As I discussed in my earlier post, gender discrimination is a pretty prevalent phenomenon. However, besides discriminating by not supplying everyone with facilities they feel comfortable using, I’ve noticed gender discrimination in other areas too.

While filling out Brandeis’ Justice Brandeis Semester Evaluation form I noticed that in the information section, the drop-down bar for Gender only has 2 options- guess what they are.

A bit hesitantly, I e-mailed the JBS Program Manager, telling her that I did not feel that these options accommodated all students. She e-mailed me back right away saying that she felt the same way, and that she and her colleagues would work on this issue in the future. I thank her for her responsiveness and willingness to embrace this change.

Although I do not think that JBS was intentionally discriminating against certain students, the effects were the same as if they had been- people feeling excluded.

The same lack of sensitivity is true of Facebook.

I recently received an e-mail from All Out (see earlier post about another of their campaigns) informing me that Google+ offers three options under Gender- Male, Female and Other, whereas Facebook only has 2 options. All Out is encouraging people to leave Facebook if its owners do not incorporate a third option into their design.

Here too, the question of intention arises: why would Facebook NOT increase its customerbase, by appealing to as many people as possible, by allowing as many options as users want? Is it just a matter of ignorance? However, for whatever reasons, Facebook has not changed the ways it lets users identify, despite over 10,000 people signing AllOut’s petition.

Something as simple as including an “Other” option on a list of genders can make a difference to someone who is routinely excluded, perhaps intentionally and perhaps not, from everyday situations. While there is a lot of discrimination in the world, gender discrimination and separation may be the most widely-accepted and prevalent in our society.

Ways you can affect a change: Sign All Out’s petition, and try to gauge to what extent you support and enforce the gender binary in your personal life.

6 comments on “Gender Discrimination at Brandeis? And Facebook?”

  1. Nipun Says:

    There ARE ONLY TWO genders.

  2. Dan T. Says:

    Here’s a screen cap from Brandeis’s World of Work application. I was really happy when I saw this!

    http://i.imgur.com/YKLvK.jpg

  3. elly Says:

    Well .25 to 1% of the American population tends to disagree, Nipun. How can you tell someone you know hir gender better than zhe does? http://www.hrc.org/issues/9598.htm

    Wow, that’s awesome Dan, thanks for sharing!

  4. Nipun Says:

    It’s simple. I would do it the same way doctors in a delivery room do it. Look between the legs and decide.

    Also you’re kidding?! 0.25% to 1%. That explains why even your Messiah (Pres. Obama) hasn’t officially come out in full support of this community. You can’t change everything for a group that amounts to one quarter of one percent of the entire US population.

    More than 1% of the US wants freedom to bear arms.
    More than 1% of the US wants marriage to be between a man and a woman.
    More than 1% of the US wants the abolishment of welfare programs.

    That being said I believe private industry should respond to the demands of the people and if enough people actually boycott fb I would not blame them if they changed it… that being said I hope they listen to the majority and not a really loud and obnoxious minority.

  5. Alex N. Says:

    I don’t know if adding an “other” option for gender counts as “changing everything.” Also it’s important to make a distinction between sex and gender. Also also it’s important to make a distinction between rights for minorities and democratic decisions made by minorities. A liberal democracy is about giving decision making power to the majority in a framework that protects the rights of all. Also also also if you have to specify what you mean when you say “your Messiah,” then you probably aren’t talking about the person’s actual Messiah. Also^4 some would consider you to be a loud and obnoxious minority on the Brandeis campus (because you are a Republican, not because you are brown). Should people at Brandeis listen to you?

  6. Rachel Says:

    Nipun, if you’re going with external genitalia, then you’re looking at sex, not gender. Sex is the physical, gender is everything else. Sit in on Tom King’s Queer Studies course on day 1 or 2, you’ll learn a whole lot about how Elly is using these terms.

    And even if we’re talking about physical sex, there aren’t only two sexes! About 1% of children are born with ambiguous sexual characteristics, and are therefore considered intersex. Intersexed people will generally identify with a gender, but would not fit into your binary definitions.