In the early 20th century, women never had votes. Thus, they never had a political voice. In the same century, police raids in the US targeted gays. Law was clear that gays were not to engage even in uncomplicated activities such as group gatherings. Similar to women, they could not freely express themselves. Such class discriminations give rise to GBLT and women rights movements. This paper focuses on comparing the similarities and differences between women and GBLT movements on accounts of perceptions of the incapacity to execute certain societal roles, discrimination, and conservatism. The paper will also discuss the roles that the US’ social institutions play in enforcing constructed modes of class discrimination.
Comparison of evolution of women rights for equality to evolution of GBLT in US
In the early 20th century, women’s roles in the US were limited on the grounds of lesser capacity to execute certain social roles in comparison to their male counterparts (Rothenberg 34). For instance, women were perceived as being incapable of making familial and other decisions that influenced their own lives such as raising legal proceedings in courts for seeking divorce from abusive marriages. Their duties were also restricted in homes. Thus, they could not be involved paid labour. Therefore, women movements rose to fight for economic discrimination of women (Kozol 618). Accessibility to equal education opportunities for both girl and boy child was also highly impaired.
The conceptualisation of the dominance of males in the society, which prejudiced and discriminated women, gives rise to movements for fighting equal rights of women with men including suffrage rights in the early 1930’s. Perceptions of the incapacity and inferiority of women in the societies were often explored through traditional conservatism on the male dominance in societal roles. Therefore, women movements came up to break this ailing force of conservatism so that they could have an equal say and participation in economic activities with men. Similarly, perceptions of the incapacity of the same sex marriages to foster achievements of certain socially determined roles of families give rise to the emergence of the same sex marriages movements. The struggle continues to aim at gaining equal rights with religiously, politically, and socially protected marriage institutions (heterosexual marriages).
Indeed, there is an argument among the US people on whether gay and lesbian marriages are consistent with the purposes for which marriages are meant to achieve (Lorber 55). For instance, opponents who are also conservatisms and champions of discrimination of the same sex marriage argue that children perform and develop best when a mother (female) or a father (male) raises them. Therefore, same sex marriages are contrary to the achievements of utmost good interests of children. In opposition to this line of augment, same sex and GBLT movements arose to criticise such an extremist and conservatism perception simply aimed at eroding rights of GBLT’s.
Supporters of GBLT argue and defend their positions that no evidence shows that children raised in heterosexual marriages are developed psychologically better in relation to those raised in the gay or lesbian marriages. Wahls Zach develops this argument further through the movie Two Lesbians Had a Baby by giving the message that indeed same sex marriages have equal abilities and capacities to raise children compared heterosexual marriages. Therefore, discrimination of the same sex marriages on the accounts of the capacity to bring up children needs not to be the point of denying people engaging in same sex marriages equal rights with those engaging in heterosexual marriages.
Although same sex marriage movements and women right movements have similar reasons for their emergence, they are also different in some aspects. Women rights movements evolved in the US historic period when there was little flexibility in terms of the willingness to constitute legal frameworks seeking to protect universal human rights (Rothenberg 51). The struggle for women rights was often characterised by violence that was acerbated towards fighters for woman rights. In fact, topics on suffrage rights were risky to address in public forums in 1920s. On the other hand, the movements for same sex marriages and GBLTs have dominated the US in a period when there is political and social willingness to embrace and protect universal human rights through the enactment of changes in the constitution through various acts adopted both in the individual states and at national levels.
Another difference between the two movements is that, while the concerns of women movements were widespread across America, GBLT concerns have a different emphasis on different states. Katz contends with this line of argument when he asserts, “most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices…we have allowed our governors to divide the population in to two teams, one team is good, godly, and straight, the other is evil, sick, and viscous” (76). Amid this difference, it is arguable that the classification of Americans as straight and not straight creates avenues for discrimination and furthering of conservatism viewpoints that the society was created to follow certain acceptable norms. Therefore, any attempt to fight for recognition of what is termed as ‘not acceptable’ in the traditional social norms needs to be ignored. A similar position was held in 1920’s. However, as the society becomes more aware of the capability of women, legal provisions against discrimination of women are provided in the US constitution through the 19th amendment of the US constitution, which illegalises the denial of voting rights to women.
Roles played by the US societal institutions in enforcing constructed modes of class discrimination
Members of the society engage in interaction patterns, which are relatively stable in the effort to meet various needs that are necessary for survival of the society. Such patterns constitute social institutions. American social institutions comprise patterns of relations that are organised around family religion and political inclinations (Rothenberg 89). In such organisations, there exist regulations, which guide issues such as marriages and sexual mates who are acceptable among other things within the established societal domains. Often, a society is valid in the context of social classes and other demographic factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and sex among others.
In the US, social institutions play the role of enforcing rules for belonging in a given societal class. This role entails enabling people to come up with ample understanding of what one needs to do to become an active member of a given society. For this case to happen, people are taken through processes in various institutions in which they learn various social norms. Such institutions include families, media, education, and even religions. For the survival of societies, an order is required. For this reason, political and religious institutions exist. The reluctance of these institutions to change the norms defining how a society ought to live in accordance to evolutions of cultures and emerging styles of life of people introduces challenges of perceptions of disrespect of the rights of people practicing the newly evolved cultures and styles of life (Mohr 579).
Through the effort of the US societal institutions in enforcing constructed modes of class discrimination, substantive strides have been made in campaigning for the protection of rights of people having different ethnic, religious, class, and sexual orientations. For instance, through homosexual social constructions, results have been realised in “the development of a powerful gay liberation identity politics based on the ethnic group model” (Katz 76). Consequently, many men and women in the US have been freed from generational painful shame induced by different conservative socially induced norms. This situation has led to liberalisation of responses and altitudes of people towards different lifestyles of people to which one may not be inclined.
Although human rights social institutions in the US have the noble role of ensuring that the rights of all classes of people are protected irrespective of their racial class and gender classes among other social classes, significant challenges are still being experienced. For instance, the discrimination of the gay class of people rests on platforms that emphasise sex as the serving the role of procreation (Mohr 578). American social institutions that advocate for equal rights of all people irrespective of their sexual orientations hold that considering the purpose of marriage and sex as being essentially to facilitate procreation is wrong since it emphasises conservative models for class discriminations. Katz agrees with line of argument by further suggesting, “The creation of the new ‘Normal Sexual’ orientations had its counterpart in the invention of the late Victorial Sexual Pervert” (71). This argument means that the sole purpose of marriage has shifted to satisfaction as opposed to continuation of procreation and hence the notion held by American social institutions pushing for both legal acceptance of the same sex marriages.
Subjects of protection of human rights in some topics open various social institutions to points of contest in terms of applicability of the rights in the context of ethical and moral social norms on which the American tradition is built. For institutions to serve all people comprising the American diversity, both political and religious social institutions need to appreciate the fundamentals of protection of human rights as provided for in the American law. Hot topics such as homosexuality need to be taken as a form of culture (Katz 73). Since American social institutions unconditionally subscribe to the idea of the need to protect all cultures of the American people, considering same sex marriages as a form of culture implies that class-discriminated people on the grounds of engagement in traditionally unacceptable sexual inclinations would cease to ail some social institutions in the US. The institutions can serve people of different classes by appreciating that, in case an individual’s lifestyle does not harm another person, the person practicing it needs to have the right to do so without being compelled to subscribe to particular conditions.
Although there is a remarkable similarity in the evolution of women rights, same sex rights, and GBLT rights movements, it is also vital to address the evident differences among the movements. In overall, the paper has argued that the reasons for the emergence of the movements were based on perceptions of incapacity, conservatism, and discrimination of the segregated groups of people to execute certain societal roles. The American social institutions have a noble responsibility to fight for cognition of the rights of these movements.
Katz, Jonathan. The Invention of Heterosexuality. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007. Print.
Kozol, Jonathan. “Still Separate, Still Unequal.” Harpers magazine 1 Sep.2005: 618-32. Print.
Lorber, Judith. Night to His Gay: The Social Construction of Gender. In: paradoxes of gender. New Jersey, NJ: Princeton, 1993. Print.
Mohr, Richard. Anti-Gay Stereotypes. New York, NY: Beacon Press, 2005. Print.
Rothenberg, Paula (Ed.). Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: an Integrated Study. Worth: New York, 2009. Print.
Two Lesbians had Baby. Dir. Wahls Zach. Video Education. 2011. DVD.