Bird Cage

Cage.  Consider a bird cage. If you look very closely at just one wire in   the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is   before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that     one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird   would not just fly around the wire anytime it wanted to go somewhere.  Furthermore, even if one day at a time, you myopically  inspected each wire, you still could not see why a bird would have  trouble going past the wires to get anywhere.  There is no physical  property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could  discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it  except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop  looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a  macroscopic view of the of the whole cage, that you see why the bird  cannot go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment.  It will  require no great subtlety of mental powers.  It is perfectly obvious that  the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers,  none of which could be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by  their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a  dungeon.  

It is now possible to grasp one of the reasons why oppression can be hard to see and recognize.  One can study the elements of an oppressive structure with great care and some good will without seeing the structure as a whole, and hence without seeing or being able to understand that one is looking at a cage and that there are people who are caged, whose motion and mobility is restricted, whose lives are shaped and reduced. (M. Frye, 1983)


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