Dual Discrimination of Racism and Sexism Essay

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For over a century, women have been speaking about the double enslavement of black women and how not only are they handicapped on account of their sex, but they are mocked almost everywhere because of their race as well. In “Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness: The Context of a Black Feminist Ideology,” Deborah King illustrates how the dual discriminations of racism and sexism remain pervasive, and how class inequality compounds those oppressions. In the case of Pecola Breedlove, the protagonist of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, this triple jeopardy of race, gender, and class ultimately leave her feeling socially powerless in society. Pecola must suffer all the burdens of prejudice of having dark skin, as well as bear the additional burden of having to cope with white and black men because of her sex. The beauty standards of white Western culture, the sexual abuse of Pecola by her father, and Pecola’s low economic status have multiplicative effects on Pecola and all aid in her progressive alienation from society as well as her fall towards insanity. Deborah King states that “the experience of black women is assumed to be synonymous with that of either black males or white females” (King 45). It is mistakenly granted that either there is no difference in being black and female than being generically black or generically female. The intensity of the physical and psychological impact of racism is very different from that of sexism. For example, the group experience of slavery and lynching for blacks, and genocide for Native Americans is not comparable to the physical abuse, social discrimination, and cultural denigration suffered by women. King goes on in her article about how people have assumed that relationships among the various discriminations are merely additive. In this instance, each discrimination has a single, direct, independent effect on status.

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