Anonymous asked in Social ScienceGender Studies · 1 decade ago

Is there a gap in cultural ethics between members of minority groups and non-members of minority groups?

A few questions and responses on here have struck me as very oddly and almost deliberately hypocritical recently, and it's struck me that perhaps the way that I (as a heterosexual, passably-white male) was raised to think of the ethical way to respond to social inequality may be fundamentally different from the ethical views of those who identify strongly with some inescapably obvious minority group. (It may be of note that I do belong to a couple of historically socially disadvantaged minority groups, but none are immediately visually obvious upon looking at me.)

The thing is, the way I was raised, when you see social inequality, when you see people being treated differently because of the color of their skin or their genitalia or their blood type or religion or whatever, the responsible reaction is always to join the fight to nullify that inequality. You don't consider whether it benefits or disadvantages the particular groups you belong to, you don't consider "tradition," you don't pretend that somebody's ancestors owe somebody else's ancestors something, you just join the fight to get rid of the bigotry.

A couple of questions recently have highlighted the fact that certain unnamed users on here have a tendency to choose their sides carefully depending on whether a given inequality benefits or detriments women (namely, there's a tendency of certain people who normally view men and women, quite correctly in my opinion, as equal, to suddenly jump back to the traditional mindset that women are helpless and fragile creatures who need to be protected and supported and treated like children when an issue like alimony or women-only violence shelters or any other issue of archaic inequality where the inequality in question happens to give the advantage to their demographic group comes up).

So it's struck me recently that an unfortunate side-effect of the modern enlightenment concerning the plights of minority groups may be that certain people who identify strongly with certain minority groups, instead of getting the "fight for equality, even when that equality doesn't necessarily benefit your demographic group" ethic that most of us have, get instead a selfish sort of "take what you can, capitalize on the sympathy of others, rationalize and compartmentalize when necessary" ethic.

I'm not the first person to notice such a thing either; it's well known in politics, for instance, that black candidates are unpopular with Hispanic political groups and vice versa, more or less because members of these political groups often have this "my minority first at all costs, even at the cost of the progress of other minority groups" mentality.

So, to those who identify strongly with a minority group, do you think there's anything to this? Do you fight to establish equality, even when that equality runs over some cultural advantage your group traditionally enjoyed? Do you fight for the rights of other minority groups to which you do not belong, even when that comes at the cost of sharing resources which could go to your own group's fight?

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    oh bother...

    some individuals are just in it for themselves. and i dare say that most of us in it here are in it for sheer entertainment value.

  • 1 decade ago

    The answer to "Do you fight to establish equality, even when that equality runs over some cultural advantage your group traditionally enjoyed?"

    Is Absolutely, yes I do.

    I feel strongly about the fact that I as an educated, conscientious, woman who just happens to be a Caucasian have a duty as a human being to seek the betterment of my fellow human beings, period. I know I have enjoyed cultural advantage, especially in my youth and younger years, and I know too that many times it was at the expense of others, who were not as fortunate as I based on what...complexion? A self actualized person with a true conscious can hardly stand by and do nothing, at least that's the way I feel.

    Although while we are on the topic, and I do find your question and the topic very interesting. I have experienced in many instances individuals who actually seem to feel insulted that I am interested in or working towards a cause that in essence effects them in a far more negative way than it does myself, almost as if to say "Who are you? this is "our cause", or I've been made to feel that perhaps I am uppity (for lack of a better word) and doing some type of "oh look at me I'm so good and charitable" type of attitude...... and I can honestly say after years in the field of Mental Health / Social Work I am so sensitive (actually over-sensitive) to being perceived that way, that is simply and honestly not the case.

    Perhaps in my youth, fresh out of college, I had a bit of a "do-gooder" attitude, but I learned along the way, as we all do.

    We all need to be working on the "higher-good" of all. To be partners in the struggle.

    I think that some of what you speak of is perhaps generational, and different groups have been socialized to think a certain way about different groups, it would be nice to think that by the time one reaches adulthood they would have over come this.

    Despite the difficulties, my intent is to continue you on doing what little I can do to assist my fellow man / woman.

    Sorry a little wordy.

    Great question.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    As a women of a 'minority' group, I didn't at all understand the comparison of black candidates being unpopular with hispanics, is that a fact? I'd think more of us would want to see a black win it because then we'd feel a victory that a 'minority' had won? I don't know of anyone who isn't white who'd rather see someone white win just so a black didn't solely because he's not their own particular may be true, but I'd find it really hard to believe.

    Anyhow, I feel for visible minorities because there's no hiding it. Day in and day out ever single person you're in physical contact with can see you, if you have an accent every person you have even a phone conversation with knows you're not white, it's still a huge issue even though race issues have come such a long way.

    As for women, I feel a stronger connection to women's issues because I am a woman, just as I feel a stronger connection to issues of my own race. That doesn't mean I'd rally to have special advantages for "us", it just means all his equal, someone of my own race impacts me slightly more than someone of other races.

    That said, I care very deeply about all living beings (men, women, animals) and everything touches me deeply, regardless of gender, race or even species. Ever living being has emotions, and I feel a connection to every other living being.

    Personal experience makes me feel I can relate better to women, or those of my own race, and other visible minorities, because we've lived the same experiences, yanno? Someone not of a visible minority can't understand day to day life being one as I do and all visible minorities do, men can't truly know what it's like to live as a woman, I can't truly know life as a man...yaddayadda. Doesn't mean I value the individuals less, I just relate and can feel a bit more of an impact from those I'm more like than others.

  • 1 decade ago

    I'm not exactly sure which discussions or Y!A users you are referring to, but I like to think of myself as an equality-first type of person. I don't, for example, think the mom should always get custody in divorce cases, and I think alimony should be abolished all together. People do tend toward self-interest, though, and it seems much more common for people to support causes that directly affect them. But perhaps people do what you describe and support what you perceive as an inequality on one side, because they feel like they are still disadvantaged by the situation, or that the inequality is on the other side. Perception can be a stronger motivator than fact.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I fall into the same category as you (Polish Jew ancestry, with most of my grandparents' families killed in the Holocaust, and a very small percent African-American - like, you can't tell, and if I told most people they'd laugh and/or get pissed off at me), and was raised the same way, with the same ethic. Sometimes I get teased or questioned for caring so much about something that supposedly doesn't effect me.

    I think the main thing is that some of us were raised to see discrimination to one as a detriment to us all (I don't want to be associated with racist whites, for example). Not everyone was raised that way, across all race/gender/ethnicity/religious lines, and some people may have been raised that way (or not) but simply don't take to it the same way we do.

    Look at it this way: Some people are just out for themselves, however the interpret that. Generally, you see this most clearly in financial scandals (Bernie Madoff, anyone?) or any other issue involving money. But civil rights and public opinion and the discrediting of stereotypes do come into it, although at a less well-publicized/noticed junction.

    Some people just don't give a crap about anyone but themselves - and some people, especially here, on Y!A, just want to get bleeding hearts like us all riled up and annoyed.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You're the only poster here who could write such a long post that I'd read in its entirety. Unfortunately, not being in a "minority", I can not answer the posed question.

    However, I would like to mention that it's very easy, for me as a white man, to say that I am "human". First and foremost, I am human, and that my race and gender are happenstance. Still, if I were a minority member, I might feel like I was less human and more that minority. I might not be human, but black, or female, or gay, etc. And because we care about those who we empathize with more (pretty much by definition), a minority group would likely care more about members of that minority than humans in general.

    When it comes to such things, the main thing I would like to put out there is that, before the races, genders, sexualities, etc., we're all human. (In truth, I'm not even content with that, as it would neglect both artificial and alien intelligences, but it should suffice for the time being.) What we share is an awareness, and there is something to be said for that as being a grounds for similarity.

  • Joanie
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I try to be consistent in my values, my opinions and my views. I also come from a minority that is struggling for it's equalization and I am often condemned by those in my community for my traditional approach to the equalization of my community and the community of other minorities.

    Basically speaking equality ends were compensation begins.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think the error you might be committing here is the assumption the the playing field is level. It most assuredly is not. When organizations are formed for women (I'm not going to call it a "minority group", because it's half the population) they are founded by women, for women, and about women specifically because organizations in the past--and some organizations now--specifically exclude women. It's also because of this exclusion that issues primarily affecting women arose in the first place.

    Look, I don't doubt that some sort of sexism and racism might sometimes exist against white males. But the consequences of that are wrong on an individual scale--they are exceptions to the rule. When one is female, or of color (as I am), discrimination is not rare, it is literally a constant feature of my life. The entire system of poverty I was born into is because of that discrimination. My individual triumphs and failures are never mine, but either taken as an exception to the "women are weak" or "Native Americans are lazy" rule. Or they uphold it.

    Feminists do not have the time and resources to fight for universal inequality. For far too long have empty words like "all men are created equal" done nothing for our circumstances. Feminists cannot run every single movement, nor can they divide their time equally between all causes. To say that the legitimacy of a movement depends on how little it concentrates on its specific cause leads to the destruction of that movement.

    Most feminists do not undermine the fights of other groups. No, but some groups do undermine us. It's too presumptuous for many to ask that we fight for all when they fight for none. Isn't it?

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I completely agree with Jenn. The playing field isn't level and that's something many people of privilege forget. As a privileged individual myself (educated, WHITE, middle class woman), I feel it's my duty to help those who suffer because of our unequal system. Why? Because we are all human beings.

    I know that white men especially feel guilty about all the horrible injustices committed against women, black people, Japanese people, Chinese people, to some extent Jewish individuals. Guilt can make people defensive. I've done it. I admit it. When I was younger, when I would read about black individuals complaining about racism, I would get defensive and think "It isn't me. My ancestors were enslaved too! Black people can be racist anyway"...and I would make excuse upon excuse why that African American's suffering was ok or justified. Why racism was ok, basically. It's simply because I felt and feel guilty. And I think many men feel the same way when it comes to womens rights and feminism. Not all white people are racist, and not all white people had ancestors that owned slaves. Just like not all men beat their wives or rape women. But, it's our responsiblity to reconize and accept that these things DO disportionate numbers and the playing field is definitely not equal yet, which is why the game ain't equal yet. It's fun to pretend that we are, but that's simply not the case.

    I think fighting for women's rights and studying feminism has really helped me to understand racism a lot better. I'm happy to fight for women's rights, along with African American rights, religious rights, Homosexual rights.

  • 1 decade ago

    '... certain people who identify strongly with certain minority groups, instead of getting the "fight for equality, even when that equality doesn't necessarily benefit your demographic group" ethic that most of us have, get instead a selfish sort of "take what you can, capitalize on the sympathy of others, rationalize and compartmentalize when necessary" ethic. '

    Yes, feminism has indeed become a problem.

  • 4 years ago

    The Trip Fan Club?

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