Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

Frye’s “Oppression”

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Oppression affects men and women in different ways.  Women in our culture are expected to be physically restrained while men are expected to be emotionally restrained.  Women have faced more oppression than men, but that does not mean that men have not faced limitations.

Physical restraint harms women spiritually because it can bring down their confidence when men insist on doing everything that involves any physical labor for women.  When women see that society has no confidence in their ability to do physical work, they may lose confidence and start to believe that they really are incapable of doing physical work.  Jobs in areas such as construction work and yard work seem to be male dominated because of the supposed physical advantage.

Physical restraint harms women mentally because it can involve public displays of gender inequality which would cause increased mental stress for any woman who prefers to be treated as an equal.  Women feel pressured to let men open car doors for them and carry bags for them.  If a woman protests to this, the man may insist that he is just trying to be chivalrous.  While some men may have honest intentions, it is really more of a display of a man’s power and a woman’s dependence.

Physical restraint harms women physically because a lack of physical exertion can lead to a person being weak, out of shape, and possibly other health problems.  This can make it harder for women to meet the expectation of being thin, but it can make it easier to meet the expectation of not being muscular.  Sports, such as boxing and wrestling, that put emphasis on muscles and upper body strength are still male dominated.

Emotional restraint harms men spiritually because it makes them feel like they have to remain emotionally distant from their friends and family even when they crave comfort.  People have a need for comfort and intimacy, and it can take a toll on one’s happiness and general well-being when this need is not fully met.

Emotional restraint harms men mentally because they either do not know how or are unwilling to express their emotions.  This can cause a buildup of sadness or anger.  It is bad for one’s mental health because it becomes difficult to get over a traumatic or stressful event if one never deals with it and simply pushes it to the back of the mind until a mental breakdown occurs.


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