Blurred Bodies of Oppression

In Irish Young’s Five Faces of Oppression, she lays out five major components of oppression that may be used singularly or in any combination to oppress a group of people: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence. To put things in context, Young starts out by explaining the point that oppression is a collective effort in the sense that both parties, the oppressors and those being oppressed, play into the circumstances that allow an oppressive society to continue. She then defines all the parameters of a social group and goes into how each form of oppression can be used differently, or together, against a particular social group.

One point that is important to mention from the article is that as long as there are social groups that people identify with or are grouped into, there will be some form of oppression present to either make that group feel superior or inferior to the rest of society. The simple existence of social groups makes it so easy for oppression to exist because it does not always consider the factors of individuality within the group and allows for broad generalizations which leads to stereotyping and bias. Social groups and choosing to identify with them is even more of a struggle today than when the article was written, as intersectionality becomes more and more prevalent. I also notice in my community that these set “social groups” that have existed for so long in the past are mixing very rapidly. Interracial couples are completely normal, people are much more open about expressing their sexuality, and there are large efforts being made towards accepting cultural diversity. With that being said, the lines that once clearly defined all the social groups that participated in oppression are now blurred and we have to stop trying to make people fit into one place when they can identify themselves with multiple groups. Once we begin accepting each other for our personal decisions and identities, and stop living according to the social groups that allowed oppression to exist in the past, maybe we can rip apart the faces of oppression, one by one, until it is no longer a defining characteristic of our society.

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