I’ve always thought of oppression as powerful people taking advantage of those “beneath” them. However, this isn’t the case. As Beauvoir says in The Second Sex, “…Man can think of himself without woman. She cannot think of herself without man.”(Beauvoir, 33). Oppression is the abuse of one’s power over another, but also the inferior’s acceptance of this abuse. Women have always accepted their inferiority to men. In my traditional Guatemalan family my father has always been head of the household. When I was younger, anything that involved making a decision concerning me was my father’s job. When I asked Mom for permission to go anywhere, she would respond, “Ask your father.” Oppression is a mental pressure, but it doesn’t only come from an outside source. At home for example, my mom’s unacknowledged input was normal and never questioned it.
Conformity is also seen in homosexuals who torment themselves with presenting their sexual orientation in public because they fear not being accepting. By hiding, they are allowing “normal” people to oppress them. Ricky Martin’s, The Best Thing About Me Is You , depicts the mentality of a strong person who realizes that “fitting in” isn’t as essential to happiness as accepting themselves.
Simone de Beauvoir, “Introduction” to The Second Sex (1949)