Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Politics of Reality Oppression by Marilyn Frye pg 1-16

The Politics of Reality Oppression by Marilyn Frye pg 1-16

Ratings: (0)|Views: 173 |Likes:
Published by JennyRuben
first section of Frye's book "The Politics of Reality"
first section of Frye's book "The Politics of Reality"

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: JennyRuben on Apr 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

04/05/2012

pdf

text

original

 
xvi
THEPOLITICSOFREALITY
Finally,thoughmyuseofuppercaselettersisnormalforthemostpart,Idonotdignifynamesofreligionsandreli-giousinstitutionswithuppercase
letters,
Hence,theword'christian',usedeitherasnounorasadjective,isnotcapital-ized,noristheword'church'or'catholic',etc.Ontheotherhand,Idopractice,fromtimetotime,thedeliberatereversalofstandardtypographicalpolitics,andcapitalizesuchwordsas'Lesbian'.Theoccasionaluseofthepluralpronouns'they','them'and'their'assingularpronounswhereasingularandgender-neutralpronounisneededisalsodeliberate,andshouldbechalkeduptomypolitics,nottoanyweaknessofmyownortheeditor'sorproofreader'sgraspofstandardgrammar.Theusageof'they','them'and'their'assingularpronounsisverycommoninspokenEnglish,andIviewitasharmlessinthewrittenlanguage.
OPPRESSION
Itisafundamentalclaimoffeminismthatwomenareop-pressed.Theword'oppression'isastrongword.Itrepelsandattracts.Itisdangerousanddangerouslyfashionableandendangered.
It
ismuchmisused,andsometimesnotinnocently.Thestatementthatwomenareoppressedisfrequentlymetwiththeclaimthatmenareoppressedtoo.Wehearthatop-pressingisoppressivetothosewhooppressaswellastothosetheyoppress.Somemenciteasevidenceoftheiroppressiontheirmuch-advertisedinabilitytocry.Itistough,wearetold,tobemasculine.Whenthestressesandfrustrationsofbeingamanarecitedasevidencethatoppressorsareop-pressedbytheiroppressing,theword'oppression'isbeingstretchedtomeaninglessness;itistreatedasthoughitsscopeincludesanyandallhumanexperienceoflimitationorsuffer-ing,nomatterthecause,degreeorconsequence.Oncesuchusagehasbeenputoveronus,thenifeverwedenythatanypersonorgroupisoppressed,weseemtoimplythatwethinktheyneversufferandhavenofeelings.Weareaccusedofin-sensitivity;evenofbigotry.Forwomen,suchaccusationisparticularlyintimidating,sincesensitivityisoneofthefewvirtuesthathasbeenassignedtous.
If
wearefoundinsensi-tive,wemayfearwehavenoredeemingtraitsatallandper-hapsarenotrealwomen.Thusarewesilencedbeforewebe-gin:thenameofoursituationdrainedofmeaningandourguiltmechanismstripped.
 
2THEPOLITICSOFREALITY
Butthisisnonsense.Humanbeingscanbemiserablewith-outbeingoppressed,anditisperfectlyconsistenttodenythatapersonorgroupisoppressedwithoutdenyingthattheyhavefeelingsorthattheysuffer.Weneedtothinkclearlyaboutoppression,andthereismuchthatmitigatesagainstthis.Idonotwanttoundertaketoprovethatwomenareoppressed(orthatmenarenot),butIwanttomakeclearwhatisbeingsaidwhenwesayit.Weneedthisword,thisconcept,andweneedittobesharpandsure.
I
Therootoftheword'oppression'istheelement'press'.
Thepressofthecrowd;pressedintomilitaryservice;topressapairofpants;printingpress;pressthebutton.
Pressesareusedtomoldthingsorflattenthemorreducetheminbulk,sometimestoreducethembysqueezingoutthegassesorliquidsinthem.Somethingpressedissomethingcaughtbe-tweenoramongforcesandbarrierswhicharesorelatedtoeachotherthatjointlytheyrestrain,restrictorpreventthething'smotionormobility.Mold.Immobilize.Reduce.Themundaneexperienceoftheoppressedprovidesanotherclue.Oneofthemostcharacteristicandubiquitousfeaturesoftheworldasexperiencedbyoppressedpeopleisthedou-blebind-situationsinwhich'optionsarereducedtoaveryfewandallofthemexposeonetopenalty,censureordepri-vation.Forexample,itisoftenarequirementuponoppressedpeoplethatwesmileandbecheerful.
If
wecomply,wesig-nalourdocilityandouracquiescenceinoursituation.Weneednot,then,betakennoteof.Weacquiesceinbeingmadeinvisible,inouroccupyingnospace.Weparticipateinourownerasure.Ontheotherhand,anythingbutthesunniestcountenanceexposesustobeingperceivedasmean,bitter,angryordangerous.Thismeans,attheleast,thatwemaybefound"difficult"orunpleasanttoworkwith,whichis
OPPRESSION3
enoughtocostoneone'slivelihood;atworst,beingseenasmean,bitter,angryordangeroushasbeenknowntoresultinrape,arrest,beatingandmurder.Onecanonlychoosetoriskone'spreferredformandrateofannihilation.Anotherexample:ItiscommonintheUnitedStatesthatwomen,especiallyyoungerwomen,areinabindwherenei-thersexualactivity.norsexualinactivityisallright.
If
sheisheterosexuallyactive,awomanisopentocensureandpunish-mentforbeingloose,unprincipledorawhore.The"punish-ment"comesintheformofcriticism,snideandembarrassingremarks,beingtreatedasaneasylaybymen,scornfromhermorerestrainedfemalefriends.Shemayhavetolieandhideherbehaviorfromherparents.Shemustjuggletherisksofunwantedpregnancyanddangerouscontraceptives.Ontheotherhand,ifsherefrainsfromheterosexualactivity,sheisfairlyconstantlyharassedbymenwhotrytopersuadeherintoitandpressureherto"relax"and"letherhairdown";sheisthreatenedwithlabelslike"frigid,""uptight,""man-hater""bitch"and"cocktease."Thesameparentswhowouldbedisapprovingofhersexualactivitymaybeworriedbyherinactivitybecauseitsuggestssheisnotorwillnotbepopular,orisnotsexuallynormal.Shemaybechargedwithlesbianism.
If
awomanisraped,thenifshehasbeenhetero-sexuallyactivesheissubjecttothepresumptionthatshelikedit(sinceheractivityispresumedtoshowthatshelikessex),andifshehasnotbeenheterosexuallyactive,sheissub-jecttothepresumptionthatshelikedit(sincesheissuppos-edly"repressedandfrustrated").Bothheterosexualactivityandheterosexualnonactivityarelikelytobetakenasproofthatyouwantedtoberaped,andhence,ofcourse,weren't
really
rapedatall.Youcan'twin.Youarecaughtinabind,caughtbetweensystematicallyrelatedpressures.Womenarecaughtlikethis,too,bynetworksofforcesandbarriersthatexposeonetopenalty,lossorcontemptwhetheroneworksoutsidethehomeornot,isonwelfareornot,bearschildrenornot,raiseschildrenornot,marriesornot,staysmarriedornot,isheterosexual,lesbian,bothor
 
4TIlEPOLITICSOFREALITYneither;Economicnecessity;confinementtoracialand/orsexualjob
ghetto's;
sexualharassment;sexdiscrimination;pressuresofcompetingexpectationsandjudgmentsabout
women,wives
and
mothers
(inthesocietyatlarge,inracialandethnicsubculturesandinone'sownmind);dependence(fullorpartial)onhusbands,parentsorthestate;commit-menttopoliticalideas;loyaltiestoracialorethnicorother"minority"groups;thedemandsofself-respectandresponsibilitiestoothers.Eachofthesefactorsexistsincom-plextensionwitheveryother,penalizingorprohibitingalloftheapparentlyavailableoptions.Andnippingatone'sheels,always,istheendlesspackoflittlethings.
If
onedressesoneway,oneissubjecttotheassumptionthatoneisadvertisingone'ssexualavailability;ifonedressesanotherway,oneappearsto"notcareaboutoneself"ortobe"unfeminine."
If
oneuses"stronglanguage,"oneinvitescategorizationasawhoreorslut;
if
onedoesnot,oneinvitescategorizationasa"lady"-onetoodelicatelyconstitutedtocopewithrobustspeechortherealitiestowhichitpresumablyrefers.Theexperienceofoppressedpeopleisthatthelivingofone'slifeisconfinedandshapedbyforcesandbarrierswhicharenotaccidentaloroccasionalandhenceavoidable,butaresystematicallyrelatedtoeachotherinsuchawayastocatchonebetweenandamongthemandrestrictorpenalizemotioninanydirection.Itistheexperienceofbeingcagedin:allavenues,ineverydirection,areblockedorboobytrapped.Cages.Considerabirdcage.
If
youlookverycloselyatjustonewireinthecage,youcannotseetheotherwires.
If
yourconceptionofwhatisbeforeyouisdeterminedbythismyopicfocus,youcouldlookatthatonewire,upanddownthelengthofit,andbeunabletoseewhyabirdwouldnotjustflyaroundthewireanytimeitwantedtogosomewhere.Furthermore,evenif,onedayatatime,youmyopicallyin-spectedeachwire,youstillcouldnotseewhyabirdwouldhavetroublegoingpastthewirestogetanywhere,Thereisnophysicalpropertyofanyonewire,
nothing
thattheclosestscrutinycoulddiscover,thatwillrevealhowabirdcouldbeOPPRESSION5inhibitedorharmedbyitexceptinthemostaccidentalway.Itisonlywhenyoustepback,stoplookingatthewiresonebyone,microscopically,andtakeamacroscopicviewofthewholecage,thatyoucanseewhythebirddoesnotgoany-where;andthenyouwillseeitinamoment.
It
willrequirenogreatsubtletyofmentalpowers.
It
isperfectly
obvious
thatthebirdissurroundedbyanetworkofsystematicallyre-latedbarriers,nooneofwhichwouldbetheleasthindrancetoitsflight,butwhich,bytheirrelationstoeachother,areasconfiningasthesolidwallsofa
dungeon,
It
isnowpossibletograsponeofthereasonswhyoppres-sioncanbehardtoseeandrecognize:onecanstudytheele-mentsofanoppressivestructurewithgreatcareandsomegoodwillwithoutseeingthestructureasawhole,andhencewithoutseeingorbeingabletounderstandthatoneislookingatacageandthattherearepeopletherewhoarecaged,whosemotionandmobilityarerestricted,whoselivesareshapedandreduced.Thearrestingofvisionatamicroscopiclevelyieldssuchcommonconfusionasthataboutthemaledoor-openingritual.Thisritual,whichisremarkablywidespreadacrossclassesandraces,puzzlesmanypeople,someofwhomdoandsomeofwhomdonotfinditoffensive.Lookatthesceneofthetwopeopleapproachingadoor.Themalestepsslightlyaheadandopensthedoor.Themaleholdsthedooropenwhilethefe-maleglidesthrough,Thenthemalegoesthrough.Thedoorclosesafterthem."Nowhow,"oneinnocentlyasks,"canthosecrazywomenslibberssaythatisoppressive?Theguy
removed
abarriertothelady'ssmoothandunruffledpro-gress."Buteachrepetitionofthisritualhasaplaceinapat-tern,infactinseveralpatterns.Onehastoshiftthelevelofone'sperceptioninordertoseethewhole
picture,
Thedoor-openingpretendstobeahelpfulservice,butthehelpfulnessisfalse.Thiscanbeseenbynotingthatitwillbedonewhetherornotitmakesanypracticalsense.Infirmmenandmenburdenedwithpackageswillopendoorsforable-bodiedwomenwhoarefreeofphysicalburdens.Menwill

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->