The Mind Behind “Five Faces of Oppression”

Iris Young’s Five Faces of Oppression is an article that thoroughly explains how the systematic oppression is alive due to the existence of societal groups that have unintentionally been set into place. She explained that groups are only identified when there exists a differing group. The groups are not exactly oppressing one another but more so subconsciously viewing another group/other groups as superior or more powerful than one’s own. Young introduced the following as the five faces of oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. For the remainder of the article, she went on to fully explain each types in further detail, each of which I am in full agreeance. One point that I favored a bit more than others was her take on how exploitation is indeed shown through the class-conscious system of our society but also through unsaid gender roles.

Before contextualizing the article, I felt as though Young had been provoked and was upset about certain conditions of her society. She began on such a serious note and it honestly made me a little hesitant on wanting to continue the reading because I thought that it would turn out to be very dark and pessimistic. However out of curiosity, I wanted to know exactly why was she triggered to compose this piece so I of course read on in hopes of it being revealed. In order to contextualize this particular article, I first had to research who Iris Young was exactly and what was she known for outside of Five Faces of Oppression. Many of my findings were centered around her being a professor, a woman who was passionate about political advocacy as well as her being a socialist feminist. Five Faces of Oppression was published in Justice and the Politics of Difference in 1990, which made who she had established herself as pretty dynamic for her time period. The entire article gave me a sense of straightforwardness that made me assume it was published in more recent times being that women now are freer with how they express themselves but that was obviously not the case. The case was that she wanted to bring awareness to why the perception of oppression needed to be altered and to do that she incorporated her background and experiences into her breakdown, making it simpler to convey her ideas to her reads. My findings and new understanding aided me with understanding why she may have used her choice of language because as stated in her work, women at that time were not see of the same level as men so she needed to come with something that was different and set her composition apart from being overlooked. 

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