Marilyn Frye's piece Oppression begins to breakdown a fundamental concept of Women and Gender studies and many other related fields. What is oppression? How do we know? What makes it similar and different to other kinds of struggle? How does it impact individuals and social systems? It is with these questions in mind I approached Frye.
Note that Frye, (as mentioned on page 175) does not address the question of who is oppressed and who does the oppressing, in some finger pointing argument but instead looks at oppression on a larger thematic scale.
Fundamental to Frye's argument is two frameworks. The first is the concept of Mold. Immobilize. Reduce.
Second is the analogy of oppression as a birdcage, where each rung of the "bird cage" is representative of the many forces which combine to oppress an individual of a marginalized group, or a marginalized group as a whole.
Some questions to consider:
1. Using Frye's definitions and understandings what are some populations of people who would be considered oppressed? What structures, forces, and relationships help to form their birdcages?
2. What social and political things are used to help Mold. Immobilize. Reduce? By who? For what?
3. What is your own relationship to experiences of privilege and oppression? Do you have your own birdcage?