What is oppression?

As a woman going into the work world in a business related field, the practices described in Jeffreys’ “Keeping Women Down and Out” about male business outings concerns me.  Although I doubt that frequent strip club outings will be a problem, I think that the underlying “male” culture still affects women in the workplace.  I’ve had friends in banking that say that, although they were happy with a more “male” culture and had no problem assimilating, their male counterparts were uncomfortable with them and would noticeably change their demeanor and conversation when they walked in the room.  This kind of behavior is difficult to bring forward and discrimination or harassment, but the male bonding culture will likely have an effect in networking and promoting.  Other social work activities as simple as drinking could also negatively affect women.  I think that it’s common for people going out to a bar to think that being able to drink a lot is “cool”, and women who can parallel men in drinking pace are “cool”.  I think this can put a lot of pressure on women drink more than they are comfortable with to try to impress male colleagues or friends.

Even though we have some laws that try to make women equal on paper, we need to consider the culture of companies when thinking about the equal treatment of women and other minority groups.  A “bro” or male culture in the workplace is a more subtle way to oppress women, but it is still effective.  Culture and personal attitudes are very difficult to change, and an easy fix to this problem doesn’t seem to exist.  With women gaining stronger numbers and a stronger voice in business, hopefully they can gain enough leverage to tilt to the culture to be more female friendly.

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1 Response to What is oppression?

  1. irism999 says:

    I agree that society has a subtle way of encouraging women to partake in dangerous behaviors in order for women to assimilate into male dominated spheres. Women buy into the idea that by engaging in certain activities, they are challenging gender roles and asserting their presence. The above post suggests that if women were more critical and voiced their opinions, perhaps this dynamic would change. This is definitely true. However, I would like to point out that the problem here is not how women react to society’s treatment of women, but rather society’s treatment of women itself. Society will not change their treatment of women whether or not women engage in drinking culture with male co-works and whether or not women have hospital births. It is the system itself that needs to change. Thus it is not only women who need to advocate and educate themselves. Males need to be involved in the discussion as well. Communication and dialogue amongst individuals in regards to reorganizing the system is what needs to be held.

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