What is Persecution?

Teresa Roberts
5 min readJan 27, 2023

And How Do You Know if You’re Being Persecuted?

Light up the way for change. (my photo)

Recently, I read two articles on Medium that prompted the title and subtitle of this piece.

Holy guacamole! There’s some real confusion on the topic of persecution these days.

The above Wikipedia article defines persecution as …

Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another individual or group. The most common forms are religious persecution, racism, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, imprisonment, internment, fear, or pain are all factors that may establish persecution, but not all suffering will necessarily establish persecution. The threshold of severity has been a source of much debate.

When I think of persecution, I don’t equate it with having to listen, read, or talk about someone else’s rights.

That seems to be a common thread in modern society, however. As more and more minorities make steady but slow progress in their battle to attain the right to thrive within a society, there’s a definite pushback from those who were collectively willing to allow discrimination and persecution to continue indefinitely, even forever, as long as the persecuted are willing to take it.

I happen to belong to a particular group of people — women — that has been persecuted down through the ages.

I know a little about suffering and pain due to my gender. For the past 150 years, things have changed for women in a fair number of countries across the world. Not all, but I happen to live in a region of the world where women have made progress. It’s not been a quick route nor an easy one. We lacked autonomy, our own money, freedom to pursue interests, the right to our own children, no political voice, no land rights, extremely limited opportunites, and a societal mandate that men were the head of the house. In fact, a husband could commit his wife to an asylum at a whim.

Women literally were powerless.

Like I said, there are still countries where women are no more than an object owned by their husbands. For centuries this was the life of most women, however.

Yet, despite the historical context of the plight of women, the cries for females to stop being so persistent and accusatory can be heard across America.

It seems that many men consider their current plight to be equal to the centuries of suffering that woman endured. They feel persecuted, too. In their opinion, listening to women speak with passion about how they want to see their daughter’s lives improved in the future is equal to the centuries of persecution that women endured.

This inevitably creates a dire necessity to shut the women’s movement down by muzzling those women who continue to speak out.

Apparently, the very sound of a woman’s strident voice is painful. Get over yourself, they angrily scream. This is reverse discrimination. We’ll form our own counter groups and not only refuse to listen to your demands but move the pendulum backwards by taking away your hard-won rights little by little.

Even though no one is asking a man to give up his autonomy nor any of his freedoms whatsoever, they feel persecuted.

Their patience is running out. They may have to look elsewhere for wives and mothers. American women are too demanding. They feel emasculated. To equate their discomfort with listening, reading, or encountering women who continue to push their agenda forward is disingenuous and tells me one thing. When you’ve never lived in a world where you have no rights, it’s difficult to sympathize with someone whose life has been very restricted.

Putting ourselves in a less fortunate person’s shoes doesn’t come natural to most people.

Humans behave this way toward one another whether it’s in response to equal rights for women, people of color, homosexuals. transgenders, or any other group who are denied an autonomous life. Whenever the oppressed resist, there is persecution. People are killed, thrown in prison, and beaten for daring to question the status quo. They couldn’t ask kindly to discuss matters. No one would listen. So, they had to fight for decades and decades for incremental progress. The tiniest little steps forward were deemed blasphemous and were squelched.

The very group of people who held us down became our persecutors.

But suddenly, the oppressors are claiming to be the persecuted. How long must this go on? When will women, blacks, gays, and transgenders be satisfied. This is uncomfortable. We feel upset, angry, and tired of the conversation. We want you to shut up already. This has been going on far too long. End it now. We don’t deserve to be treated like this.

Reverse discrimination becomes a collective accusation. Enough is enough.

What these people who have never experienced true persecution don’t understand is that while progress has been made at a very slow and arduous pace, the systems are literally embedded with centuries and centuries of cultural expectations which are subtly enmeshed in the collective subconscious of societies. It’s easy to slip back into our old ways, perceptions, and interpretations and allow these cultural norms to determine the way we live and interact.

In fact, it’s always easier to backslide than move forward. Always.

I can’t help but wonder what the privileged would do if they suddenly lost their autonomy. How would they handle it if they were thrown in prison or put in a mental institution when they fought back? Real persecution is invasive and hateful.

It’s a means to shut someone up to hold on to the power that one group has over another.

Sorry but not sorry. Reading literature, listening to speeches, watching a protest, or allowing those who’ve had to work so hard to gain access to a platform where they can express their demands for change isn’t persecution. Painstaking efforts to make societal progress that validates all groups of people is not persecution.

Stop whining and help the world make progress. The evolution of societies is long overdue.

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.