I like to think that I can spot oppression when I see it. Sometimes it is so blatant that it is actually nearly impossible to miss. However, I consider the most dangerous form of oppression is that, which is so covert, that it is sometimes done under the auspices of ‘helping.’ As seen in Davis’ article, the oppression of, mainly, black women’s reproductive rights were abused under the pretense of allowing those ‘fit to reproduce’ the right to bring children into the world. In an effort to control the population “not fit to rear children properly,” government officials sterilized thousands of women, marking them for life 214). Davis cites Margaret Sanger, who forcefully fought for women’s reproductive rights, arguing that prostitutes, for instance, should be sterilized (214). A portion of the country got into a frenzy of stopping ‘evil’ from breeding in society, attributing to themselves supreme capacity to ‘fix’ what they perceived was wrong in society.
A conversation on oppression is lacking if it is not had in conjunction with a conversation of power. Repeatedly, one sees a party with a relative form of power, acting on the less powerful. This is especially grave when it is done to ‘help.’ This ‘help’ consists of a plan, a belief that the ‘helper’ is more capable than the community affected, and a blindness to the catastrophic effects it produces. To expand, one can look to attempts to help the third world. This TED talk, touches very clearly on the theme. Often the work done by NGOs, the U.S. and the E.U. heavily damages these societies. Similarly, eugenicists were aware of the negativity of their actions; nonetheless, they were convinced they were ultimately helping society.
Schemes of aid crafted by the powerful have dire ramifications on the powerless.
Davis, “Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights”