Sociology and Oppression

Sociology and Oppression

No one else is free while others are oppressed”, states Martin L. King. It is an essential claim that women are oppressed. What is oppression? Oppression is the subjugation by one group to another group. By being oppressed you are being denied your human right to be an equal. Equality should not be an unattainable ideal that is only imagined in a far off place. Equality should be realistic and true. However, is equality just an unrealistic ideal for women in today’s society? To achieve a goal of equality, oppression has to be dealt with in the way we talk, the way we live, and the way we are taught.

The treatment of women in today’s society is related to culture and the society we are living in. Only by taking a couple steps back can you see that oppression is in our homes and in our everyday lives. We live in a man’s world, and we also live in a society of double standards. Take for example our language; this form of communication describes our values and attitudes. In language women are often oppressed in words such as: Mrs.. , Miss, Ms. This form of language is a tool for ownership.

If we hear the word Mrs. automatically she is married or “owned” by her husband. However, Mr.. S only used in one connotation. Like Frye expresses, unless looked at from the “big picture” prospective, it is neglected. This is just one example of our language that reflects the us fabrication of women. Marilyn Frye relates oppression to a birdcage. You cannot see oppression just by looking at one bar in the cage; you have to look at the whole picture. Only by taking a couple steps back can you see that oppression is in our homes and in our everyday lives.

My conception of racism is informed by the work of Marilyn Frye in her piece entitled Frye describes oppression as a systematic social structure he purpose of which is the subjugation of various groups of people in relation to a dominant group. She says: “The experience of oppressed people is that the living of one’s life is confined and shaped by forces and barriers which are not accidental or occasional and hence avoidable, but are systematically related to each other in such a way as to catch one between and among them and restrict or penalize motion in any direction” (pig).

Frye uses the very instructive analogy of a birdcage to describe oppression. An examination of a birdcage one wire at a time might not show how that one ire is restrictive or harmful; it seems as though it would be easy for the bird to fly around that one barrier to freedom. However, when you step back and view the whole cage, “it is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon” (pig).

On this view, oppression is not one specific barrier, but a series of interlocking barriers that restrict the movement of members of oppressed groups so they are constantly being rapped by “double-binds”, where options are limited and oppressed people are subject to penalties no matter which way they move. For Frye, racism is a form of oppression, which is a systematic social structure of interlocking barriers that serve to restrict the social movement of groups. Fryer’s oppression does not allow room for those who are marginality to oppress their oppressors.

For Frye, those who are bound by oppression simply do not have the power to inflict oppression on those who are oppressing them. The barriers that hold oppressed people in place are the same barriers that systematically support the oppressors. Despite the common challenges confronting African-American women as a group, individual Black women neither have identical experiences nor interpret experiences in a similar fashion. The existence of core themes does not mean that African-American women respond to these themes in the same way.

Differences among individual Black women produce different patterns of experiential knowledge that in turn shape individual reactions to the core themes. For example, when faced with controlling images of Black women as being ugly and unfeminine, some women such as Sojourner Truth demand, “Anti I a woman? ” By constructing the conceptual apparatus of the dominant group, they challenge notions of Barbie doll femininity premised on middle-class White women’s experiences (Hill-Collins, 2005).

In contrast, other women internalize the controlling images and come to believe that they are the stereotypes (Hill- Collins 2005). Still others aim to transgress the boundaries that frame the images themselves. Once heard a Black lady, say: “Unless you want to get into a big activist battle, you accept the stereotypes given to you and just try and reshape them along the way. So in a way, this gives me a lot of freedom. I can’t be looked at any worse in society than already am; black and female is pretty high on the list of things not to be”.

Many factors explain these diverse responses. For example, although all African-American women encounter institutionalized racism and social class differences among African-American women influence patterns of racism in housing, education, and employment (Adams, Blue enfold, Castanets, Hickman, Peters, Gauzing, 2013). African- American women have been victimized by intersecting oppressions. But portraying Black women solely as passive, unfortunate recipients of abuse tiff’s notions that Black women can actively work to change our circumstances and bring about changes in our lives.

Similarly, presenting African-American women solely as heroic figures who easily engage in resisting oppression on all fronts minimizes the very real costs of oppression and can foster the perception that Black women need no help because we can “take it. ” Domination operates by seducing, pressuring, or forcing African- American women, members of subordinated groups, and all individuals to replace individual and cultural ways of knowing with the dominant group’s peccadillo thought hegemonic ideologies that, in turn, justify practices of other domains of power (Adams et al. , 2013).

Although most individuals have little difficulty identifying their own factorization within some major system Of oppression whether it be by race, social class, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or gender they typically fail to see how their thoughts and actions uphold someone else’s subordination. Thus White women routinely point with confidence to their oppression as women but resist seeing how much their White skin privileges them. African-Americans ho possess eloquent analyses of racism often persist in viewing poor White men as symbols of White power. Adams et al. , 2013) The radical left fares little better. “If only people of color and women could see their true class interests,” they argue, “class solidarity would eliminate racism and sexism. ” In essence, each group identifies the oppression with which it feels most comfortable as being fundamental and classifies all others as being of lesser importance. Oppression is filled with such contradictions because these approaches fail to recognize that a matrix of domination contains few pure cities or oppressors.

Each individual derives varying amounts of penalty and privilege from the multiple systems of oppression which frame everyone’s lives.

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