Bias can be the basis for prejudice, and it’s something that persons
in privileged groups sometimes mistake for oppression. But as was
discussed on day four, oppression is one way from the empowered to the unempowered.
But Constance, you might say, what of those ethnic markets and
eateries that only hire people of the ethnicity of the business? Surely
that is oppressive for job-seekers who are not of that ethnicity! I
would argue that in such situations, it is BIAS at work which is
manifesting as oppression of individuals, rather than systemic
oppression of entire minority groups. Yes, people in racial minorities
can be biased against the racial majority. It could be argued quite
successfully that the same bias can be found from gender minorities such
as the one to which I belong.
Bias can also exists within an oppressed umbrella group to
sub-groups. I know a young bisexual woman who had applied for an LGBT
scholarship while in college but was turned down on the basis that she
wasn’t LGBT enough. Being the “B” wasn’t quite good enough. My own
experience as a pansexual (who used to identify as a bisexual) is that
there is very real bias against multisexual LGBTQIA+ persons from
monosexual LG persons. In fact, we multisexuals are often told that
monosexual is a term of hate, seemingly because it includes gay and
lesbian persons in the same category as heterosexuals: people who are
attracted to persons of a certain sex.
Where oppression is top-down, bias is more universal. If someone were
to say that my use of #ProtectTransLives is a form of bias, it could be
argued that they are correct. I’ve actually been taken to task on
Facebook for not making as big a deal of other oppressed groups,
particularly those in other countries, as I make of those communities
who are oppressed and marginalized for their orientations, genders, and
bodies. I would have to agree with them. There is a bias in my activism
and ministry, as I am focused on serving particular communities. A term
that I could borrow from self-described radfems is that I “prioritize”
my own oppressed and marginalized communities.
However, this is a way in which bias can serve a greater beneficial
purpose. Being oppressed for gender and orientation is something I
understand as I’m subjected to it every day. And while I prioritize
serving my own communities, it is not that I refuse to serve others.
Rather, my bias helps me channel my resources in ways where I can have
the greatest positive effect.
Bias can be both good and bad, depending on how it’s used.