#1: Perfectionism is a Tool of the Oppressor
About this Manifesto
Oppressors often use the impossible ideal of perfection to set their victims up for failure in order to maintain control or extract value from the oppressed.
Before we examine why Oppressors use perfectionism as a tool for control and manipulation, we must explore what oppression is, looks like, and why it’s used.
Oppression can be: 1) the unkind and unjust exercise of power; 2) a malicious treatment or control—often cloaked in the illusion of “doing what’s best” for the oppressed; or 3) mental strain or distress. Sometimes all three definitions are used together by an Oppressor.
Now, oppression—like almost all of life—depends on who’s perspective you’re viewing a situation from.
For an Oppressor, there can be the utmost of conviction, the sureness that their efforts, laws, rules, commands, or guidelines are all for the best and highest good of those that must follow them.
For the oppressed, those same dictates may be perceived as suffocating, limiting, disenfranchising, or even cruelty and torture.
We all need boundaries. We all need ethics. They give us guideposts so that we can compare our intent and actions to them and know when we’ve violated them.
So, I don’t see oppression as a black or white scenario. For example, I may be seen as oppressive when I set time limits or limit access to certain websites and apps on my child’s digital devices.
Viewed from my perspective, I’m protecting my child from potential harm, I’m limiting their sedentary behavior, and I’m instilling healthy habits around devices that I myself have been addicted to.
From my child’s view, I’m an asshole who is denying them access to fun and, yes this is a direct quote, “ruining [their] life.”
Some boundaries or rules are going to feel like oppression, no matter the original intent of those that set them.
What those in power and control must constantly do is objectively and subjectively reassess what those dictates, rules or laws are doing to those that must live with them. Their use must be approached with care, diligence and compassion.
The Oppressor, on the other hand, uses aggression instead of healthy anger to control. Robert Augustus Masters, PhD. talks about the difference the difference between healthy anger and aggression in his book, How To Be A Man.
In it he writes that healthy anger is a natural state of being. Your child is about to be attacked? You use healthy anger to protect that child at all costs and reduce or eliminate the threat.
Aggression on the other hand is based in the dehumanization of the other. It’s what allows us to set others (and all live really) as “less than.” Aggression closes off our heart and empathy and opens the gates to hellish behavior as seen so often in our Dominator model of the world.
Now that we’ve explored oppression a bit, let’s explore how Perfectionism is a tool used by Oppressors.
Perfectionism, like any stringent law or requirement, is quite demanding. It implies a state of total completion, leaving zero room for improvement. Doneskies with a cherry on top (perfectionism is actually that cherry, FYI).
An Oppressor may say their dictates aren’t perfectionism, they’re just setting an ideal to strive towards, or that it’s not perfectionism they’re in search of it’s just clearly establishing right or wrong.
That may be true for them, but what invariably happens is that an Oppressor (almost always knowingly) will create rules or boundaries that are nigh impossible to achieve. Or, if they are achievable by the Oppressed, they carry a steep cost, require an abandonment of their ethics, or cleave them of their culture or identity.
The Oppressor uses Perfection to create homogeneity which is much easier to control and manipulate.
An example of this control and manipulation is seen in the treatment of blacks in America.
The very idea (really, the illusion) of a perfect race is based in perfectionism. Race superiority myths have granted hellish reign of Indigenous around the world and fueled the African slave trade.
Following the end of slavery, perfectionism in the form of strict codes of conduct, stringent requirements and perfect behavior expectations were used to blacks in an inferior status and to maintain control over them.
The bullshit excuses by Black Codes and Jim Crow law makers (the Oppressors) was that they were “separate but equal.” Anyone who has been on buses knows that the back of the bus—while being a great place to hide from your field trip chaperone—is one of the more uncomfortable, sometimes smellier, and oftentimes more dangerous places to be on a bus due to distance from the driver’s eyes.
Were blacks truly equal in the law when they were relegated to the back of the bus? If there was true equality, they would’ve had one side of the bus and whites the other. But it wasn’t like that because the true intent of their Oppressors was sustaining and perpetuating their cruel, unjust, and inhumane treatment.
Laws, rules and boundaries are essential for contributing to order, respect, and limiting abuse of power and resources.
At the same time, those same decrees must be understood to be imperfect, and require constant reassessment and review.
The problem is when those laws are held as sacred, infallible or perfect. When that happens it’s far easier to turn a blind eye to the injustice, the pain or the trauma they perpetuate or inflict.
In a world that thrives on constant change, we all must continually assess and review our laws, codes, rules and boundaries to ensure we aren’t perpetuating an unachievable ideal or a state of perfection.
We all must examine where we are being excessively oppressive by demanding perfection, both towards others and towards ourselves.
Who Is Writing This?
Hey, I'm Tigre Pickett and I'm a recovering perfectionist.
I bought this domain in 2014 and sat on it for seven years before finally taking my own imperfect action and dove into sharing my experiences with perfection. How on brand!
It's my goal to provide others inspiration, guidance and support around befriending perfection by giving it other, more kind and accurate clothes and identities to wear.
I've sold myself short a lot in my life due to perfection's grip. May this website and my work provide you some glorious relief to just be with the messy, flawed, and totally lovable and worthy human you are.