Selection of blogs by the S6L2’s. Theme ‘dealing with prejudice’.
Hello dear reader, On this weeks blog post of MPPL, I want to address gender stereotypes. Specifically those that women have to endure. (That doesn’t mean men don’t !) Women still have to put up with prejudice when it comes to their abilities. This is due to historical beliefs and the function a woman had in the household. Who is pregnant for 9 months? Who has to give birth? Who has to breastfeed? It is the woman! Thus the job as the nurturer and caregiver of the child, from the moment the child is born to the moment the child can take care of itself, has always been largely left to the mother. I am not saying that fathers don’t love their children or that they are incapable of taking care of them, it just never really was seen as their job. if you go back as far as the stone ages the man was the hunter and put the food on the table. This surely is one of the reasons for why men were seen as superior throughout history.
Even some of the great philosophers that we so often refer to believed this. Aristotle for example thought that a woman was an incomplete man. For being such a great thinker, the opinions he had on women were very questionable! After being oppressed for so long women finally spoke up. They stared coming together and protesting for the equality of male and female.
In 1893, New Zealand was the first country ever to give women the vote. Which is very recent, considering the amount of time humanity has existed. Eventually other countries followed but not without women having to put up a good fight. Today, the only place women are not allowed to vote is in the Vatican City. Well, even if the political system changed that doesn’t mean the beliefs have.
I have heard about and witnessed many cases where inequality of the two genders are still quite evident. For example women in Stem. These fields were largely dominated by men and in some cases still are. I have read about situations where there are only 4 or 5 females in classes of up to 100 students. As you can see females are the minority and with guarantee at least one of the men there will make a stupid remark. In extreme cases professors even might be the ones taking up that role. In addition many young women are discouraged to pursue these kinds of jobs because they pay less if you are female. I think this is utterly unfair! Women have the same ability to excel in any job, so why do they get paid less?
The Noble Savage
“Two hopeful hearts, two lands apart. Together there’s no end to what our dream can start.” What a lovely quote, don’t you think? Does it sound familiar to you? Even if it doesn’t, you might know the film it’s from: Pocahontas. Pocahontas is а beautiful rendition of a real-life story; a tale about New-found friendships, adventure, warrior spirit and star-crossed lovers. Right? Wrong! Pocahontas is based on a true story – but was watered down and turned into something fluffy and “empowering”.
Pocahontas actual life was grim and brutal. Here are the main facts: She was the daughter of Tidewater Virginia’s chief Powhantan. She married a tribal member in her early teens, but was then lured aboard a British ship and held captive for over a year. During her captivity, she was encouraged to convert to Christianity and was baptised under the name Rebecca. She was then married off to an English man old enough to be her father and was trotted around as a “noble savage” before she got sick and died at the age of 21. Obviously none of this is reflected in the film, where Pocahontas disobeys her father and meets with Captain John Smith. Not to mention that the real Pocahontas was about 13 years old at the time the film is set. We all know Disney princess film are fairytales with clear divides between heroes and villains. Animal companions and singing and magic. And that’s great if you’re telling a fictional story about an evil witch and her stepdaughter. But the Powhatan were real people. They didn’t practice nature magic. They didn’t talk to animals. They didn’t talk to trees. All the more supernatural elements are fictional. Not even in the sense that they’re taken from contemporary myths about the real person, or that they’re inspired by actual Powhatan beliefs. But in the sense that they were completely made up for the film. The cutting up of real history to suit narrative is just disrespectful.
And, you may ask yourself, why was the story changed? Because the filmmakers deemed the true tale too violent and complicated. This might also raise another question: Why did they make a children’s film about Pocahontas, about the complex relationship between colonisers and natives, when they knew they would not be able to tell the whole story? Here I must to warn you, as the answer will probably not satisfy you: According to Disney animation president Peter Schneider “The aim of Pocahontas is to “celebrate” Native American society. We wanted to offer an ennobling and empowering view of Native Americans that hadn’t been provided in cinema before,”. There’s your answer. The film simplistically explores racism; it talks about the animosity that existed between the Powhatan and the English. But that doesn’t really work if you cut out all the historical context, and replace it with everyone holding hands and singing. Pocahontas is a children’s film, which means that all these stereotypes and erroneous historical facts are consumed by children.
Some people may not realise how prejudices in the media affect children, but don’t worry, there are enough studies on this. The Common Sense Media report, “Watching Gender: How Stereotypes in Movies and on TV Impact Kids’ Development” shows that a lifetime of viewing stereotypical media becomes so ingrained it can ultimately affect childrens’ career choices, self-worth, relationships, and ability to achieve their full potential. Pocahontas is by far not the only Disney “Princess” affected by racial stereotypes: Mulan, an Asian princess, is a warrior; Moana is known for her rebellion; Jasmine wears pants (which is not a racial stereotype, but does make different from the white princesses) and Tiana is clearly characterised as the “Black servant”. Oh, and she is also a frog for three-quarters of the film.
Doctors and unequal/unnecessary treatment
Since I was 13 or 14 it was my dream to one day work as a doctor in the United Kingdom. I was always interested in reading medical books, listening to podcasts about medicine and watching YouTubers who are doctors or studying medicine. Since my graduation is creeping closer and closer, I wanted to make sure that the occupation that I want to spend 80 000 hours of my life doing is the right one for me.
Through research and documentaries, I found out that one of the most pressing problems of being a doctor is, firstly, that they are bound to follow an awful lot of rules and regulations. This stops them from giving the patient what they need, just because the law says that they must have given their consent to do anything, resulting in doctors constantly being afraid of being sued. Secondly, the maintaining of records. Doctors spend long hours and most of those hours aren’t filled with treating patients but with maintaining records so that the hospital can make money off them. Doctors weren’t trained to maintain medical records; they were trained to heal patients or reduce their suffering. The prejudice towards doctors is that they get paid large sums, but sadly that isn’t the case anymore. It’s a misconception that doctors are highly paid. this is only true for those in top positions and that’s the minority.
Doctors often are under pressure to operate on patients, even when unnecessary. The conservative method doesn’t generate any profit for the hospital. It makes more money from operations than from anything else. Burnouts are therefore very common among doctors, due to inordinate bureaucracy and long working hours in the operating room, doing what isn’t in the patient’s interest. This creates a moral and ethical conflict resulting in stress.
Furthermore, the chance that doctors will get replaced in future is very high. Already nowadays we can see what robots can do. Being a doctor is becoming an unappealing profession with too many drawbacks.
Qatar 2022 World Cup; will it be morally acceptable to celebrate the winner considering the cost of it Dear classmates and dear reader, as many of you know, the World Cup is starting soon. It’s an unusual period of the year, considering that it normally took place in summer. This is so, because this year’s World Cup is taking place in Qatar. Qatar is an Arabic country on a peninsula, whose landscape consists of deserts and a long stretch of coastline on the Persian Gulf with beaches and dunes. Temperatures in Qatar in summer can rise up to an average of 41°C, in winter they cool down to a moderate average temperature of 25°C. So why does the World Cup take place in such a hot country, especially in Winter? This is the problem I would like to discuss here.
A lot of concerns and controversies came up, regarding FIFA’s decision of this year’s World Cup host country, especially regarding both Qatar’s suitability as a host country and the fairness of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) bidding process. One of the most discussed issues of the Qatar World Cup was the treatment of workers hired to build the infrastructure. Thousands of foreign workers died (approximately 6500) under terrible and inhuman circumstances. They were practically used as slaves, being paid the minimum possible and working under catastrophic conditions. There will be 64 matches played in total. If you divide the deaths by the games that will be played, you’ll end up with ca. 101 deaths per game. The winner of the World Cup will have to play 7 games to win, meaning that they will account for 710 people that died during the preparation of this World Cup.
Is this worth it or is it peak capitalism? In my opinion it’s cruel what happened in Qatar for the pure purpose of profit and publicity. Human rights were harmed. I thought we were living in 2022 where slavery was taught in history and not spoken about in the news. But I guess this is what people do, for the sole reason of money and wealth.
A brief sum-up on prejudice in case you weren’t completely aware of its existence
Prejudice. What does it mean? It is an ‘’unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, especially when formed without enough thought or knowledge“. It can be based on anything: your looks, your gender, your skin color, your sexuality, your nationality. In short: everything that sets you apart from the person seeing you. People without knowing you will think about you (without sounding creepy, you see what I mean) in a certain way because of the way you look for example.
Prejudice was and is a real issue today that we have to overcome. It is of the most utter importance to know that each of us has prejudice, influenced by the environment in which we live. Becoming aware of it makes us capable of not acting on it. When we act on prejudice we begin to discriminate against people. As an example, you can take any white police officer who shot black people just because they were black. What was that policeman thinking? Well, he must certainly have overheard somewhere that all black people are dangerous. So when he arrests a black person who is begging to let go of him because he cannot breathe, the right thing to do is to just hold the person down until he is dead. After all, it was a black person, right?
What stupidity. What horrible, cruel, stupidity. Because that is what it is: stupid. It is the result of an uneducated person. Like Charlotte Bronte wrote in Jane Eyre: “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
Prejudice is a negative attitude, not based on any facts, and is a result of society. It is a flaw that should be overcome before it leads to discrimination.
I hope you understand now what prejudice is and that you will reflect on the prejudices that you have.
Miss Maclyn’ Blog by Kate M.
Are Classics better than Fantasy?
There is a major discussion between readers about whether classics are ‘better’ than fantasy books. I have been told so often that “Fantasy books aren’t proper books” because “you can’t learn from them”. In my opinion, that is simply not true. To those of you who are avid readers: what do you think about this?
I don’t think either one is superior to the other. Yes, classics are…well, classic, but that doesn’t mean that Fantasy is less apt. For the most part, neither is nonfiction, which means that neither is a real life event. Therefore, the argument stating that fantasy isn’t adequate should either be applied to classics as well, or not at all.
Both cover important topics, such as: race, gender-stereotypes, class struggle, depression, prejudice and so many more. I wanted to talk about two topics in particular: Class struggle and prejudice, though I will be focusing mainly on the second.
I briefly wanted to highlight two different books/book series that deal with the strain and injustice between upper- and lower-classes. An example of a classic would be ‘Great Expectations’. The main character ‘Pip’ grows up in lower society until he meets an escaped convict, changing the course of his life. It truly shows the struggles of poverty and the hope and fear when climbing up the ladder. ‘The Hunger Games’, is a sci-fi, dystopian fantasy series, wherein class struggle is a massive factor in the sequence of events in the story. The Capital – which is the beautiful city filled with pompous rich people – is isolated from the twelve districts of Panem – the poor, overcrowded, hunger-infested villages where the low classes live and are being oppressed. I don’t think I need to say more than that…except that this system led to a revolution and the overthrow of the capital, specifically it’s president.
Now let us talk about prejudice in a few books. I’m sure all of you would be able to give many more books with this topic, however, here are mine: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the books series ‘Red Queen’.
Let’s start with fantasy this time. The society in this series is divided by blood: red and silver. The silver-bloods are the ones ruling everything across all kingdoms, as they have abilities thanks to their blood. The red bloods are like us today. Normal blood, no magic. These – though they are the majority – have been oppressed and dehumanised; they are practically slaves being sent off to a pointless war – if they don’t have work – so that they die there. This alone is already prejudiced. The silvers have a preconceived opinion about the reds that has no reason or truth to it and they use the colour of blood to control and kill innocent people. However, it gets worse. There are rare exceptions: red bloods with silver abilities. These are a threat to the silvers reign of terror, as they are stronger. Therefore, they are eradicated before anyone ever finds out about them. Silvers know nothing about them and yet they have formed an opinion that leads to many unnecessary deaths.
Now let’s talk about ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. There is massive prejudice and racism in this book, as it was during the ‘Great Depression’. So of course, the obvious prejudice is towards black people. However, prejudice develops towards Atticus – a father and lawyer – when he decides to defend a falsely accused black man. The people of the town no longer see Atticus the good lawyer, or Atticus a loving father and so on…They only see someone who is doing something unacceptable by helping someone black. Because of this prejudiced reaction from the townspeople, even the children are affected by it. And not just that, but even their own family reacts horribly. This just goes to show the terrible effects prejudice can have on people’s lives.
As you can see, both fantasy and classics are (mostly) fiction. Okay, yes…fantasy has much more unrealistic material, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it as well has from classics. A lot of topics and events that we find in books are somehow based off of real-life events and, as you can see, can teach us a lot if you’re paying attention. I think that no matter what you read, you can find a lesson inside it – even if it’s hidden. Neither genre is better or worse. You just need to find the right book. Don’t be prejudiced towards one type of book.
We’ve all heard someone say ‘ew that’s gay’ in a supposedly hurtful way towards someone. But why do we even think that being gay is something bad? The etymology of the word gay is ‘happy/free’, so why do we assume it with something/ someone we dislike?
A reason for most, if not all injustices, is our view as a society on the LGBTQ+ community. A lot of people especially conservatives who aren’t open to a new way of thinking see them as ‘different’ and ‘weird’. This belief became more and more widespread as a lot of governments allowed same sex marriages, meaning that more people came out of the closet. If you are gay you often still get death threats, slurs thrown at you in public places, even though you have done nothing. This is a serious issue for the well-being of our society. Even though laws against racism, homphobia, sexism, etc have been established the prejudices still go on.
For example, we see Europe returning to our conservative ways in multiple places, just like in recently Italy. We tend to not want to comprehend the new. We tend to like staying in our same day to day, but some people even go out of their way to ruin a queer’s.
But we have to. We have to accept. We have to comprehend. We have to stop being anti-gay. We have to coexist in harmony.
Performative activism We are not a trend! Is what was written on signs seen at Black Lives Matter protests. We are not a trend! Was something often written on social media amidst the Black Lives Matter protests. Why did people even feel the need to express that? Well bizarrely Anti-Racism had turned into a trend, a fashion accessory that all your woke friends would compliment you on. Racism is deeply internalized in all of us, but you tweeted BLM followed up with fists in all skin tones so now you are not racist anymore, now you are an ally. How Great!! You went to a BLM protest, but only to turn it into an Instagram photoshoot. Wow, what an ally you are!! You posted a TikTok where you film the process of doing your makeup, but plotwist it is not an eyeliner tutorial, you are writing ‘I can’t breathe’ in big letters onto your visage. I as a black person feel so understood; thank you!! If it was not yet evident, I do not mean any of what I just said. Well, anything but the fact that racism is deeply internalized in us. That is true and all you can do to fight it is actively working against it. Posting a black square and ten hashtags is not working against it.
Dare I say it changes nothing? All this does is create a trend, a trend that people participate in only to not get called out for being unsupportive of the movement. And that is not allyship; that is performative activism. Why is that harmful? Why is informing on a topic harmful? Performative activism is not informing it is more a medium of self-promotion. You do not want to make black people’s voices heard you just want to hear your own voice and the applause that comes after. Is a tweet saying ‘BLM✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼’ truly informative? Are the pictures of you and your sign at a protest truly informative? Is your makeup truly informative? The answer is simply no! What really helps then? In 2020 a trend was started. It makes me mad that this how I have to call it, but I digress. What would have helped so much more was emphasizing that it was actually not a trend, emphasizing that we must take true action and not forget about it only months after. What would have helped so much more was posting petitions for people to sign in order to make actual political changes. What would have helped so much more was listening to black people’s voices, the ones centrally affected by the movement, giving them a platform and instead of taking up space giving that space to exactly those people.
BLM is not a trend. The organization Black Lives Matter was founded years before George Floyd was murdered because all these issues existed before. They still exist now but the trend is long gone. Books are a great source of education and what you could have done was read some of those. There are many black artists and authors who express these issues in their works and if people would have concentrated on a real-life effort to fight their internalised racism instead of being focused on the way they looked online maybe we could have seen some actual change.