On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 2/3)

Within each of the identity based oppressions there are a number of different strategies used to attempt to overcome them.  At its most fundamental is consciousness raising, alerting members of the oppressed community imbibed with the its values to the ways in which it oppresses them to encourage them to challenge and fight against it.   Conciousness raising is a critical issue and one which should not be underestimated.  From birth we are shaped by the society in which we are born into.  That society is not universally experienced, a Black child born to Black lesbian parents in a Black dominated suburb will experience the kyriarchy differently from a white child born to a married couple in the same community, never the less the dominant values, transmitted through mass media, legal governance and state ideological apparatuses operate directly on the sense of self, while interactions with others, also subject to the same social effects and each with individual experiences of their own identity, their immediate environmental identity and the identity of their social community.

Consciousness raising alone however is ineffective as a method of challenge.  Firstly the situated nature in which people experience identity based oppressions mean that universal appeals of recessive experiences do not necessarily resonate universally.  Secondly, such a strategy can be counterproductive.  Highlighting the risks of violence to women, the likelihood of discrimination Blacks and the chances of stigma to lesbians and gay men may undermine their self-confidence and create a victimisation mentality, where they feel constrained by the recessive identity attributes.  There is no point raising consciousness of oppression  only to leave the oppression in place just felt more keenly.  Once that consciousness is raised, there are two possible direct strategies utilised – demands of liberation and withdrawal from the space of oppression.

Demands made of the dominant grouping where recessive groups highlight to allies within the dominant group the role that they play in perpetuating the structural oppression, demanding change, both to examine and challenge their own role in perpetuation but as ambassadors within the dominant grouping.  This can be effective to an extent, however the experience of privilege within a divided society which is constantly and consistently experienced is not something which is easily overcome.  The values and attitudes which have been shaped within the dominant grouping from birth and reinforced daily through personal interactions, socio-legal frameworks and the media mean that allies find themselves stuck in a double bind of seeking justice for those whose oppression systemically rewards them, while feeling at the mercy and at fault for the continuing oppression.  At its worst such a strategy can result in militant begging of the oppressors for liberation, alienating allies and driving them to seek refuge among the dominant.

Alternatively recessive groups can withdraw from the site of oppression, retreating into identity based communities, seeking to overcome their oppression by eradicating the dominant grouping.  Such a strategy can never be entirely successful, as it is the nature of the dominant that they shape things over which the recessive have no control; such withdrawal may be successful in obtaining a limited space free of immediate discrimination, however larger systems of discrimination remain, shaping and forming the conditions in which a space can be created and bounding the limits of freedom.  Furthermore, those members of the oppressed group who do not have the opportunity to withdraw into such a grouping, frequently those who are most marginalised and who feel the burden most keenly lose the support of the self-aware that can both mitigate their conditions and give them strength to challenge.


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