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Are Women Minorities?

At lunch today, my husband announced that two of his colleagues - one male, one female - were debating the question, Are women minorities? The man said yes, women are minorities while the woman said no, they are not.  "Of course women are minorities," my husband said with a "duh" tone in his voice. "No, no they are not," I replied. And thus the debate turned personal.

The problem was, I couldn't fully explain why I felt that way - so I asked for time to collect my thoughts. Having thought about and researched this for the better part of the day, I can say with confidence that no, women are not minorities. My reasons are not based on  pure emotion, but are sound and based on plain reason and logic.

My need to (yet again) prove my husband wrong led me to consult,  in order to clearly define the term "minority." The dictionary provided five unbiased and commonly agreed upon definitions of the noun minority:

  1. the smaller part or number; a number, part, or amount forming less than half of the whole.
  2. a smaller party or group opposed to a majority, as in voting or other action.
  3. a group differing, esp. in race, religion, or ethnic background, from the majority of a population: legislation aimed at providing equal rights for minorities.
  4. a member of such a group.
  5. the state or period of being under the legal age of full responsibility.
To properly investigate definition number one, I consulted the United Nations Statistics Division. Based on simple math, the average ratio of women to men worldwide is about 1:1.  In fact, in the US, the female to male ratio is 103:100. Based on a strict dictionary definition, it would seem that men are the numeric minority in the United States. But in the big scheme of things, 103:100 is not statistically significant, so let's eliminate the first definition and move on...

The second definition, a smaller party or group opposed to a majority, as in voting or other action, still does not apply based on numbers, but also in the sense that, contrary to popular male thought, most women are not opposed to men. Only men who are jerks.
The third definition gets more to the heart of the debate - a group differing, especially in race, religion, or ethnic background from the majority of the population. Sex is clearly not mentioned in this definition. Was this an oversight on Webster's part? I highly doubt it. And once again, the relatively equal ratio of women to men nullifies the concept of "differing from the majority of the population."

If definitions 1-3 do not apply, then 4 cannot apply, either.

Finally, the fifth definition applies to some females...but it also applies to some males. And since the average female to male ratio also applies to minors, then this definition is also not applicable.

Let's face it. The question is not really about minority vs. majority, but about balance of power (or imbalance as the case may be).  White men have held the power over women and minorities for hundreds of years. Consider imperialism - the white men were always outnumbered by the natives (making them the minority), but because the white men had more advanced weaponry, they held the power. When white men created the US Constitution, they created equality for themselves, but left out women and minorities. Again, not because they outnumbered the women, but because they overpowered them.

That, in 2010, we must even debate whether or not women are minorities is the outrage. When the world can stop its divisive categorizing everyone into majority and minority, male and female, black and white, straight and gay,  us and them - and instead live as one in humanity, then, perhaps, we can solve the problems of the world and attain those elusive things the world so desperately needs: Understanding. Love. Peace.

Dedicated to my political soul-mate and BFF Truly. I got your back, sistah!


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