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Power In Society

.. ecognizing the diversity of various tribes. To justify their actions toward Aboriginal people, British used stereotypes to label them as uncultured and uncivilized, and decided that it is their job to bring Aboriginal people to the greater states of civilization by enforcing European norms in Canadian society (Frances, 2000: 121-123). One of the policies in 1857 even allowed for the voluntary release from the Indian status for the individuals of good character, which was a direct attack on the integrity of the Aboriginal community. This attempt to destroy the identity and the firm land base of the Aboriginal community was recognized and was resisted by Aboriginal people through a non-participation in this process (Frances, 2000, 129).

The above oppression of Aboriginal people by British (whites) was a systemic type of racism that is deep rooted and built in the system to a degree that it was normalized. Another example of racism in Canadian history is a Canadian immigration policy that for a long time favored white people, predominantly West and North Europeans. Asian and South Asian people were allowed to enter the country only if there was a temporary demand for unskilled labour. However, the workers were never allowed to bring their families since this was viewed as a threat in terms of increasing numbers of Asians present on Canadian soil (Frances, 2000, 67-75). In 1960s, the immigration policy was changed to a point system, so that people are not discriminated by their race, but admitted to Canada on the basis of their education, age, knowledge of language, skills, etc. Nevertheless, covert racism on the society level still exists.

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One of the most common instances is a requirement of Canadian work experience for any type of employment in Canada. This is discriminatory practice that targets racial minorities and prevents them from getting suitable employment. Their work options became limited to positions for unskilled labour, even though the studies show that immigrants on average have higher level of education than Canadians. The reason for this is that Canadian system fails to recognize the education and credentials obtained in immigrants’ country of origin (Frances, 2000: 93-95). These unwritten policies present barriers for new immigrants and reserve the high earning positions for white Canadians. The way the racial minority immigrants resisted the domination of the white Canadians is by creating their own communities that provide them with a security and support lacking outside of their community borders.

Oppression of women is evident in past centuries as well as in today society. Previously, women were believed to be the property of men, and they were considered to be subordinate to their husbands and to men in general. This domination was so strong that at the certain point in history it was a husband’s right to kill a wife or to physically molest her if he so wished. Men as a domination group determined what roles are suitable for women and what are not, and excluded women from any form of power in the society. This concept of a women’s role was socially constructed by men so that is naturally defined to fulfil roles that are important for men’s well being (Hubbard, 1998: 32).

Power relationship and inequalities on the basis of gender are present in all spheres of life because norms and rules are defined by the dominant group: men. An obvious example of this is a question of a gender-based language. Analysis of the language shows that it has sexism deep rooted in it; words such as woman has it root in word man, or he makes males linguistically visible and she linguistically invisible, and another word is history but not herstory and so on. This clearly shows the domination of males and ignores and negates an existence and significance of female population. Other aspects of gender inequalities are skills and body. Masculine skills are more mechanical and logical, better paid and males enjoy higher status.

On other side feminine skills are delicate and more soft which lead to low paid and low status. Third one inequality is gender bodies. Woman’s body is seen as a sexual and woman is sex objects in males’ eyes that can lead to sexual harassment. Again sexual harassment is way of male domination and controlling woman trough sex. There have been attempts to change the gender-based nature of language, differentiation trough skills and stop sexual harassment. However, it is difficult to do this because our environment is based on dominant culture values and attitudes, which are again determined by male population.

As a result of oppression, women formed an active social movement: feminist movement. Only in the second part of the twentieth century has this movement gained strength, since women previously were dependent on their husbands economically and in other way, and their awareness was not on the appropriate level to provide organized resistance to the oppression. At a certain point in history, women organized unions in order to fight for better work conditions and salaries for women. However, the tradition union organizations showed their limitations since they were based on labour process in the male-domination workplaces (Curtis, 1993: 306). In today’s society, when men and women are considered to be equal by law, a systematic sexism is still present. Work of women, as a housewife is under valued since it does not have a specific financial value assigned to it.

This is automatically degrading since ours is a male dominated society in which everything of value has a financial value. Women in the workplace still have a glass ceiling that prevents them from obtaining a position of power in the hierarchy created and dominated by man. Some attempts have been made to address this issue, i.e. Employment Equity Policy, a policy created by government, still dominated by man. In order to come to final liberation, women need to fight for it on the united from, and attempt to gain equality on all aspects of life, from recognition of their housewife role to access to the positions of power.

However, the power struggle between genders will always exist, for once females become equal, the male populations will start feeling endangered and oppressed, and will start providing resistance to female domination. Inequalities on the basis of class, race and gender still exist today as they existed long time ago but they are not so ready visible as before. One has to get inside the society and get more involved in it to truly experience the nature of this relationship. Nevertheless, we learn everyday about many successes in fighting racism, fighting job related inequality between a male and a female, and in my opinion this society is on the right track. By openly discussing many issues that until recently were not allowed to be discussed, we are in better position to understand each other and our society as a whole. Sociology.


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