Political Cleavages based on Gender and Ethnicity

Henry Vaule



Memo #13


In CCR, Mala Htun investigates gender’s relation to ethnicity in political representation. She argues that unlike ethnicity, there are very few political cleavages based on gender. Instead, gender is crosscutting, which means that one cleavage or group overlaps with another. Htun also emphasizes that gender does not correlate with class or rank. Although a specific group within the cleavages of gender and ethnicity have experienced discrimination, the division of gender includes much more people. Today, countries have made progressive changes to include more of the minority ethnic groups within their governments. However, a large proportion of these countries have failed to make the same changes for the minority gender, which in most cases are women.


Even though American is known as an epicenter for democracy and acceptance, our history is filled with bigotry towards certain groups. Congress recently swore in two Muslum Congresswomen, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The Congresswomen won in the midterm elections in November. Both women and Muslims are still facing varied forms of hatred in America. This recent election marks a great point for Muslims and women because these politicians are the first Muslim women to ever be elected into Congress. This election helped contradict any negative notions about Muslims and show the increasing number of supporters Congresswomen are gaining in their respective districts.


How can granted reserved seats for each ethnic and gender group within a legislature, benefit and harm the productivity of a government?


Reserving a certain number of seat for each group would allow for a more diverse array of opinions that take a greater number of people into account. However, this system would also cause more differences and overall separation between cleavages.  


James Tyler Dickovick, and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.)

Michelle Boorstein, Marisa Iati, and Julie Zauzmer. “The Nation’s First Two Muslim Congresswomen Are Sworn In, Surrounded by the Women They Inspired.” The Washington Post. (January 03, 2019.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/01/03/americas-first-two-muslim-congresswomen-are-sworn-surrounded-by-women-they-inspired/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.08fa2a433b54.

Global Acceptance of Homosexuality

A survey done by the Pew Research Center of 39 countries regarding the acceptance of homosexuality finds variance based on region, age, gender, and religiosity. European countries and countries in both North and Latin America were more accepting of homosexuality than African countries and Muslim nations. Homosexuality was found to be more accepted in countries where religion was less of a central part of their lives. Along with religiosity and region, age and gender had an affect on the acceptance of same sex marriage with women being more accepting than men and the younger generations more accepting than the older ones.1

Dolapo Badmos, a high ranking Nigerian policewoman from Lagos, cautioned gay people living in Nigeria to leave or face criminal prosecution via social media. In Nigeria the Same Sex Prohibition Act criminalizes homosexual clubs and organizations with a possible up to 14 years in jail for violating the law. Although the law was condemned by several humans rights organizations, 90% of Nigerians support the enforcement of the law. Badmos received many responses to her post of people showing their support for the continued enforcement of the law.2

File:Pride in London 2016 - LGBT people of African origin parading in Trafalgar Square.png

How does access to the Internet and social media affect the ways in which people view homosexuality and other societal controversies?

In both European countries and the US and Canada, a majority of the population accepts homosexuality. In most of these countries, social media and the Internet is easily accessible and used often. On the contrary, in countries such as Russia or China where the media and or Internet is controlled or regulated by the state, only about ⅕ of the population accepts same sex marriage and in countries with similar accessibility to Internet, there are even laws prohibiting homosexuality. In countries where the Internet is liberated from the state, the population is more likely to be accepted of homosexuality and other LGBTQ controversies whereas countries with more regulated media is more likely to reject them.

  1. “The Global Divide on Homosexuality.” Pew Research Center, Washington D.C. (June 4, 2013).
  2. Aanu Adeoye, “Nigerian police officer tells gays: Leave country of face prosecution” CNN, January 23, 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/health/nigeria-police-gay-prosecution-warning/index.html.