By Sarah Goulder
Although we have made great strides in creating a more inclusive and progressive world, there is still much work to be done to limit (and hopefully one day eliminate) sexism, homophobia, and overall hate. The ways in which these injustices manifest today is much more subtle than it once was. For instance, the kind of inequality that Simone de Beauvoir references in The Second Sex is much more obvious and severe than what is seen today. However, her ideas on othering and its consequences still apply to sexism and other areas of prejudice. Currently, the things we say, how we act on social media, and what we see on television and film all contribute to the persistence of systemic injustice in the modern world. Specifically, I would like to focus on sexist and homophobic discourse in everyday life and in american media, as both of these areas contribute significantly to the perpetuation of discrimination and bias.
A recent encounter with a terribly unoriginal and sexist joke sparked my interest in writing about this topic. A friend of mine recently said a version of the “make me a sandwich” joke about another woman. My blood started to boil, but I remained silent and let it go because I knew that my friend was not an actual misogynist. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. That type of “joke” is an example of why sexism and gender discrimination still exist. Casual comments rooted in prejudice (whether it’s sexism, racism, or homophobia) are indicative of a much larger issue how we reinforce everyday bias and discrimination. Here is a link to a blog site that does a good job of explaining why this particular joke is problematic. Going beyond sexism, the way we speak (and where we do it) have real world consequences that many people would rather not acknowledge. This article discusses a few recent(-ish) examples of celebrities and comedians, like Stephen Colbert that have engaged in “casual homophobia” by using anti-gay tropes and language. Despite our intentions, casual prejudicial discourse prevents us from moving forward culturally and makes it difficult to create political and legal changes to unfair policies.
By James Schubert
Previously I had written about blood donations and the surveys that are required to be taken before donations can be accepted. In this survey there is a question directly regarding sexual interactions within the past year. One of the questions is specifically geared toward male donors and asks, “Have you had sexual contact with another male in the past 12 months.” I had heard about this from a friend who happens to be a homosexual and he said when answering the question, “yes”, he was immediately notified that he was unable to donate blood for that reason.
I see this as a form of systemic injustice because as a result of the 1980’s HIV/AIDS outbreak in the homosexual community this policy is biased and discriminatory toward the homosexual community. This is reflective of old statistics that to date have become outdated as there are treatments that halt the progression of HIV and there are also medicines that can be taken for pre-exposure such as PrEP. Another reason as to why I find this a systemic injustice toward the homosexual community is that regardless of sexual orientation, when blood is donated, it must be tested for various deficiencies such as iron deficiencies, blood disorders, and blood borne diseases.
I understand this question is a precautionary step to avoid any donations of contaminated blood. However, I find it discouraging to the homosexual male community that even though there are other ways in which it can be determined that blood is contaminated, organizations resort to asking a question geared specifically toward a certain group of people. From the story of my friend, he has told me that there is no exception to answering “yes” to this question. When questions like this are geared toward certain communities, especially when it is the definitive answer as to whether or not that group may participate in something as common as donating blood, it implies a bias against this group. As a homosexual friend, my friend has decided that he will not even consider participating in blood drives, donations, etc. as a result of this discrimination.
Below are is a picture of the questionnaire used for blood donations, you will see two questions (19 and 20) regarding males having sexual contact with other males. The link below is the LGBTQ+ donor policies and when scrolling to the MSM tab, the red cross explains the federal regulations and their understanding the impact that it has had on the LGBTQ+ community.
Donation eligibility requirements for LGBTQ+ community members