Help or Oppression?

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”

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2 Responses to Help or Oppression?

  1. madiae says:

    I very much agree with your post. I especially like your second paragraph when you mention the relationship between oppression and power. Many times the group of people in the position of power are just looking for quick fixes to get there desired outcome, not caring what the resulting outcome will be for the oppressed group. It is all a power struggle and the goal is to obtain the most power in the quickest and easiest manner possible. If such people truly cared about improving society, they would find solutions that would help the oppressed people contribute to society, instead of just weeding them out of society.

  2. allied2015 says:

    I agree with the assertion that any type of oppression is completely immoral. Specifically, I argue that oppression that is done under the title of “helping” only creates worldwide issues that turn into immoral chaos. For example, the Nazi’s believed that they were helping society by killing Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and any other group of people that do not fit the perfect, Aryan race. Hitler and the Nazi’s thought that these “other” people were imperfect and polluting society; therefore, they should be eradicated. Similarly, by sterilizing people in the United States who are seen as “unfit to reproduce”, the government and state legislatures are weeding out a conceptualized “lower” class. This is simply not the answer to economic or social problems. Education and providing resources to these people are the moral solutions to these problems.

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