by Rami Henrich, LCSW
What is marginalization?Have you ever been marginalized? And, how would you know if you had been? Do you often feel different from others? Like you don’t quite fit in?
While some feelings of not fitting in may be related to your personal psychology, some of these feelings can come from the world around you. Marginalization often occurs when an individual or group minimizes or disavows the legitimacy, rights or privileges of others who are believed to be somehow different from the mainstream. Individuals and groups can be explicitly or implicitly marginalized.
Marginalization often occurs outside of ordinary awareness which means we do not notice when we are marginalizing ourselves or others, or when we are being marginalized. Internalized marginalization is the experience of oppressing one’s self with inner criticisms or judgments. For example, I used to blame myself for putting my children in a position where they might feel like outsiders because I had chosen or created an unconventional relationship within which they also had to live.
For polyamorists, like other non-mainstream groups, marginalization occurs daily in small and large ways inside their relationship, from extended family members, and from the world. We live in a culture that places high value on monogomy and often fails to recognize or anticipate relationship structures that fall outside of the traditionally accepted survey categories: single, married, or divorced.
Our culture rewards and reinforces these familiar relationship structures in big and small ways. For instance, most athletic clubs offer family memberships and substantial savings to nuclear families but not to alternative ones. The majority of teachers and school administrators tend to react awkwardly when three adults show up for parent’s night. And the law has yet to fully legitimize homosexual and polyamorous relationships by sanctioning their unions with the same rights and privileges of married heterosexual couples.
Marginalization…sometimes so subtle and implicit, other times so gross and explicit. Have you noticed marginalization in your world? What are your experiences with marginalization?