One of the personal logic “basises” I use for my activism is the premise that “the system eats everyone.”
Basically if someone claims to be suffering in our society, they probably are.
Now, that doesn’t mean they are correct in HOW they are suffering per se. Plenty of people who have some degree of privilege will take their sufferings and assume it’s not the fault of the people on top of them, but the people below them. This is a toxic and dangerous fallacy that leads to further oppression and y’know, fascism n stuff.
But that doesn’t change that those people are still suffering. Maybe not as badly, maybe not in the same way, but clearly society has decided to profit off of them and leave them to drown.
We have a society that encourages a rat race where you’re never happy with your current position. Part of that is human psychology (look up the hedonic treadmill if you want) but part of it is how society structures itself. You worked HARD for your position. If you work HARDER you’ll be even MORE successful. anyone below you is just in the wrong because they’re LAZY. And they’re trying to CHEAT their way up to the top.
We see this even in our activism. “my marginalized identity is valid and had to WORK to be recognized and respected. This newer one is just a FAD that doesn’t deserve to just benefit from the hard work my group achieved” can pop up quite a lot.
In short, our current society is really good with the mentality of taking people in the middle and making them think their position must be defended at all costs from the encroaching lowers.
So, with this in mind, sometimes you get situations that aren’t clean cut.
As a random example, let’s say a person says “I am oppressed for being a goth.”
Now, the easy kneejerk reaction is “goth is not an inherent identity, you can stop being goth at any time, you getting your face loaded with metal piercings that drip snot is not comparable, there is no societal ingrained oppression for an identity that was created thirty years ago”
But if we go back to the mentality of “society eats everyone”we can possibly think of ways that being goth can hurt you, even systematically.
1. Systematically, we dislike deviations from the norm. Maybe being goth isn’t specifically oppressed, but the hegemony is still upheld for a reason. Even having tattoos can make it difficult to get jobs.
2. Self expression is often dog whistled. When you look at a lot of things people bash, it’s usually not enough to be Weird. It’s what that being weird stands for. The people I know who are goth? Almost entirely transgender folk. Even the people I know who only overlap with the identity almost always overlap with being queer too. Maybe being goth is just clothing that can be changed out of, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more insiduous underlying reasons for it. This is also why communities like, say, the furry community, or even the kink community can have awkward relationships with the concept of “oppression” not because of what they do, but because of how they served as that dog whistle.
3. Non systematic oppression things can amplify already existing marginalizations due to how it intersects. Similar to the point above, if you are a girl who is a goth, you might experience sexism that is altered because of how you present.
4. being goth might not be a systematic oppression at its purest–but it probably still sucks sometimes. The person probably isn’t using the word in the best way, but they are expressing an issue that does happen. Differentiating between systematic oppression and other types of oppression so to speak shouldn’t be the War of Who Is Valid. It should be used to accurately classify and categorize things, s owe know how to deal with it better. For example, if I go to an activity club, and one guy has decided to be a jerk to me, that’s not necessarily systematic oppression, that might just be bullying. You can argue if bullying itself comes from systematic enabling, but the point is, the answer isn’t to deny it’s a problem, the answer is to seek a different contextual solution.
5. Maybe this person has lived a wholly unique experience completely contrary to mine. Maybe my world views do not work with this person’s life. And that’s ok! So long as they don’t try and use it to change what works for other people to the negative, there is validity in accepting that maybe something you don’t understand or think is stupid is just… not something relevant to your life.
Wow this was a way longer ramble than I intended…
In conclusion, that’s more or less how I try and deal with oppression that gets talked about, if you were ever confused by my logic or just wanted to read me talk about it, I guess.