potato_head: (Default)
[personal profile] potato_head
A thought, inspired by a discussion going on over at the_slash_pile right now...

This is my basic litmus test for whether something is systemic oppression vs. isolated prejudice/hatred:

If you can easily escape it, it is not oppression.

Some basic examples, to illustrate my points:

A woman is out with her friends; they go to Hooters. She becomes uncomfortable with the atmosphere of sexual objectification, so goes outside. If she walks home, depending on the city, she may get catcalled, a shorthand way for a man to express that he is currently looking at her as a sex object and that interests him without much concern for who she is as a person. On the drive home, she will probably encounter several billboards (and advertisements on buses, outside stores, etc.) that feature the bodies of women (often sans faces - or with only the lips - stripped of any individual identity), sometimes not even directly interacting with the product being advertised but simply placed next to it, as shorthand to communicate the idea that this product is about sex, the same way that a woman's body is about sex. When she turns on the TV once she gets home - and this depends on the channel that she happens to choose, somewhat, but there is a high probability that she will see more of the same, in the commercials there. It won't be quite the same - visual commercials are more likely to have the woman's face, so that she can look at the camera in a sultry manner, because it's easier to strip her of her identity by having her behave in a flirtatious manner. Depending on what program she chooses to watch, she may, again, find more of the same - again a bit less obvious - but she is likely to find that even many of her favorite television shows are about a male protagonist, or have more male protagonists than female. Female side-characters are less likely to be fleshed out as a character, and more likely to be 'decorative'. I could go on, but I think you see the point - if being objectified makes her uncomfortable and she wishes to avoid it, she would have to shut herself in her apartment, carefully select the media she consumes, purchase a DVR so she can record shows to fast-forward through the commercials, etc. etc. Obviously, this would seem extreme to most people, and it isn't considered the normal response - so most women live with it (whether that means learning to ignore it, standing up against it, whatever.)

Now, a man is out with his friends; they go to a Chippendales performance. Actually, I'm not sure I can make an actual 1:1 comparison on that point, since the situation with the Hooters is just so much more likely to happen...maybe they go to see the last Twilight movie, and he becomes uncomfortable with the sexual objectification of that werewolf character who's always walking around shirtless. (As you can see, I know my Twilight. Was it Jason? I am seriously too tired to look it up right now, sorry.) So he leaves. Regardless of where he lives, he's not going to get catcalled on his walk home; although he may see some ads with sexually attractive men in them, there will be fewer of them, and it's really unlikely he'll see ads featuring faceless, identity-less bodies of men. The closest he might get are the advertisements outside certain clothing stores, where the models' faces are often cut off to encourage one to envision oneself wearing the clothes in question. When he gets home and turns on the TV, he may well encounter a slew of ads stereotyping men - but the stereotypes will still be around the basic concept of a personality; likes, dislikes, things a person might actually do - rather than just being around the fact that he, as a man, has a body that some people find sexually desirable. It's likely that if, in a show he watches, a man is presented as being his body and having no character beyond that, it will be done for comedic value; and rarely at that. So basically to avoid that atmosphere of objectification, he just has to not watch Twilight or go to Chippendales performances.

I've realized that while I originally referenced hate, I ended up giving examples more about objectification/fetishization, probably because...that's what was on my mind. But I think this principle extends to situations of hatred too (for example, consider the situation of a black man being looked down on/slurred for his race, vs. a white man). And I'm tired, so this is all y'all're getting. Sorry!

I'm also not going to break up those huge paragraphs. Instead I am going to trust in the saint of formatting and hope that they just look enormous in the post textbox and will look more reasonable once actually posted. EDIT: I am, however, going to put a cut, because apparently the saint of formatting has forsaken me.

Date: 2013-02-16 05:59 pm (UTC)
seventhbard: photo of a plush unicorn on a dark background (Default)
From: [personal profile] seventhbard
Makes sense! (I'm sorry I have nothing amazing to offer beyond that).

Also, I saw all your posts about covers and I kept meaning to say awesome encouraging things because I'm so excited with/for you and you're amazing at the covers and asfaa;lajf;l, but like apparently I suck as a friend lately! But they're great! And I'm looking forward to all the jillions you will do when everyone wants to hire you!

Date: 2013-02-18 07:13 pm (UTC)
seventhbard: Drawing of a grey Chihuahua in sunglasses, with text Hellz Yeah! (Hellz yeah)
From: [personal profile] seventhbard


Date: 2013-02-17 01:14 am (UTC)
mistressofmuses: Closeup photograph of a light pink rose. (Default)
From: [personal profile] mistressofmuses
I think this is a really good illustration of the difference between "something oppressive" and "something that sucks but is not actually the same thing as oppression." Sometimes I've found it hard to quite put it in words when someone from a generally privileged group says something like "well, [majority group] gets called names/objectified/insulted/etc. TOO, so why does [minority group] complain?" Generally I just say something about "yeah, but it's not the SAME THING." This is more detailed and eloquent, haha.


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