Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Oppression, or "Researchers Need Hobbies," or "Academia is a Joke, I'm slowly coming to realize,"
For my Language in Society class today, we were asked to read a chapter that was written by someone named Wood. It was about the oppressive nature of our language system in the United States, and how women in particular are marginalized by the way that we speak. I didn't like this article. I shouldn't have given my full opinion on this topic, as it is one that is never held by the majority of college professors and researchers. But, I did. Here it is.
I think that there is an inherent problem with a society in which every single person has something to claim martyrdom over. Whether its racial minority, religious affiliation, gender, age, political positions, hair color, music preference or any other of a million distinctions that we find and swear ourselves to, everyone has some specific and horrific understanding of the way that they themselves are treated and viewed by a society that is "out to get them." I will not for a second argue that oppression and hatred and persecution on any of these grounds is not real or terrible. I will, however, ask this question: who is really at fault for the polarization of our society on these frivolous grounds? I would argue that Dr. Wood is. I would argue that Reggie Jackson is. I would argue that Pat Robertson is. I would argue that Joe the Plumber, Barack Obama, Rick Santorum, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher, Rush Limbaugh, etc. are. This asinine back-and-fourth about who is the most oppressed only serves to divide us further. We can write articles and editorials and books and epic poems all day long about how one phrase is an attack on our rights, or how the wording of some document is oppressive toward our heritage. But, there is no sense in that. There is no solution in that.
There is solution, however, when we make the decision to stand by what we believe; to own our struggles, our heritage, our faiths, and therefore be free from all of this "oppression." Because, when it comes down to it, as an unemployed, Jewish-American that is in a bi-racial relationship and holds some very non-moderate political beliefs, as well as some offensive (to some) religious beliefs, I can honestly say that there is nothing that any one could say that would make me write an article about how oppressed I am. If a woman feels like our language system is oppressive and male-centric, then it is. As soon as she decides not to be affected by it and to be bigger than it, she is free from that oppression. It comes down to that individual woman. "Taking a stand" is not fighting against a system that is deemed "oppressive." "Taking a stand" is realizing that all systems are oppressive and then deciding not to be affected by them. And, I've been attending this University long enough to know what the reaction to this opinion will be. But, I stand wholeheartedly by my statement. Oppression of this kind has no power once we decide not to believe it. I am free from anti-semitism or the marginalizing of Christians in the media because I choose to be. Hatred is ignorance, which leads me to pity those that hate because there is a better way to see the world than through ignorant eyes. Dr. Wood has written a piece highlighting all of the grave injustices against females in our everyday language. I say to Dr. Wood; by calling attention to these injustices, you are giving them power that they don't rightfully possess. It's a theme in our society that discourages me greatly. I support women and equality for every single person. I fight for it in my daily life with my volunteer efforts and my free time and my money. I am working toward career goals of working with marginalized and oppressed peoples. But, "marginalized and oppressed peoples" do not include wealthy middle class Americans that find reasons to complain. Those people need to stop reading articles by Dr. Wood.