classism and objectification
January 20, 2010
I am attending the Object-Oriented Analysis and Design course this semester and could not resist that pun (sorry!). Classism has been on my mind recently – mostly because I am reading the Mahabharata, but also because I see it all around me. I find it irritating how we make such distinctions between us based on our birth circumstances – especially when some people look down on others and treat them unfairly.
There were some viable reasons for the traditional use of classes and castes in marriages: common activities, culture, knowledge and education made the people more compatible. Classism has also been (and sometimes continues to be) used for ensuring that all required tasks and jobs in society are completed – everyone has a role. However, in the present times when most people know and do all types of work, it has been my observation that classism is used to keep people in their place as ongoing security for the privileged.
When I was visiting my brother in Walchandnagar in India he took us to visit the living compound of a group that was from the ‘untouchables’ caste. We made it a point to shake their hands and treat them like anyone else that we may have met in India. It was sad that they (and others) were quite amazed by this, which demonstrated the rarity of these actions.
Although traditional classism is based on birth-right, you can find variations of this type of behaviour in many situations in life: cliques of the popular in schools and in the workplace, academic snobbery, exclusive communities – all in the name of separating ourselves from our fellow humans. The most contradictory and illuminating phenomenon is when the until-recently-oppressed take up this behaviour toward others to separate themselves from ‘those losers’. Life without self-love and self-confidence is a horrible experience that enables us to do the most vile things in the futile attempt to feel loved and desired.