Saturday, June 17, 2006

The March of Progress!

Ok, we all know I don't buy into the "march of progress" idea. But that doesn't mean I reject the idea that we should be fighting the battle against discrimination. It's still going on, there's still plenty of important areas where people are arbitrarily treated unjustly, and we should certainly continue to fight discrimination. In my mind there are two major areas of discrimination that need to be addressed, that are so pervasive that they affect all areas of a person's life.

The first of these is discrimination because of disability. Our country has come a little ways in the fight against disability discrimination, and the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped us level the playing field somewhat. But it really seems to me that persons with disabilities are deserving of more - providing elevators in metro stops and schools is one thing, but we need to do more to help increase access to jobs, equal pay opportunities, and even a role in the public eye. That's one of the two fights, but let's set it aside, because it's easily the more obvious, and generally people are aware that handicapped persons are discriminated against. Before I go on though, let me just say: we need to do more about disability discrimination.

Ok, with that said, I want to talk about what I see as the most pressing front, (but maybe the least obvious) in the battle against discrimination: appearance-based discrimination.

Yeah, I'm saying it. Ugly people are discriminated against. Fat people are discriminated against. Short people are discriminated against. And that's wrong.

It might sound a little silly, but really, it's true, and statistics bear it out. Short/fat/ugly people make less on the dollar than others, are less likely to get a job or promotion, are less likely to get dates, to get elected, win movie roles, etc. (See for example this site dealing with height discrimination or this one on weight discrimination). And the stats are really shocking - basically some of these classes of people are entirely shut out of positions of power (yeah, ok, there's fat CEO's, but not so many short ones...). Anyways, there's been plenty written about all of these various discriminations, but it seems to me they can all be grouped under "appearance discrimination."

So, I'm just throwing this out there to get people talking about it. I don't have any big solutions or proposals, but I think we need to start mulling it over. We've got a problem because this discrimination is real but basically ignored.

It's really easy to joke about this sort of thing, and I have in the past. I should also say that I don't think appearance discrimination is nearly so pervasive or harmful as race and gender discrimination were. But I do think there's something there, a real problem that should be addressed. We have a lot of people in our world who suffer because of their appearance, and there's usually nothing they can do about it. That's just wrong. We need to eliminate that unjust discrimination. Especially because this discrimination affects life's most major events. Unattractive people simply do not have the same opportunities in life - in work, in school, in relationships - that other people get. And that's a problem.

Short people are just the same as you and I


joel. said...

Your argument would carry more weight if you were taller.

(Painfully obvious joke, I know)

the marvelous patric said...

see, so i should be automatically right because i'm darn good lookin', right?

or, do i get discriminated against because of that?

and what about discriminations agains geeks?

i would organize a million geek march, but, who are we kidding? like i could get a million geeks outside in the sunlight.