The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Intersectional oppression

December 16, 2021

Although the patriarchy is a force that seemingly only targets women on the surface, it serves as the foundation for other forms of oppression, helping to promote discrimination like racism and homophobia. For example, with toxic masculinity, one of the byproducts of the gender binary, the fear of appearing feminine is often linked to being perceived as gay.

Due to the interconnected nature of oppression, it can give rise to specific types of privilege, systemically offering benefits to people of certain identities and communities.

“I’ve always been very aware of my own privilege because I pass as a white male. I’ve benefited from privileges and entitlements in a system that I’ve been actively trying to tank. This is something I’ve always struggled with because I can’t pretend that the power I hold doesn’t exist, but I don’t want to be patronizing and condescending with how I use it,” Migdail said.

However, privilege can extend past race and sex, targeting factors like socioeconomic status. Even economic systems like capitalism are not independent of oppressive systems.

“In its current form, patriarchy is intertwined with capitalist oppression. The patriarchy and the traditional gender binary are maintained because they divide labor and maintain the gender and sexual roles that allow for women to be treated as production lines to create workers,” Yan said.

In his feature “Gender as a Colonial Object,” Ph.D. student Lucas Ballestín echoes Yan’s claim and clarifies the division of productive and reproductive labor. In a capitalist system, women are sexualized and reduced to their reproductive abilities, whereas men are seen as the workforce, laboring for the profit of their superior.

As a result, some have adopted a different worldview to counteract the divisive characteristics of systemic discrimination.

“I always try to see beyond categories, whether it’s gender, race, or anything else. The more that we take note of differences, the less unified we’ll be. Ultimately, you have to view each individual as an individual, and a failure to do so simply does violence to them as an individual,” Migdail said.

Still, some believe that society still has a long way to go before more substantial progress can be made. For Yan, he believes that institutions and norms must be challenged first. However, he notes that discussions surrounding these topics are normally dismissed as being too radical or taboo.

“To allow the challenging of traditional gender roles and the gender binary is to allow the possibility of further questioning of the status quo, including the questioning of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism,” Yan said.

According to Yan, oppressive structures cannot act alone.

Yan said, “Only through the abolition of oppressive structures like the state, capitalism, the patriarchy, and racial oppression can gender truly be freed.”

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