Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's not personal, it's business

By Taliajae Freedomfighter

Training has been intense lately. My outlet for processing the issues that are closest to my heart is writing. Thus I write a lot.

Today we were discussing sexism. Like all issues of oppression this can be a touchy one for many people. It affects everyone everyday. We are talking about how oppression is supported by our institutions and government, creating a trickle down affect. Examples of institutions are media, education, laws, criminal justice, workplace, etc.

At one point a male in the class joked about how our discussion was making men look like the "bad guy". Another student pointed out how that really isn't the point. There is no bad guy, so to speak. Shortly after that comment the same man added that he felt that if women would really try harder that men would definitely support them as far as gaining equality. He then went on to say something to the effect of "Women just need to work harder instead of just doing nothing, until they do, of course there will be sexism". He basically was placing the blame on women.

Instantly, half of the class raised their hands to rebuttal, including myself. As people took turns explaining to him that women are not, in fact, to blame for their own oppression I started to think about who was and why do we get so defensive about this issue.

When it comes down to it, no one really is to blame. Its not one man who is perpetrating all of the sexism in the world; just as it’s not one woman allowing the men to oppress her. No woman is helping sexism exist. Sure, we see women shaking their booty on TV or acting inappropriate in an adult film and think, "Jesus, she is only making it worse". But in reality it is only the system we have set up in society that is created to hold the oppressed people down. This influences women into thinking that their greatest worth is their appearance and body type.

This leads me to my second point; the issue of oppression is not personal, its just business. A lot of people automatically assume that someone talking about how men are the people in power think that person is trying to blame the man. It isn’t about you man. Oppression is a system of control that society has set up to keep the oppressed powerless and the powerful even stronger. This isn’t saying that each man on the planet is oppressing the women in his life every day. Some men do. They abuse and rape and belittle women. But there are many more that support and love and encourage women in their lives. It’s just a matter of men benefiting from sexism and women loosing out. Just as white people benefit from racism and people of color don't.

Lets stop arguing about who is to blame and start banning together to create some real change. Women can make a difference but it’s the men who are allies that can help us get the message through.

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