After diving into Five Faces of Oppression by Iris Young, I was presented with a new way to look at certain issues and structures in American society. In modern America we continue to see these forms of oppression exist. Personally, I believe as a society we are continuing to grow toward a new mindset that will allow us to disband the severity oppression imposes and allow a new way of life that acknowledges the beauty in differences. However, there is still more to do and with that we must take a look at the different ways it exists. While she presented us with five different examples of what oppression looks like and how it can be classified, two that struck me the most were exploitation and powerlessness.
As I’m evolving and developing my own identity, specifically for the context of this discussion- on a political and economic level, I’m learning new approaches to the issues we see in America today. American government and economics is tricky, especially with all the elements that play a part in the whole. Something I have become more recently familiar with is the creation of unions that workers are looking toward to create a more just environment in the workplace. The only reason these unions are needed are due to the exploitation happening between leaders and their workers. Ive been doing my own research on how it is even possible that Jeff Bezos is making trillions of dollars while I drive through New Orleans and see a homeless person at each block or even see my own family struggle to afford a basic way of life. This is a result of exploitation both directly and indirectly. When capitalists are exploiting their workers and severely putting them into positions where they cannot get basic necessities for life, I believe there is a problem and it’s something that continues in modern America.
Powerlessness was another topic that I enjoyed reading because I was able to relate to what Young had discussed in this section. It related to exploitation in a way that allows those in charge of businesses to exceed financially and socially. With power there are many more advantages given to you than there are without power. Furthermore, those in power are treated on a higher level in the social hierarchy than those without. An example Young used was the simple relationship between the service privilege shown to someone who has a more respectable career in society in comparison to someone who may work a minimum wage job. Although the worker with the minimum wage job is providing a service necessary for the production of society or even for the comfort of others, they are treated with less respect. Additionally, those in power are given a voice to address things that may inconvenience them while those without are left feeling powerless. An example of this can be shown in simple social issues. For example the Black Lives Matter movement. While everyday people are expressing this concern of safety for the black community their voices aren’t as loud as someone who is in power. This power hierarchy is damaging and only allows for a smaller percentage of America to live comfortably, while the majority is left pleading for a change.