​Oppression: A Two-Way Street
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Politics and Activism

​Oppression: A Two-Way Street

Because it's possible to be discriminatory while also being oppressed.

​Oppression: A Two-Way Street
It's All Yoga, Baby

Let’s face it: everyone who isn’t a white heterosexual cisgender able-bodied middle-class (or above) man faces unique disadvantages that others don’t. All women face sexual harassment and lower wages compared to a white man’s dollar, and women of color face a wider wage gap than white women. Speaking of people of color, many experience discrimination, xenophobia, increased hate crimes, and racism.

LGBT+ people face homophobia, transphobia, a shorter life expectancy, increased hate crimes, and are more likely to be homeless. And we shouldn’t forget intersectionality: how one person can be oppressed in different ways at the same time because of who they are. There’s no person who is oppressed in every possible way and completely unable to be oppressive.

So since there are many different types of people and also many different types of ways to be oppressed based on your identity, it stands to reason that not everyone who is oppressed is oppressed in the same way. Or, something we always knew: everyone is different and experiences the world differently.

This is important when it comes to oppression because not everyone realizes that oppression isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. There are definitely people who are multiply oppressed too! For example, a black woman who is a lesbian would experience racism, homophobia, and sexism because of who she is.

The point I’m really trying to make is that people who experience discrimination in one way can be discriminatory in another. For example, a white cisgender gay man can be racist, sexist, or transphobic while still experiencing homophobia. That doesn’t mean the homophobia he experiences is less valid, only that he should realize that he is able to be both oppressed and oppressive at the same time.

Or, another example, a person who is transgender can still be racist (or fetishizing toward another race, which is exoticism, a form of racism) and discriminatory towards lower-income people. There is definitely opportunity for people to learn how they are oppressive.

Let me take a moment to say here that discriminatory behavior isn’t inherent to any particular person or group. It’s learned by example from others, and can be unlearned as well. A common misconception about oppressors is that they can never learn to be better and that they will always be oppressive simply by existing. That’s not true!

Through education, self-reflection (“What have I done wrong? Why? How can I be better?”) and change in oppressive behaviors as well as possible apology/making amends, a discriminatory person can learn to be more accepting and less discriminatory. And while it may not be the easiest thing in the world, it’s more than worthwhile because it helps make a stronger global community and a better world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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