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Reverse discrimination refers to discrimination flowing in the opposite direction from that which it has traditionally flowed. The concept of reverse discrimination is the source of a good deal of controversy, not only over how much of it is justified, but even over how much of it is occurring. A lot of cherry-picking goes into the search for data supporting any reversal of discrimination, as well as oversimplification of related issues that ignores secondary social origins that could explain the results.
- Much gender-based discrimination traditionally favors men over women. The feminist movement, which despite its many schisms largely seeks to promote equality by sharing the advantages many men take for granted with women, is sometimes seen as a restrictive presence or even a vengeful one that supposedly seeks to take away the rights of men. This is really only true if (1) you tar the whole of feminism with the beliefs of a small fringe element, or (2) you think it is a man's right to crack "women-get-back-in-the-kitchen" jokes, without being thought of as a buttmunch. Certain "Men's Rights" groups are fond of calling the wahmbulance by claiming feminists are sexist towards them. (See misandry and female supremacy.)
- Some Conservatives and libertarians, particularly in the United States believe that affirmative action programs and other government policies set up to assist historically/currently marginalized minority groups unfairly discriminate against the majority in favor of said minority groups.
- White supremacists often attribute any advancement by blacks or other "people of color" occurring after 1877 to "reverse discrimination." (See reverse racism.)
- In 2012, there was some controversy over a failed sex-discrimination lawsuit in Iowa. A dentist's nurse had been fired for being too attractive to her boss; she sued and lost, as the judges ruled that the firing did not constitute sex discrimination. One reason the judges cited for their decision was a policy of the dentist to hire only women as dental nurses; this "reverse-discriminatory" policy received little mention from people who protested against the ruling.
Institutionalized vs. individual discrimination
The existence of reverse discrimination is categorically denied by those who define discrimination as being only the institutionalized variant of it. This variant describes discrimination which originates from biased people in powerful positions and biases of a group towards a disproportionally smaller group. See also prejudice plus power. And they define individual discrimination as an act which originates from bias (the difference with bullying is small if not non-existent). It should be stressed that this is merely a convention in definition; one could still define both as forms of discrimination, while understanding that there is a clear difference between the two and that the institutionalized variant is a disproportionally larger issue than the individual variant. It should however not be used to marginalize the problems that an individual faces after experiencing individual discrimination.
- Men's Rights Blogs.