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RUNNING HEAD: DOMINATE AND SUBORDINATE GROUPS

Dominate and Subordinate Groups


Kristina Broussard
Georgia State University

RUNNING HEAD: DOMINATE AND SUBORDINATE GROUPS


Dominate and Subordinate Groups
As we move through our daily lives we are all members of many different groups, and
hold both dominate and subordinate roles within these groups. Many times our roles are
predetermined by the class that we were born into such as by being born a certain gender, sex or
member of a religious organization. Other times we are grouped by the privileges that we
receive or do not receive, the amount of money that we make, the education that we have
obtained or our sexual orientation. In order to be a culturally competent individual, it is
important to explore what groups we belong to and understand the cycle of oppression.
Subordinate Groups
The prevalent subordinate group that I belong to is that of women, with the
dominate group being males. According to Williams (2014), All over the world women are
more likely to be sexually exploited, suffer from discriminatory employment policies and
practices, and endure unjust laws and practices concerning marriages, reproductive
rights/ideologies and child custody (pg. 213). One of the first ways that I can recall having
personally felt oppressed as a woman was in playing sports. I grew up in Dallas, Texas in a
family that was very involved in baseball. I have three brothers and we all played on a baseball
team since we were big enough to hold a bat. Surprisingly, in the area that I lived in, they did
not have a problem with girls playing on the boys team. I played on a boys baseball team from
eight years old until I was twelve years old, when my father got a job in Atlanta, Georgia. When
we went to the recreation center to sign me up my mom asked me if I would rather try softball
this year, I think because she just didnt want to stir the pot. Before I could even answer, the
woman that was working at the counter informed us that girls softball was the only option open
to us. My mother told the woman that if I wanted to play baseball that they would have to let
me, and that the choice was mine not theirs. I had never played softball before, but when I was
looking at this woman I realized that it was going to be a big deal and an uphill battle for me to
play baseball. That year and every year after I played girls softball. That first year, I was so
jealous of my brothers and longed to be able to be on a baseball team again. I also didnt
understand why I couldnt play baseball because of my gender. It made me feel lacking as an
athlete and a like a failure is my ability and skill.
In the United States people that have a low economic standing are the subordinate group
to people that have a high economic standing. Growing up and still today I belong to the group
that have a low economic standing. I was raised in a low income family and have felt the effects
of this my entire life and have always known we didnt have as much money as my classmates
and friends. In elementary school people would make fun of my fake Reeboks that came from
Kmart and bully me because I had a lunch card. It just got worse in middle and high school. I
always knew that my parents worked very hard for everything that we had and that these things
did not really matter. However, when you are young these things hurt and have a lasting effect
on a persons self-worth and ego. As a forty-year old adult I feel shame sometimes when my
friends invite me to do things that I cannot afford because I am usually making just enough
money to scrape by. This makes me feel inferior to them.
I grew up in the Mormon religion. When I was a child I did not feel any discrimination
or oppression because of my faith. When I started high school I realized that many people have
different views and opinions about Mormons that are very negative and often times only based
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RUNNING HEAD: DOMINATE AND SUBORDINATE GROUPS


on things they heard or learned incorrectly from the popular media. In high school I quit going
to church altogether because I hated it that people knew that I belonged to the Mormon religion.
I didnt like having to constantly explain to my friends parents that, no my father does not have
four wives, and that I only have one mom. It was embarrassing and to cope I just stopped telling
people at all. At one point I asked my mom why we could not just be Catholic like everybody
else. In the United States while Christianity is the dominate religion, Mormons constitute only
2% of that population while Protestants occupy 51% and Catholics make up 24% (US Religious
Landscape Survey, 2008)..
Dominate Groups
A dominate group that I belong to is being white. Caucasians are the largest racial group
in the United States, with people of color being the subordinate group to whites. As a white
person there are many privileges that I enjoy every day without even knowing it. Some of these
privileges include being able to be around and live near people of my own race, not having my
accomplishments called a credit to my race, and being able to associate the accomplishments
of this country with my race through what we are taught in school (McIntosh, 1990). When I
watch TV I identify with most of the people I see, when I go the store nobody looks at me funny
like I might be up to something, and when I ride the train other white people chose to sit by
me. Before taking this class I can honestly say that I never thought of white privilege in this
way. I feel like it something I was almost conditioned not to notice, and to think that all people
enjoy these same privileges making it nothing special. Now that it has been pointed out to me,
my eyes have been opened to the oppression people of color have experienced and are still
subjected to. I feel ashamed of my ancestors and wonder how they got so many fundamental
ideas correct while excluding so many people from the same freedoms that they themselves were
seeking.
Another dominate group that I belong to is that I am heterosexual. Bi-sexual, gay,
lesbian, and transgender peoples are a subordinate group to my sexual group. I have never been
walking hand in hand with my boyfriend and had somebody tell me that I was gross or perverse,
and I have never been excluded from a group because of my sexual orientation. As a
heterosexual person I have not had to fight for my rights, they were always there. I personally
think that no person should be judged on their sexual orientation and that we as American
citizens should share all rights provided under law. I think it is an abomination that two people
that love each other cannot be married in the eyes of the law. There are many benefits that
heterosexual people receive once they are married that the LGBTQ community does not receive.
According to the Human Rights Campaign (2014) there are currently 1138 benefits, rights, and
protections that married couples receive that are not available to couples that are of the same sex.
This is true even if the couple is legally married in the state that they live in. These benefits
range from but are not limited to tax credits, social security, immigration issues, and the Family
and Medical Leave Act (Human Rights Campaign, 2014). The American Government has been
a main institution that has exerted its power in this area. Its only in the last couple of years that
some state governments are breaking this chain and allowing them to marry.
I am a senior at Georgia State University and this is another dominate group that I belong
to. College educated people have a much easier time than the non-college educated population
when trying to obtain a job that has higher wages and more benefits such as health care and 401k
opportunities. The US Census Bureau (2012) reports that an individual with a college education
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RUNNING HEAD: DOMINATE AND SUBORDINATE GROUPS


will make approximately $56,500, where an individual with a high school diploma will earn only
$21,100. This is a group that I very much enjoy being a part of. I am going to be the first person
in my family with a college education and hope to be able to raise my socioeconomic status for
the first time in my life. I do not feel I am above people that do not have a degree but, I do feel
like I made the right decision for me to go to school so late in life.
Conclusion
I learned so much while looking at myself and the dominate-subordinate groups that I
belong to. Learning that I belong to some of these groups gave me a new understanding of who I
am and where I come from. The main dominate group that I belong to that I learned the most
about was being white. Doing this assignment has forever opened my eyes to privileges that I
receive for no other reason than my skin color. I truly was not aware of this before. It also
taught me that because I have never been a part of some subordinate groups to my dominate
group that I really had no idea how they felt and the things that they have lived with their entire
lives. It made me see that there are things in my everyday life that I need to change my views
about, and the way that I personally contribute to other peoples experiences in society.

RUNNING HEAD: DOMINATE AND SUBORDINATE GROUPS


References
Human Rights Campaign, (2014). An Overview of Federal Rights Granted to Married Couples.
[Online] Available at: http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/an-overview-of-federal-rights-andprotections-granted-to-married-couples [Accessed 29 Nov. 2014].
McIntosh, P. (1990). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Independent School,
49(2), 31.
U.S. Census Bureau, 2012, Table PINC-03; Internal Revenue Service, 2010; Davis et al., 2013;
calculations by the authors.
US Religious Landscape Survey. (2008). Religious Affiliation: Diverse & Dynamic. [Online]
Washington DC: The PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life. Available at:
http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf [Accessed 29 Nov.
2014].
Williams, N. M. (2014). Gender Oppression: Global Mistreatment of Women: Value Inquiry
Book S.