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. Although discrimination of this kind is unlawful in several countries, it is still practiced worldwide (Ronai, Zsembik, & Feagin, 2014).
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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 appearance of the opposite phenomenon, the so-called reverse discrimination, focusing on devaluing men since lawfully women have already attained equal rights. 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:
- Both sexes are to blame when it comes to discrimination since stereotyping is perpetuated by both men and women. Not only women have a right to equality–everyone’s rights must be protected.
- 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.
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 they are induced by social media. Some recommendations on improving the situation will also be provided.
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 about men. This 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).
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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 the advanced society of today (Heyman, Svaleryd, & Vlachos, 2013). As a rule, men report diverse discrimination only when it is impossible to solve the problem amicably since 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 western politicians to help minorities to achieve parity have led to the appearance of extensive reverse sexism. It takes place when (Goldman, 2015):
- Men are deprived of all previously existing privileges exclusively owing to their gender. To avoid attracting attention to their achievements, it is typical of some western companies to 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 up 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.
- 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.).
- It is now prohibited in several countries to organize men’s gatherings to discuss issues that concern masculinity.
- Men 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.
- Men are generally discouraged to express 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. In addition, 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 a 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.
Goldman, A. H. (2015). Justice and reverse discrimination. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Heyman, F., Svaleryd, H., & Vlachos, J. (2013). Competition, takeovers and gender discrimination. SSRN Electronic Journal, 66(2), 409-432.
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.