Institutional Racism And Gender Discrimination As Social Constructs

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Racism is a socially constructed concept that has played a major role in the world we live in. Throughout history, there have been several attempts to justify these ideas, whether they were started by individuals or institutions. Many of these ideals are made because of false notions about other people’s race and identities. Due to differences that are made up by others, it creates a division amongst people that causes for society to grow apart from each other.

Individual racism is racism towards an individual that arises from factors like; beliefs and stereotypes that can be projected consciously or unconsciously. Additionally, this form of racism can be pushed onto an individual because of influences from institutions that is also often formed from wrongful stereotypes. A common and general example of individual racism is when a white person accuses or blames an individual for something based on the color of their skin. This act of racism was heavily seen a few decades ago but is still prevalent in today’s world. I personally have witnessed this behavior between my white side of the family. On one occasion when I was younger, I recall my aunt and uncle taking my cousins and I out to eat. We were seated waiting for our meals when a group of black teenagers came in. When my aunt saw this, she snatched her purse from the side of her chair and kept it on her lap. I could tell that my aunt and uncle were uncomfortable with the young men coming into the restaurant and it embarrassed my cousins and I. Another example of individual racism is the case of Rodney King that involved police brutality. Since King was a person of color, it is known that the police abused their power by violently mistreated him. This is a case of individual racism because not all cops are racist, but some do act out from racial intent.

Institutional racism is when racism is used as a tool by companies and corporations to suppress and keep people of color below them. A prime example of this horrible abuse of power is vividly shown throughout the Holocaust. As a prominent person in Germany, with booming ideas that brought people together, Hitler was able to rise while uniting the public as one. He accomplished this by invoking this notion that Jewish people were the roots for their problems. Since institutional racism is backed up by large companies, it is made to be difficult to break away from such a toxic system. This is due to these companies social, economic wealth, along with the resources that gives them the advantage that smaller groups or single individuals do not have. This causes the oppression of minority groups like; people of color, women, homosexuals, indegenous groups and ultimately brings down the community as a whole.

Racism is caused by many motives like fear, ignorance, and social/ economic gain. Fear is invoked by racism because many people do not want to lose the privileges and power they have. This roots from the thought that by treating people as equals, others will lose what should be theirs. Furthermore, ignorance is also a large part behind why people are racist. Many people go by false stereotypes and tend to label others wrongfully causing a chain affect regarding how they treat that group of people. This then causes generations with lack of knowledge about other races and groups, which causes the cycle of racism to repeat itself. Lastly, many people are racist because of the gain that they get socially and economically. By keeping other people oppressed with unfair wages and benefits, their monetary and social profit can be maximized. These factors are why people of color are constantly being oppressed and scrutinized for just being who they are.

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From my interpretation of the question, institutionalized racism can happen even if an individual isn’t racist. Oppressive companies with great power tend to implement toxic systems known to be little their workers keeping them in a certain position. This forms a cycle of racism that keeps people of color in lower class jobs with no room to rise in the workforce. This not only affects people of color but also other minority groups like women and the LGBTQ community.

Ideals revolving around Gender Roles

The system of patriarchy is a system that holds men above women in the fact of power, money, priviledge, etc. From this, hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity rise. These ideals are set in place to give standards for what a man and woman “should” be. This causes huge gaps in gender identity and also leads to the division of people.

Hemogenic masculinity is the notion that men are inherently better than women and should have a dominant role in society over their female counterparts. This is started at a young age when boys are taught what a man is supposed to be. Stereotypically, boys wear blue, are tough, play sports, etc. Other things that are taught are to have strength, be competitive, and to not show emotion. These traits all feed into the development of hemogenic masculinity in young men. The personal consequences that can come from this would be the physiological pain that comes from holding in one’s emotions. For men that are LGBTQ and have been brought up this way, fear of rejection and scrutiny of their sexual preferences come from this. The social consequences of hemogenic masculinity are very prevalent today. Gender pay gaps, rights, and status show how men are still treated as the majority while women are the minority.

Emphasized femininity is the notion that women are to be submissive to men and do as their male counterparts say. This idea of being compliant to men’s wants and desires feeds into the system of patriarchy and how men are raised to act this way towards women. As being a woman based off of this system, they are already second class to men. This also goes for school, sports, work, etc. Girls are taught to be proper, take care of their toy baby, and clean the house. This is all while the young boys play outside, get dirty, and have fun. These are perceived to be the right gender roles for men and women. Therefore, when a child doesn’t want to follow these norms they are considered different and an outcast. Overtime, these teaching causes young women to be weak and feel that they need a man in order to be strong. This happens to many women who go through abuse and are taught that they are less than others. Additionally, there are many other social consequences that arise from this too. For example, women are still being paid less than men for the same work and are being marginalized just because of their sex. These toxic ideals have been passed down through generations and initially appear hard to detach from. However, the push for consistent equality amongst women and men especially in the workforce has been more progressive. It is more commonly seen that men too have become allies to women that are fighting against these unfair treatments.

Both hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity are socially constructed concepts that have been heavily normalized throughout society. They have been enforced throughout different aspects of life which molds how an individual portrays them self in society. Since many people are taught and brought up this way, this repeated system of patriarchy still continues. Men are expected to be strong and provide yet not be able to express their feelings. While women on the other hand are expected to care, nurture, and clean. Despite the division between men and women, much work has been done to try and bring the gaps between the sexes together.  

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