11 October 2016

The Timeline: Is discrimination really a new age disease?

Hey everyone! Today's post is a guest post by Elise and it's all about discrimination. As soon as she suggested this post idea, me and Lucy were sold! Although we try to keep the blog quite positive, it's so important to bring awareness of more serious topics such as this! I hope you enjoy the post and remember to check out Elise on Twitter by clicking here.

The Timeline: Is Discrimination Really A New Age Disease?

Our opinions of people are based on the concepts of similarity and distinction, the familiar and the foreign, and various other dualisms. But while personal likes and dislikes are only natural, discrimination isn’t – and yet it’s there, however progressive and open-minded we’d like to think our society is. Although discrimination is a 21st-century label we’re quick to slap to unfair or abusive treatment of minorities, it’s been around ever since the early hominoid picked up the mace and went about bashing creatures he was afraid of. As hot a buzzword it may be these days, discrimination has centuries’ long tendrils: the history of mankind is rife with instances of persecution based on sex, race, class, religious affiliation, and a host of other excuses we now label as discriminatory grounds. But while olden examples of discrimination are as obvious and as poignant as can be, their modern counterparts often take slightly more subtle forms, which begs the vital question: is contemporary society really all that liberal or is egalitarianism just another label we like to tote around in a world still based on prejudice?

A History Built on Power and Pain

Early civilizations were well-acquainted with discrimination: in ancient Rome, slaves and women were denied freedoms now considered fundamental human rights. (Did somebody mention Christians? Oh, yes, they too were persecuted back in the day.) Over in India, the caste system was pretty much based on discrimination, its stratums clear-cut and unbending, with Brahmins at the top of the food chain and untouchables on the margins of the society. Sex and race-based bias is set in the bones of our society: Salem witches and slaves from former colonies could attest to that had they survived the persecution. Discrimination had a hand in many a war, along with imperialism: remember World War 2 and the idea of the Aryan race as superior to all others? Sexual orientation, too, was a deal-breaker for the LGBT community for centuries, and though the Stonewall riots did make a big bang that still echoes, the mood towards lesbians, gays, and transgender individuals in many societies hasn’t substantially changed to date.

The list goes on: the longer you look at history textbooks, the greater the number of blatant cases of prejudice seems to poke you in the eye. But has the society really evolved by now, or are the loud endorsements of egalitarianism just palaver?

Looking Beyond the Skin Level

African Americans and same-sex couples can’t complain about discrimination any longer today – at least, not more than the elderly, tattooed people, and persons on whom Mother Nature didn’t bestow the gift of supreme beauty. Discrimination may be deemed a huge No-no today, but not only does it still linger around – it’s evolving into a multi-faceted mutant, a Hydra of a kind, and the harder we try to cut it, the stronger it seems to grow. These days, prejudice has a sophisticated guise to hide its painful sting – and here are just a few recent additions to the discriminatory wagon that show, time and time again, that bias is an ineradicable part of human nature.


Ladies may no longer be looked down on in the office – for as long as they’re beautiful, that is. The popularity of plastic surgery procedures such as rhinoplasty, tummy tucks, facelifts, and breast implants speaks volumes of the value of beauty in the modern world. Lookism is a tacit norm across industries, and law suits for employment policies based on discrimination are multiplying at the speed of light. Ironically enough, the sword of lookism cuts both ways: applicants can even be denied employment if deemed ‘too pretty. So, do you really need the job and are you aesthetically qualified for it?

You’ve probably heard a bunch of blonde jokes, but have you ever felt the pointy end of such light-hearted gags on your own skin? Hairism stands for bias based on hair color, and if you’ve seen Legally Blonde, you probably have a pretty good idea about the type of prejudice hiding behind this catchphrase. Sadly, blondes can do little about the sharp blade of bias now that the hair ball is rolling – except, perhaps, quote a study or dye their hair black, green, or violet (those tints haven’t come under mocking scrutiny – yet).

Have you been told you’re too old for a job? If you have, you’re not alone – and if you haven’t, you just might in a few years’ time. Ageism is all too real an employment roadblock for ladies and gents past their prime, and it’s another face of the discrimination Hydra. However qualified for a job you may be, there’s no turning back the clock: you can but file the application and hope it doesn’t get an Access Denied Over Old Age stamp before you get to the interview table.

You’d think a bit of ink could never harm anyone – but then again, neither could race or sexual orientation. Celebrities are doing a favor to the rest of us inked muggles by flashing their marks on the red carpet, but many employers still raise eyebrows in scorn on tattooed employees and job hopefuls. Tattoos are still a taboo in the business world, and a touch of skin ink can cost you a go at the promotion or raise – even if your employer isn’t a bigot, the clients may well be.
Discrimination may not be new, but it certainly is an indicator that our society is held hostage by xenophobia; as such, it is a silent disease of modern age that screams silently at every step. The next time you laugh at a blonde joke over a pint of beer or cold-shoulder a homeless person just because they don’t smell like a bed of roses, check the mirror, and don’t be surprised if you see the reflection jeering back, looking you straight in the eye. This time around, the joke’s on all of us, and our egalitarian airs reek like a decomposing corpse.

What are your thoughts on discrimination?