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Can White Heterosexual Males Understand Oppression

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Shon Tramontana

ETHN 101, M010

2 December 2005

Professor Joelle Ryan

Can White Heterosexual Men Understand Oppression?

Can White heterosexual males understand oppression? Being a White heterosexual male and having been exposed to diversity in the form of feminism, racism, and homophobia this is a simple question. I don't believe it's possible for White heterosexual males to understand oppression because we've never experienced oppression, we lack education taught on oppression, and the values and beliefs of White heterosexual males in the media makes it difficult for us to understand oppression.

Cooper Thompson's essay "Can White Heterosexual Men Understand Oppression" discusses his experiences with feminism, homophobia, and racism. He goes into detail how he was able to identify oppression that groups experience through the incidents he encountered with the groups. Thompson goes on to talk about four main barriers that are responsible for White heterosexual males' lack of understanding of oppression. Until these barriers can be crossed then oppression will always be prevalent in today's society. Thompson then elaborates how people of color, women, and gay and lesbians are demanding to be included in the power structure of society. Later Thompson describes the monumental steps that will be need to be taken for ending oppression, but then discusses how ending oppression would be almost impossible because oppressed groups don't receive much help. The next section describes an educational program that would enable White heterosexual males to understand oppression and Thompson describes why an educational program would be beneficial. Concluding his essay Thompson questions how much longer he'll be able to fight oppression when it seems like nobody is willing to listen. Although it may be a helpless fight, the excitement of seeing people will help him sustain and continue the fight against oppression.

Firstly, I don't believe White heterosexual males can fully understand oppression because their group in society has never had experience of being oppressed. Although White heterosexual males observe oppression take place against females, people of color, or against gay and lesbians, it isn't until they become the oppressed that they can fully gain an understanding of the concept of oppression. White heterosexual males' role as being an oppressor throughout history and separation from the oppressed within the social structure will not allow us to wholly understand oppression.

Subsequently, another key reason why White heterosexual males are able to understand oppression is because of lack of education kids receives when it comes to oppression. Most high school students are receiving a watered down version of history, and reading history books that hide the reality of past actions by the United States government to oppress



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