oppression, subtle and not-so-subtle

Here is a fantastic speech by one of Ireland’s best known Drag Queens, Panti Bliss (Rory O’Neill), about how subtle, and not-so-subtle, oppression in society is internalised by the victims of oppression.

I particularly resonated with Panti’s description of watching a ‘reasoned debate’ on TV about why you should or should not be entitled to full rights – which is a thoroughly alienating experience for anyone who is the subject of that discussion (and often not included in the debate itself).

Intellectual debates about the ‘rights’ of human beings and their lived experiences is a fine theoretical exercise that can be set aside and forgotten by those who are not directly affected. But it’s not a hypothetical argument for people who live with some form of oppression – subtle or otherwise – in their daily lives. In those cases it’s a constant struggle to retain their sense of human dignity.

Here’s part of the backstory of why Panti is making this speech (she also explains it in the video).

“The word homophobia is no longer available to gay people, which is a spectacular, and neat, Orwellian trick, because now it turns out that gay people are not victims of homophobia, homophobes are the victims of homophobia.”

This is the oldest trick in book: turn the argument around to attack the oppressed.

And as usual, the purveyors of the status quo, and those who have the most to gain by it being upheld, are the first to wag fingers and lecture those who dare speak up about their oppression.

Panti Bliss: you have my support!