Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Favouritism in Society

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Favouritism in Society

Favouritism is a problem that has existed in society for many many years. Whether it be someone’s physical appearance, social class, popularity, wealth, backround or reputation, too often people are judged based on these irrelevant factors. Whether it be to attain a job, make friends at school or even become a member of a club, some people are always preferred by the mass while others are usually neglected. Favouritism is something unavoidable that we must learn to accept. In order to understand it, we must recognize its existence in many forms and learn how to deal with it, since it is an issue that will remain for many years to come.

The first type of favouritism portains to the subject of physical appearance. Depending on how one looks and they way which they dress can determine a lot about the way that they will be treated. For example, two women apply for a job as a secretary at a well-respected firm with the exact same resume and qualifications. However, one woman is a blonde with gorgeous eyes and a fabolous body while the other is a brunette and not as attractive. In theory, the decision for the job opening should be a split, and could go either way. The way the masses behave, however, would be to hire the more attractive blonde lady without hesitation. This is way society has trained us to behave. A perfect example of the corrolation between physical appearance and the way you are treated is present in the pieces of literature ‘The Colour Purple’ and ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’. The two women in these books, Celie and Janie have live almost parallel existences except that Janie is more physially appealing than Celie. In the First Chapter of The Color Purple, written by Alice Walker, Celie is mistreated as a victim of favouritism. When a man known only as ‘MR.’ wishes to marry Nettie, Celie’s younger, prettier sister, their stepfather dissalows it because he wishes to keep Nettie at home with him to himself. Instead, he offers to give the man Celie and even throw in a cow as if to seal a business deal. However, ‘MR.’ refuses as he is only interested in Celie for cleaning and cooking purposes. Because she she a black female, but more so because she is not physically appealing, Celie is thrown around like a piece of meat and is payed no attention to at all. On the other hand, Janie, the protagonist from Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, goes through far more positive experiences even as a black female around the same timeframe as Celie. Although Janie is still discriminated against as a black female, numerous men desire Janie and treat her with respect because of her appealing physical traits. ‘The men noticed her firm buttocks like she had grape fruits in her hip pockets; the great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume; then her pugnacious breasts trying to bore holes in her shirt.’

In ‘She's Come Undone’ by Wally Lamb, a young girl named Dolores goes through a dreadful adolescence because of her obesity along with the divorce of her parents.‘When Dolores is about to graduate high school, she weighs in at 57 pounds -weight that accumulated from stuffing herself with every kind of food and sitting in front of the television for years’. Other people poke fun at her weight and she cannot seem to fit in anywhere. It is not until the end of the novel where she loses almost all of her excess weight that she finds happiness and even falls in love. Her treatment from when she was very fat to when she lost some weight and became more attractive is almost too apparent. This is just how society works, in literature and in real life.

The reputation of an individual as well as their backround and social class are factors that determine the quality of treatment of people as well. For exapmple, it is more likely that the most popular student in school will be elected as president even if the nerd who is running against him is more qualified for the job. It is more likely that a ‘good’ student with a clean reputation will be let off the hook for breaking the rules at school than a ‘bad’ student who is notorious for causing misdemeanor. A student that contributes money towards the school annualy will unlikely be ejected over a poor student who must depend on the school for financial aid.

A perfect example of this form of favouritism can be found in The Crucible, a novel written by Arthur Miller. Several girls who were caught dancing in the forest fabricated an intricate story of them being victims of witchcraft as to acquire attention and power in order to manipulate certain people. Because the girls come from a wealthy environment and are relatives of the well-respected and liked Reverend Paris, they were given full credibility. Betty was Paris’ daughter and Abigail, the girls ring-leader was Paris’ niece and ward. Abigail went on to accuse certain people that she did not like of being guilty of witchcraft and her friends went along with the whole charade. The town did not even think about questioning these ‘classy’ girls as they were members of the upper class and came from well-raised homes. Consequently, the town was thrown into complete chaos and turmoil by the false allegations and accusations made by this small group of girls. I can guarantee that if these girls came from a poor home and did not have any relations towards Reverand Parris, nobody would have taken them seriously and they would have been tossed aside without hesitation. A situation almost identical to this exists in the movie Wild Things, directed by John McNaughton. Denise Richards plays the role of a young, beautiful girl who accuses her teacher of raping her. Although this is not true, everyone in the town believes her since she is the daughter of the richest man in town and appears sweet and innocent. The teacher, played by Matt Dillon, is fired the day following the accusation and receives death-threats even before he has been faced with any evidence proving his guilt.

Whether it be the ‘ass-kisser’ at the office or the ‘teacher’s pet’ at school, people always attempt to reap the rewards of favouritism. ‘There are few things that employees resent more than favoritism. It breeds the feeling that it doesnt matter how one performs on the job; it is who you know, rather than what you do, that determines who receives perks and promotions.’ Whether achieved by physical appearance, social status, popularity, wealth, backround, reputation or even by appealing to someone’s liking, fovouritism is wrong and should take no part in society. It is the root of many of society’s problems as it puts trust in the wrong people sometimes and disregards the right ones. People should judge based on the correct criteria and should not favour anybody based of these outside influences. However, we cannot ignore reality and pretend that favouritism does not exist. We must accept it, deal with it, and maybe even use it to our advantage.

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