Monday, August 20, 2012
Oppression and Liberation
Oppression is the real reason that social justice exists. Since, if there was no oppression everyone would have equality. Oppression is one of the tricky terms that everyone seems to know, but can get tongue tied when asked to explain its meaning. According to Dictionary.com, oppression is “the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel or unjust manner.” It all lies in how power is used and the context that authority is used in.
Oppression is facilitated in many different ways; through exploitation, discrimination, shaming, unequal allocation of resources and inequality, to name a few. All of these methods work to enhance oppression and keep these ideas in place. They are self-sustaining. Reinforcement is key to keeping the status quo and without oppressive ideas being held in the culture, doing this becomes impossible. It is why, then, the attitudes of moral high-ground, hierarchy and superiority are rampant in society.
Why, then, do we tolerate this? Wouldn’t it make more sense to overthrow these regimes that exude oppression on to us rather than to allow it? Encourage it, even? The answer lies in the reason oppressive social constructions are flourishing; because we are made to be a part of it. Oppressive ideas are instilled in us from the day we are born. Those ideas become integral to our identities and thought processes and formulate our ideas about the world; Fat people are lazy, women belong in the kitchen, men are supposed to be tough, consumption is good, poor people don’t work. The reason these ideas can exist and becomes memes is because we are taught to perpetuate it.
These oppressive ideas we learn through socialization are reinforced constantly through parents, friends, TV, books, magazines, advertising. It is seemingly inescapable. Because these ideas become a part of the culture (through reinforcement on a massive level) they become normalized. These attitudes are normal and also, expected. The expectations then create social pressure, so that we are all but forced to advocate them ourselves. This is then how social norms are created. It is expected that you meet these norms and validate them and not doing so can have serious consequences. Severe shame is often placed onto those who do not validate societal ideas which can spiral into even worse catastrophes of violence.
This is why it is important that we fight back. One of the best ways of doing this is through education. Educating yourself on our society, the way in which it works and what we can do to change it is the key to liberating yourself from these oppressive social constructions. We have to work to then spread the message and send it on! We must help others on their journey to liberation! Just think, if even one in ten people did this, how powerful we as a society could be against these systems! Think of all the social change that could take place! Through education and critical thinking we can create a generation of socially conscious individuals that are not willing to impose oppression on others.
Change is possible. It is not only possible, it is happening constantly. It is a system that is fluid and that we can become a part of. Ending oppression means global change. It means we can have the freedom to live in a truly organic state, in which creativity can flourish and people can be their truest self. This liberation is why ending oppression is so important, because liberation can set us free. Look within yourself and find your liberation. And live it.