Are you oppressed? Has the stern jackboot of oppression ever stomped on your neck? Have agents of the state questioned your life choices and thrown you into the back of a black unmarked van because of your gender preference, sexual orientation or political/ideological views? Do you yearn to break free of chains that have bound you so tightly that you have spent a lifetime living a lie for fear of brutal repercussions from the government? Are you struggling with bonds so tight that they have constricted you for decades, leaving deep mental and physical wounds that may never heal?
If you answered ‘yes, that’s me. That’s totally my life’ to the above paragraph I would suggest that you go and put the kettle on, flick that neon fringe out of your eyes, have a nice cup of chamomile and honey tea (or any beverage you want, I’m not some sort of tea fascist) and if you are fortunate enough to live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or indeed anywhere in the Western World, drink it while wistfully gazing out of the window gently uttering the words ‘I ‘am not oppressed, I ‘am not oppressed.’
Along with the tea, I hope you imbibe a sense of perspective and ready yourself for a hard truth.
With all due respect, no one actually cares about your life choices, who you want to sleep with or what gender pronoun you’re using that particular day. You’re just not that special and the vast majority of the population doesn’t care and neither should you. To tell you the truth, as long as you keep your head down, take responsibility for your behaviour, uphold the values of Western civilisation (individualism, property, democracy, capitalism etc) and conform (I know, the ‘c’ word, right) to some basic levels of behaviour and dress, in certain prescribed circumstances, then no one cares.
All people in the UK are protected by the law. We are all equal in the eyes of Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice. So much so, that she is often portrayed as being blindfolded. The entire British state operates on this principle. The operator on the end of a 999 phone call, won’t ask your gender, sex, shoe size, what party political you voted for in 2017 or if you prefer to be called ‘Him’, ‘Her’ or ‘Zim’ before dispatching an ambulance.
May I suggest that what you are suffering from is prejudice from your fellow citizens and a minority of them at that. This might be wrong, but it’s probably unavoidable. If prejudice is embedded in the culture it could take decades to expunge it from society, if it all. And let’s all be honest, we all have our prejudices as well. None of us is Jesus Christ or the Buddha, we hate as well as love. I expect we all dislike a particular societal clique, or sub-culture, even if it’s illogical. Prejudice can be an insidious phenomena, which can, on occasion, permeate state and social structures. It’s wrong, but it is still not oppression.
The fact is that most people aren’t really ‘anti’ against your lifestyle choices. It’s probably more accurate to say that they are more ‘pro’ something, particularity in the Western World. For example, many Christians don’t agree with same-sex marriage. Does this mean that they are against homosexuality? Not necessarily. They just believe in the sanctity of marriage and that it should be between a man and a woman. It should be noted that they do also have the right to hold this view as well.
If we start down the path of restricting speech, well, who dictates what is allowed to be said anymore. Who is to be the arbiter of this? As Mick Hume, author of Trigger Warning states, people now use the term ‘denier’ in the same way they used to use ‘witch’; as an insult, a tactic to silence and quick method of closing down further debate and investigation.
However, more importantly, does this mean that they wish you actually bodily or psychological harm for loving who you choose or any other personal preference? No, we’re a very, very long way from throwing people off of buildings or hanging them as they do in some other states.
I would say that considering there has just been a massive Pride Parade, with an estimated 26,000 marchers (This is only 5625 less than the police officers at the Metropolitan Police Service) expected to be in London, from every walk of life, it can be hard to play the oppression card. In fact, the state is so oppressive that it’s erecting concrete barriers to stop terrorists driving a car into the crowds. Nor do oppressed groups have entire YouTube campaigns with nearly 5.7 million views on their videos. Oppressed groups tend to have clandestine meetings, slink about from place to place and don’t broadcast their whereabouts. They also don’t use Instagram.
Also, dear reader, I don’t know about you but I’m also far too busy for prejudice, let alone oppression. I get up in the morning, go to work, come back, read, write, watch some ‘fail’ videos on YouTube and then go to bed. Repeat this Monday to Friday. This leaves almost no time in my day to even vaguely consider people who have the same rights and legal protection as me, but somehow consider themselves to be an oppressed minority.
This is not just confined to the most misguided and fringe supporters of LGBTTQQIAAP rights either. Anyone can suffer from the idea that they are being oppressed nowadays.
People now think they are oppressed by President Trump or Brexit or the Conservative party. There is now a new breed of simpering social justice warrior who considers it oppression whenever a political decision or vote takes place that they didn’t like. It’s not oppression. It’s democracy.
YouTube is full of people who claim that they are a ‘free inhabitant of the earth’ who seem to have trouble grasping the idea of national sovereignty or refuse to hand over a driving license to a Police Officer. Of course, the consequence of this is that a minor misdemeanour unnecessarily escalates into a major infraction, distressing all those present and wasting tax payer’s money.
Most of us also find it difficult to oppress anyone, as we don’t have the entire apparatus of the state behind us: police forces, judiciary, prison camps etc. You know, all those things that most non-democratic and totalitarian regimes have used to actually oppress people since we first discovered agriculture in the Fertile Crescent. You know, the sort of behavioural attributes that ultra-oppressive regimes like The Khmer Rouge, who used to jail anyone with spectacles, or The Soviet Union under Stalin, where academics could be arrested and left to languish in a Siberian gulag for discussing agricultural policy actually use.
Trouble is if you start to see yourself as a victim, if it permeates your entire identity, you start to become one. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy with dangerous consequences. It gets to the point that nothing short of 100% acceptance from all of society will do. I’m a heterosexual, white man, but there will have been times where I would not have been accepted wholeheartedly by other cliques in society. Too quiet, too short, too unfashionable, too poor etc.
All of this is partly enabled and hugely exacerbated by social media and the miniaturisation of technology. 10 years ago, I couldn’t have filmed the police for ‘evidence’ of oppression, nor could I have buried myself in the insular world of social media, where I could further indulge my often nonsensical views with the like-minded ‘oppressed’.
Today, you are free to think, do, and live as you see fit, provided you don’t break the law. Fight prejudice, as long as it is safe to do so. Be yourself most of the time, but remember that on occasion you may have to conform to society. Basically, just go and live your life.