[opinion] Is it even possible to avoid discrimination?

Please do not read yet, come back later, work in progress~

Everyone is talking about discrimination nowadays

The [Discrimination] You Can’t Quite Prove

After reading an article [1] about Elen Pao and the sexism in the IT industry, I cannot help be thinking that discrimination is everywhere and about everything. There is no doubt that obvious sexism (i.e., discrimination) should be stopped, but when it comes to subtle sexism as the author words it, things are getting way more questionable. It makes me think of the significantly less advertised discrimination on men's heigth [2]. Quoting Wikipedia refering to a newspaper article [3]:

Surveys have uncovered that less than 3% of CEOs were below 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) in height. Ninety percent of CEOs are of above average height.

Should we find all those discriminations, and fight them one-by-one? It may not even be possible if there is an infinite number of possible discriminations. There is the underlaying feeling that discrimining others is a natural human trait (e.g., your family over your friends, your friends over strangers of your own nationality/language, strangers of your nationality over total strangers not sharing anything in common with you).

Wild Swans

Wild Swans [4] is a famous book about the cultural revolution in China. Its author tells her childhood, the story of her mother, and grand mother. Each of them having lived in a different China.

It is interresting to see the evolution from the republic of China to the communist China. The father of the author has a high rank in the communist army, but denies any privileges to his wife or daughter following the spirit of the cultural revolution. The older he gets in the story, the less strict he becomes, and starts to favor his family.

Again, it feels like people cannot help doing it.

The Lesson of discrimination

A documentary experiment in Canada [5].

A primary school teacher announces one morning that the Canadian ministry of education sent her a letter explaining that scientific studies proved that students which are less than 1.34m tall are smarter, faster, more creative… compared with the ones which are taller. She asks the tall kids to wear a red jersey. The teacher also gives privileges to short kids…

It was noticed during the day, that short kids starts to naturally discriminate tall kids. They stop eating together at lunch time, they stop playing together during the break. If a tall kid was friend with a short kid, they are no more friends… the tall kids also perform worse than before. It is scary to see that kids will do all those things naturally.

The next day, the teacher explains that she made terrible mistake when reading the letter from the Canadian government. It was in fact the tall kids which were smarter and not the opposite. Suddenly the tall kids burst of joy and they discriminate the short kids just like the day before, when they suffered so much from the opposite discrimination. It is terrible to see that the tall kids don't change their behavior after experiencing discrimination in the first place.

Sadly the discrimination on heigth emmerged naturally.


[1]Annie Lowrey, Ellen Pao and the Sexism You Can’t Quite Prove, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/03/ellen-pao-and-the-sexism-you-cant-quite-prove.html
[2]Wikipedia, Height discrimination, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Height_discrimination
[3]Jonathan Rauch, Short Guys Finish Last, http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/height_discrimination_short_guys_finish_last/index.html
[4]張戎 (Jung Chang), Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Swans
[5]Radio-Canada, La leçon de discrimination, http://ici.radio-canada.ca/actualite/v2/enjeux/niveau2_10939.shtml