Mythbusting Monday: Women Don’t Participate in Their Own Oppression

Myth: women don’t participate in their own oppression

Many people believe that because patriarchy is associated with the male gender, that only men can be oppressive towards women. Our stereotypical vision of sexism is where a man is unjustly treating a woman. Well, it seems as though this vision has broadened to include most heterosexist actions. But, what I think it’s just as important to point out women’s self-oppression rampant in the status quo. I may seem counter-intuitive initially, but is actually quite relevant even here at JMU.

Aside from benevolent sexism, where the “positive” stereotypes of women (like that women should be protected) are reinforced, a new type of discrimination has come to my attention where women are not just complacent with assumptions made, but are actually actively participating in it.

Not even touching the reproductive rights issues that many women support and don’t, I’ve begun to realize more and more that women are jumping on sexist bandwagon’s without even a blink of an eye.

I interviewed a sophomore from the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority on the “Derby Days” held at the Sigma Chi frat house this past week. These days are suppose to be held as a philanthropic event, although they’ve turned into competitive day drinking events for many people. After complaints about mistreatment, disrespect, and safety concerns in the past years, “each of the sororities signed a contract relating to fraternity philanthropic events and what was to be expected.  The contract specifically addressed the fact that there was to be NO drinking before or during weekday events.” Although, this was not heeded by many of the sororities as well as Sigma Chi was clearly ignoring the changes that were attempted to make the Derby Days a more positive experience. A student at the event from AST cited that “All of us felt very uncomfortable not only with the fact that many girls were obviously intoxicated and drinking at the event, but the degrading tendencies towards the sororities that Sigma Chi exemplified. We also felt very unwelcome to the other sororities, who proceeded to discourage our girls from hanging posters.”

She also stated that this treatment was pretty ordinary at these types of events, where many women were actively participating. She reported that, “All of us felt very uncomfortable not only with the fact that many girls were obviously intoxicated and drinking at the event, but the degrading tendencies towards the sororities that Sigma Chi exemplified. We also felt very unwelcome to the other sororities, who proceeded to discourage our girls from hanging posters.”

Additionally, none of these violations to the prior contractual agreement, which were clearly breached, were reported to the judicial board.

Although, after seeing this behavior again, AST withdrew from the Sigma Chi Derby Days, but most did not.

At the point where it’s clear, and even on paper, the sexism and misogyny you are actively participating in, shouldn’t you stop? I would think so. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I think the harsh competitive traditions are partially to blame, but so are the actions of these young women who’s own oppression is staring them in the face, yet they choose to ignore it. Engaging in peer-induced pressures of dressing for the sake of objectification and degrading yourself for social status seems quite terrifying.

Although I can’t personally say I’ve ever been involved in these activities, I feel confident in saying that unless we are actively DIS-engaging in our own oppression we are only nodding our heads in agreement with the current and malformed visions of womanhood.

Myth = BUSTED!

One thought on “Mythbusting Monday: Women Don’t Participate in Their Own Oppression

  1. Great post! I think it really is sad that women have their parts in their own oppression. Even when they choose not to discourage any degrading behavior, they are allowing oppression to continue. We need to actively fight to show people that such behavior is wrong and needs to change.

    Benevolent sexism is also something that needs to change. It’s one thing if a guy, say, opens a door because the girl is holding something in both arms or he just got to the door first. However, if he does it specifically because she is a girl, then he is saying that he views her as a child. Benevolent sexism, no matter how nice it seems, does nothing but, as you said, reinforce stereotypes.

    Like

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