Created By: Xzenu on November 23, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on July 21, 2012

Oppression Hurts Everyone

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Trope
Rolling Updates * Needs More Examples


It's obvious that oppression hurts the victims. But what about the victimizers? How fun is it really to live at other people's expense? And even if you are socipathic enough to enjoy that, you can never feel safe on every level. In some works, oppression is simply a bad idea that sucks for pretty much everyone involved.

Compare and contrast Troubled Sympathetic Bigot and Heel Realization as well as Dystopia Is Hard.


Examples

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • Whatever Love Means have several chapters on how patriarchial oppression against women is bad for men. For example, one chapter claim that puritanism was developed by women to deny themselves and men sexual enjoyment - not out of evil, but out of desperation: When men had all the power, their own bodies was the only thing the women had left to bargain with.

Film
  • In Time give us a bleak society when the wealthy can live forever at the expense of the poor. The plot starts with how the guilt of this make one rich guy commit suicide and hive his remaining assets to one of the two protagonists. Soon thereafter we meet the second protagonist, a rich woman who discover terrorism as her salvation from the self-hatred her privileged social situation has imposed on her. Left alone at the top we see her father - a pitiful tyrant, surrounded by bodyguards. Always fearing for his own life and always alone, having lost his daughter and emotionally alienated his wife.
  • In Simon And The Oaks, the titular character's parents are well-meaning, but kinda oppressive. Their oppressiveness give them power over him, but also poison him against them. They end up spending the most of the story worrying that he will turn his back on them completely.

Literature
  • This philosophy is explained in The Wheel of Time as The Way of the Leaf. They point out that when an axe cuts down a tree the axe takes damage too.
  • Demonstrated by George Orwell on himself in the short story Hunting an Elephant.
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • November 23, 2011
    Xzenu
    Phew, I'm still angry after watching In Time the day before yesterday. Good movie.
  • November 23, 2011
    fulltimeD
    This strikes me as a deconstruction of Dystopia Is Hard. Now I'm going to have to check out "In Time." Sounds like a great movie.
  • November 23, 2011
    Sackett
    • This philosophy is explained in The Wheel Of Time as The Way of the Leaf. They point out that when an axe cuts down a tree the axe takes damage too.
  • November 23, 2011
    PacificState
  • November 23, 2011
    Koveras
    • Shitsurakuen, which is loosely based on Utena, arrives to this conclusion.
  • November 24, 2011
    Tambov333
    • Demonstrated by George Orwell on himself in the short story Hunting an Elephant.
  • November 24, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Those who would be inclined to pooh-pooh it would probably dismiss the oppressors as "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" because once somebody is the major power, there's always gonna be somebody who wants to knock them down and take their place at the top.

    But the trope as is makes a lot of sense.

  • December 18, 2011
    captainpat
    Please add contexts to the examples for Revolutionary Girl Utena, Shitsurakuen, and Hunting an Elephant.
  • December 18, 2011
    MidnightRambler
    About Shooting an Elephant (that's what it's called, and it's an essay, not a short story)... I think this is a better description:
    • This is the point of George Orwell's essay Shooting an Elephant; the "oppression" in this case is colonialism. Orwell argued that 'when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom he destroys' - for the British, oppressing the Indians meant constantly having to keep up the appearance of the Mighty Whitey.
  • December 18, 2011
    SKJAM
    WARNING: Unacceptable language to follow!

    • The old saying, "The man who'd make a black slave of a nigger, would make a white slave out of you."
  • December 18, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Literature:
    • In Huckleberry Finn, through the eyes of the title character, racists are portrayed as having a distorted understanding of reality that does them no good.

    Discussed in Real Life:
    • A common arguement used by abolitionists in the 1800's.
      • "I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world." Abraham Lincoln, referring to the then - legal practice of slavery, speech at Peoria, Illinois, October 16, 1854
    • This has also been a topic of more recent academic thought.
  • December 18, 2011
    AFP

  • December 19, 2011
    Frank75
    ^^ Academics? These are just the blogs of a student and a consultant, not of two acknowledged professors.

    And while your talk against oppression may sound nice, I still neither see how your oppression-free society is supposed to work (in fact, at the moment I don't even know how your exact definition of oppression is, or even whether you have one - and that would mean that everyone can define oppression as it suits him, which isn't a good thing), or how you want to get there from the society we have now. This reminds me of another ideology that promised to improve the world, what was its name... oh, right, communism. Didn't turn out that well in practice.
  • December 21, 2011
    Xzenu
    @Frank75: We got a trope for that! Totalitarian Utilitarian.:-)
  • December 22, 2011
    Frank75
    You didn't really answer my comment. So I have to ask now: What is your exact definition of oppression (if you have one)? How would your oppression-free society work? And if you can answer the last question, how do we get there?
  • December 22, 2011
    SKJAM
    @Frank75--That's really a question for the forums, as what an oppression-free society would work like is irrelevant to the trope of oppression being bad for everyone, not just the openly oppressed.

    Back on topic...

    • Sinfest:Slick discovers that "The Patriarchy" is just as likely to lash out at him when he steps outside acceptable gender norms as it is women.
  • December 23, 2011
    Xzenu
    @Frank75: the on-topic answer is that it is Depending On The Writer. As for my onw thoughts, maybe at this trope's discussion page after launch. :-)
  • February 3, 2012
    SKJAM
    bump
  • February 3, 2012
    animeg3282
    Whatever happens irl, it is used in fiction, see Ursula K Le Guin especially the Annals of the Western Shore or the Hainish Cycle.
  • February 4, 2012
    Xzenu
    Anyone elaborate those examples?
  • March 27, 2012
    Tambov333
    Bump.
  • March 27, 2012
    animeg3282
    In the Annals of the Western Shore, the Alds who are the ruling group, suffer from their ignorance of the customs of the land, and their separation from the other group.
  • June 3, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Literature
    • In Cry, the Beloved Country, there is a passage about what whites sacrifice under apartheid, such as walking safely at night.
  • June 19, 2012
    Fighteer
    This is another soapbox rant by Xzenu. Discarding.
  • July 16, 2012
    Belfagor
    ^ Someone preceeded me, I see. It should be nuked.
  • July 17, 2012
    Arivne
    What might make this a trope is the idea that oppressing others corrupts and weakens the oppressor, making oppression inherently self-defeating and self-destructive.

    Even if the oppression was started with benevolent intent, the need to use cruelty, fear and other malicious techniques to maintain control makes the situation go bad for everyone.
  • July 17, 2012
    animeg3282
    Yes, and they are frightened of those who they oppress- there's a bit in a Toni Morrison novel about that- I think Beloved?
  • July 17, 2012
    captainpat
    The anime and literature examples have no context. They need to be elaborated on.
  • July 17, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    ^^^ I'm inclined to agree. Oppressing others can use up resources (time, wealth, etc.) that may be put to more constructive use, and it can actually reduce certain types of resources (namely, people who might invent/design/compose brilliantly if they actually got educations instead of being oppressed) to the detriment of society as a whole. I am also reminded of a line from Star Wars: "The more you tighten your grip, Governor Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."
  • July 21, 2012
    FruityOatyBars
    This is one of the aesops of Dragon Age II - if you oppress a minority out of fear, you are giving that minority a reason to become exactly what you're afraid they will be, as happens with both the qunari and the mages. The oppressor can never feel safe.

    /entrypimp *ducks*

    Actually, this trope and Then Let Me Be Evil go together pretty well in general - that page's quote from The Merchant Of Venice ("Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause; But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs") applies broadly.
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