Oppression, Suppression, Opinion

There are times when oppression and suppression blur into one another. Especially when more than one opinion is involved. This was one of my thinking points from running my workshop today.

Not because there was any oppression or suppression going on in the group. But because we all needed to be able to share our opinions. There has to be a right to disagree. To hold a different position. And to be free from pressure to change that position. That’s why I love the way my Guides work with me. They allow for the free flow of feelings and thoughts by bringing forward the activities that will get all of us tuned in. It’s a very intuitive way of working. Not exactly structured. Or planned even. But plenty of room to meander off topic. To ask questions and to discover through experience. For me it’s a perfect freedom to offer information in ways that fits the people I am with.

There have been many times in my life when that freedom has been constrained. I grew up in the first blush of feminism. I was part of the novel idea that women were people who mattered too. When I joined the workforce there were constraints on me that have, thankfully, mostly disappeared. That doesn’t mean that the move towards an equal society is over. Far from it. There are still attitudes so deeply entrenched that it will take several more generations for women and men to find a balance within themselves and without. I know that we are only dimly coming to understand the reality of energy. In each of us there is a feminine and a masculine force.

So it still concerns me when oppression is turned into suppression. Especially when it is coming from those who could know better. If they thought about it for a moment.

There is someone locally who makes a protest several days of the week. A very public protest. The issue that is being protested about doesn’t really matter. Except to say that I have no choice about walking past the signs and placards. The protest is to highlight oppression in another country. Something I support because if we stay silent we are effectively condoning the actions taking place. If the images on the placards are not of my choice I suppose I can look away. However, if I engage in any kind of debate about the balance of the other side’s view I am shouted at. And a group will join to shout at me. Because this protester isn’t necessarily on their own.

Trying to discuss oppression in an even handed way ends up in my voice, my view, being suppressed. It’s as if I can’t have the right to hold an opposite view. The suppression has ended up with me being oppressed too. How strange is that? It’s ok for one view to be offered but not another. I can only have a voice if it’s to agree. How do I handle this as a woman? How do I ensure that my view is regarded as a valid statement of what I feel or think? Do I bring along my friends to try a shouting loudest competition? Because in a way this little local issue is a mirror of the much wider equality debate.

It’s time to acknowledge that some of the people creating the oppression are other women. Women who are keen to suppress the views of women who disagree with them.

I know that I’m regularly being told that I need to educate myself about ‘women’s issues’. Not sure how my experiences in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s don’t count as education. Or that I have accepted my social conditioning and need to throw off the shackles. By people who have shackled themselves in other ways. I find it curious that they don’t recognise their own masculine energy coming into play. Or that they are doing exactly what they are accusing the other side of doing to them. Because that’s the danger. We walk a tightrope every time we believe our opinion is the only one that matters, is right or must prevail.

And it’s so easy to fall off. Did I mention that the person doing the protesting is a woman? And that in refusing me a right to an opinion she is being as oppressive as the people she says have behaved outrageously to others? Whether she knows it or not she has placed herself in the camp of her ‘enemies’ and draws them much sympathy instead of disgust. That’s the real issue. When I look at where I end up with it all I’m glad to say I can still recognise that there is more than one side to every story. That each opinion, whether I agree with it or not, has validity. And I respect the right of the person who holds that opposite view to keep on holding it for ever. And I can hold my opinion forever too if I so wish.

Freedom is a precious gift but only if we grant the same freedom to others as we claim for ourselves. That is when we will really know we are all equal.

Day 481 of my blogging challenge.

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