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The problem with making oppression a competition

Squarehard

Member
Oct 27, 2017
11,321
This has been starting to creep up more and more recently in threads, and I feel like we need to have a deeper discussion about the way we approach these issues from a better perspective.

While the recent Buttigieg thread is just one example, this has been something that has been occurring for some time now, so it's not like a new phenomenon.

Oppression is not a competition. There's no reason for it to be a competition. What we should understand about oppression is that it comes in a lot of different forms, and while each oppressed group goes through a different barriers in their own right, it does not mean they are oppressed more or less. Oppression is a disease, and one that makes all those who are impacted sick, regardless of the specifics of how it occurs within each community and population. It's not about who had it worse, it's about understanding, and in that we can better engage in better arguments to promote and advocate for a better path forward, particularly in discussing these topics wit more nuance.

I feel there needs to be a clear distinction between sympathy and empathy when trying to discuss the different types of oppression from one's perspective. Empathy is better understanding what that other person has to go through from their shoes. If you aren't a part of a particular community, rather than trying to give off the perception you are, and you can speak to their perspective; you should instead be approaching it as if you're not a part of their community, but have the willingness to engage and do your best to understand them from their perspective.

Sympathy has never been helpful in any of these discussions where one oppressed group tries to get the upper hand by saying things such as, "I know you've had it bad, but you know that we've had it much worse, so your point is invalid." But what does saying something like this really accomplish? What if you approach it from the sense of, "I don't understand how it's been for your community, and I'm sorry you've had to go through that. In my community, this is the kind of oppression we've experienced." This is what empathy is about. Quoting Brene Brown on the issue of empathy, it's about vulnerability. In order to fully embrace the concept of empathy, we have to first be able to recongize our own vulnerabilities in engaging in difficult, yet, incredibly important topics on issues of oppression, and how we engage these issues. Vulnerability means that it's the recognition of oppression as a concept as a whole, rather than oppression as a something that a particular community owns. This is where we will start to find ourselves in this odd disposition of trying to compare our experiences in some distorted, fuck you didn't get mine, bizarro competition instead of tackling the larger problem of what oppression is actually meant to be.

I had more I wanted to say, but got distracted with a surprise conference all, and sort of lost my footing on where I wanted to close this off with, but I would certainly want to have a continued discussion with everyone on this more.

Apologies for the abrupt end, but I look forward to furthering this conversation.
 

Midramble

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,582
San Francisco
Do keep in mind though that if you dont prioritize social issues by criticality then you have things like "all lives matter".

Yes, multiple issues can be worked on at once but it is important to be mindful of contexts that may be silencing or erasing more critical issues.

I also should probably not be posting this while starting a 2 hour walk...
 

LQX

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,510
It's not a competition but at the same time not all struggles(for the lack of a better word) are the same. Moreover, it can be distasteful and take away from the issues some are going through by piggybacking off of their struggle, especially when you routinely ignore that struggle until it is convenient to draw parallels.
 
OP
OP
Squarehard

Squarehard

Member
Oct 27, 2017
11,321
It's not a competition but at the same time not all struggles(for the lack of a better word) are the same. Moreover, it can be distasteful and take away from the issues some are going through by piggybacking off of their struggle, especially when you routinely ignore that struggle until it is convenient to draw parallels.
Agreed.

I mentioned this in the op too, but it's the issue of sympathy and empathy, and it always becomes an issue when trying to tackle these topics in many threads that tends to stifle the larger conversation that should be had on the topic.
 

zero_suit

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,175
Do keep in mind though that if you dont prioritize social issues by criticality then you have things like "all lives matter".

Yes, multiple issues can be worked on at once but it is important to be mindful of contexts that may be silencing or erasing more critical issues.

I also should probably not be posting this while starting a 2 hour walk...
You are correct. The co-opting of social issues is a very common thing.