14 June, 2013
Professor of Philosophy and Feminist Theory, Marilyn Frye, mostly writes about her life as a woman and Lesbian. In her article Oppression she tries to define oppression and high light some of the main causes of oppression. According to Frye oppression is very strong word and it is derive from word Press, further she analysis the word Press as “something pressed is someone caught between or among forces and barriers… they restrain, restrict, or prevent the thing’s motion or mobility.” In addition to this Dictionary.com defines oppression as “the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner, or the feeling of being burdened mentally or physically” (Dictionary.com). According to my perspective oppression means the state of human beings where they do not feel easy to handle their own problems and novel situations, they feel difficulty to cope with their own desires and wishes due to social barriers like cultural norms, traditions, religious values, family’s expectations and even self expectation which leads to obsession and chronic obsession cause oppression in individuals. Here we come up with various definitions and interpretations of oppression but the most important point about oppression is that who are oppressed and by whom? Frye illustrates “we hear that oppressing is oppressive to those who oppress as well as to those they oppress.” In this statement Frye come up with very thought provoking idea but pronouns which are used in this statement are ambiguous and confusing, for instance, in the beginning of this sentence she used pronoun we it is not clear that the pronoun we means women, men or whole society. Further it is also not clear that who is oppress by whom but still this statement very clearly emphasize that if anyone is oppressing another person, he or she also affect by the negative energy of oppression.
Further, Frye constructs her argument that oppression is meaninglessly used by society. She justifies her argument that “oppression is being stretch to meaninglessness; it is treated as rough its scope includes any and all human experiences of limitation or suffering, no matter the cause, degree, or consequences” it means that if anyone is not oppress he or she is not suffering or in other words they are insensitive. Up to this point Frye’s argument is general where she is talking about both men and women then she is using word insensitive as a transition to shift her argument from general to only women. For example, Frye mention in her article, “If we are found insensitive we may have fear of not real women.” Here pronoun we is referring to women and insensitivity is related to women’s character. Frye does not agree with miss use of the oppression she use informal diction “nonsense” to show her denial for meaninglessness stretch of oppression. She claims that “human beings can be miserable without being oppressed” she is demonstrating her point that we should have a specific, clear and sharp definition of oppression, “we need this word, this concept, and we need it to be sharp and sure” because oppression cause double bind-situations to oppressed people, for example, “it is often a requirement upon oppressed people that we smile and be cheerful.” This statement is example of ethos because Frye is considering herself as an oppressed person and eliciting her feelings that oppressed people despite of having tension and frustration they are supposed to be act like happy people.
In addition to this she is giving example of American younger women that neither their sexual activity nor their sexual inactivity is accepted by the society. If a girl is sexual active she is criticize, and given embarrassing remarks due to which she lie to her parents and she used dangerous contraceptive to avoid unwanted pregnancy. If a girl is not sexual active she is given name of lesbian and again her parents are worried about her sexual inactivity. Further if a girl is rape, people make presumption about her that she likes to be rape. Ones more this statement is good example of ethos because being a woman and a Lesbian she may be personally experience these problems and this might be one reason to high light such issues in her article. Frye claims these issues as networks of forces and barriers lead to oppression. She mention long list of obligations related to women, for instance, “whether one bears children or not, marries or not, stays married or not, is heterosexual, lesbian, both, etc.” She indicates that each of these factors having a complex series of problems and tensions which generate new problems and this is a continuous process. This problem is not natural or accidental but it is constructed by society and which is avoidable if we understand oppression, its root causes, oppressed people and their feelings in better way with critical eye.
Moreover, Frye argue that oppressed people are like a caged bird, which is blocked within the walls of cage. Frye relates social construction with cage. If we observe very closely only one wire of cage we cannot see other wires likewise if we relate oppression to only one thing we cannot dig the depth to get the reality and severity of oppressed people and their problems. To demonstrate her claim Frye used scientific terminologies: macroscopic and microscopic. The significance of such diction is to pin point the importance of critical observation of society. She is giving example that man is opening door for woman and observer is observing that man is giving respect to woman or he is helping woman but in reality man does not help woman where she needs his help. So to know the fact we have to study things from different angles, prospective, and levels. Most of the time we deduce result on the base of very little information which is not accurate. So to get accurate conclusion we should observe the microscopic and macroscopic importance of any situation.
Though this article is about oppression but Frye has only discuses oppression of women and their problems. In my opinion this article should have title like oppression of women. Further in paragraph four Frye has mentioned that “I do not want to undertake to prove that women are oppressed or men are not” in contrast to this argument she did not talk about men’s oppression or their problems. It is palpable that oppression is not related to a specific sex but it is universal thing because men and women both have more or less equal chances to be oppressed but Frye believes that women are more suffering than men because societies are set up in such way that men are getting more benefit from it as compare to women. I do not agree with this argument because if there are lesbians who are oppress, at the same time there are gays who are also oppress by society. If there are some restrictions for women in a certain society, at the same time men are also accountable for certain things in that society. Finally, her arguments about oppression are accurate if she specifies her title to women otherwise we cannot accept her argument as a general cause of oppression in human beings because she only high lights causes of women’s oppression in her article.