Originally Posted by redpepper
My question is, what do I do that is oppressive and what can I do about it. Sure I have been a victim and am a victim but I find I learn about my own oppression by looking at what I can do to change what I do. That way I can ask for the change I need and advocate for myself and others.
Any ideas on how to not be oppressive?
That's a fantastic question. Especially since most people ask it a different way. Most people ask, "How can I combat oppression?" as if it's a great outside force that they are not a part of. The very fact that you're framing it as "How can I be less oppressive?" suggests that you're starting off having already taken some significant steps.
One thing that doesn't get talked about very much is privilege. Wherever there is one group being oppressed, there is another group that is privileged as a result of that oppression. This privilege is often unintentional by the people who experience it but it is always unearned. The hard part is starting to unpack what privileges we do have without feeling judgement by others or judging ourselves. But the first step to unplugging from the oppressive systems we live in is to understand the privileges bestowed upon us by those very same systems.
Another thing to realize is that because we have privilege in one area, that doesn't mean we have it in others. I'm white, that certainly gives me privilege. But I'm also a woman, where I experience oppression at the hands of male privilege. This could go on an on...sexual orientation, class, size, level of beauty, etc...Our other identities all weave into a tapestry of privilege and oppression all wrapped up together. But regardless of the identity being challenged, the dynamic that causes it is always the same.
This is a great essay that explains the many obvious and less obvious ways privilege manifests itself. It's framed in the context of race but I find it to be a great eye opener about how "default" things can be so much a part of the landscape that we don't even see them.
A lot of other people have written about Peggy's essay. This is a good one about how male privilege can be seen in such light.