Iris Young`s ‘Five Faces of Oppression’ describes what oppression can look like from the perspectives of oppressed groups. The faces of oppression according to Young are exploitation, marginalization, cultural imperialism, powerlessness, and violence. Exploitation and cultural imperialism are very similar, but with different goals. In order for one group to take advantage of the labors of a “lesser” group, then the oppressed must be ruled by a larger and more powerful ruling group. The authoritative group also has a prejudiced ideology to support their actions and prove to the oppressed that they deserve harsh treatment. Marginalization, powerlessness, and violence are the results of exploitation and cultural imperialism. When any of those three faces present themselves for an extended period of time, the hostility of the oppressor increases and the living conditions oppressed group decreases significantly. Oppression in any form is not something that happens incidentally, but daily.
This article was written in 1990, a time of confusion and fear about the future of minorities and marginalized groups in American society. Group behavior was also important during this time because there were a lot of new advancements in technology and communication. People couldn`t as easily say that they had no knowledge of how America oppresses other countries and its own citizens on a daily basis. The only way to end this lack of knowledge completely is the re-educate people about the importance of all groups in society and recognize them as equals. Since this article was written twenty years ago, I can see that the conclusion has not been reached. In fact, I believe that Americans have gotten farther from this point in the last five years.
As more rights and respect are gained by marginalized groups in 2019 and 2020,it is clear that there has been a more independent approach in the push for policies and practices that provide equal opportunities and treatment for those who have been exploited and marginalized in the past. In response to that approach, there is an increased conflict between different oppressed groups about who should get their rights and respect first and how it should be implemented. On top of that, former oppressor groups are increasingly getting the benefit of the doubt about the crimes they committed while exhibiting their oppressive behavior, instead of being punished. This leads to ‘cancel culture” and factions within oppressed groups with opposite values of the group they identify with. I think this all ties in the traits of dystopias that we have been talking about in class. The intense social stratification is leading to extreme public opinions about who is worth respecting and who is not.