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The Feminist Oppression Vacuum

There’s this thing that happens in feminism and the culture of women that is like a mirror to what happens in the outside, predominately men controlled, culture. It’s what one would expect, but it’s still ugly.

Women oppress other women.

As one of my friends said, it’s never over the mundane or neutral stuff. Never over the brand of toilet paper a woman uses, or what car she drives.

Yes, I said. It’s always over stuff that men oppress women over. As though there is this oppression vacuum threat, and hey, if we remove the oppression of men, oh no! We must be sure you’ll make the right choices and oppress, coerce, or shock you into making them.

Then she said that yeah, except for menstrual issues.

To which I replied, well, naturally, it squicks men out. They want nothing to do with it, so why should a woman have to oppress another woman over it?

At which point my friend’s mind was blown.

See, I see women stepping on other women about their choices in careers, their choices in sexuality, their choices in clothes, their choices in having children or not, their choices in pregnancy, their choices in childbirth, their choices in how to feed their babies, their choices in how to care for their babies, their choices in who cares for their babies, their choices in educating their children, their choices in relationships, their choices in how they present their bodies. Their choices. Theirs.

Let me repeat those words again. Their choices. 

Like women are afraid that if other women aren’t being pushed by men to go in the direction that men have been pushing us, that some women might just go that way anyway.

Ladies? This shit has to end. We have to respect the choices that other women make. Even if their choices seem monumentally stupid. As long as those choices aren’t hurting other people, it’s theirs to make. I feel pretty libertarian about what “hurting” means, too.

Sorry, but it’s not hurting you for someone else to choose to wear revealing clothes, or be promiscuous, or bottle feed, or be a stay at home mom, or choose a c-section, or get cosmetic surgery, or get married, or wear make-up, or do burlesque, or to have a family of whatever size they choose, or wear high heels, or to make the opposite choices you’ve made, or make contradictory choices, or dumb choices, or or or or. These are choices.

We can’t call them choices if there isn’t more than one, and we can’t take the predominately male controlled culture to task for pushing their agenda when we turn around and then command the opposite agenda of our sisters, mothers, daughters and friends.

It’s a common thing to happen, too. When a group is oppressed, then the oppression is internalized. That internalized oppression cuts both ways. It goes against the grain and with it. Both ways are oppression, though.

Power, when removed, leaves a vacuum, and abuse has a tendency to seek it’s opposite end. I have no wish to exchange one oppression for another, no matter how well meaning it may seem to those wielding the oppression, the idea behind it is the same.

“You can’t make the right choice because you don’t have all the information, you aren’t smart enough, you haven’t been brought up right, you’re too hurt, too small, too weak. You don’t really know. So, here, I’ll provide you with the right choice. Look how magnanimous I am, there’s a few choices you can make that can be right in this area over here.  See how much more free you are? I’m doing this for your own good. Isn’t this really better?”

But it isn’t.

It has to stop. Don’t pass it on. Let the vacuum collapse. Let this be your catchphrase, “this worked for me. Your mileage may vary,” then stand back.

Or, I don’t know. You’re smart, though. I believe you can work out your own way to be good to people that isn’t pushing your choices on them as the one true way. It’s a big world, and experiences really do vary.

I trust you.