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Student No. ______

 

GENDER & JUSTICE 
ANSWER KEY 2002

 

 

1. In what ways do structures of oppression reinforce each other?  What concrete examples have you seen in the materials for this class that would support the ideas that where one sees sexism, one frequently can find racism; where classism exists, sexism often surfaces; or where there is patriarchy, there is often heterosexism, etc.? 

 

___ 10 Discussion of the reinforcing nature of structures of oppression generally. One structure of oppression sets up a mindset or way of thinking about oppressive behaviors generally—oppression itself becomes acceptable. One example: dominant groups subordinate by forced splintering of oppressed groups (e.g., Betty Friedan and the “lavender menace”; Patricia Cain “invisible lesbian”; light skinned v. dark skinned people of color; race to the bottom between isms).  Look at institutional structures  (media, religion, family, politics, capitalism, etc.) and social norms that promote subordination. Assumptions of subordination slide easily across identity categories (e.g., stereotypic image of welfare mom is a particular race)

 

___ 5 What features of the phenomenon of discrimination make “systems of subordination” thesis likely: ignorance, response to situations with hatred rather than compassion, etc.; Patterns of beliefs in superiority and inferiority, vilification of groups, rights deprivation, power holding. E.g., parallels between slavery and subordination of women. Crenshaw. Information from social cognition theory about the nature of stereotyping generally, Barbara Reskin

 

Examples:

___ 10 (1) patriarchy-sexism-heterosexism: assumptions that all sexual relationships are heterosexual; laws reinscribe that assumption by prohibiting certain sexual practices; military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; United States v. Virginia;  Oncale: treatment of same-sex sexual harassment complainants; ridiculing of S.H. suits by men; ban on same-sex marriage, Gardiner; Nancy Polikoff v. Thomas Stoddard; DOMA; Adrienne Rich (heterosexuality is compulsory) and Ruth Colker; Kathryn Abrams’ theory that sexual harassment is about power; closeting silences; domestic violence enforcement; discrimination based on departures from traditionally masculine and feminine roles Price Waterhouse

___ 10 (2) patriarchy-racism-sexism: suffrage battle with NWSA, Sojourner Truth; intersectional or combinational discrimination under Title VII, Judge v. Marsh but only for certain protected characteristics (e.g., not for braided hair, Rogers v. American Airlines or dress Lanigan v. Bartlett); Angela Harris’ observation that feminism is white and middle class;

___ 10 (3) sexism-classism: Married Women’s Property Acts; lower pay for women; occupational segregation by sex (and race); comparable worth; economic costs of birth control (not paid by insurance) and abortion, Harris v. McRae, Maher v. Roe and emotional costs of facing gauntlet of protestors outside public clinics; economics of marital dissolution; apportionment of family responsibilities—male breadwinner and “second shift” for females, Hochschild—interacts with glass ceiling; child custody decisions made on basis of economics  Garska

___ 10 (4) racism-sexism-classism: intersection between minority race status and poverty; punishment of drug-addicted women of color; rape laws protected chastity of women, but laws disproportionately invoked against black males, but not in favor of black females; Amicus Brief of Negro Women re cost of abortion and availability, not just a right to it, and TRAP regulations       

 

2.a.  Is there a concern that real world issues—such as abortion rights, economic or political inequality, sex segregated schools, divisions of domestic responsibilities, custody decisions, and so on—will become harder for the public to care about and understand if the discussion moves to the theoretical level of discussing systems of subordination? Or might the theoretical analysis assist people in seeing the systematic or patterned nature of discrimination?  Provide concrete examples. (You may use any of the above examples and/or choose your own from the class materials.)

 

___ 10 Moving discussion to theory level may ignore plights of individuals.  Examples: institutional reforms suggested by dominance theorists (e.g., pornography) are sweeping and systemic; fight for ERA was systemic, rather than incremental fight for individual rights; hard to think in theoretical terms when one is shouldering a double burden of domestic responsibilities; specific issues of women’s rights v. feminist theory (few people willing to identity as feminists, but percentages reverse for support of issues)

___ 5 American public thinks in individualistic terms, responds to personal experiences, doesn’t contemplate matters in theoretical terms. Media influence on political understanding (compression into sound bites, shock journalism).

___ 5 People discussing theoretical connections among oppressions are usually both educated and economically privileged, but as theories sift into mainstream (e.g., learned helplessness), they can combat stereotypic assumptions

___ 5 Political dangers of groups fighting on the left or right wing: possible political backlash, lumping v. for the un- or underprivileged, seeing systems of repression or power may be easier when the concept is voiced

___ 5 Balance is needed: Seeing patterns of discrimination may require systematic analysis (e.g., sexual harassment), a movement from single issues or individual examples to theoretical understanding about oppression (e.g., unpacking issues of “choice” as in EEOC v. Sears or understanding the nature of hatred or power); hard to remedy systematic ills without awareness; but introduction of individual stories (e.g., “Voices Brief”) may be a way to present systemic, theoretical issues through individual experiences

 

 

2.b.  Do the class materials demonstrate any examples of either the usefulness or the dangers of political coalitions by subordinated groups? Under what circumstances do coalitional politics tend to work and when do they tend to fail? If you were advising a subordinated group about political activism, can you express in a general way when the group should build coalitions and when it should steer away from them?

 

___ 5 Coalitions splinter regarding actual issues in response to different features of identity, which makes systematic and post-intersectional analysis difficult. Different groups have different issues. Examples: feminists fight for male partners to assume childcare, while lesbian feminists fight to retain custody; factions regarding the ERA. Even groups with similar issues may prioritize them differently. Internal dissent.

___ 5 Coalitions are numerically powerful, but it is easier to have coalitional politics on some axes than others (for example, economic or class issues cut across identity lines)

___ 5 Fear of sell-outs, as with suffrage example of white women selling blacks out to garner the vote and factions of NWSA and AWSA or some in the feminist movement distancing themselves from lesbian feminists

___ 10 Advice: look for commonalities of interest—consciousness-raising may assist, MacKinnon; how expansive inclusion can be without alienating members; seek supportive allies (e.g., male feminists or straight supporters of LGBT rights); align with groups having a similar ideology of change (possibly avoid controversial or extremist wings); Angela Harris’ multiple consciousness approach suggests categories should be less rigid and more fluid v. the need to clearly define boundaries and set an agenda; be careful about intergroup hierarchy (larger or more powerful groups swallowing smaller ones)

___ 5 Networking or single issue coalitions (or amicus briefs) v. longer term goals; avoid practices of exclusion or competition among identity groups, bell hooks’ choice between competing sexualities

 

___ 10 Innovative arguments regarding specific “systems of subordination” question

___ 10 Thorough analysis specific to systems of subordination question; avoided disjointed rendition of all the different types of subordination; use of theorists

___ 10 Composition (clear, cogent, academic writing;  fluency; avoidance of colloquial expressions; topic sentences; word choice; conciseness; grammar; syntax;  punctuation; avoiding passive voice)

___ 5 Organization (a sensible, thematic, clearly demarcated method of organizing;  appropriate formatting (exam # on all pages, number pages))

 

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            150 possible