Racist Police or Keepers of the Peace?

Police officers are represented as keepers of the peace. Yet recently, many African American citizens have experienced what seems to be becoming reoccurring event where police brutality is becoming a social norm. Martese Johnson is one of these people. 20-year-old Martese Johnson was arrested outside a Charlottesville pub. Agents of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stated, “[Johnson] was very agitated and belligerent” (BBC News). Bryan Beaubrun, a student from the University of Virginia was the one who took the pictures of Johnson’s face after being beaten by the ABC officers. Beaubrun said, “He didn’t need to be tackled. He wasn’t being aggressive at all” (ibid.). The article states that the officers were white male officers who stated that they approached Johnson after he was denied entry into the pub and proceeded to arrest him after pinning him down on the ground. Though the governor of Virginia has asked for an investigation to take place on this matter, Johnson still had to go to court after being charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice (CBSNews). The case is to continue until May 28.

This type of story is not much of surprise in today’s news articles but the article’s title does not really seem to fit the story. The title is “Virginia governor calls for inquiry into student arrest” but the article only mentions the governor’s statement once and continues to talk about events following the incident and the reception it has attained. BBC News seemed to take an “anti-racism” approach as it talks about how the agents are white and also includes a statement from Beaubrun who states that there was clear abuse of power demonstrated by the ABC agents.

As mentioned above, these types of articles are becoming more and more common as we see police brutality shown towards African-American citizens, most recently the Walter Scott shooting caught on camera by an unidentified bystander. The event took place in North Charleston, South Carolina where a white police officer fired eight shots at Walter Scott, a 50-year-old black man, after trying to run away from the officer (CBC News). I have posted the video but want to point out that this video is very violent as we can see the officer shoot the man and also contains inappropriate language. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.


In the video provided by the New York Times, the editor points out how the officer drops his stun gun beside the body to support his reason for shooting the victim where he stated that Scott tried to go for his gun (Schmidt and Apuzzo). The police officer is facing murder charges at the moment and has been arrested. Stories of police officers mistreating black people have really boomed within the last year starting with the Ferguson incident in August of last year but anti-blackness, the discrimination of black bodies going unacknowledged, does not play a role here as we continue to see multiple ways of people retaliating through social media using hashtag activism as a form of activism through the internet. Police officers around the US seem to be using violence as a lens where they portray visual minorities as violent and must use violent force towards them. This can be seen in a video of a homeless black man being killed by white officers in Los Angeles (BBC News).

Media support towards the black community is rising, as more men are being arrested or killed by police officers in the United States as seen in the titles of each article mentioned in this post. For those facing false charges, they acquire support from other members of the community. During Johnson’s trial, over 100 supporters were dressed in black to show unity and peace and demanded that Johnson be freed (CBSNews).

America is facing a problem with institutional racism where they are unable to provide a professional and appropriate service (in this case the justice system) to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin (Aulette and Wittner 580). But what we are also seeing is the support from community members to fight back against these actions and support for the families of those affected by this. We can put an end to this type of oppression. We have done it before in the past with the freedom of slaves and civil rights movements for everybody, therefore we must work together once again for equal rights.

BBC News. “US Police Shoot Homeless Man Dead in Los Angeles.” BBC News. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31688942&gt;.

CBC News. “Walter Scott Shooting: South Carolina Officer Fired, Charged with Murder.”CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/walter-scott-shooting-south-carolina-officer-fired-charged-with-murder-1.3024702&gt;.

CBSNews. “Martese Johnson, University of Virginia Student in Bloody Arrest, Makes First Court Appearance.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/martese-johnson-university-of-virginia-student-in-bloody-arrest-makes-first-court-appearance/&gt;.

Aulette, Judy, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. Oxford UP, 2014. 580. Print.

Schmidt, Michael, and Matt Apuzzo. “South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder in Black Man’s Death.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 7 Apr. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/us/south-carolina-officer-is-charged-with-murder-in-black-mans-death.html?_r=0&gt;.

BBC News. “Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry into Student Arrest.” BBC News. BBC News, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31965856&gt;.



Emphasized Femininities, Gender Ideologies and their Prehistoric Protectors


The article I chose to read was called “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape,” detailing Ashley Judd’s  experience of gender harassment (the inappropriate calling attention to women or men’s bodies, sexuality, etc. to enforce traditional gender roles or in response to violation of those roles) and sexual objectification (being made into a thing of another’s sexual use) on twitter (Aulette, Wittner 526, 533). After tweeting some “controversial” commentary about a basketball game she was in attendance of, Judd received a multitude of negative, objectifying responses that clearly meant to frighten and threaten her. Many of the responses came from males who detailed a variety of explicitly sexual acts she was deserving of, trivializing the seriousness of rape. She was appalled by the reaction her seemingly innocent comment evoked and went forward with saying as much only to receive responses from various individuals downsizing the seriousness of the misogynistic (the hatred of women)  commentary and hyper-sexualization (the act of extremely accentuating one’s sexuality) she was on the receiving end of (Aulette, Wittner 529, 528 ). Judd went forth and released an op-ed (http://mic.com/articles/113226/forget-your-team-your-online-violence-toward-girls-and-women-is-what-can-kiss-my-ass – if you’re interested in reading the whole story for yourself) where she spoke about her past experiences with rape, incest and sexual molestation and how her online abuse was not an isolated incident unique to just her, but a social norm that many girls and women fall victim to.

Though the threatening tweets made by the individuals in the twitter-sphere in this specific instance were directly targeting Ashley Judd, they are not at all uncommon or the result of an isolated act of anger but rather, a combination of male patriarchy (societal dominance of male power over women)[1] with gender essentialism (the idea that there are innate differences between men and women and that they are universal and do not vary with context), double standards (a rule or principle that is unfairly applies in different ways to different people or groups) and misogyny (Aulette, Wittner 526, 524). There are many instances where men make aggressive comments during sporting events and go unpunished, simple because they are male and sports fit into the hegemonic view (representations of men and women in stereotyped ways), establishing a double standard between men and women and the way they can enjoy certain things without breaking the mould (Aulette, Wittner 527). Ashley Judd rejected emphasized femininities (dominant images of the supposedly ideal women) through her tweet and that threatened many of the males that had responded in a violent means (Aulette, Wittner 525). This incident is not just an instance of one particular woman being mistreated for a few words said online, it is an instance that stems from the ongoing issue of gender inequality and the spheres that men and women are specifically assigned to when they are assigned their genders at birth. Ashley Judd is an example of just another individual who has been targeting for rejecting aspects associated with the gender binaries (the idea that factors such as sex, sexuality of gender can be categorized into two exclusive opposites) (Aulette, Wittner 522). She had strayed away from subject matter that was socially acceptable to dabble in as a woman and therefore suffered the consequences; being threatened and harassed in a way that emphasized her place as a woman among men, the submissive among dominants. Judd was also blamed for bringing the entire thing upon herself and deserving of the uproarious reaction to her tweet, similar to the means in which victim blame generally takes place when a woman is raped.

This case reminded me of the online abuse that Anita Sarkeesian had been the victim of when she launched a campaign to fight the sexism in video games back in 2012.[2] She had expressed her concerns with gender tropes in video games, emphasizing the issues with the common concept of the “damsel in distress” character-type that was entirely too apparent in the video gaming universe.[3] Many were outraged at her attempts to create change and eradicate the harmful mediums in gaming that they took to personally attacking her through a multitude of social media outlets. She was threatened in the same way that Judd was, a victim of hypersexualization, gender harassment and sexual objectification. People went as far as to create comics featuring her drawn in a similar form to popular female video game characters being raped and one individual even created a computer game that allowed downloaders to beat her brutally and repeatedly.[4] Again, this was an example of a female being subjected to such an overriding and highly publicized type of dehumanization due to her attempts in changing something that is generally deemed as a male interest and fighting the emphasized femininities present in the gaming world. She left her designated space as a woman and treaded into territory that is, in many instances, reserved for males and suffered accordingly.

Overall, these are not just instances of women being attacked by a predominantly angry, male audience, they are common occurrences that bring to light the imbalance of power between genders and the entitlement our primarily male, patriarchal society awards boys and men where concerning what they deem to be theirs. The lengths that are gone to in order to instill and reiterate the gender ideologies (widespread beliefs about what men and women are like and should be like) present in the modern day are clearly expressed on a regular basis, not just through these single events (Aulette, Wittner 526). Dated values are existent in the way women are viewed on a daily basis, stripping them of their autonomy and basic rights while simultaneously succeeding in bringing us back to the stone age where the cavemen grunted to communicate, cavewomen were dragged by their hair to ensure compliance and mammoths were still a thing.

[1] http://feminismandreligion.com/2013/02/18/patriarchy-as-an-integral-system-of-male-dominance-created-at-the-intersection-of-the-control-of-women-private-property-and-war-part-1-by-carol-p-christ/

[2] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

[3] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/us/sexual-harassment-in-online-gaming-stirs-anger.html?_r=0

Works Cited

“Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. “Glossary.” Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2015. Print.

Christ, Carol P. “Patriarchy as a System of Male Dominance Created at the Intersection of the the Control of Women, Private Property, and War, Part 1.” WordPress. N.p., 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

O’leary, Amy. “In Virtual Play, Sex Harassment Is All Too Real.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Aug. 2012. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

Sarkeesian, Anita. “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.” Kickstarter. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

– MasalaCHICKen

The Inequality is Real

It’s a sad reality that gender equality is still the cause for controversy in our society. A Utah news station covered the story of a young girl, Kari Schott, and the club she is in, the Young Democrats Club at Jordan High School, as they ran a bake sale to bring awareness to gender inequality. The group sold cookies and based on their statistics, for every one dollar a man makes, a woman will make seventy-seven cents hence why they sold cookies to the boys of Jordan High School for one dollar, and sold cookies to girls for seventy-seven cents. Students of varying genders and races were interviewed and asked how they felt about the initiative. Most agreed with the cause, but there were still some disagreements. Karri states, “on social media, on Facebook people got really mad, like they came up and talked to me. They were really mad about it. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it” (Carlisle). One student states in their interview that they simply believe the group’s statistics are incorrect. The bake sales raises awareness to gender inequality, which is definitely a good thing! It was interesting that the new station didn’t do any of their own research or provide any actual facts other than what was said by the students. Thank goodness for Google because with one quick Google search one can find that it is true; In the USA, woman make 78% of what men make (Hill). Another thing that was missing from this report was the pay gap for those who identify as transgender (when someone does not identify with their assigned biological sex) or gay (those who are attracted to others of the same sex). In researching this, you can find things like the fact that gay or bisexual men earn 10-29 percent less than heterosexual men, or that “the earnings of female transgender workers fell by nearly one-third following their gender transitions” (Burns). One last thing that this article still doesn’t touch on is the intersection of this with race. People of color who identify as female make only 68% of what white men make (Hill). Looking into the comments of this article we see why this is a systemic issue with comments like, “It is obvious that women are not as strong as men and therefore, cannot complete the same tasks.” This idea of emphasized femininity (the system of femininity set up and policed by patriarchal expectations) just reinforces the binary thinking of our society; binary thinking being the act of thinking of things as “black and white”, not considering there might be alternatives. It’s concerning to think that people still think this way, but that is the reality of this world. Woman are truly seen as lesser than men. I sometimes wonder how some of this came about, who decided one day that women are not equal to men? Probably the same person who decided black people are less important than white people. The social constructions we’ve come to accept in our society sound so absurd when said aloud but because a social construction is something you are raised to understand as simply “how the world works” it can be difficult to not accept these. The issue of the gender pay gap is one of many that effect woman in our society today. Karri and the Young Democrats Club are making a great step by bringing to light the inequalities that woman are forced to face every day. I hope that efforts like these continue seeing as some people still do not see where the issue is with the gender pay gap. It’s crazy for me to think that my single mother will, at this point in our society, never make as much as a man in the same position as her. How can socially constructed issues like this not seem blatantly wrong to those in charge? I guess it will take the generation of gender studies students to step into power for change to really begin.

  • No Speak Africano

Work Cited Burns, Crosby. “The Gay and Transgender Wage Gap.” Center For American Progress. 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2015 <https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2012/04/16/11494/the-gay-and-transgender-wage-gap/&gt;. Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/gender-equality-bake-sale         -causes-stir-at-utah-high/10246/0gE6cCkPA0mvNkLZEjyO4Q>. Hill, Catherine. “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015).” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. 3 Apr. 2014. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/&gt;.

Mind the Gap: War on Wages

Who would have thought that a bake sale would lead to such a controversial debate? The students of a local high school in Utah sold cookies for two different prices; $1.00 for men and 0.77 cents for women. Why? Simple, because in the United States for every dollar a man makes a woman only earns seventy-seven cents. This is the ever present gender-gap in wages, where the gap refers to difference between how much men and women are paid (Aulette and Wittner 189). Why is there a significant gap in wages especially in a first world country, where people pride themselves on equality? It is because of the combination of the discrimination against women and the organization of jobs (Aulette and Wittner 189).

The United States and most countries are run by a patriarchy, where men are seen as the top on the hierarchy of power (especially white men). Due to this belief there is an obvious bias in the workforce with women being treated differently and denied jobs and/or promotions because of their gender (Aulette and Wittner 189). Men tend to use backhanded tactics to subtlety uncut women and prevent them from contending in the workplace. The most commonly used tactics involve saying things in a kind, positive tone with an actual intent of harming or humiliating women. In the news report, when asked about the bake sale, a white, male student by the name of Jake Knaphus had this comment: “I believe in their standing for a cause [of equal wage for women], but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct” (good4utah.com). While at first he sounds like he supports the cause by being very polite about it, the second half of his sentence is contradictory. He doesn’t believe there is a wage gap or an equality problem, most likely because he is part of the dominant sex and race, and therefore is not subjected to the same treatments of inequality. Jack is not alone in his opinion as the comments section for the report showed many male guests agreeing with him. The most common male comments were along the lines of “women aren’t discriminated at my workplace” or “my job pays women fairly, there’s no gap here” (good4utah.com). As stated earlier, these are very biased opinions of the wage gap coming from the gender that is top of the hierarchy.

Unfortunately, not only do women have to fight sexism to get decent pay, they also have to contend with racism. The bad news is that for women of minority, the wage gap gets wider. Even if they have a university education, minority workers take home 20% less than their non-visible minority counterparts, meaning black women earn 64 cents and Latinas earn 55 cents compared to the earnings of white men (Forbes.com.). All women, no matter what race or ethnicities, are stuck looking up through the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling is a term used to describe the inability of women to catch up at the highest levels of management (Aulette and Wittner 186). Women of minority are stuck at the bottom with the lowest paying jobs unable to reach the mid-level positions where most white women are placed. They too are prevented from rising to top-level jobs because of discrimination. It is worthy to note that the other two students interviewed (a young women and a black male) were both very supportive of equal wages stating, “I think that we kind of need to have equality between men and women“ and “I really think that women should be paid equally. A lot of women out there are just as good as men out there” (good4utah.com). They specifically state the problem of the wage gap between men and women, unlike their fellow student, Jake, who is vague with his words and never acknowledges the cause for the bake sale. For the people in the dominant group if they don’t acknowledge or speak of the problem, then in their minds it doesn’t exist.

A society dominated by men has trouble accepting women in roles outside the house. The gender ideologies enforced by society led to the widespread belief that “men’s work” and “women’s work” is separate. In this concept women are either a stay at home mom or at lower paying jobs; most of the jobs are in sectors deemed “feminine” such as secretaries, nurses or teachers (Aulette and Wittner 193). This need for emphasized femininity and subsequently hegemonic masculinity creates a barrier for women as they try to obtain jobs that are deemed “masculine” like in construction, politics or jobs that hold a lot of power, such as a CEO of a company.

While one high school bake sale won’t close the wage gap, it will do the next best thing: get people talking. The more coverage and emphasis that is put on the gender gap, the more people will talk about it, which will hopefully lead to a moment of enlightenment and change. As stated by Patricia Arquette during her 2015 Oscar speech, “We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America” (2015).

Don’t mind the gender gap. Fix the gap.

Arquette, Patricia. “Oscar speech.” Los Angeles. 22 February, 2015

Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.

Forbes.com. “The Other Pay Gap: Why Minorities Are Still Behind.” Kianta Key 2013. Web. April 2015.

Good4utah.com. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir At Utah High School.” Randall Carlisle 2015. Web. April 2015.


The Truth About the Gender Wage Gap

“Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents” (Randall).

This is the claim made by the young girls selling cookies to raise awareness about the gender wage gap that exists throughout the world. However, there is more to this issue. The first important part of this issue is that the gender wage gap has been narrowing at various rates all over the world. This is due to the awareness of gender equality, the increase and equalization of each gender’s access to education, and the creation of policies that prohibit discrimination in wages.


However, there is still a noticeable gap between the earnings of men and women. There are many reasons, according to economists, such as:

  • Women needing to take time off for pregnancy, which causes lost time, lost wages, lost seniority, and lost opportunities.
  • The tendency for women to go into people-friendly jobs and childcare, which are generally lower paying jobs.

    Many people tend to state these reasons as the woman’s own fault, and therefore try to prove that the gender wage gap is not truly a problem. But is it right to victim blame in this situation when women’s bodies are the ones that can create new life? Why is the culture pushing men and women to careers that fit socially constructed masculine and feminine traits respectively? Why are women still viewed as the primary caregiver, and suffer because they are forced to choose between raising their children and advancing in their career? These are trends which reappear over and over again.

    It is evident that stereotypical (characteristics ascribed to groups of people [and] tend to be oversimplifications) (Nittle) ) traits of women and men still transcend career choices in our society. Men are pushed towards hypermasculine (meaning exaggeration of stereotypical male behavior) careers, such as business and engineering. Women are viewed as trusting individuals and caregivers and are encouraged to choose jobs that involve child care and socialization, such as teaching, nursing and administration. However, these careers typically receive less pay overall then other careers, begging the question: Why does our society undervalue these careers?

    Furthermore, it is ignorant to attempt to explain away the entire pay gap between men and women. According to one source, “women are paid less than men in female-dominated, gender-balance and male-dominated occupations” (Worklifecanada.ca). Women’s career choices and maternal leaves only account for part of the pay gap. The Pay Equity Commission’s article on the Gender Wage Gap estimates that “as much as 10 to 15% of the gender wage gap is due to discrimination” (Payequity.gov.on.ca). 

    It is clear that there is a cultural issue in the way our society values men and women. Even though the wage gap is closing, why is 10-15% of the wage gap still due to pure discrimination? In order to really allow for equal pay for equal work—in order to really close the pay gap—our misogynistic (meaning deep-seated prejudice towards women) society must change in a drastic way, first. This cry for a change is a battle that has been fought by feminists since the First Wave of Feminism, and still continues today, even in the modern-day feminism.

    Finally, it is important to notice that it is young, white, presumably cis-gendered and middle to upper class women speaking up about this gender issue. There is no mention of the effect of the wage gap on the black community, and therefore no criticism of how white supremacy, the idea that white people are of a supreme race and have power over other oppressed racial communities, transcends this issue of pay inequality. There is an even larger wage gap between white women and black women (Catherine Hill), however this aspect of the pay gap is ignored in this instance. This issue is also looked at from a binary point of view, not taking into account the discrimination to non-binary gendered individuals, which refers to all individuals who identify with a gender other than male or female. It is vital to look at this issue and how it affects all people’s intersections, meaning “the crosscuttting inequalities that complicated gendered differences” (Aulette, Wittner, 528), of class, race, age and sexuality, rather than just gender. These trends of who is speaking out about this issue and who is not is incredibly important when analysing the systemic oppression of groups and the way it transcends all aspects of our society.

    However, the event of the bake sale does begin to scratch the surface of this historical and complex issue regarding wage gap between genders, races and classes. This event raised controversy which is often a good first step in creating a dialogue. In addition, creating this dialogue and controversy at a younger age begins the process of the analysis of white privilege (“an invisible package of unearned assets” available to white people (McIntosh) ) and marginalization, the separation and oppression of a group of people as ‘other’, sooner rather than later. This event did do an important job in the way that it began a discussion and started to break down barriers regarding this complex issue of the wage gap.

    As the young girls who created this controversy with a simple bake sale said, as a response to their peers’ uproar about the bake sale, “yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing [the bake sale]” (Randall).


Aulette, Judy Root, Judith G Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Carlisle, Randall. ‘Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir At Utah High School’. Good4Utah. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

Catherine Hill, Ph.D. ‘The Simple Truth About The Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015)’. AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. ‘White Priviledge: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack’. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Nittle, Nadra Karem. ‘What is a Stereotype?’. racerelations.about.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Payequity.gov.on.ca,. ‘The Gender Wage Gap | Pay Equity Commission’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

Worklifecanada.ca,. ‘Centre For Families, Work And Well-Being | University Of Guelph’. N.p., 2013. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.


Holy War or Civil Rights?


In today’s modern era, everyone expects to be treated by a doctor whenever we fall ill or are in need of medical attention. There is this oath called the Hippocratic Oath that doctors have been taking for thousands of years declaring that they will do all that they can to treat the ill to the best of their ability (Wright, “Ideals and the Hippocratic Oath). But according to the American Medical Association (AMA) doctors are allowed to decline treatment if it is incompatible with their personal, moral and religious beliefs (MyFOXDetroit.com). Doctors cannot refuse treatment to patients of a different sexual orientation, but in this case, it may be what just happened.

According to MyFOXDetroit.com, Krista and Jami Contreras had made an appointment with their local pediatrician to take a look at their newborn girl named Bay Windsor Contreras. When they arrived, a different doctor from that whom they had originally made the appointment with came in telling them that Doctor Roi, the doctor who originally would look at Bay, prayed on not coming into work in order to skip their appointment. Krista and Jami were astonished and believe that it was due to their sexual orientation. Dr. Roi refused to provide a comment to MyFOXDetroit.com about the situation.

It is clear that there homophobia plays a major factor in this, especially when it is religiously based. This gave rise to the issue that some doctors are facing on whether they can refuse treatment on homosexual patients due to their religious beliefs. In California, a woman who was denied treatment at a fertility clinic after her doctor discovered that she was a lesbian, even though she had been taking the drugs needed for almost a year (Regan). The doctor told her that going through with the procedure would be going against everything his religion has taught him, therefore going against his faith. Will this lead to a new global issue? It is the heterosexist norm that only heterosexual couples are meant to reproduce and have families but in today’s modern age, we accept queer couples having families and raising kids. Why must this be such an issue with doctors, who don’t have the right to judge us by who we are and who we love?

Many homosexual couples face the challenges that have already derived from gay marriage laws, but we cannot let the gender binary affect the way we see them as parents. Everyone can be a parent, whether they are homosexual or not, disabled or able bodied. Whatever faith we are, we cannot let it affect the way we see others and discriminate them. This new challenge, especially for those in fields that affect lives such as medicine and law enforcement, will bring challenges but we should take example from those who strive to do what is right. We should not be influenced by our religious belief and discriminate homosexual couples for their sexualities. Dr. Roi had no right to refuse treatment to a child who has done nothing wrong. Her response to the family makes the matter worse as she responded by saying, “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients.” (MyFOXDetroit.com). This rising issue brings tension between two parties that have been battling it out for a long time. Whether or not in this day and age do we have the ability to stop basing our judgment from misinterpretations of a book that was written nearly a thousand years ago will be the new issue that we as a society will have face (Religioustolerance.org). We must act together to fight for a world where everyone has equal rights, for a world where no doctor will deny a gay couple’s child just because of their sexuality or even race. Religioustolerance.org claims in their article that according to the bible, change is necessary for growth. Can we change ourselves to respect one another? We have done it before through other civil rights movements such as equal rights for coloured people. We have a pope who supports gay marriage and states in the US that allow for gay marriage. But for this to be possible, we must act as united force.



Works Cited

MyFOXDetroit.com. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” – Fox 2 News Headlines. FOX, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby&gt;.

Regan, L.K. “Can Doctors Refuse to Treat Gay People Based on Their Religious Beliefs? Calif. Supreme Court to Decide.” Can Doctors Refuse to Treat Gay People Based on Their Religious Beliefs? Calif. Supreme Court to Decide. Real Jock, 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.realjock.com/article/1130&gt;.

ReligiousTolerance.org. “Part 3: Six Biblical Reasons Why Christians Should Embrace Same-sex Relationships.Better Believe It… The Bible Shows Us SIX Reasons!” Six Reasons Why the Bible Is Not against Gays. 25 June 2008. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Wright, Michelle. “Ideals and the Hippocratic Oath. Medical Information. | Patient.co.uk.”Patient.co.uk. 22 June 2011. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.

Cultural Appropriation, Cultural Assimilation, Cultural Abduction


Cultural appropriation is an entirely common occurrence in our present day society. There are several examples where a dominant group exploits and takes aspects of a minority group’s culture and trivializes them for their own personal gain. These instances of cultural appropriation are not singular acts, they are ones that stem from a set structuration; in which social structure directly effects individual actions and the way in which certain people can, and certain others cannot, behave. “Twerking” has been claimed by the likes of the white population, namely Miley Cyrus, while simultaneously both dehumanizing and shaming the Black women who can rightfully claim its origin. It has been deemed trendy to sport bindis, a historically significant religious and cultural symbol of South Asian origin, at events such as music festivals, while adorning cheap manipulations of sacred Indigenous headdresses in the efforts to appear “edgy”.  This blatant ignorance of the real significance behind these cultural symbols stems from a long history of colonialism, hegemony, opportunity structures, assimilation, and “othering”.

The written piece, “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses,” written by âpihtawikosisân, a Métis, Plains Cree speaking woman touches upon the issue of wearing Indigenous headdresses without the right to and the dangers associated with the appropriating of a culture that is not yours. She outlines the differences between appreciating and celebrating Indigenous cultures and appropriating them for your own gain and how to properly engage in the former without harming or trivializing the culture. She very clearly states the importance and general meaning behind headdresses in native cultures and how they need to be earned in order to be worn, the same way school degrees and licences to practice medicine or law must be legally obtained before being used and the imitation of such has harsh consequences.

This instance of the cultural appropriation of Indigenous headdresses is not to be regarded as a simple individual occurrence, or just that of an issue of bad fashion-based choices, this sort of cultural appropriation, like all other sorts, are the result of a system of oppressive forces that exist due to colonialist agendas and actions. Colonialism; “the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory resulting in a set of unequal relationships between the colonial power and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population,” is the basis of cultural appropriation and the misplacement and inauthentic representation of indigenous populations and their cultures.[1] The settler colonialism (when one society conquers, overthrows and intends to rule over another) that took place when the Europeans first arrived in North America and stripped the Indigenous population of their power resulted in their forced assimilation (when one group’s culture comes to resemble another’s) into European culture, while being required to give up and refrain from practicing crucial parts of their native cultures. The hegemony that serviced the Europeans by placing them over the Native Americans still continues to exhibit relevance today when we see things such a cultural appropriation happening.

During colonization the white population was given authority in all things and in this unfair distribution of power the Indigenous population was left unable to live freely, or even through their own means. The Indian Act (first passed in 1876) forced Indigenous children into residential schools where they were made to abandon their cultures and languages in favour of English and white, European customs. Even further, the Indian Act served the purpose of establishing who a “real” Indigenous person was, depending upon factors such as their gender, and familial lineage. White people were in charge of coaching the Indigenous peoples in their own means of life and cultures. They still are. When we look at cultural appropriation and what it represents and how it is enabled we see the same system of power alive and thriving.

White people are able to pick and choose what aspects of Indigenous cultures they see as useful to them and, in turn, claim them as their own, as if they have the right and ability to do so. They hold onto stereotypical concepts that they associate with Indigenous cultures and advertise them as if they have the authority over this minority group to do so. Through this, they craft the “Imaginary Indian”; the heavily biased, historically inaccurate and dated view of what Indigenous peoples are like, bunching them all together and ignoring the fact that there are many different groups within the Indigenous populace. More often than not, they adopt the idea that they are “saving” this culture by celebrating it and establishing, with no basis of background knowledge, what aspects of it are deeply important and necessary; The Salvage Paradigm, contributing to the heavily prevalent “white saviour/hero complex” that is shoved down the throats of people of colour everywhere. This is dangerous not only because it is completely politically, morally and ethically incorrect, but also because it is stripping the Indigenous population of their agency; the way that social groups intend to change their societal circumstances, the way they are perceived and their general position in the world, as they are constantly being thrust back into the past with the way they are being portrayed in society (as the “other” who has interesting, trendy cultural items of worth, but are still not up to par with “regular society” otherwise) and the aspects of their cultures that are being deemed important and worth sharing while disregarding many other, entirely important, parts.

This article, and cultural appropriation in general where concerning the various Indigenous groups it affects, reminded me of an article I had once had the pleasure of reading that talked about dressing up as Pocahontas or an Indigenous person for Halloween. There was one part in general that really struck a chord with me and that was about how when one wears the sacred, traditional garb of an Indigenous group they are in no way able to embrace the other harsh aspects of the lives that these minority groups face (such as the criticism they face for supposedly “living on the government’s dollar”, the high rates of suicide, joblessness, homelessness and alcoholism within the population) and they are free from any association with the culture once they take off the costume, so why should they be able to reap the benefits of bastardizing a culture to look cool, or edgy, when completely disregarding the collective struggle the Native Americans go through when wearing those articles of clothing?[2]

It is clear to see that this instance of cultural appropriation where concerning this Native headdress of the Plains nation is not an isolated one. Cultural appropriation is an exhibition of an ancient, long existing unequal distribution of power which systemically places white people at the top and give them the ability to draw what they see as worthwhile aspects from minority cultures – they more often than not have historically colonized and forcibly assimilated – and claim them as their own at the expense of these minority groups. They use their white privilege to assign importance to what they see as such and adopt them without permission, disregarding the meaning behind what they actually appropriating and, in doing so, eradicating these cultures.

[1] http://www.academia.edu/4805721/Colonialism_is_the_establishment

[2] http://tsl.pomona.edu/articles/2014/10/24/opinions/5645-cultural-appropriation-the-scariest-costume-of-all

Works Cited

Apihtawikosisan.com,. “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses’’. N.p 2015. Web. 9.Mar. 2015.

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. “Glossary.” Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2015. Print.

Bollinger, Lauren. “Cultural Appropriation, the Scariest Costume of All.”Cultural Appropriation, the Scariest Costume of All. N.p., 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

Kumar, Vikam. “Colonialism Is the Establishment.” Colonialism Is the Establishment. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.

If you’d like to know more about the cultural appropriation behind bindis and “twerking” I’ve got a couple articles I read a while ago that have just been sitting in my bookmarked pages. I found myself  at a bit of a crossroads when reading the piece about bindis because the author makes quite a few accusations that I’m not sure I totally agree with, but I enjoyed reading them and understanding a bit more about the issue of cultural appropriation nonetheless, so yeah, here ya go!!



– MasalaCHICKen