Rethinking the Narrative
The way we look at men is flawed. How we see romance, love, marriage, and partnership has been changed greatly over the past 150 years and it has to do greatly with how men are portrayed in the media and how they have been portrayed over the years. It's strange to see that we now can't separate the free-thinking that we have now with the times. I was in class reading Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" and (spoiler alert) the end gets people because it seems like there were other ways out and that she played Robert and her husband and Arpeggio or whatever his name was by sleeping with Robert, indulging in a kiss from whats-his-face, and still living with her husband and using his money. But, that was then, when women didn't have avenues to make enough to live on their own, especially not with three young children to care for. Yet, most of my class thought she was wrong.
A lot of it has to do with the oppressed-oppressor relationship that we all have ingrained in our brains. The good and the evil, if you will. One cannot exist without the other, and while some will agree that like the Yin and Yang symbol, there is a piece of one in the other, most of that gets lost in today's society. There are trillions of news stories on the white cop brutalizing black suspects, men beating women, white women ganging up on women of color, homophobia, islamophobia, politics... The list is encyclopedia's long. But these little snippets are so easily misconstrued by the media and we have such a "woke culture" that we don't care anymore about the whole person because we're so focused on the labels. That clouds our brains from the full story.
Oppression starts personally. This is key. Like a child, oppression grows. It starts growing within one person. This is the stage I like to call "Oh, that doesn't feel good." Your tiny parts of the day when either individuals or society reminds you that you are different. Your daily "Band-Aids are flesh-colored?" and "Not everyone had mold in every house they lived in?" moments. These begin to grow when other people get involved. The Oppression Baby is born and growing up amongst others that shape it. People that define it. I call this the "did you see that" phase. It's the "Did you know Band-Aids are flesh-colored" and "Why don't we have nice things?" moments of life.
The Oppression Child is then exposed to the rest of the world through a phase I like to call, "oh hell no, that isn't right". This is when the "non-oppressed" (or rather differently oppressed) people take heed and latch onto the cause. This is your suffragette/abolitionist union of the 1800s or your LGBTQ+ alliance with women's rights. When this is legally no longer allowed, it is unofficially wrong. I say unofficially because just like how slavery didn't end right after the Civil War, oppression doesn't end right then and there. The microlevel offenses become pandemic, and it continues worse. Oppression is only officially over when it becomes socially wrong. No one laughs at your racist jokes, no one jokes about periods, no one says ableist slurs, etc.
Going back to books, most of the Romantic and Realist novels we are forced to read and ponder are in the "did you see that" phase of oppression. We're still looking through the view of the oppressed trying to feel what they feel thirty to a hundred years later when we have expanded so much since then. When I explained oppression, I never said oppression stopped, because it doesn't. Oppression still lives, even as a scar or a birthmark, on everyone that was ever oppressed. Catholics, for example, still face prejudice in the form of subtle jokes built on stereotypes and painful history, but like a birthmark, they are so old that it's not a huge deal. Women's issues are a scar now, slowly fading. It will always be there but as far as equality goes, the wound has been largely patched. Many things women face are literally female issues, such as menstruation, childbirth, and abortion rights, which are now to the point of educating the populous.
The new question as far as female issues go is equality, and to achieve total equality, it seems like the men should be the focus. This has already lost all attention I had thus far, but for those that haven't left, we can see that males and females grow up differently. These differences are ingrained in our head, from little things like what activities small children are put into to larger things like what kind of behavior is expected around adults to petty things like which parent gets a junior. The question I pose is can the majority be oppressed? The common answer is no because they are not a minority. End of discussion. But let's look at that oppression baby again.
Let's call this Oppression Baby the ability to feel. It starts in an individual who is not allowed to cry. They are told to toughen up. Not cry. They go out into the world and meet others just like them who don't cry. They form a pack because like sticks with like in science and in life. This pack then stalks other individuals that are like it that do cry because they are weak and in a way, they are trying to toughen those other individuals up and a part of them hates that they have something the pack doesn't and a part of them feels like if you're weak, you shouldn't be here. And so it goes. The system never says that it is oppressive. Individuals change but it isn't helping the problem. And thus, life goes on. And now we are about five hundred years after this has happened. So, were these individuals oppressed? Think about it.