In Scheme of Things

The recent Hollywood scandals, launched by Harvey Weinstein, has reignited the politics of gender.

When having an academic or intellectual conversation, people tend to regard gender as this important social divide, but I’m thinking that gender is the least important category.

Class matters most. One’s economic class determines one’s life, to a great extent. Upward mobility is becoming rarer. If you think gender matters more than class, just visit the VIP booth of the Kentucky Derby, or any fancy restaurant or hotel in Manhattan. The rich – men and women together – are bound into what C. Wright Mills called the “power elite.”

Next, race matters. The color of one’s skin matters a lot in the United States. Closely related to race is legal status, whether someone is a citizen, resident or undocumented “illegal.”

Last, and finally, there is gender. Even though this is the least relevant of all categories, there are tons of feminist study departments and women’s studies department in universities from Main to California. But there are no departments of the “working poor.”

So the actual hierarchy of importance – class, race, and gender – is inverted in social discourse. Gender and race get people’s attention and dominate the media.

Oh well…

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