I choose you, oppression!
It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed feminism with someone who hasn’t read a word of feminist theory and I use the word ‘discussed’ lightly. Alas my lucky streak ended a few weeks ago when unlike misdemeanours in the past where I angrily begin ranting about something, someone else flew off the handle at me. It’s a harsh shock into the reality of how the world views feminism and one I sorely needed to get some fire in my veins.
The whole episode began as I made an offhand comment about tea. That should tell you how quintessentially British I am. Me and my friends have came to buy a large selection of different teas, from fruity to herbal we have a large cupboard dedicated to it. Insert another observation of my wild lifestyle and the cons of loaning money to tea obsessed students. Anyway, due to this we have some quite fancy tea and I selected a particularly fancy bag, which my friend pointed out was made by a company who have a gendered tea selection.
Now although I’m well versed in the magic of a good cuppa, I’m not convinced a mix of dried leaves and flavourings are particularly well suited to specific genders. So of course I made the offhand comment about how annoying gendering things is, especially tea and especially when the ‘woman’s’ tea is good for ‘calming’ (narrows eyes and growls).
Then the shit hit the fan.
One tiny comment ended in a frustrating conversation with someone who refused to listen, asked broad questions, frequently derailed the discussion and stated that sometimes oppression is a choice. Yeah you read that right. Let’s ignore the apathetic stance of the instigator and the overwhelming ignorance of their comments, let’s focus on choosing to be oppressed.
POWER SYSTEMS DON’T WORK THAT WAY.
We live under a patriarchy which at its most basic means we live under a system which actively benefits straight, able bodied, white, cis men. A narrow category, which means if you fall even a smidge out of that category you lose these ‘benefits’. You suffer and the degree to which you suffer positively correlates to how far away you are from this ‘category’. We do not choose to live under this system and there is no feasible way to escape it as it permeates every level of society. So the idea that the oppressed choose to suffer is ridiculous. It’s stating that you choose to be born a certain way, so your oppression is your own fault.
Saying that people actively choose to be oppressed through their own mistakes or lack of fight is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. It belittles activist movements and the amount of people who have died fighting their oppressors. I hear this stance all too often in the voices of mainstream society, the silencing tactics of ‘it’s all in your head’ and the refusal to listen to the movements fighting for change.
Oppression is not a choice and I wish more people could be bothered to google ‘feminism’, you never know what you might learn.
Image credit: http://pokemon.wikia.com/wiki/File:IL001-_Pok%C3%A9mon_-_I_Choose_You_03.png