Showing posts from May, 2017

De-Legitimizing In Order To De-Victimize: The Foolproof Method of Oppression

One of the most powerful weapons of oppression is to create a system that affirmatively justifies acts of oppression while stripping victims of ways to verbalize why they deserve justice. If bystanders support oppression, whether overtly or tacitly, and the victims have difficulty finding ground to stand on, then oppression can only grow. In order to reach these two-pronged goals, dominant narratives need only de-legitimize the victims of oppression and discrimination. That de-legitimization—the re-categorization of victims as illegitimate—deprives them and their allies of the ability to stand up for them and seek redress. As social justice and gender equality advocates, understanding this mechanism is keep to understanding both the inherent transectionalism of any equal rights’ fight and the root of oppressive success.
Let’s start with the concept of legitimacy. The word “legitimate” means, among other things, “able to be defended with logic or justification.” Synonyms are “valid,” “s…

Period Shaming and the Taboo of Female Agency

Over 800 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating on any given today. At this moment, 800 million people are having their periods. And yet, despite its staggering commonality, menstruation needs remain woefully underaddressed and, consequently, stigmatized. Girls and women worldwide suffer inordinate consequences for the mere reality that they menstruate. The problem ranges in severity from developed countries to developed countries. In developing countries like the United States, menstruation is taboo and menstrual products such as tampons and pads have historically been taxed as luxury items. It goes without saying that taxing a hygienic item that the vast majority of women of reproductive age need, every single month, is outrageous. Girls in high schools across the country have to trek to their school nurse to get pads and tampons rather than being able to access them in the bathrooms. The not-so-implicit message is that menstruating is equivalent to b…

“Morality By Proxy” Is The Key To Conservative Self-Justification

I was around 17 years-old, and living in Switzerland, when three friends of mine and I decided we wanted to go to Southern France for a one-week vacation over Summer Break. I went home and asked my parents if I could go. Their answer was that as long every other person on the trip was attending with their own parents’ permission, I was free to go. The very next day, I ecstatically told my three guy friends and would-be travel companions that I had the green light and all they had to do was get their own parents’ approval. This is when things started getting weird.
            Over the next couple of weeks, my father received phone with ever-increasingly anxious phone calls from the other three kids’ parents. At first, the other parents voiced concerns about the four of us traveling at all, being alone for a week, not having a car (driving is for 18 and up in Europe), and general misgivings about the feasibility of the whole trip. As time went on, though, and as my father …