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A Critical Review of Sara Ahmed’s Complaint


Globally, women have fewer chances for economic participation than their male counterparts. Women have less access to primary and higher education, less political representation, and increased health and safety risks. Men too encounter discrimination, as evident in the testimony collected by Sara Ahmed. Sara Ahmed assesses the trajectory of complaints about abuses of power. Her work draws oral and written testimonials from students and academics that have lodge complaints about bullying, harassment, unequal working conditions, and bullying. Additionally, based on a long history of black feminists’ critique of institutions, protests only work for those favored within a particular institution. For this reason, most doors are closed on those who complain to protect the reputation of the institutions. A critical and reflective analysis is necessary to unleash the relevance of the complaint! In contemporary society, women, gender, and sexuality studies are concerned. The dominant culture typically controls cultural imagery, and it has been in existence for centuries.

According to Heise et al. (2019), gender inequality refers to a form of sex discrimination that suggests that particular individuals are considered disadvantageous because of their gender orientation. Discrimination has engulfed women in the workplace for a long time, rendering them vulnerable and unproductive. Notably, gender inequality concerns women, but it also affects men. However, embracing gender equality and giving them equal chances to realize their full potential is essential for accomplishing a wide range of global developmental objectives. In essence, an empowered woman positively contributes to the well-being of their families and society at large, thereby fostering a ripple effect that benefits everyone. Issues affecting women of color in the community include social-emotional learning aspects such as leadership, human rights, and courage. In addition, there is moral-ethical emphasis evident in the virtues such as citizenship, fairness, and respect.

Contemporary Women’s, Gender and Sexuality

Women dominate low-paying ranks while men dominate high-paying executive positions (Kalev, & Deutsch, 2018). Negative cultural perceptions create hazards to various groups such as black Americans who, for long, have been misrepresented. Stereotypes and prejudices have been embedded in American society sparking controversy among the black community members (Jetten et al., 2017). Black women are often portrayed as housewives due to misconstrued gender representation embedded in racism within the American Institutions (Moore, 2017). In copious information relating to gender differences in various career placements in institutions, a dominant theme is that women encounter a substantial amount of gender-based oppression. Additionally, the social constructions and misconstructions on femininity and masculinity determine the work suitable for both men and women, despite the common belief that the US is a generally highly progressive and liberal society. Stereotypes and gender discrimination are not peculiar. The connotation of the US’s progressive nature influences how entities invest in recruiting and retaining the workforce. Females are more devastated by these scripts as compared to their male counterparts. Law enforcement agencies are notoriously characterized by gender stereotyping and remain reluctant to change, as evident in the “black lives matters” and #me too movements in the US (Hatzipanagos, 2021). Working in highly masculine settings often makes women of color feel misplaced, affecting their motivation and overall productivity on the assigned duties’ execution.

Bandelli (2017) indicates that sexual orientation is essential in sex-based brutality against ladies. Sexual orientation alludes to more than organic contrasts among guys and females; however, there are tremendous contrasts among people in their day-to-day life experiences. Graham, Casey, & Carlson (2020), note that the term sex alludes to particular ways ladies and men complete their exercises inside socially developed jobs that ultimately shape how people respond in various conditions. Sexual orientation differential essentially impacts people’s availability to responsibility for over force and assets, land possession, work, pay, political portrayal, and sheltered and secure convenience in the general public. Brutality, particularly Femicide, is fuelled by sexual orientation imbalance, and on the other hand, sex-based viciousness is viewed as a prime supporter of sex disparity. Likewise, sexual orientation is interlinked with a disposition to ladies and ensuing viciousness against them.

A bunch of hypotheses has been advanced by numerous researchers to demystify records of shameful acts against ladies. One of the fundamental speculations of this investigation is the women’s activist hypothesis. Woman’s rights are characterized as the worldwide point of view that qualities ladies, which challenges orderly bad form, grounded on sexual orientation. This way, it gives a method of surveying ladies from their encounters. From this unique circumstance, ladies recognize, know, and shape women’s liberation and structure speculations that outline brutality against them. Academia and activists like Sarah rejects how ladies are treated in institutions. She contends that men would be selfish, over-delicate, and pompous if they could be compelled to face similar issues that ladies go through (Ahmed, 2019).

Many scholars have put forward a Myriad of theories to demystify accounts of injustices against women. One of the theories central to this study is the feminist theory. Feminism is defined as the global perspective that values women, which challenges systematic injustice grounded on gender (Jaquette, 2021). It provides a way of viewing women from the context of their own experiences. From this context, women acknowledge, know, and shape feminism and form theories that delineate violence against them. The feminist theory is grounded on the tenet of four main orientations: liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, radical feminism, and socialist feminism. Through liberal feminism lenses, women are viewed as people who lack rights and opportunities, compounding their oppression. Liberal feminism censures social inequalities based on gender, family, race, religion, and uneven distribution of wealth and women’s opportunities. Alluding to DeKeseredy (2021), Liberal feminists hold the view that women can achieve equality with the present economic domain by incorporating reforms and education while at the same time acknowledging that women have little power to change, control, or challenge the status quo in a male-dominated society.

The feminist theory highlights the victimization of a female by males in a patriarchal society, the society made for men who treat women as possessions and bar them from having sex with other men. The social revolution movement of the 1960s challenged the traditional aspect of sexuality and advocated for sexual liberation. In addition, it increased widespread acceptance of liberal sexual practices. Consequently, pornography, homosexuality, normalization of contraceptives, abortion, and other alternative forms of human sexuality such as lesbianism and gays followed suit (Gallo-Cruz & Tulinski, 2020). The sexual revolution was established by individuals who shared a common belief in the harmful effects of sexual repression. According to Benau (2021), the splinter group wanted to fully explore the body and mind and liberate themselves from America’s moral and sexual confines in general. The sexual movement rooted a firm conviction that the erotic should be appreciated as a normal part of life and not undermined by religious doctrines, family, or sexual morality. Women are generally eroticized based on how they have dressed in institutions, and this led to sexually molesting and bullying.

Kimberley Crenshaw coined intersectionality theory in 1989. Moreover, this theoretical framework explains how individuals or groups can encounter oppression or privilege depending on an individual’s gender, sexuality, and ethnic orientation. In addition, this concept has advanced to incorporate a veritable plethora of benefits, and scholars are keen to investigate differences between the outcomes of the intersection. The individual’s social identities are essential when implementing social justice. In this context, individuals’ sexual orientation (LGBTQ) faces resistance from society as they are considered unfit by cultural or religious doctrines.

Additionally, there are some categories in which an individual could be placed, which dictate the likelihood of experiencing oppression or privilege. These categories include gender, sexuality, race, educational background, culture, disability, and socioeconomic status. The majority of individuals lack universal rights on these dimensions of oppression. However, personal privilege is a component of where one stands in society (Few‐Demo, & Allen, 2020).

Further, the conflict theory highlights a dominant struggle between different social groups that compete for resources. It indicates that gender inequality is prevalent because men always want to maintain the status quo of male chauvinism at the expense of women’s benefit. Moreover, continued gender discrimination led to a social disconnect between men and women. The hostile nature of administrations in institutions makes it hard for LGBTQ individuals to work independently. In collecting the testimonies of the challenges these people go through in institutions of higher learning, Sarah refers to them as underprivileged or marginalized groups in society (Ahmed, 2019). Intersectionalism helps understand how other social groupings impact particular relations to one social category.

Critical Gaps & solutions

Gender equality in political representation is among the most pressing issues affecting women globally. Most women have been denied chances to engage in active politics. Women have been stereotyped as domestic workers who are supposed to take care of the children, give birth, and undertake household chores. They are seen as inferior beings as compared to their male counterparts. However, various laws have been formulated to address this gender inequality in the senate and congress, but it has not been fully implemented (Hessami & da Fonseca, 2020). Another issue affecting women, which is worth protesting, is equal pay for women, ending sex discrimination in the workplace. In this context, women are denied promotion or pay increases because they are seen as less than men. Moreover, societal norms and roles encourage men to devalue women.

Well-qualified women may not be considered for promotion simply because they are pregnant or they might be pregnant. In this case, a job may be given to a less qualified male applicant just because he is male. Despite strict anti-discrimination laws and policies that render gender discrimination illegal, some corporations still favor the career growth of men.

Alluding to O’Brien and Diana (2019), gender inequalities affect women in political representation to a great extent. In the 1960s, Women were fighting anti-suffragist ideologies, which barred women from voting. They used peaceful demonstrations and word banners to argue out their rights. After a long struggle of lobbying and protesting, constitutional ratification was affected; this paved the way for democracy in the US. For example, Alluding to Vitriol et al. (2018), in 2016, gender prejudice emerged as a critical determinant of the president’s choice in the US. Molly  (2017) notes that balloters have an increased likelihood to connect with gender roles, especially where there is a woman candidate. During the national presidential campaigns, the former president, Trump, dismissed Clinton, saying that she lacks the strength needed to become the US president. As such, voters interpreted that a presidential office requires a man with tremendous stamina hence not likely to vote for a woman. Gendered stereotypes play an essential role in the failure of female candidates (Schneider, Monica, and Angela, 2019)

Title IX was enacted with a view of addressing sex discrimination in academia. In this context, it provides a platform for empowering women to participate in athletes, a field that has been dominated by men (Medley, 2021)). For this reason, Title IX has attracted more attention in courts and institutions of higher learning as male opportunities are gradually diminishing in the aspect in question. While Title IX is meant to incorporate more women into the sporting world, the move to eliminate opportunities for men isn’t fair since men and women should be accorded equal opportunities. Also, women need a level playground like their male counterparts. Title IX provides that male and female student-athletes receive scholarships depending on individual participation. Also, it proposes equal treatment of men and female athletes in the provision of school facilities such as coaching and allowances (Fort, & Winfree, 2020). School administrators are negating proportionality as mentioned above by female students in athlete’s preferential treatment than their male counterparts, thus violating proportionality rules.

The Lilly Ledbetter, Fair Pay Act, was enacted in 2009 to compel the companies to intensify their initiatives to ensure that their pay activities are not discriminatory. Also, the law requires employers to keep adequate records necessary to justify the fairness of the pay decisions. Notably, the US has sufficient legal instruments such as the equal pay act, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that requires hirers to pay both men and women similarly for equivalent work. It is essential to note that equal pay does not just focus on workers’ salaries but also on benefits, bonuses, overtime, training, reimbursement, et cetera. Despite the existence of these laws, gender pay equality remains elusive. One of the most dominant litigation issues related to compensation programs is pay discrimination and under-remuneration. Alluding to CNN business, for every dollar earned by a man, women earn 80 cents (CNN Business, 2018). Ledbetter highlights that African-American women still face pay discrimination. On average, women are paid 20% less than men. The pay gap is even less since black women are paid 38% less than their white counterparts.

As per the laws stipulated by EEOC, it is unlawful to favor job applicants based on sex, color, religion, nationality, age, disability, or genetic materials. Additionally, it is illegal to strike back against whistle-blowers complaining against discrimination or any other malpractice in the hiring process. On job advertising, it is unlawful for employers to post job adverts that are biased against race, color, religion, sex, nationality, and disability. For instance, a job advert that seeks ladies or recent university ex-students may demoralize males and these individuals over forty years from expressing their interest (EEOC, n.d). This violates the law prohibiting employers from acting discriminatively in the hiring process. An employer should not ground hiring procedures on assumptions and labels about an individual’s ethnicity, color, creed, gender, country of origin, incapacitation, or genetic material. Suppose a company wants job candidates to take a particular test. In that case, the quiz ought to be job-related, and the firm should not dismiss individuals of a specific race, creed, sex, nationality, or persons living with disabilities. In case a particular job applicant has a disability, it is an employer’s duty to provide necessary accommodations such as a sign language interpreter, provided the capacity does not cause an entity to accrue additional expense.

Employers need to implement several guidelines for the suppression of pay discrimination litigations. To this end, employers need to institute measures to prevent and address pat discrimination and thus avoid EEOC penalties and lawsuits. One of the most effective strategies is to include the equal pay act as the basis of total compensation programs (Miller, (2020). Conducting a pay audit is the first step towards closing the pay gap. Employers should ensure that hiring and promotion are fair and are based on merits. Auditing ensures that the entity is not methodically rating men high and endorsing them quickly than women. Entities should make it a norm for women to discuss, and when they do, they are celebrated, not reprimanded (Lytle, 2019). To suppress employment litigations, an institution needs to develop policies and procedures against harassment and discrimination (Numhauser-Henning, 2018). The company needs to have anti-employment discrimination policies that ensure all job applicants have a fair playing ground by prohibiting malpractices such as canvassing, hiring discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace settings (Laci, Maxhelaku, & Rusi, 2017). Also, being part of the policy, job applicants and employees should be encouraged to report all prejudice-related issues to the relevant department for corrective actions. The policies and procedures should spell out the punishment for discriminatory behavior. Hence, this way, the employer can avoid employment-related litigation.

Entities with a diverse labor force usually possess a competitive advantage. This is because workers with fresh perspectives can incorporate into organizations and enhance their productivity. A positive cultural representation can drive the organization to embrace diversity while, at the same time, negative racial portrays can hurt the existence of a particular race. Hobson reiterates the need for diversity in organizations; as such, organizations can only cater to diverse customers by offering a wide range of culturally sensitive products. By embracing diversity, Sarah says that makes working settings to be conducive.


On the whole, the most disturbing thing in the Sara Ahmed book is that the institutions are aware of what they are supposed to do to end the discrimination. Still, due to endemic and secretive discrimination, they opt to do what is Ahmed calls “non-performative.” In analyzing the gender bias in institutions, Sarah uses this word to capture how the management of institutions creates racial equality policies, yet they do nothing about it. One of the critical solutions to end racial inequality is enforcing equality laws. The legal framework is strictly guided by systems, processes wells as rules and regulations that must be adhered to at all costs. On the contrary, even if the government requires private organizations to consider gender equality aspects and publish gender equality data, the implementation of gender equality remains scanty in most organizations. Women still experience discrimination at the workplace, despite the best efforts put in place by companies to promote diversity and equality. Reduction of gender inequality will see more women venturing in careers to traditionally what was referred to as male-dominated fields such as technology, engineering, and businesses, among others. Women are vying for political seats, venturing into their companies since they have a right to choose their career trajectory like their male counterparts. They no longer have to choose between family, marriage, or high-profile careers in this context. However, there is a need for a collaborative effort by all the stakeholders, including employees, government, corporations, and society, to end workplace discrimination as this inequality hurts individual and corporate performance.


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