Concept of Oppression
Oppression mainly refers to the deprivation of basic choices in human beings, thus limiting the freedoms they can enjoy. Such unjust practices are usually undertaken by those in power with the ability to influence the lives of others. Thus, the aim of oppression lies in creating a system of domination where other parties cannot get equal opportunities to succeed (Frie 11). Ultimately, influential individuals continue to oppress others by viewing them as inferior regarding such aspects as gender, race, or status in society.
Women have long been oppressed in society based on their gender since they are perceived to be weaker. As a result, a majority of women lack enough exposure to enable them to prosper as individuals (Ford). Furthermore, their role as primary caregivers restricts their ability to achieve highly in society compared to their male counterparts. Women are thus expected to stay at home and take care of their families while men get the opportunities to earn and provide for their families. Such instances of oppression are rampant and have become accepted as part of normal communities, making them harder to eliminate from society.
In most cases, oppression may be hard to identify and recognize since several systemic forces shape it. As a result, oppression becomes evident when such barriers combine to limit a person’s ability to overcome them. For instance, Frye provides an example of a bird in a cage that only sees a single wire in its cage as the only barrier, while in reality, the number of connected wires poses the most significant problem (Frie 12). Therefore, the myopic view that most people use to view events clouds their judgement, leading to a limited view in recognizing the role they play in maintaining the oppression of others.
What it means to be a Man or Woman
Men are considered masculine hence should not show extreme emotions when in the presence of other men. For instance, Frie explains that men cannot cry in the presence of other men since they will be perceived to be weak (15). Therefore, despite the tribulations that such a man may undergo in his daily life, they are required to maintain a calm demeanour to ensure that they are held in high regard with their male peers. Ultimately, these restrictions define the masculinity of males in society, thus increasing their self-esteem.
On the other hand, women are considered as the nurturers of the family with their role as caregivers. Women play the role of mother and wife by taking care of their babies and husbands daily. According to Marsiglia et al., this role has become culturally accepted, with men being perceived incapable of correctly performing it (182). Women are thus primarily required to stay at home while their husbands work. Men forced to perform such duties feel degraded, showing the level of status given to the immense work women performs caring for their families.
Nursing is globally considered a role for women in the majority of health care settings. McIlroy explains that women thus occupy a majority of positions in the nursing occupation but still hold significantly lower positions. This shows that while they excel in this role, they are still undervalued and not paid enough as their male counterparts. Such inequalities show the low regard of women in society despite their contributions.
Maintenance of Oppression
The body plays a vital role in maintaining oppression, especially in women, since they become objectified. This leads to instances of discrimination or harassment based on clothing choices or any exposed body parts (Frie 12). In such cases, women wearing clothes that expose their bodies are perceived to be advertising themselves. This means that other people tend to see such behaviour as eliciting poor behavior.
On the other hand, sexuality comes into play when young women who actively engage in such activities become termed as unprincipled. On the other hand, men are praised for engaging in sexual activity. Such a discourse increases the oppression of women since they are not allowed to freely engage in their sexual desired without being labelled negatively (Marsiglia et al. 190). Furthermore, the lack of such activity further raises questions on the sexuality of a woman who may be deemed unpopular, especially as they become older. These instances deny women the freedom to use their bodies like their male counterparts without feeling judged by society.
Stereotypes of masculinity and femininity further compound the concept of oppression in a society based on the beliefs they impose on people. Thus, men are considered the stronger gender with more opportunities granted to them to earn and provide for their families. As a result, more men rise to higher positions earning significantly more than women. On the other hand, women become limited to family roles where they are required to take care of their homes (Ford). Moreover, some types of work, such as customer service, are perceived to be female-oriented due to women’s nature of being soft and caring when engaging with others. Consequently, such stereotypes further maintain oppression based on gender.
Additionally, politics involves using power to maintain the status quo due to the benefits that such leaders accrue during their tenure. With such power, there comes a tendency to discriminate against the poor in society by denying them their rights to equal access to services and opportunities (Frie 16). This creates an environment of dependability where citizens require government support to survive, leading to their acceptance of the oppression to survive. In the long run, oppressed individuals live each day, wielding the will of those in power to prevent further infliction of pain and suffering.
Lastly, family expectations guide the behaviour of its members, thus limiting their activities. Families are expected to conduct themselves in a particular way to maintain their relationships with others. Therefore, any contradicting behaviour raises questions and leads to punishment or criticism on the member (Frie). For instance, families may expect children to follow a specific career path when they may have a different passion they wish to pursue. As a result, such contradictions force such family members to conform to a life they may be uncomfortable with to please others.
Negative Aspects Associated with Oppression
Oppression against women leads to changes in social perception since such beliefs are carried out across generations. Children raised to see women and men performing specific roles in the homes become likely to continue the trend as they grow up and have their own families. As a result, any forms of oppression involving gender roles become carried on without being corrected. Apart from that, political oppression leads to undermining democracy, with those in power acting to benefit themselves. As a result, the voices of the oppressed become irrelevant hence their views and opinions fail to make a difference in impacting their lives (Marsiglia et al. 104). The lack of participation of such individuals leads to persistent pain and suffering despite the government’s role in supporting its citizens. In such cases, politicians mainly benefit by redirecting resources to themselves and those close to them. Consequently, oppression denies deserving people the right to enjoy their freedoms based on their position in society.
Ford, Liz. “Everybody is Talking about it: Women’s Rights to Take Centre Stage in 2020.” The Guardian, 2019.
Frie, Marilyn. “Opression.” Minas, Anne. Gender Basics: Feminist Perspectives on Women and Men. Wadsworth, 2000. 10-16.
Marsiglia, Flavio Francisco et al. Diversity, Oppression, & Change: Culturally Grounded Social Work. Oxford UP, 2021.
McIlroy, Rachael. “Nurses have been Invisible and Undervalued for far too Long.” The Guardian, 2020.