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Marilyn Frye on opression, racism and sexism - Essay Example

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Marilyn Frye on opression, racism and sexism

Frye defines oppression by including cultural and economic structures, which according to her are the reasons why ‘dominators’ and ‘subordinates’ exist. She describes oppression by trying to explain the thought that the society itself builds up the idea of sex marking, sex announcing or generally sex identification that according to her must have created advantages among men but disadvantages among women. This according to her has become the root cause of oppression which she strongly defines as, “A system of interrelated barriers and forces which reduce, immobilize and mold people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group (individually to individuals of the oher group, and as a group, to that group)”. Based on this definition, she tries to explicate the point that for as long as women could be generally defined as subordinates and men as dominators, oppression would take place against the former. The suggestion of what is masculinity and feminity has something to do with the existence of this oppression as Frye argues that as our cultural system tries to train us to behave differently as men and women, extreme dimorphism has become a very obvious outcome (p.239). This according to her has always placed men on the advantage side as they could take power over women. The idea of Frye concerning oppression seems to originate in the cultural foundation and so she tries to conclude that either masculinity or feminity is just a biological transformation that culture inculcates us, which according to her could be changeable the moment we are able to understand how the the things operate and go around us (p.240). She tries to argue this point based on her experience and as a feminist trying to correct the elemental principle linked up with how the fundamental cultural background of every individual could contribute to the prevailing oppression against women, particularly on the ground of sex identification. Clearly, Frye’s discussion on the ways in which oppression operated in society, and the effects it has on both women and men in the case of sexism have to be evaluated, but prior to that it is important to know how she defines sexism. According to her, sexism could involve “the forces which make us mark and announce sexes are among the forces which constitute the expression of women, and they are central and essential to the maintenance of that system” (p.238). As stated earlier, Frye opposes the idea of domination and subordination and eventually sex identification, as for her these could potentially build the essential foundation of oppression against women. She is trying to look at the negative implication of oppression in this case and is more closely concerned on the welfare of the women who are strongly defined as the subordinates to men’s dominition. On the ground that oppression would lead to overall negative consequences, from the consequentialist point of view, Frye’s idea of oppression would remarkably make sense (p.233). This means that if men’s dominition would lead to negative impacts against women, then the associated oppression is the end itself to justify the presence of male dominance and eventually domination against women. However, if in the case that dominition by itself, which would allow men to dominate over women is a primary form of a natural, cultural or biological design of putting the society in order, then there must no associated negative connotation of feminity or masculinity. They would just elaborate the appropriate role that ...Show more


The issue of racism or sexism paves the way for a range of thoughts and discourses integrating various ethical concepts. In this paper, the proponent tries to assess Frye’s perspective on oppression applied in the context of sexism and racism. …
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Marilyn Frye on opression, racism and sexism essay example
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