and embrace equality and truly want to put the ways of discrimination of race and gender in the past, they would fully accept a transgender woman.

Another topic which Cox addresses in her talk is the bullying of LGBT youth in todays society. Cox suggests that one of the reasons why LGBT youth are bullied and discriminated against is because of their gender expression, and not conforming to the sex which they were at birth. Gay slurs are being integrated into the vocabularies of children and youth, influencing their ideas and opinions from a young age. According to recent gay bullying statistics, about 9 out of 10 LGBT youth have reported to be bullied at school, just because of their sexual orientation(1). Out of that statistic, close to half have reported to be physically harassed, while a quarter have reported to be physically assaulted(1). Youth around the high school age are at a point in their lives where they are trying to find themselves, and who they want to become as adults. Being ridiculed and bullied for the way that they wish to live their lives is something that has the ability to affect the way that they view themselves, and the way they choose to live their life. Youth should have the confidence and the support of the people around them to live their life in the way that they wish, without feeling the pressure of society to be a certain way. Every person has a right to decide how they live their life, and no person should be restricted by society.

If society accepted and embraced everyone’s differences, the world would be different than it is today. There are people who embrace differences, and there are people who do not. In reality, the world will never be perfect; there will never be a time where every single person in the world will be open to peoples differences and welcome them with open arms. What we can do as a society is work together to move towards a greater good, a society where no one feels in danger, and everyone feels free to live their life in the way that they choose. In order for this to happen, we all must love ourselves first. If you don’t love yourself, it’s hard for others to love and accept you in return. You must love yourself and embrace who you are so that others may do the same. If we do this, together as a society, we will achieve justice.

Sources

“Gay Bullying Statistics.” Bullying Statistics. N.p., 2013. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. <http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/gay-bullying-statistics.html&gt;.

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