How to Compete in the Oppression Olympics (and Win)

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Are you sick and tired of hearing people complain about their problems, even though their lives are not unmitigated misery?
Are you constantly having your feelings hurt by other people’s hurt feelings?
Is your experience the only relevant experience in any conversation?

Then you qualify to compete in the Oppression Olympics!

The great thing about the Oppression Olympics is that anybody can compete. Yes, even you. Here’s how it’s done:

Tactic one: Derail

Someone has problems? Don’t worry. You also have problems. Whether your problems are relevant to the discussion is not terribly important. What’s important is that everyone hears about your problems. If you can’t think of your own problem you can just borrow someone else’s.

Here’s an example*:
Person 1: one in six women are victims of rape or attempted rape
Person 2: but what no one ever talks about is how many false rape accusations there are

See? Now person 1 feels forced to enter the Oppression Olympics – and you are in the running for a medal!

Tactic 2: Illuminate Hidden Privilege

Some people just don’t know how good they’ve got it. Or they don’t know how bad you’ve got it. Or they do know how bad you’ve got it, but they are talking about their own problems right now instead of yours – which is just not cool. It’s your job to show them how bad you’ve got it – you might even be able to erase their identity while you do it!

Person 1: my wife is posted overseas with the army and if something happens to her the army doesn’t have any obligation to tell me because they don’t recognise our marriage
Person 2: what, so like you’re in a long distance relationship? No one even knows you are gay unless you tell them so you actually have straight privilege. I, on the other hand, live with my girlfriend and see her everyday so everyone knows I am gay. You don’t know how easy you have it.

Now person 2 feels forced to enter the Oppression Olympics, and you are in the running for a medal!

Tactic 3: Commiserate with their Oppression

This is a sneaky way to enter the Oppression Olympics, but it works more often than you would think! When someone is describing their oppression you can show them how you totally get it by describing your own, completely different oppression. It might be real, it might be relatively minor or it might be completely irrelevant – but the main thing is that you get to change the subject and have a chance at winning a medal.

Oh, there are so many examples: people insult me because I’m fat/I totally get that because people insult me for being skinny, I’m mixed race/I’m the only redhead in my family, I’m afraid of being raped/I understand what it means to live in fear, because I’m afraid of being accused of rape… There are countless ways of using this one.

Tactic 4: Keep elaborating

If you have successfully entered the Oppression Olympics but you feel yourself losing, don’t give up. You can add new dimensions to your oppression – some of them might be merely hypothetical, but there’s no need to explicitly stare which parts are real and which parts are hypothetical. For instance in a derailing situation when a woman says she was sexually harassed, you might say you “lost your job” due to misandry, thus implying that you were fired (when you actually quit when you saw a sexual harassment accusation on the horizon).

So remember: Derail, Illuminate, Commiserate, Keep elaborating. That’s D.I.C.K.

Now, go out there, DICK, and WIN!

all examples based on real online interactions I have seen or participated in – oh – except for the Keep Elaborating thing – I just wanted to make an acronym and there aren’t that many verbs beginning with K.

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