Marilyn that are “virgins” (i.e. not sexually active) are

Frye describes oppression in terms of the importance of its root word ‘pressed,’
and how oppression is essentially being forced into silence by the patriarchy
because it uses its power over women to “Mold. Immobilize. Reduce.” (Frye, 11).
Basically, as women we are made to be defenseless against the power and
dominance that men have in our society. I think that in this way oppression to
many, including Frye, is that we as women are made to feel inferior and we are
given less opportunity and judged more fiercely because of what’s between our
legs. But it doesn’t just stop there, because when we try to break free from
this mold that the patriarchy and society are trying to force us into we are “…silenced
before we begin; the name of our situation drained of meaning and our guilt
mechanisms tripped” (Frye, 10). However, oppression isn’t just merely being
forced into submission, society has also coerced us into a ‘double bind,’ which
basically means that no matter what you do or how you act you are going to be
judged for it.  One way that women are put
into this double bind is in terms of their sexuality. Essentially, those that
are “virgins” (i.e. not sexually active) are considered prudes while those that
have more active sex lives are considered whores. This is oppression in the
sense that society tells us that in order to be valued we need to be perfect,
but we can’t be too perfect.  In regard to oppression and Frye’s analogy of
the bird cage, she basically is saying that when you look at something closely
all you will see is something simple and easy to overcome. Much like someone looking
at only one bar of the birdcage would find it hard to imagine how a bird could
not escape. But when you step back and look at the things ‘macroscopically’
when you look at the whole bird cage, it is easy to see that there is no possible
way for the bird to escape. Basically, society and men tend to look at the oppression
of women microscopically, it is seen as one tiny issue, when in reality it’s a multitude
of different issues, that start with the fact that women are being ‘pressed’
and forced into an impossible standard.

Frye’s explanation of oppression accurately describes the oppression of women,
she fails to completely encompass the entirety of everyone that faces oppression.
However, Audre Lorde in her essay titled:
‘Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference’ calls out this
notion that oppression is only synonymous with women, and instead explains that
there are many people that are also being oppressed. Lorde argues that the patriarchy
tends to oppress people that they believe are ‘lower’ or ‘less than’ them (i.e.
people of color, women, or people of a different sexual orientation). Lorde
argues that even though everyone in this world differs from one another, “…it
is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our
refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result
from our misnaming them…” (Lorde, 115). Essentially, Lorde is saying that we
should recognize these differences, but in recognizing these differences we
shouldn’t be “distorting” them into something that separates us instead of
brings us together. Lorde states: “Somewhere on the edge of consciousness,
there is what I call a mythical norm… In America, this norm is usually defined
as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, and financially secure.
It is with in this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within this
society.” (Lorde, 116). Within this mythical norm of who is superior, we are
made to think that there is only one type of person that should have all of the
power. Our society has accepted that females, minorities, and members of the
LGBTQ community are lesser because they don’t fit into this norm. We often
think of oppression and only consider the obvious: that women are oppressed, and
though this is true it doesn’t show all of the other people that are looked
down on and given less opportunities because of they don’t fit the norm. Essentially,
Lorde is arguing that if you don’t consider the entirety of people that are
systematically oppressed because of how they differ from the “mythical norm”
then it means that the oppressed are
also the ones whom are oppressing others. Thus, when we look at oppression and
how it is affecting people in our society we need to consider the entirety of
those oppressed otherwise this society will never be free from it.

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Lorde discusses the importance of recognizing the intersectionality of
individuals to truly encompass oppression, in the article ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack’ written by Peggy
McIntosh in which the ‘invisible’ privileges of people that are oppressors is
really detailed. Privilege in Peggy McIntosh’s mind is when individuals are
given certain benefits because of a specific quality about them. However even
though this privilege exists McIntosh argues that it isn’t readily apparent. “I
think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males
are taught not to recognize male privilege…I have come to see white privilege
as an invisible package of unlearned assets which I can count on cashing each
day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious.” (McIntosh, 1).
McIntosh claims that these privileges are only given to ‘certain’ people. McIntosh
says that while they are given these privileges, they are also blind to what
they have been given. Essentially, these privileges are given so automatically
that often times they aren’t even recognized by the people that receive them. Privileges
relates to oppression in the sense that if you are given certain privileges because
of the color of your skin, it is because in societies mind you are superior,
however, in giving these privileges we are also systematically oppressing those
that we do not deem worthy. This relates to Lorde’s idea of oppression in the
sense that it is a certain race a certain gender, a certain class that is
entitled to the most privileges, essentially if you are the “mythical norm”
(Lorde, 116). The middle class, white, heterosexual male you dominate all of
society. In contrast, depending on how you are defined by your intersectionality,
will determine the privileges that you are given. I think what is most striking
about McIntosh’s description of privilege is the list of privileges she explicitly
lays out in her essay, a privilege that I thought of that McIntosh hadn’t
written, is the fact that it is a privilege for people to be pulled over in
their car by a cop and not have to worry about being harmed. This is what makes
the ‘invisibility’ of privileges that McIntosh discusses so apparent, the ones
considered to fit this “mythical norm” that Lorde detailed are basically handed
everything they could want in life, while those that don’t fit into the norm
are being treated unfairly and oppressed for something they can’t change. 


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