Teachwell | Oppression – You Keep Using That Word, but it Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
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Oppression – You Keep Using That Word, but it Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

By isabellaquintana [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By isabellaquintana [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Am I the only one tired of hearing the word “oppression” being thrown around like confetti? It was inevitable that there would be a cry of oppression in response to @oldandrew’s post yesterday (‘Is promoting women really the issue?’). In the age of the social justice warrior, how much one is a “victim of oppression” corresponds with one’s self-worth.

What is oppression though?


Definition (s):


  • Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.
  • The state of being subject to oppressive treatment
  • Mental pressure or distress

(Source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/oppression)


According to the Geneva Convention, cruel treatment includes: torture, humiliating and degrading treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health. Humiliating and degrading treatment includes lack of food, water or medical treatment. The idea that anything other than a tiny minority of women in this country are facing oppression on a daily basis is preposterous. While there are women who are the victims of domestic violence, assault and rape, the idea that all women are oppressed because of it is the worst kind of bandwagon jumping I can think of. Neither are the majority of women subjected to anything like cruel treatment day in day out like they are elsewhere.


Spare me the lecture too, I witnessed domestic abuse as a child and don’t think the genuine suffering of those women should be hijacked by a group of virtue signalers. Neither am I going to waste my time trying to trick myself into believing that I have it just as bad or worse than women in the past. I actually do have better things to do than twist reality so that I can throw myself a pity party.


We live in a society where legally no one is allowed to rape anyone else. I can already hear the “but the system is not perfect” being thrown back at me via the computer screen in a high pitched shriek of social justice warrior anger. I have some sympathy for that. However, the idea that any system can be perfect is part of the problem with the exaggeristas among us. They really do believe that there exists a utopia where there is no rape, no domestic violence, etc. As much as I hate to admit it, there is no cure for any of those things. The best we can do is ensure there are no legal loopholes, that victims know they can go to the police and that the justice system works effectively and is held to account for any poor judgements by the press. We can reduce but not eliminate the issue entirely.


Most change is slow and incremental but it is happening, and great gains have been made. A hundred years ago, I doubt many women would have reported a rape to the police, much less expect the rapist to be sentenced. Chances of being packed off to an asylum would have put off many.


What do most women in the Britain face? Some, and I do mean some, women face discrimination in their lives or at work. Not all, not all to the same extent and not all for the same reasons. Each generation faces its own challenges and has to meet these. It is narcissism of the worst kind to think that all human beings who lived before oneself should have figured out every problem so one can live in a utopian dream.


As for the third definition – mental pressure and distress – well the only distress I can see from those who claim oppression is the one they are causing by tying themselves in knots trying to prove they are oppressed in the first place.


The meaning of a word does matter and if we want to be taken seriously then let’s use the correct words and not words that sound dramatic. If your cause is just it doesn’t require you to exaggerate the nature of it.


This post was originally published on the Labour Teachers website.

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