The Effect of Prejudice and Oppression on the Rights of Workers
When an individual encounters an obstacle preventing advancement in their professional career, he or she needs to find a way to overcome it. However, often these obstacles are based on others’ social prejudices against him or her; these cannot be overcome by the individual. Ideally, the individuals could manage to advance regardless of their superiors and co-workers opinions of them. However, these opinions limit their improvement and advancement. The only way for the oppressed individual to progress professionally is for his or her actions in the face of this adversity to inspire others to withdraw their prejudices toward the individual. If these prejudices are not withdrawn, they remain as obstacles for the individual and cannot be conquered. This much can be assumed for any individual with a professional obstacle based on social prejudices. On the path toward a successful career, workers of various oppressed societal groups encounter many impediments which cannot be conquered but rather must be eliminated by the individuals creating by them; this allows equal opportunities for individuals with and without these impediments, something that should be a right for all groups of workers. Women face a far greater number of obstacles in the workplace than men. In all levels of business, from lowest-level employees to managerial staff, women struggle for equal pay, rights, and respect. The women who do manage to find recognition for their success are held in high regard by those around them. For example, Mrs. Moeves had never managed a business until she inherited Moeves Plumbing from her husband after his death in 1987. OSHA Director William M. Murphy explained the difficulty of such a task and how he “admired the way she had hung tough in the cutthroat contracting world” (Barstow, 2003). Mrs. Moeves’ actions clearly diminished the stereotypes in the minds of the men observing her. When a woman earns the respect of the men working around her, the obstacles associated with sexism are removed from her path so that she may progress in the workplace and have the same opportunities as men. Earning this respect can be quite difficult, as is the case for the character Josie in North Country. She has a particularly hard time achieving this due to the lack of support from the other women working at the mine. Her struggle eventually leads to a class-action lawsuit, which ends with legislation against sexual harassment in the workplace. These new laws help enforce the equal treatment of women in the workplace. Women couldn’t overcome sexual harassment; they simply needed it removed in order to succeed. The obstacles that women, like other oppressed societal groups, face in the workplace cannot truly be conquered but rather must be withdrawn in order for them to prosper. In some work environments, individuals of racial and ethnic minorities are often challenged by difficulties not encountered by the majority. Minorities are often mistreated by co-workers in many ways, including stereotyping, exclusion, and hate crimes. The blind exclusion often caused by racial stereotyping is illustrated by James Earl Jones’ character “Few Clothes” in the film, Matewan. Upon accepting employment at a coal mine with white miners on strike, he immediately requests to join the new union formed by the miners on strike. He is immediately denied his request based solely on his skin color. It is at this point that the character Joe Kenehan, played by Chris Cooper, defends the acceptance of black men (and all others working in the mine, including the Italian men) into the union by stating, “This is a worker! Any union keeps this man out ain't a union, it's a goddam club! They got you fightin' white against colored, native against foreign, hollow against hollow, when you know there ain't but two sides in this world - them that work and them that don't. You work, they don't. That's all you get to...
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