What is Oppression?

Before this class, I used to think that oppression was diminishing. However, I now realize that oppression is a cyclical phenomenon embedded in society, a cycle between the oppressors and the oppressed, with no realistic end.

This became clear after watching Dreamworlds 3, a documentary about female oppression in music videos. This cycle of oppression stems from patriarchy – men believe they are superior to women and thus the controllers of all aspects of their lives. This supports bell hooks’, Seduced By Violence No More, in which she states that we live in a phallocentric and patriarchal state that gives men a sense of superiority and privilege over women, thus influencing their treatment and expectations of women.

Music videos generate cultural ideals of femininity, equating it with being desirable and submissive to men, thus putting women under male control. Music videos also depict women solely by their sexuality, devaluing and thus dehumanizing them, which enables further oppression.

The cycle of oppression in music videos commences with the male fantasy of women, women in music videos act out these male fantasies, then the everyday male audience interprets this to be reality and attempt to fulfill their fantasies in real life, leaving everyday women to bear the burden of this cycle.

It is unknown if this cycle will end, but it is crucial to remember that oppression is hegemonic – oppressors maintain control by making the oppressed willing to remain in their position. In this case, women desire to resemble video girls, which is simply maintaining male superiority.


Hooks, Bell. “Seduced By Violence No More.” Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations. New York: Routledge, 1994. N. pag. Print.

Jhally, Sut, Andrew Killoy, and Joe Bartone. Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2007.

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