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M O D E L
MODEL OF NEUTRAL-INCLUSIVITY
BOOK OF FUNDAMENTALS

 

1.4.4 

EQUALITY INSTEAD OF DISCRIMINATION


All reasonable persons seem to agree that human beings should not be discriminated against on the basis of their nationality, race or ethnical identity, while the most obvious discrimination on the basis of sex has become equally unpopular. Yet, racial and ethnical equality often does not go much further than the absence of legal discrimination. When it comes to the appointment or election to the better or best jobs and positions members of racial or ethnical minorities (or sometimes majorities) are often very much underrepresented. And people may conceive of members of these groups as equal citizens and equal partners at work, to have them as friends (that is, persons with whom they spend leisure time together), as neighbors or as in-laws is but too often viewed as something different. The reason why they may not want to get too close with other ethnic groups may partially be that they do not feel at ease with aliens or in an alien environment; partially it is the fear and dislike which result from misconceptions and inadmissible generalizations. The fact that somebody belongs to a certain racial or ethnical group may at a certain place and time (under the conditions as they have been so far) be correlated with sometimes unfavorable factors. If this correlation is not a product of the imagination, it is still a purely statistical relationship which does not characterize any particular person of the group in question, but when generalizing, the unfavorable (nondoctrinal) quality is automatically projected onto each individual member of the group. Such does not only happen to races or ethnic groups but also to the sexes and to all other groups of society distinguished on the basis of a ground-world quality and not treated as equals in some way.

Even when and where men and women are formally considered equal citizens, they have still been discriminated against all over the world in many other respects (also in the law). That the legal discrimination of women is on the way to extinction, does not mean that they would not remain extremely underrepresented in (the higher-level or better-paid) official positions. Also when women are considered suitable for a number of jobs (especially those in which men do not have to be their subordinate), they may be the first, if not the only, ones to be held responsible for the housekeeping and the upbringing of the children. (In sexist dictionaries homemaker is not person managing a household but one who manages a household (especially) as a wife and mother.)

On the other hand, a number of jobs may not be generally considered very masculine, and men were, or still are, the first, if not the only ones, to be held responsible for the maintenance of the family and the defense of the country or community (against other men). The traditional differentiation between the functions of females and the functions of males all over the world has degenerated into a system of roles female human beings have to play and roles male human beings have to play in order to achieve the highest possible status in their (sub)culture. This division into roles goes far beyond what can be explained from the features which define whether one has a male or female body. From a purely biological standpoint it is not less preposterous to suppose that the excellence of the behavior of men and women would lie in their aggressiveness or arrogance, and in their weakness or affectedness respectively.

One unfavorable factor engendering the underrepresentation of a race, ethnic group, sex and in particular a social class in the higher positions, is the lack of education among members of such a group. This is reflected in its disproportional representation at the medium and higher levels of education, especially at the university level. Such a negative disproportionality can be a result of many factors, like:

  • the financial inability to pay for a higher education (which in itself is a sign of socioeconomic inequality)
  • the fact that no-one tries to arouse the intellectual interests of such a group or to encourage its members to continue their study, coupled with the belief of a substantial part of the general public that the group in question lacks the skills for doing so
  • the fact that within the family the intellectual interests of the children, or exclusively of the girls, are not aroused either, combined with the parents' belief that education leads to estrangement from the children's family and/or community, or from the role the girls will later have to play in family life.

All these and other factors demonstrate that it is relatively easy to bar discrimination by the government, by corporations or by individual citizens, but that it is far more difficult to establish a state of equality in which a group formerly stereotyped or otherwise discriminated against is no longer underrepresented in social and political life. However, it does not follow that a group is discriminated against when it is underrepresented in a certain respect, because it may on the average have, for example, fewer qualified people, or fewer people who aspire to a particular (type of) position, even when all forms of discrimination are, and have been, absent.

We cannot divorce the discrimination of one particular group from the discrimination of any other particular group, whether this group is distinguished on the grounds of physical factors like skin color, family membership, sex, sexual orientation or age, or on the grounds of cultural factors like language, social class, wealthiness or ideological (political, religious, nonreligious) convictions. However much the groups discriminated against may seem to differ, they all suffer from one and the same attitude: the exclusivist attitude. A community or individual discriminating on the grounds of any of the factors mentioned or not mentioned is likely to discriminate abnegationally or to show a discriminatory preferential treatment of more groups on the basis of more factors, if not avowedly, then possibly in a hidden way, since the one exclusivism contributes to and reinforces the other exclusivism. Only the fundamental conviction as portrayed by the inclusive attitude to keep aloof from all discrimination, whatever physical or cultural factor is involved (with the exception of exclusivisms themselves), can save any particular group from the continuous threat of being discriminated against, from being ignored, from (irrelevant) unequal treatment and from (unjustified) underrepresentation in certain sectors of society.

It is erroneous to assume that the attitude of a group which itself is, for example, stereotyped or withheld equal opportunities would be inclusive because this group tries to put an end to its own state of being discriminated against. In fact the attitude of this group may be more exclusivistic than the attitude of the (other) discriminators. This may express itself in misconceptions and generalizations with regard to those not belonging to this group, in a tendency to keep exclusively to themselves and thus to estrange themselves from the rest of society, in a preferential treatment of fellow-members, in a desire to distinguish themselves from the rest of the public by a purposely provocative behavior and appearance, or in other exclusivist beliefs, feelings and actions. The exclusive interest in their own emancipation, and the lack of interest in the liberation and equality of other groups which are ignored, stereotyped or withheld equal opportunities may be part of this pattern.

Because of the fundamental discrepancy between inclusive beliefs, feelings and thoughts on the one hand, and exclusive beliefs, feelings and thoughts on the other, the abnegational discrimination or discriminatory preferential treatment of any particular group is correlated with all other exclusive convictions, sentiments and opinions on the side of the discriminators and with all exclusive convictions, sentiments and opinions on the side of the discriminated. Neither discrimination in general, nor any particular form of discrimination (sexism, racism, and so on) can ever be completely overcome, if we do not attack the principal attitude which is behind it in all fields and among all parties.



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