What is a dystopia and how is it defined?

In my opinion, a dystopia is defined as a place set in the future where people are subjected to different types of oppression. Dystopias are societies that have tried to reach a utopia but failed. These societies usually fail by a certain population or group being subjected to a type of oppression. In the “Five Faces of Oppression”, by Iris Young, she outlines a system to categorize oppression into a more understandable definition. The five categories she provided were exploitation, violence, marginalization, powerlessness, and cultural imperialism. In books, films, and real life dystopias reflect at least one type of oppression. For example, in the book we are currently reading, The Handmaid’s Tale, the women in the story are subjected to marginalization, which Oxford Languages defines as the treatment of a person, group, or concept as insignificant or peripheral. In the story, women are treated as baby makers rather than humans because of low reproduction rates. Another example is Divergent, a movie and book series set in future Chicago. In this series, the people are split into five groups with different values: selflessness, peace, honesty, bravery, and knowledge. The people’s strengths are exploited and are positioned in society based on how they can best contribute. Oxford Languages defines exploitation as the action or fact of treating someone unfairly to benefit from their work. This is a typical example of how a society attempted to make a utopia but made a dystopia. Furthermore, there are real life examples of dystopias. One example is Nazi Germany. Germany imprisoned and killed millions of people based on their race and class. This atrocity not only falls under the category of oppression through violence but also cultural imperialism, powerlessness, exploitation, and marginalization. From my observations, I have concluded that oppression is a prevalent concept in dystopian media. Each example can fall under one or more category of oppression. In dystopian media, a privileged group cannot exist without an oppressed counterpart.
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