How Oppression Works

We talk about sexism, racism, heterosexism (homophobia), ageism, cissexism, and other systems of oppression a lot around these parts. However, there is occasionally some confusion about what oppression is and how it works in the context of social justice. Oppression is a complex topic. This blog will serve as a basic overview, or a starting point, to related conversations.

Oppression typically operates as a system. This means that there are multiple forces taking away someone’s power based on a part of their identity (their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, etc). All of these forces work together to marginalize, subordinate, dehumanize, or otherwise devalue groups of people.

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Gaming is for STRAIGHT GUYS!

I love that more gamers are speaking out about the straight-white-male character domination in video games. Awhile ago, I had a tweet stream discussing Bioware’s outspoken stand against players who felt “violated” by the option to choose gay relationships in the game.

I’ll sum up the exchange.

Neglected straight male gamer“:

I don’t think many would argue with the fact that the overwhelming majority of RPG gamers are indeed straight and male. Sure, there are a substantial amount of women who play video games, but they’re usually gamers who play games like The Sims, rather than games like Dragon Age. That’s not to say there isn’t a significant number of women who play Dragon Age and that BioWare should forego the option of playing as a women altogether, but there should have been much more focus in on making sure us male gamers were happy.

“Neglected straight male gamer” translated: WAHHHH!!!! What about ME?! I’m a neglected majority! How dare you think about women & gays as much as ME? This is oppression! I’M MORE IMPORTANT, DAMNIT!!

Here was Bioware’s response:
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Is this “Hate Speech”?

I’ve written on offensive speech before, but last weekend, one of my friends (who teaches sex education) gave me a classroom handout with this chart on it. The chart lists all the forms of hate speech for various targeted groups. I thought the chart was interesting.

FYI:

Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, ideology, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, hair color, etc.), mental capacity, and any other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability.

VALUED GROUP DEVALUED GROUP HATE SPEECH
Men Women Bitch
Ho
Whore
Slut
Skank
Ripper
White People of Color Nigga/er
Beaner
Chink
Oreo
Towel-head
FOB
Wealthy Poor Ghetto
Redneck
Barrio
Trailer Trash
Bum
Straight Lesbian
Gay
Bisexual
Trans
Dyke
Faggot/Fag
Lesbo
Fairy
Carpetmuncher
Able-Bodied Disabled Cripple
Retarded
Lame
Crazy
Dumb
Stupid
“Adults” “Youth” Childish
Immature
Punk
Juvenile
Naive
Little
“Middle-Aged” “Youth/elders” Geriatric
Geezer
Baby
Kid
Child
“Average Size” Sizes above &
below average
Fat
Obese
Cow
Skinny
“Conventional looks” “Unconventional looks” Ugly
To’e-Up
Hurt
Dog
VALUED GROUP DEVALUED GROUP HATE SPEECH

While some of these definitely are hate speech, others have me scratching my head (for example, “immature”….lolwat?). As such, I’m left wondering: is there such a thing as being TOO politically correct? I think there might be, but at the same time, I worry that people who actually are racists/sexists/etc will pull something like, “Oh you’re being TOO politically correct, faggot isn’t hate speech.” When I think along those lines, maybe it’s justified to be a little extreme. How and where do we draw a line?

Do you think that these terms are all hate speech? Which ones are/are not? As always, I’m reading. :)