Do Equal Wages Really Equal Equality in the Labour Force?

In an article entitled, “Gender equality bake sale causes stir at Utah high school” by Randall Carlisele, a student run bake sale, intended to raise awareness around gender inequality, is discussed. At the bake sale, boys were required to pay more for a cookie than girls were required to pay. This is an example of how equality in the workforce is often equated to equal pay, which is an over simplification of the issue. Equal pay for equal work will not equate to equality in the labour force because not everyone is represented in the labour force equally.

For a female single parent the likelihood of entering poverty increases by 5.6 times (Finnie and Sweetman cited in Gadalla, 234). In Canada and the U.S., it was reported that, for women under 35 years old, the wage gap between mothers and women without children is greater than the gap between men and women (Zhang 2009; Crittenden 2001 as cited in Baker, 50). This shows that there are other wage gaps that an equalization of men’s and women’s wages will not solve. This suggests that there are barriers within the labour force affecting the socio-economic status of particular bodies.

In Canada, a heterosexual male, a wife and their biological children make up the nuclear family, which creates a gender binary based on the male bread-winner and the wife care-giver and is the ideal family structure (Krull, 11). Although our families have become more diverse, it would seem that our ideas of paid work and unpaid work (care giving) remain gendered.

Of women aged 25-44 years old, who were employed part-time, 38% said that they were working part-time because they were caring for children or had other family responsibilities. (Townsend cited in Gadalla, 234). With the rising cost of child-care in Canada, it is easy to imagine that some women are working part-time because they cannot afford the cost of day-care, while others are working part-time to be at home with their children to live up to the “Good Mother” image or a combination of the two. Even if women with children had wages equal to men, this would still not give them overall incomes equal to that of their male counter-parts because their labour force participation is limited. More interestingly, there was bias among employers and women often suffer from the “Motherhood Penalty”(Townsend cited in Gadalla, 234). Pregnant women and mothers are perceived as less committed and qualified (Cornell,Bernard, and Paik 2007 as cited in Baker, 50). This stigma can prevent women with children from obtaining employment and it can effect their career advancement if they are overlooked for a promotion.

Looking further at the social stratification of work it becomes evident that in some cases, race impacts labour force participation. A study suggested that unemployment was 95% higher for Western Asian and Arab minorities, 73% higher for Black minorities, and 21% for Chinese minorities, than the White majority (Sheila Block and Grace-Edward Galabuzi 7). Although we have moved towards a more diverse workforce, particular bodies are being denied access to the labour force. This could be because racialization has influenced our understandings of how we know these bodies are now present in the work force. The hijab has been tied to misogyny and being a tool to hide bruises from abuse (Crosby 53). This can create an image of Muslim men as aggressive and lacking respect for women. Popular media produces images of Black men as hyper-sexed criminals (Aulette and Wittner 107). Both of these images can produce images of Black and Muslim women as submissive. Thinking of the corporate world, these images of Black and Muslim bodies would not fit well within an organization in which methodical negotiation is a means of doing business. Employers may be denying access to particular racialization bodies because of how they know these bodies.

For racialized minorities that are able to find employment with an equal opportunity employer, this does not always mean equal opportunity. A 2003 study of the workplace conducted by Queen’s University shows that minorities were viewed as the “other”, as being hired to meet a quota and not based on merit and called for action in order to reduce complaints of racism (Frances Henry 9). The report indicated that retention among minorities was a problem (Frances Henry 2). Equal opportunity employment does not necessarily create a work climate that is accepting of members of minority groups. These environments would make it more challenging for minority members to advance their career within an organization and possibly with others. Similar to women who take maternity leave to have children, it is possible that any disruption in employment can have a negative effect.

Power structures, such as government bodies, understand a single mother’s need to increase their labour force participation, but do little to shift the responsibility of caring for children from mothers. The government has committed to facilitating women’s participation in the labour force (Cool, 3); however, remains focused on child development (Jenson and Mahon, 8). Moreover, the government offers incentives for organizations adopting a more diverse labour force; however, does nothing to ensure the retention of these employees.

Equality in the labour force will not be achieved by looking at wages alone. Equal opportunity for everyone must be taken into consideration in conversations about equality in the labour force if we are to ever achieve it.


Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004. Print.

Baker, Maureen.“Maternal Employment, Childcare, and Public Policy.” A Life in Balance? Reopening the Family-Work Debate. 47-63 in Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Block, Sheila. Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market the Gap for Racialized Workers. Ottawa, Ont.: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives = Centre Canadien De Politiques Alternatives, 2011. Web. <;.

Carlisele, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015. <;.

Crosby, Emily. “Faux Feminism: France’s Veil Ban as Orientalism”. Journal Of International Women’s Studies. 15:46-60. 2014. Web. 7 Dec. 2014

Cool, Julie. “Child Care in Canada: The Federal Role.” Parliament of Canada. 2007. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. (

Gadalla, Tahany M. “Gender Differences in Poverty Rates After Marital Dissolution: A Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 49(3-4):225-238. 2008. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Jenson, Jane and Rianne Mahon.“Bringing Cities to the Table: Child Care and Intergovernmental Relations.” 2002.Web. 10 Apr. 2015.


Krull, Catherine. “Destabilizing the Nuclear Family Ideal: Thinking Beyond Essentialisms, Universalisms, and Binaries.” A Life in Balance? Reopening the Family-Work Debate 11-46. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Henry, Frances, Dr. Systemic Racism Towards Faculty of Colour and Aboriginal Faculty at Queen’s University (n.d.): n. pag. Apr. 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.


The Theories Behind Rape Culture By: Valarmorghulis

In her book, Transforming a Rape Culture, Emilie Buchwald describes Rape Culture as “a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women,” as a “continuum of threated violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself” (Buchwald). Buchwald’s definition raises an important point; rape culture is everywhere. It is in the statements we make, the stories we read, the news we hear, and the actions that occur as a result of this cultural phenomenon. Why is this the case? And why, often times, is the victim of these words and actions, blamed for what occurs? Rape culture exists and is prominent due to a lack of education on the topic of rape and a willingness to overlook the serious consequences these actions have. Gendered Worlds examines three theories to explain why rape and rape culture exists: Evolutionary Theory, Individual Psychology and Inequality (Aulette and Wittner). Evolutionary Theory states that rape happens due to men’s need to procreate and that their drives must be met at all costs (Aulette and Wittner). This theory states that “it’s only natural” for rape to happen and suggests that “women should neither flirt nor wear provocative clothing” (Thornhill and Palmer in Aulette and Wittner). This theory is problematic when examining why rape happens and adds to the rape culture through the idea of victim blaming. Victim Blaming is when the victim/survivor is blamed for the abuse or negative actions they have been subjected to (Bancroft). Victim blaming often makes it harder for the person to come forward when they are experiencing abuse in any form because they are worried that they will be accused of causing the abuse (Bancroft). An example of these negative behaviors was prevalent in the Steubenville Rape Case. During and after the trial, the media and citizens often took the side of the young football players rather than the girl who was victimized (Strasser and Culp-Ressler). There were headlines such as CNN discussing how the boys were “promising students,” ABC News making excuses for the rapists, NBC News discussing the boys “promising football careers,” and perhaps the most disturbing, The Associated Press and USA today stressing that the victim was drunk (Strasser and Culp-Ressler). These headlines and stories bring to light the horrible reality of media and society glorifying the actions of the rapists and accusing the victim because she was “drunk.” Society chose to focus on the fact that the girl was intoxicated, rather than the fact that the boys raped her. This can also be related to Ashley Judd’s twitter activism. Judd states, “The themes are predictable: I brought it on myself. I deserved it. I’m whiny. I’m no fun. I can’t take a joke. There are more serious issues in the world. The Internet space isn’t real, and doesn’t deserve validity and attention as a place where people are abused and suffer. Grow thicker skin, sweetheart. I’m famous. It’s part of my job description. The themes embedded in this particular incident reflect the universal ways we talk about girls and women. When they are violated, we ask, why was she wearing that? What was she doing in that neighbourhood? What time was it? Had she been drinking?” (Alter). Evolutionary theory creates the problematic idea of victim blaming which contributes to the rape culture phenomenon. This paradigm is prominent because people refuse to accept the damaging affects of this culture, and educate themselves, choosing to teach how to prevent rape, rather than teaching people not to rape. Individual Psychology looks at rape from the perspective of the disturbed and convicted rapists, it also suggests that men who rape were sexually abused as children (Aulette and Wittner). However there are several limitations to this approach. Firstly, they do not look at the social context of rape and just see then as deviant people, second, it only examines men’s sexual violence, even though girls and boys are sexually abused, and finally, the theory only looks at convicted rapists, which is mainly poor men or men of colour, and not wealthy white men, who may offend but are practically “immune” to criminal charges (Aulette and Wittner). This theory is problematic because it does not apply to all people and states that you must be mentally ill or disturbed to rape. It ignores the consequences of labeling all rapists as deviant, rather than recognizing and educating people on the multiple other situations that it could occur in. The third theory, Power Inequality, argues that power differences between men and women produce gender domination and subordination, leading to men’s entitlement and rape through naturalizing them (Aulette and Wittner). Naturalizing means that systems of inequality are constructed by society to the point of people seeing them as the natural way of order (Aulette and Wittner). The idea being that it has become natural through history for society to see men as the dominant and women as the submissive. This theory also looks at the intersectionality—crossing of inequalities that complicate gender differences—of rape (Aulette and Wittner). This means that this theory examines the chances or prevalence of rape in different classes, races, and genders. This theory shows a larger knowledge of the varying causes and effects of rape and rape culture. In conclusion, rape culture is a prevalent issue in our society today. If education on the issue was brought to light, more people might feel comfortable coming forward to report sexual violence, whether it is comments, offensive media or rape itself. There needs to be a larger dialogue on a very serous topic.

Works Cited

Alter, Charlotte. ‘Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse And Rape’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Bancroft, Lundy. ‘Avoiding Victim Blaming « Center For Relationship Abuse Awareness’ N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Buchwald, Emilie, Pamela R Fletcher, and Martha Roth. Transforming A Rape Culture. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 1993. Print.

Root Aulette, Judy, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Strasser, Annie-Rose, and Tara Culp-Ressler. ‘How The Media Took Sides In The Steubenville Rape Case’. ThinkProgress. N.p., 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Internet and the Birth of Cyber Bullying

Social networking is “the development of social and professional contacts, the sharing of information and services among people” (Dictionary, 2015).  As network developers imagine and create programs to make this world a smaller place to live I’m sure their intent was not to create an environment that also supports anonymous online bullying. The ability to create and receive support for a forum that fosters negative and hurtful comments is far easier today than yesterday. A concern amongst many advocacy groups is what will it be like tomorrow.   While social networking is in its infancy, cyber bullying and violence directed towards those perceived different can easily reach a greater audience.

The Internet has been naturalized; it’s everywhere. Around 35% of the world’s population has access to the Internet. Sixty-nine percent of American households use the Internet; otherwise have access through work, school, and libraries (Aulette). Instead of face-to-face interactions whereby someone physically or mentally hurts someone, it can now be accomplished from the comfort and privacy of your home or anywhere with Internet access.

It’s difficult to say when one may be bullied and for what reason someone decides to target them. The assumption, which has been socially constructed through movies and television shows is that bullying is between a jock and a nerd. However bullying can develop from one’s “flaw”, whether it is body size, appearance, intelligence, social class, etc. I was always taught that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, that I shouldn’t say anything at all, however many feel the need to make comments where often it is unnecessary and unwanted. Previously I was witness to an online dispute that involved a girl posting what she believed to be an innocent photo of her and her boyfriend. The comment section resulted in pages of negative comments about their relationship and banter between multiple people bringing up her history and anonymously posting their opinions of her. This isn’t the first dispute I have been witness too online with the common theme resulting with the girl as the victim. What I have also observed is that bullying is gender neutral with both boys and girls being active participants. I would consider this yet another male privilege, given that girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims of cyber bullying (Do Something).

Bullying isn’t only an issue that is dealt with by children as it often carries into the adult years. Celebrities are not immune to bullying and are commonly tweeted about in a negative light. Recently actress Ashley Judd tweeted an innocent comment about a basketball game that received more attention than intended. She received so much hatred and violent sexual threats that she needed to delete the tweet. What Ashley has experienced is not uncommon for females on the Internet. This one tweet resulted in her intellect insulted in addition to her age; appearance and family (Time, 2015). She explains that the responses are “in vivid language, humiliating and violent resulting in assaulting her genitals, vaginal and anal, would be violated, shamed, exploited and dominated”. “Either the writer was going to do these things to me, or they were what I deserved” (Time, 2015). I am not saying that men would not be harassed for the same kind of tweet, but you don’t often see them being sexually harassed over social networking the way women often are. Ashley, along with many girls and women all around the world, are sexually objectified. “They are made into a thing for another’s sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision-making” (Aulette). When harassers speak about violently raping and any other violent actions, they may be trying to assert hegemonic dominance of the victim. I believe that one of the hardest parts about any situation like this would be that the harasser might never be brought to justice.

No one asks to be harassed or feel sexually abused. Not when you post a picture on Facebook for your friends to see or in tweeting support for your favorite team during a basketball game. People hide behind their screens; sometimes even their anonymity and abuse people believing nothing will be done about it. Eighty-one percent of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person (Do Something). While there are laws and many people trying to prevent and stop online harassment, the harsh reality is that it is still very difficult to convict.

The Internet isn’t a phase; its here to stay and people need to learn how to use it responsibly. People also need to understand the growing issue that women represent the majority of online harassment. These women are not only harassed verbally, but sexually as well. What needs to be done in order to attempt to prevent online harassment in a time that social networking is becoming easier and more popular? Personally, I think there could be big changes if people held their tongues and if they didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

By reeses96

Works Cited

“Social Networking.” 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 3 Apr. 2015. < networking>.

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third Edition ed. New York. 226 & 237. Print.

“11 Facts about Cyber Bullying.” Do Something. Web. 3 Apr. 2015. <;.

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 3 Apr. 2015. <;.

Education as the Key to Erase Single Sided Stories

Historically, people of colour have often been automatically attributed to certain tendencies and behavioural traits, solely based on their ethnicity. This idea of racialization, clumping alike groups of individuals based on race or culture and branding them with certain stereotypes, started as early as the 19th century with the idea of orientalism. Orientalism is a way of viewing different races, specifically the Arab peoples in the East, as backwards and needing to be saved by white people in the West, orientalism defines women in the East as promiscuous and exotic, and men as untrustworthy and violent (Said, “Orientalism”). This theory and perception of certain races being violent criminals is still present in today’s justice system. Blacks are automatically seen as having criminal behaviours and those of colour are over policed and imprisoned based on racist historical roots that are socially constructed due to biases and single story perspectives which are believed to be true by many, but with education and understanding, minority races may be provided with a safer and less discriminatory space.

Using violence as a lens is the way in which people, often whites, look at blacks and people of colour. Violence has become the way in which these bodies are viewed and in turn results in marginalization and imprisonment. According to Angela Davis, 70% of those locked up in prison in America are of colour, due to the racialized assumptions of criminality. Often individuals, sometimes even myself included, will look at someone of colour and automatically associate them with stereotypes of being violent and making poor life decisions, when in fact that is not always the case. This idea of viewing races with a ‘single sided’ stereotypical story stems from history and is further instilled in us through media and selective news covering, often we are bias to or unaware of the entirety of a story and must realize that all races and ethnicities are diverse, with different sides to their story. As Chimamanda Adichie points out, whites only see a single sided story of people of colour and the same goes for blacks when they think about the West, the media and ways in which we are educated as children enforces certain beliefs and stereotypes that are based on one’s race, and these stereotypes are often not the complete story. This one sided-narrative in turn results in problematic and long-lasting issues for marginalized communities, especially surrounding people of colour and the law.

Blacks are systematically targeted as criminals, society segregates these individuals based on their race and creates structured racism within communities. This pattern of negative connotation and treatment to a group of people based on their race is known as institutional racism and is present not only within jails but also all other social institutions such as schools and banks (Chegg, “Definition of Institutional Racism”). Martese Johnson, a 20 year old black boy who was supposedly not acting in an aggressive matter, was still attacked by white police until he was bloody and abused, and was faced with such a violent conviction because of the preconceived idea of the narrative surrounding people of his ethnicity. For countless black individuals just like Martese, the justice system is composed largely of white people who hold a bias over racist practices which stem from historical beliefs and ideals. There is much debate surrounding the over-policing of blacks and many people argue that blacks are likely to be involved in violent crime, however is this belief factual or is it perhaps a racialized stereotype? According to NAACP, blacks are incarcerated at six times the rate compared to whites and this is a result of biased legislation and racialized criminalization towards not only the black community, but many other races.

Not only do blacks face prejudice within the justice system, but Islamic people also face islamophobia, Islamic men are seen as terrorist and their women need to be saved by the white saviours. Again, all foreigners or those of another race which is historically viewed as threatening to whites, is categorized based on racial stereotypes and interpretations. This automatic criminal attribution of peoples based on their skin colour results in their isolation and marginalization within society, meaning that racism is still a very real thing which is hidden within the societal beliefs of crime and the construct that certain individuals are more likely to be criminals. This oppressive factor in turn further impoverishes those individuals whose impoverishment is seen to be fixed when they are imprisoned, as they are supposedly unable to act out their black criminal tendencies (Davis, “Masked Racism). Due to the socially constructed racism, the risk of arrest is ultimately higher for black people, which means that even though many of them are hard-working, non-violent, law abiding citizens, they are not given the same chance as the majority to escape such prejudice, discrimination and arrest.

Overall, when we are uneducated and presented with a historically told, one sided story about certain races, it is difficult to escape these stereotypes which ultimately put marginalized communities at a disadvantage. When these boundaries are broken and all sides of the story are told, both the good and the bad, we can then see people as individuals that make up a race, rather than a group of people which are all violent murderers and drug dealers. I believe education is the key to understanding people of different races, removing the ignorance surrounding the supposed violent nature of blacks and other ethnicities because stereotypes are not necessarily untrue, they are just not the complete story (Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story).

By doglover1

Works Cited

“Masked Racism: Reflection on the Prison Industrial Complex”. Angela, Davis. N.D. Web. <

“Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry into Student Arrest”. BBC News. 19 March 2015. Web. <

“Fact Check: Do Black Americans Commit More Crime?”. Patrick, Worrall. 27 Nov. 2014. Web. <

“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”. NAACP. 2015. Web. <

“Definition of Institutional Racism”. Chegg. 2015. Web. <

“The Danger of a Single Story”. Chimamanda Ngozi, Adichie. Oct. 2009. Web. <

“Orientalism: a Brief Definition”. Said, Edward. 1979. Web. <

Love has no bounds, why do we? By reeses96

What is more important, love or gender? This is a huge question in regards to same-sex marriage. If love were more important, then why do people care so much about the legalization of same-sex marriage? How is the right to deny the happiness of a same-sex couple getting married anyone’s authority?

Gays are a marginalizScreen Shot 2015-03-11 at 5.28.15 PMed minority because society has made them that way. They aren’t given the same rights as straight men and women are; marriage being one of the fought for rights. Social construction has made it so that marriage is seen as the legal bonding of one man to one woman. Although over time the fight to make gay marriage legal has been won in many locations, there are still a number of places where the marriage of gay men and lesbians is illegal.

While marriage symbolizes mutual love, there are also spousal rights and financial benefits that go along with the legal bind. Although a gay couple may live together for years as co-dependents, they may be “prohibited from carrying each other on policies for health insurance or life insurance when that benefit is provided by their employer for workers’ heterosexual spouses” (Aulette). By not being legally married, same-sex couples also don’t have the right to make decisions about their partner’s health care as a married heterosexual couple would. In the United States, in some states where it is still illegal for gay men and lesbians to get married, civil unions have been granted. Civil unions offer similar rights to that of a heterosexual marriage, such as claim of each other’s taxes and insurance benefits (Aulette).

Another issue that comes with the various gay rights, or lack there of, is the impact on children. “Only very few states permit unmarried partners to petition to adopt jointly” (familequality). This means that legally, one parent of a child is a legal stranger, despite having been acting as a parent since birth. They have no custody rights of the child; they can’t sign anything medical or legal in regards to the child. Where the law doesn’t see two parents of a child, I would think society would as it would be plain to see first hand the raising of the child by two parents, but this isn’t always the case. The non-legal parent sometimes feels like a “nanny or mommy’s sidekick” when it comes to giving permission for something so small as the attendance of a birthday party and being overlooked because the permission of the legal parent is seen as more appropriate (Aulette). Having no legal ties to the child may leave the child in distress if the legal parent were to die. The other parent would have no legal claim over his or her own child even if they are the most suitable option and has been a parent for the child’s entire life.

There isn’t only the issue of legal rights of a child, sometimes it’s a matter of first getting a child. In some cases, same-sex couples are denied permission to adopt a child because of their sexuality (lgbtmap 2011). Not only does this hurt a couple wanting to love and care for a child of their own, it denies a child in need a loving and stable home.

Gender socialization has made it so that it seems unnatural and too complicated for same-sex couples to have a family. There are certain gender roles when it comes to parenting that same-sex parents are thought of as not having. In family dynamics, the standard story is that “all children are raised in households with one masculine male father and one feminine female mother” (Aulette). Same-sex couples are then left with the consideration of are both parents going to referred to as ‘mom’/’dad’? Should they conform to the heterosexual model and one is ‘mom’ and the other is ‘dad’?

There is a lot of discussion on whether same-sex parents are harmful to a child’s well being or not. In my opinion, it’s not the parents who raise the child and a lack of love and care they provide the child with, it’s society that harms the child. How society often treats same-sex marriage and families sends a message to their children that their parents aren’t adequate and that something is wrong with their family. What is wrong with two people loving their child? Not only does the way society speaks about same-sex families affect a child’s mental health, it’s now come to a point where it’s affecting their physical health.

In Michigan, a doctor refused to treat a 6-day old baby girl because her parents were lesbians (myfoxdetroit 2015). The women were under the impression that their doctor primary concern was the well being of their infant, as it should be, not the parents’ sexuality. But the fact of the matter is that there are few laws that protect gays. “Doctors can refuse treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs” (myfoxdetroit 2015).

When it comes down to it, we are all just human beings, no matter our race, gender, or sexuality. I think equality is one of the biggest issues of our time and that it’s gone too far when a child’s health is put at risk. Your sexuality shouldn’t determine whether you could get married, adopt a child, or how much love you could give a child. What is more important, love or gender?

Works Cited

“Map: Same-sex Marriage Laws around the World.” Cbc News. 20 Jan. 2015. Web. <;.

“50 States of Adoption.” Family Equality Council. Web. <;.

“All Children Matter.” Lgbtmap. 1 Oct. 2011. Web. <;.

“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sez Couple’s Baby.” Myfoxdetroit.con. 18 Feb. 2015. Web. <;.

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third Edition ed. New York. 226 & 237. Print.

Sexual Orientation Shouldn’t Matter For Justice

What is justice? Is justice simply what the law says it to be, or perhaps is it inclusive and protective of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion and so on? For many individuals they are protected by the law, but for members of the LGBTQ community that is not always the case. Some same sex couples, like Krista and Jami Contreras who live in a state which grants LGBTQ with no protective laws, experienced discrimination and humiliation that affected not only them, but also their daughter Bay, because they do not fit into the heteronormative category of cisgender that is overly dominant within the justice system. With laws that are in favor of cultural and societal sexual ‘norms’, discrimination towards the LBGTQ, trans and all other minority communities is common place in many areas of the world because they are not viewed as equal, due to their intersecting values and traits, which in turn lead to oppression and marginalization.

Much like the Contreras, who experienced sexual discrimination, many members of marginalized groups face similar circumstances of exclusion and judgement that affects their everyday lives. For example, blacks fought and are still fighting against racism and transgender people have to face a society that often looks down upon them and criticizes them because of their gender socialization. Krista and Jami’s story demonstrates that yes, when their doctor refused treatment for their six day old baby girl she had the right based on her moral and religious beliefs, but just because such a law protected their doctor didn’t mean that the Contreras were safe as well. In order for justice to be protective and fair to all individuals it must be inclusive of all umbrella terms and intersecting qualities when it comes to things such as gender, race and religion. Dr. Vesna Roi’s refusal to do her job and treat a patient with same sex parents because it went against her moral beliefs is not in fact wrong, she is entitled to freedom of belief, but how can one say that it is right when you look at the position the Contreras were put into?

As Dr. Cornel West said, “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t serve the people unless you save the people” meaning that when something, such as a law, is put in place to protect certain individuals, it should not in turn discriminate or harm any other groups within the community. For the Contreras, they were not given the right to fight the prejudice that they faced because Vermont does not offer any such legislation to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms for the LGBTQ community. The situation that they faced with Dr. Roi was one sided, justice was in favor of the gender binaries that are socially constructed and excluding of those that do not conform. The Contreras story is the case for so many people that are faced with interconnecting and marginalizing factors in their life that they can even be legally denied the right to be treated by healthcare professionals. When looking at such oppression how can the government say that they are serving for the justice of the people if they are jeopardizing and harming certain groups of people that should be given the exact same fundamental rights and freedoms as anyone else.

Justice is hard to define because not every person is going to view the term and what it looks like within a community in the same way. However, if the law were to protect their citizens based on what West said, “justice is what love looks like in public” then perhaps all people would be entitled to their rights, freedoms and feel safe, regardless of their sexuality or any other marginalizing factor. In order for justice to serve the whole of the community those that put justice into place must take into consideration everyone’s positionality, sexuality, culture and religion to make justice an inclusive, non-judgemental and non-oppressive system. Certainly we do not live in a perfect world and individuals opinions, morals and beliefs are going to vary and clash, but the first step towards justice for all is by working in solidarity with all groups, not just heterosexuals or whites, but rather every race and community, whether they are in power or oppressed. For the Contreras, while Dr. Roi was given the right to defend herself based on her personal values, the Contreras were not in turn granted the same equality and fairness, and in order for justice to serve all equally, it must respect, accept and protect everyone’s sexual orientation, beliefs, race and ideals.

By: doglover1

Works Cited

“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couples Baby.” 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

“Dr. Cornel West – Official Website.” Dr. Cornel West – Official Website. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <;.


Slavery is Over but Colonialism is Not

Each day, everyone participates in “doing gender” as a means of both cultural and gender expression. For each of us, the ways in which we “do gender” is policed in subtle ways by the audience with which we interact, socially constructing our ideas about gender and race. Society produces and then reproduces our ideas of gender and race. For Black men and women in the United States, the intersection of race and gender has resulted in their oppression, both historically and in the present day. In a speech by Laverne Cox entitled “Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, racism, and Misogyny (And What to Do About it)” she, as a self-proclaimed Black Trans Woman, describes the Black community in the Unites States as a culture dealing with trauma.

During colonialism and slavery, Black men and women were dominated by White settlers (Aulette and Wittner 106). The racialization of Black men and women began. Black men and women were stereotyped as a hyper-sexualized and threatening (West 1993, Collins 2000 as cited in Aulette and Wittner 106). These images were created so that the violence inflicted on Black men and women would be viewed as normal and necessary (Aulette and Wittner 106). Black men were often seen as rapists and lynched and emasculated (Laverne Cox). Enslaved Black women were often raped by their White owners (ibid 105). Colonialism created a hierarchy of race and gender with White men and women at the top.

Black men and women have shared oppression because of their race and this continues even now. (Lorde118). Stereotypes of Black women as being “Divas” and using sex to elevate their social stature exist today in the United States (Aultette and Wittner 108). Images of Tiger Woods and Magic Johnson in popular media contribute to the on going stereotypes of Black men as being hyper-sexed and threatening (ibid 107). In the United States today, there is little prosecution of sexual violence against Black women and almost all men convicted of a rape in the United States have been Black Men (Aulette and Wittner 107) Moreover, the hierarchy of race and gender still exists in America today. The race and gender norm in the United States is “white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure”(Lorde 116). Everyone else is seen as a deviation from this perceived norm. (ibid). The same patterns used during colonization to produce a hierarchy of gender and race are present today. Images of Black men and women as hypersexed are still produced within society and violence against Black women remains seen as normal. Black men are prosecuted and emasculated by patriarchy.

Patricia Collins says that, “Black men are encouraged to express a hyper-heterosexuality as the badge of Black masculinity” (115). Laverne Cox describes a situation common to Black Trans women in the United States: being “cat-called” on the street by a Black man and a Latino man. She describes the incident, stating the two men were asking her if she was a “B” word or an “N” word. This incident is indicative of how these systemic ideas of race and gender are internalized and reproduced by society. These stereotypes are found in the sexual scripts of these men. “Cat-calling” is a way of asserting hegemonic masculinity and dominance based on sex. Further, the derogatory terms that the men gave Laverne to choose from show a lack of value and respect for Black women and men: there was no option that would place Laverne in a positive light.  In this moment, and moments like it, Black men seem hypersexualized and Black women are victims of a crime. The derogatory terms these men presented to Laverne, wrap race and gender together and devalue Black men and women, just as they were during colonization. Socially constructed ideas of race and gender have been internalized and are reproduced.

In her speech, Laverne Cox points to love and forgiving her oppressors in her speech as the solution and I very much agree. I think that for the act of forgiveness to work, one must first participate in self-love. Laverne Cox says that we have to begin to understand that the nobody lives up to the perceived gender norm. I believe that is we can do that, the socially constructed hierarchy of gender and race might start to disappear and this pattern can be broken. I believe that through the act of self-love, we might begin to start accepting each other and stop engaging in the policing of our own actions and those of others. I do not believe that this is the complete solution; however, like participating in activities that save the environment, every little bit helps.


Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004. Print.

Hill Collins, Patricia ” Very Necessary – Redefining Black Gender Ideology.” Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism. New York : Routledge. (2004):182 -213. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And What to Do About It).” Everyday Feminism. N.p., 07 Dec. 2014. Web. 07 Mar. 2015. <;.

Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press. (1984): 114-123. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.