Discharging Patterns of Domination

We who are members of oppressor groups (white people, males, people of dominant nations or languages, people with high status, heterosexuals) are pulled to take control, take charge, think we are always correct. We take up space without noticing it and assume privileges (access to resources). We feel upset when things don’t work to our advantage. This all seems normal to us. 

I think that pulls to control come from when we were dominated as young people. We were told what was “right” and “wrong” (as defined by non-discharging adults, which was all adults). Most often the domination began in our families and then continued in schools and religious institutions, and when various authorities defined moral, social, and emotional “normalcy.” Sometimes we experienced physical or sexual domination and abuse. 

The early recordings of being controlled are deeply embedded in our minds. They pull us to control others like we were controlled or to rigidly not do what was done to us. 

I encourage us all to contradict and discharge on domination. We could try answering these questions: 

• How were you encouraged, respected, and supported as a young person? 

• How were you controlled or dominated? 

• What responses did you adopt to survive? 

• What elements of your background (education, employment, money, language, race, nation, gender, religion) place you in a position to dominate? 

• What is your first memory of dominating? Can you go back in your mind as an ally to the young person that was you and discharge? 

• Whom would it be useful for you to listen to? To follow? 

• Whose oppression do you need to learn about? 

• Can you thoughtfully back someone else to lead? What would you have to feel to do this genuinely and respectfully?

Joanne Bray
International Liberation

Reference Person for Catholics
Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-maildiscussion list for leaders of Catholics


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07