Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

The Intersection of the “Isms”

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If you’re a white, physically healthy, economically well-off male, you’ve probably never had to worry about doors slamming shut in your face due to prejudice. However, due to the existence of so many “isms”, plenty of people experience this on a daily basis. The fact that there seems to be no shortage of ways to discriminate against people should be shocking, but it isn’t. For example, the separation of feminine and masculine spheres is particularly frustrating. I was told just this past weekend by my grandfather that I wouldn’t make a good preacher because “Christ doesn’t call women to preach”. Because the “norm” involves a man behind the pulpit, people become accustomed to and eventually subscribe to the idea that women must just not be qualified. This type of attitude is discouraging, and I would say probably keeps women from answering the call of ministry because it’s not “feminine”. This overt sexism exists across all fields of employment to create the glass ceiling. As if one “ism” wasn’t enough, others contribute to keeping everyone who doesn’t fit the “norm” under control. Try to imagine for a moment a young, poor, Native American woman in a wheelchair; if she doesn’t experience difficulty due to her sex, she could just as easily be discriminated against due to her race, age, class, or disability.  One “ism” on its own is powerful enough, but when a person has more than one characteristic that separates them from the “norm”, the combination of discriminatory factors can keep them from doors that should be open to all of us.

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