Discrimination based on gender is a widespread violation of civil rights that stems from the tendency to define roles male and female citizens must play in society. Gender discrimination can take several different forms: unequal education and career opportunities, sexual harassment, verbal and physical assaults, pregnancy discrimination, etc. It may happen in all settings and involve all kinds of participants of different social status and background.
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Even though discrimination of this kind is unlawful in several countries, it is still practiced worldwide (Ronai, Zsembik, & Feagin, 2014). Because of the possibility of reverse discrimination as a side effect of fighting for women’s rights, it is necessary to introduce a balanced approach to the problem, with the active promotion of equal rights as the foundation for social justice. The identified change will help meet the needs of all stakeholders and provide everyone with equal opportunities.
There has been a strong tendency to speak of women as the primary target of gender discrimination. However, the third wave of feminism led to the opposite phenomenon; the so-called reverse discrimination, focusing on devaluing men since lawfully women have already attained equal rights. The phenomenon of reverse, or positive, discrimination is often viewed as a means to an end, i.e., the tool that allows achieving equality: “Positive discrimination or reverse discrimination, on the other hand, is conceived as an exception to the rule of equal treatment by specific temporary measures” (Goldschmidt, 2015, p. 346).
The identified viewpoint, in turn, suggests that discrimination can lead to positive effects contrary to the principles of democracy and social justice. The fact that reverse discrimination is frequently termed positive suggests that infringing someone’s rights may be justified and viewed as appropriate. The concept of reverse discrimination as a tool for achieving equality is, therefore, absurd. While in the United States and other developed countries, this phenomenon has already outweighed female discrimination, in traditional societies, women still have to deal with unequal treatment, violation of human rights, assaults, and sexual molestation that are not covered in mass media.
Therefore, it turns out that discrimination against is counteracted in counties where it does not exist and ignored in societies where the issue is pressing indeed. Such public perception is largely determined by the influence of mass media, highlighting only commercially beneficial information (Ronai et al., 2014).
To struggle against the image of discriminated women in the West, it is highly important to accept two major considerations. One is that both sexes are to blame for discrimination since both men and women perpetuate stereotyping. Not only women have a right for equality–everyone’s rights must be protected. The second one is that social attitudes must be changed to eliminate bias based on gender. The problem is not in men who discriminate against women but in the society at large since now its values and attitudes leave a lot of room for discrimination.
For instance, in traditional societies, such behavior is accepted and approved. The real enemies are people’s stagnation, intolerance, ignorance, suggestibility, and resistance to change.
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Thus, the aim of the paper at hand is to investigate deeper into the issue and find out to what extent discriminatory attitudes are present in different societies and how much social media induce them. Some recommendations for improving the situation will also be provided. As a result, the premise for developing relationships based on equality within the global community will be possible. Consequently, the concept of discrimination, whether it is aimed at any of the genders, will be viewed as equally unacceptable and, thus, is likely to become obsolete.
Reverse Discrimination in Western Societies
In the developed world, men, alongside women, can fall victim to gender bias. However, due to the evident dominance of men in society, the term “sexism” is usually applied by women concerning men. The identified phenomenon happens due to the historic imbalance of power in favor of the male population, which is no longer true in modern society (Goldman, 2015).
The most demonstrative sphere of gender discrimination in the United States and other western countries is the workplace. It is now only of the most pressing problems in the labor market, which is aggravating day by day since gender stereotypes are multiplying (Sinclair, 2015). The surprising fact is that more and more men file suits to court, claiming that they have to encounter reverse gender discrimination at their workplace as they are not treated equally with those belonging to traditionally protected groups (racial minorities, women, etc.) (Goldman, 2015).
This might mean that the influence of feminism has reached its peak as it has been proven by research that generally, men are not against women’s domination even in business spheres. Moreover, the majority of males in the developed world support the idea that gender equality is highly important for today’s advanced society (Heyman, Svaleryd, & Vlachos, 2013). As a rule, men report diverse discrimination only when it is impossible to solve the problem amicably. A common tendency for women in the United States is to pin the blame for sexism to men on all possible occasions (Goldman, 2015).
All the efforts made by the western politicians to help minorities to achieve parity have led to the appearance of extensive reverse sexism. Several characteristics thereof can be identified. (Goldman, 2015) For instance, it happens when men are deprived of all previously existing privileges exclusively owing to their gender. To avoid attracting attention to their achievements, some western companies typically make it harder for them to win financial and non-financial incentives since it is believed that women need to make more effort to obtain them, which is unfair.
Furthermore, in the instances of reverse discrimination, men are silenced on all occasions when they try to start a conversation on inequality and protection of rights. Since historically they were granted many more rights, it is believed that they do not know how it feels to be discriminated against. Also, reverse discrimination occurs when men are constantly overlooked in employment when they apply for positions traditionally designated to women. This happens even in cases when there is no woman to fill the vacancy.
Furthermore, the image of men in mass media is purposefully degraded. In popular sitcoms, men are often shown as dumb husbands or boyfriends who are easy to cheat on. In schools and even in higher educational institutions, it is typical to hold girls as examples of how boys should behave and study since girls are more diligent. Boys and young men are made to feel guilty for their gender but are required to respect girls exclusively for their gender.
Moreover, most social policies disregard men due to which they cannot find protection against violence. In politics, most leaders are afraid to contract radical feminists even when their claims are absurd and should be turned down even without further discussions (e.g., renaming ‘history’ to ‘herstory,’ demanding to prohibit man-spreading in public transport, etc.).
Additionally, it is now prohibited in several countries to organize men’s gatherings to discuss issues that concern masculinity. Men also have next to no chances to win custody over their children when they get divorced if the mother of the children is healthy and adequate. Moreover, they are often cut out of the children’s lives since it is believed that their influence is deteriorating. Finally, men are generally discouraged from expressing any kind of emotion. Even small boys are taught that men do not complain, whimper, or cry. This leads to various psychological problems in the future. Also, this creates a common attitude that even if men feel injustice on behalf of women, they should let it pass unnoticed.
Thus, it is logical to conclude that even though all western societies are fighting against the oppression of women, it is not more relevant to stop the spread of radical feminism before it leads to the total gender roles exchange. Although feminists claim that it is impossible to discriminate against the structure that favors white, straight men, preferring them in all spheres to all others, the statistics prove the opposite.
The problem will require a set of measures aimed to change the attitude of the general public to the issues of discrimination on the gender basis. It is necessary to show in mass media that discrimination occurs regardless of gender and should be approached as a detrimental phenomenon without dividing men and women into two enemy camps. Otherwise, western countries are at risk of becoming matriarchic.
Considering that gender discrimination acquires new tendencies concerning both sexes, it is necessary to come up with the most relevant solution. In particular, it seems of great importance to promoting equality, which refers to the ability of everyone to access available resources and realize the potential for the common good. With this in mind, the proposed solution to gender discrimination is to improve the national legislation in gender policy by bringing it in line with international legal standards (Perry, Harp, & Oser, 2013).
It is possible to reform the existing legal framework and implement the reconsidered laws to remove any barriers to gender equality. Moreover, it seems essential to emphasize the need to eradicate discrimination by ensuring the same compensation for work of equal value.
Focusing on gender discrimination at the workplace, one may note that a system of economic maintenance and attempts to eliminate discrimination against women and men should be implemented. For example, improvement of the infrastructure that facilitates the upbringing of children could free up time and resources for women and enable them to take a more active part in the economy (Sinclair, 2015).
It is also important to establish an innovative corporate culture and develop strategies that would help achieve gender balance. Several big corporations have already started to move in the mentioned direction – they exchange experience, develop cooperation within the business community, and interact with other sectors, state bodies, and non-governmental organizations. For example, along with initiatives within its corporation, Ernst & Young plans to develop cooperation with the World Economic Forum to create a database of practices in the field of achieving gender equality (Dipboye & Colella, 2013).
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At the same time, it is important to remember that not only women but also men are exposed to gender discrimination, as was discussed in the previous sections. Therefore, the problem of gender inequality in society is rather acute and affects all spheres of life, including the governance structures and resource allocation. To address gender inequality, several essential steps need to be taken. First, at the state level, the subject of gender policy, purpose, and resources should be clearly defined.
It is necessary to develop and implement effective mechanisms that will enable women and men to participate in socially important decisions. Afterward, the creation of conditions for ensuring equal opportunities in the workplace (introduction of the principle of equal remuneration for work of the same value, non-discrimination in the workplace, and overcoming gender occupational segregation) should be considered a necessity.
Reconsidering the current concept of social justice and the system of social relations is the next crucial change to be made. By developing a system that is free from gender stereotypes, introducing a gender component at all levels of education, implementing, and applying research findings on gender issues in public life will enhance the current situation (Ronai, Zsembik, & Feagin, 2014), one will be able to alter the current system. Finally, the improvement of the national mechanism for preventing and counteracting gender-based violence and human trafficking, as well as the promotion of the rejection of all forms of violence, will help create conditions for the harmonization of professional and family relations.
Speaking of benefits of the proposed solution, it is essential to point out that this approach is applied in international anti-discrimination practice and is based on the importance of non-biological or physical differences between men and women, but on the cultural and social meaning attached to them by society. In many countries, the concept of an integrated gender approach has been introduced and is developing. The criteria of formal and legal and actual equality between women and men are included in the overall system of the organization of society.
The specific needs of women and men will be systematically integrated into all government programs and at all levels of decision-making with the intention of translating the principle of gender equality. The temporary special measures are to be developed and adopted to correct the already created position of inequality due to certain actions, behaviors, or structural public restrictions related to the discriminated group (Lawson, 2016).
The mandatory consideration will be made at the planning stage of the possible impact of public policies and decisions on women and men. The subsequent mandatory monitoring and gender-differentiated evaluation of these policies and decisions are likely to ensure equal rights. At this point, the cooperation with state and public organizations using social advertising and campaigns to prevent gender-based violence may also be considered as benefits. Establishing a public committee to monitor the adaptation of the content transmitted through the media to the provisions of the law on gender equality will help prevent media provocation and improper information distribution.
To conclude, gender discrimination is a complex issue that requires an integrated approach to establish a gender-associated balance. If gender discrimination relates to women in traditional society, then the western countries experience reverse discrimination as well. Therefore, it is of great importance to reconsider the existing legal foundation and adjust them in the correspondence with the needs of modern gender equality strategies. It is expected that as a result of the proposed solution, men and women will have equal rights, freedoms, and opportunities and also have equal responsibilities and social roles.
Dipboye, R. L., & Colella, A. (2013). Discrimination at work: The psychological and organizational bases. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Goldman, A. H. (2015). Justice and reverse discrimination. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Goldschmidt, J. E. (2015). Ms Goldschmidt is it true that you are deaf? That would really help us to meet the quota! Positive discrimination revisited. In Equality and human rights: Nothing but trouble? (345-357). Chicago, IL: SIM.
Heyman, F., Svaleryd, H., & Vlachos, J. (2013). Competition, takeovers and gender discrimination. SSRN Electronic Journal, 66(2), 409-432.
Lawson, A. (2016). European Union non-discrimination law and intersectionality: Investigating the triangle of racial, gender and disability discrimination. New York, NY: Routledge.
Perry, B. L., Harp, K. L., & Oser, C. B. (2013). Racial and gender discrimination in the stress process: Implications for African American women’s health and well-being. Sociological Perspectives, 56(1), 25-48.
Ronai, C. R., Zsembik, B. A., & Feagin, J. R. (2014). Everyday sexism in the third millennium. London, UK: Routledge.
Sinclair, S. (2015). Social psychological barriers to a gender balanced labor market: The role of gender identity threats, friendship priorities, and perceived discrimination. Lund, SE: Lund University.