Gender, Race and Class Essay

Introduction, works cited.

This paper discusses three interrelated concepts of gender, race and class. The three concepts are said to be related because they are all socially constructed. The concepts are also institutionalized, meaning that they are entrenched in social systems and institutions such as organizations, schools and governments.

The three are therefore characterized by discrimination, inequality, prejudice and skewed distribution of resources and power. In a nutshell, men hold senior positions of leadership than women, the whites colonize the non whites, and the rich exploit the poor. The concepts are discussed below separately.

Gender refers to the social construction of the differences between males and females. For example, the belief that all men are brave and strong while all women are coward and weak. Sex is defined as the biological differences between men and women. For example, body anatomy.

While most or all males have beard, more muscular bodies and deep voices, most or all females do not have beard , have high pitched voices and are less muscular. Gender stereotypes are therefore the believes that people have towards males and females (Connel 72).

There are both implicit and explicit attitudes towards males and females. When we say that the attitudes are implicit, we mean that they are internalized in our thinking processes. For example, a teacher may select male students to represent a school in a math contest and select female students to represent it in the art subjects or in languages.

This may happen as a result of the belief that all males are good in mathematics while all females are good in easy subjects like the arts and languages. In professional context, a male doctor may be referred to as ‘the doctor’ while a female one may be referred to as ‘the woman doctor’ to imply that it is unusual for a female to be a doctor.

When we say the attitudes are explicit, we mean that the stereotypes may not be necessarily internalized, but are based on generalizations about males and females. For example, a firm may refuse to recruit females to work as guards because of the belief that females are not only weak, but are also prone to other forms of violence such as rape.

Both implicit and explicit attitudes towards gender stereotypes are sometimes correct but are not always true. For example, while it is correct that men are courageous and able to do tough subjects like mathematics, not all of them are able to perform well in mathematics.

In some cases females may outshine males in mathematics. For a person to confirm a certain stereotype, he or she must do a research on the same. While doing the research however, he or she must bear in mind that attitudes and behaviors keep on changing (Mora and Ruiz 34).

Gender stereotypes are related to ambivalent sexism, which is the coexistence of positive and negative attitudes towards a certain sex. Ambivalent sexism is understood by taking a closer look at some words and phrases which are used to describe females. For example, a female Chief Executive Officer (CEO) may be described as very cute, adorable and attractive.

Another example is the saying that men are incomplete without women. These are positive attitudes towards women. In leadership context, the female CEO may also be described as a ‘very good public relations agent’ while the male CEO may be described as a ‘very good leader’.

These ambivalent attitudes towards females are used by males to remain at the top of the hierarchy of power and leadership and place females at the bottom. While a phrase like ‘that female CEO is very cute, calm and attractive’ implies a positive attitude towards her, it can also imply that she can be too emotional to become a good leader.

Ambivalent sexism is therefore used mostly to propagate the inequalities between males and females especially in the pursuit of power and authority. This leads to the enactment of policies which do not adequately reflect the views and wishes of females in the society.

Race refers to the physical characteristics of people from different parts of the world. Such characteristics include skin color, dialect, eye color, type of hair and cultural practices. However, the skin color is the most common criteria for distinguishing people by race. We have various races such as the Whites, the Asians, the Jews and the Blacks.

Race contributes to the formation of two groups of people namely the dominant and the subordinate groups. A dominant group is defined as the most powerful group in a society. This group enjoys the highest social status and has access to unlimited privileges. A subordinate group refers to people who are singled out for unfair treatment due to their physical and social characteristics. This group is also subjected to various forms of discrimination by the dominant group. (Glenn 41).

The defining criteria in the formation of the two groups include race, ethnicity and skin color. Others include colonization, migration and annexation. In the United States, the dominant groups are characterized by skin color and ethnicity. Basically, the White Americans are classified as the dominant group.

Their ethnicities include British, Germans, Norwegians, Irish, French, the Dutch and Polish.They are categorized as the dominant group because they were the ones who played a major role in the attainment of American Independence form the Great Britain. They are also very rich, highly educated and enjoy a high social status. They also do white color jobs and always hold positions of leadership in political, social and economic spheres (Rothenberg 17).

The subordinate group comprise the African Americans, the Asian Americans, Latin Americans, Spanish and Jewish Americans. These are the people whose skin color is different from that of the White Americans. They are not as economically stable as the White Americans. In most cases, they do casual jobs especially in the plantations, factories, airlines and in the hospitality sector.

One example of how the two groups have an impact on each other is their economic relationship. The dominant group owns the means of production. As a result, it usually employs the subordinate group to do the casual jobs as the dominant group takes the leadership and management positions in various sectors of the economy.

Class refers to the social differentiation of people within a society depending on their social status, which is majorly determined by their economic status. People of low economic status usually belong to a low social class and vice versa. Karl Marx presented a two class model of society comprising the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are few in number and they own capital for production. They are also rich, powerful, oppressors, exploiters and they always win elections in democratic countries

On the other hand, the proletariat are the workers, owners of labour and they are the majority in numbers but are powerless since they are oppressed and exploited by the rich and they always lose in elections in democratic nations. The proletariat can be described as a class in itself in the sense that they share same objectives and relationships to the means of production, that is, they are laboures who are paid in wages (Rank 13).

The two classes are always in conflict with each other because their interests are incompatible. While the bourgeoisie have the interests of maintaining the status quo which ensures their dominance, the proletariat are interested in changing the status quo which deprives them of good life.

However, the two classes are not aware of the nature of the circumstances which they live in but assume that the situations which they find themselves in are natural and nothing can be done to change them, a situation Karl Marx calls false class consciousness (Andersen and Taylor 26).

The concepts of gender, race and class are interrelated, meaning that they are all products of social constructions and are based on historical perspectives of discrimination, stereotyping and prejudice. They are also systems of power and control, manipulation and exploitation. While men dominate women, the whites dominate the non whites and the rich dominate the poor in the society.

The concepts are entrenched in our society and social institutions to the extent that we see them as normal. However, an objective analysis of the concepts shows that there are no fundamental differences between men and women, whites and non whites and the rich and the poor, meaning that if the playing ground was to be level, what a man can do can also be done by a woman, what a white man can do, a non white can also do and what can be done or achieved by a rich man can also be done or achieved by a poor man.

Andersen, Margaret, and H. Taylor. Sociology: Understanding a Diverse Society, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2002. Print.

Connel, Raewyn. Gender, Washington DC: Polity Press, 2009. Print.

Glenn, Nakano. Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. Print.

Mora, Ricardo, and C. Ruiz. Gender Segregation: From Birth to Occupation, Madrid: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 2000.Print.

Rank, Mark. One nation, underprivileged: why American poverty affects us all, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.Print.

Rothenberg, Paula. Race, class, and gender in the United States , Walton: Mac higher publishers, 2009. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, November 29). Gender, Race and Class. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-race-and-class/

"Gender, Race and Class." IvyPanda , 29 Nov. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/gender-race-and-class/.

IvyPanda . (2019) 'Gender, Race and Class'. 29 November.

IvyPanda . 2019. "Gender, Race and Class." November 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-race-and-class/.

1. IvyPanda . "Gender, Race and Class." November 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-race-and-class/.

Bibliography

IvyPanda . "Gender, Race and Class." November 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/gender-race-and-class/.

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Discussing intersectionality: race, gender and social class

In this series of videos, Umut Erel from The Open University discusses the topic of intersectionality and how it relates to social research with Tracey Reynolds, Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Greenwich, and Ann Phoenix, Professor of Psycho-Social Studies at University College London.

What is intersectionality?

Why are race, gender, social class and intersectionality important to social research?

How can social research identify and help to address inequalities based on social divisions of gender, race, class and the intersections of these?

Why do you think it is important that students learn about race, gender, social class and intersectionality to better understand social research?

These videos were filmed for the Open University course DD215 Social research: crime, justice and society .

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essay on race class gender

Race, Class, and Gender Short Reflective Essay

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Race, Class, Gender, and Health Care

The adverse implications of social discrimination and segregation based on race, gender, or economic class are evident through an unfair system that hinders fair access to such basic needs as healthcare. According to the lecture, health disparities are deeply rooted in significantly influential historical patterns that perpetuate inequalities relating to racism, classism, and sexism. In an unfair and unjust society, the domineering majority often victimizes the minority by interfering with their human rights to increase their vulnerability. Considering the fundamental position of health in humanity, hindering access to quality health care serves as a reliable oppression method because it triggers pain, suffering, and death. Health-based oppression can be intentional or prevail in societies due to unfair systemic structures, poverty, and ignorant and biased health practitioners.

The intentional spread of infections to certain social groups capitalizes on the access to healthcare to propagate oppression through epidemics and potential genocide. As the lecture explores, colonizers used this approach to trigger health crises in Native American populations as a method of weakening or subjugating them. Historically, the deliberate spread of illnesses exercised power play, reinforcing cultural and political strongholds and strengthening social discrimination. Besides the ailing conditions, the suffering native population could not access health care, and they would gradually weaken and be subject to the colonizers. Consequently, millions of deaths occurred, with the health implications breeding complications that are still prevalent in the current generations.

Although rapid globalization, push for international cohesion, and reinforcement of ethical standards in the global health system significantly hinder the intentional spread of illnesses, structural barriers still reinforce health-based oppression. Many societies globally are polarized, with systemic social segregation that exposes a particular group to a higher risk of contracting infections and inaccessibility and unaffordability of health units. In the United States (US), transgender immigrants face disturbingly complex issues in accessing quality healthcare, considering the barriers to navigating the systems (“Trans Narratives and Experiences” 12:32). With corrupt and biased systems, minorities often suffer adverse health complications, resulting in suffering and death. The example of the inefficient and unreliable Indian Health Services (IHS) in the lecture explains how systemic barriers oppress certain social groups by controlling their access to health services. The lack of political and legal goodwill in the country has created a tribal health unit where the most significant percentage of the American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) cannot access quality healthcare. Similar scenarios prevail in other countries when decision-makers are inefficient and adhere to tribal, ethnic, and gender stereotypes when adopting and enforcing health-based policies. Many countries have unfair health policies that disregard the welfare of low-income earners and other vulnerable categories, imposing oppression because they cannot effectively access health services. Therefore, the prevalence of structural barriers in countries and societies propagates health-based oppression by forcing people to endure preventable pain and suffering.

Specifically, poverty hinders access to quality health care by forcing certain social groups to depend on unreliable health services. Health care is based on an individual’s financial status, implying that access to quality healthcare and financial status are directly proportional. Classism makes a significant difference in who can access health care, where, and at what quality, implying that low-income earners often face oppression in the health system. It also integrates with race and gender to position poverty as a critical driver of oppression. About 29% of the transgender persons in the US live in poverty, implying that they are likely to lack access to quality health services (6:10). Consequently, 48% skip medical care when in need because of the cost, and 50% avoid preventive care because they cannot afford the charges (7:23). Such statistics imply that a considerable percentage of the American population is suffering poverty-induced oppression because they cannot afford quality health care services.

In such white-dominant countries as America, the non-whites cannot access better employment opportunities. Extreme and relative poverty are dominant among racial and gender minorities because of corrupt social systems. Such an aspect forces them to live in unhealthy informal settlements with inefficient social infrastructure, where dwellers cannot access clean drinking water, reliable sanitation, or a health-sustaining environment. This scenario creates an interplay of different elements of social inequality, especially racism and sexism. Many non-white American residents are low-income earners who live in dirty urban sprawls where they cannot access efficient and quality health services. Non-white transgender persons face the adverse element of this condition because of the additional layer of segregation that positions them at the base of the pyramid in the health system. Their unemployment rate is four times that of the general public (6:13). Therefore, poverty is a vital loophole for oppressors to subject minorities to health-based oppression, as evident with women globally.

Gender-based oppression in all life aspects, especially the access to economic opportunities, positions women, primarily those that are transgender, in the form of heath-based oppression. As the lecture highlights, women are at the bottom of the economic pyramid in all societies globally. Although gender equality activism and the adoption of related international and national policies have enhanced women’s empowerment and scaled the gap, women remain disproportionately poor, implying their inability to access quality healthcare services. Transgender women face the highest level of this form of oppression because their gender, economic class, and sexual orientation affect their ability to access quality healthcare. They face high rates of murder, homelessness, and incarceration because of the lack of legal protection in such critical aspects as access to housing and healthcare. Consequently, they have a very low life expectancy of 30 to 35 years (3:38). Therefore, being a woman heightens other discrimination-sustaining factors, resulting in a form of oppression.

Lastly, a health care system that defines wellbeing as physical also accrues to the oppression of individuals suffering invisible disabilities like mental health issues. Individuals want to present themselves to healthcare practitioners who understand and can resolve their needs. However, the global health system is more focused on the visible indicators of lack of wellness, implying that some individuals face a form of oppression because the physicians are ignorant of their situations. Racial minorities and transgender persons are highly susceptible to invisible disabilities because of social discrimination, stigmatization, and inadequate economic opportunities, to mention a few. Besides facing practitioners who are inconsiderate of their mental wellbeing, they also suffer victimization in health facilities because of their sexual orientation. Consequently, many of them choose to avoid healthcare units and suffer from their conditions rather than expose them to judgemental physicians. In the US, 28% of the transgender population avoids medical care because of stigmatization and harassment (7:23). Therefore, the healthcare units play a role in the contemporary oppressive healthcare sector by failing to address patients’ concerns objectively.

In a nutshell, access to health care can be a form of oppression when an individual or a group intentionally spreads illness to another or where poverty, gender and racial stereotypes, and unprofessional health practitioners support an unfair health system. Although colonizers historically spread epidemics to exercise political power, the contemporary polarized societies that discriminate against individuals according to their social class, gender, and race uphold access to health care as oppression. With established systems that hinder racial and ethnic minorities, especially women and transgender persons, from upscaling the economic ladder, many people are under oppression because they cannot afford quality health care. Besides, the healthcare providers have displayed incompetence in handling invisible disabilities and biases in responding to the needs of transgender and racial minorities, oppressing them because they cannot access quality and timely healthcare services. Therefore, societies will continue upholding access to healthcare as an oppression unless stakeholders conduct transformative initiatives.

“Trans Narratives and Experiences.” Trans Equity.  YouTube , 22 July 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ2YDvfKoYI.

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Race, Class, and Gender in the United States

Race, Class, and Gender in the United States by Paula Rothenberg; Christina Hsu Accomando - Twelfth Edition, 2024 from Macmillan Student Store

Psychology in Everyday Life

An intersectional study twelfth edition | ©2024 paula rothenberg; christina hsu accomando.

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Race, Class, and Gender helps students understand the impacts of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, immigration status in the United States, prompting them to think critically about the interlocking systems of power and oppression that underlie these important topics, and to examine strategies for confronting and challenging injustice. The 116 writings in this range from historical documents to groundbreaking scholarship to writing by today’s leading activists and thinkers. This edition includes 30 new selections on such topics as the disparate impact of COVID-19, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, legislative attempts to ban books and prevent the teaching of critical race theory, the politicization of transgender rights, and many others.  

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Table of Contents

essay on race class gender

Paula S. Rothenberg

Paula S. Rothenberg was a Senior Fellow at The Murphy Institute, City University of New York and Professor at William Patterson University of New Jersey. From 1989 to 2006 she served as Director of The New Jersey Project on Inclusive Scholarship, Curriculum, and Teaching. She was the author of several books including the autobiographical Invisible Privilege: A Memoir about Race, Class, and Gender . With Worth Publishers she has authored four titles--the best-selling Race, Class, and Gender ; White Privilege ; Beyond Borders ; and Whats the Problem? Her articles and essays appear in journals and anthologies across the disciplines and have been widely reprinted. Her work was instrumental in the creation of women’s studies and multicultural studies as academic disciplines.

essay on race class gender

Christina Hsu Accomando

Christina Hsu Accomando is a professor of English and Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She teaches multiethnic U.S. literature, ethnic studies, women’s studies, and multicultural queer studies. Drawing upon critical race studies and women of color feminism, her scholarship focuses on the law and literature of U.S. slavery and resistance, particularly the work of Harriet Jacobs and Sojourner Truth, as well as contemporary issues of race, gender, and U.S. law. She is the author of “The Regulations of Robbers”: Legal Fictions of Slavery and Resistance , and her essays have appeared in Still Seeking an Attitude: Critical Reflections on the Work of June Jordan and the Norton Critical Edition of Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl . She blogs with Kristin J. Anderson for Psychology Today , and her work has also been published in MELUS , African American Review , Feminism & Psychology , and The Antioch Review . In addition, Accomando co-edited and wrote the introduction for the expanded second edition of Tim’m West’s RED DIRT REVIVAL: a poetic memoir in 6 breaths .

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