Philosophy professor and feminist theorist Marilyn Frye compares oppression to a birdcage in her essay entitled Oppression from her collection, Politics of Reality. “Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere…” (Frye). She goes on to say how one requires a macroscopic view to understand why the bird will not go anywhere. This type of understanding is crucial to the study of oppression because it can be hard to see the big picture when analyzing only one subject or aspect. Oppression has been a factor in our world as long as people. From political and social inequalities based on gender, to those based on race or sexuality, oppression has been a constant element throughout history. From forcing Africans into slavery, to the murder of 11 million people during the Holocaust, humans who have not wronged anyone have had their rights, or lives sacrificed for the “benefit” of others. Women have been seen as objects that men own and homosexuals have been compared to terrorists. Oppression comes in many different forms, but it can be explained by the same few causes in every different case there is. The act of oppression can be defended by ignorance, insecurity, and false sense of entitlement, although it is never justified. In William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Katherine is oppressed as she is forced to marry someone she just met and silenced in the process. Petruchio, her new husband, tries to tame her and appears to succee...
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... he needs to live up to his father’s expectations and gain respect. Men throughout history have felt like they were better than women and entitled to more. Because of the subjugation of women by men, the female gender has been silenced. Sons follow in their father’s footsteps and people who know it is wrong stay silent in fear of breaking tradition. With a macroscopic view, like Marilyn Frye suggests, it is easily seen how, like a chain reaction, the tradition of oppression lives
1. Shakespeare, William. The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. Barbara A. Moway and Paul Werstine. New York, Washington Square Press, 1992. Print.
2. Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality. Trumansburg, N.Y.,: The Crossing Press, 1983.
3. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNotes: The Taming of the Shrew.” http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/shrew/ SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.
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