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Five Faces of Oppression

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Kristen Harris

on 1 April 2013

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Transcript of Five Faces of Oppression

Five Faces of Oppression Exploitation Exploitation is the act of using people's labors to produce profit while not compensating them fairly. People who work in sweat shops are exploited. Although they are paid for their efforts and toils, they are not paid a fair wage considering how much money they make for the company.

Miners in Africa are also exploited when they have to rent their mining tools everyday. If these miners find nothing of value on any given day, then they owe for the supply rental and are not paid for their efforts.

Exploitation uses capitalism to oppress. Capitalism creates "haves" and "have-nots", and the "haves" often exploit the "have-nots", which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Marginalization Marginalization is the act of relegating or confining a group of people to a lower social standing or outer limit or edge of society; overall, it's a process of exclusion. Often, people are marginalized based upon race.
One prominent example is the Aboriginal communities of Australia that were excluded from society and pushed farther and farther away from their homelands as cities grew.
In the US, a shamefully large proportion of the population is marginal:
elderly people who are fired from their jobs,
young Blacks or Latinos who cannot find their first or second jobs,
many single mothers and their children,
other people involuntarily unemployed,
mentally and physically disabled people, and
American Native Indians on reservations. Powerlessness The idea of powerlessness links to Marx's theory of socialism: some people "have" power while others "have-not". The powerless are dominated by the ruling class and are situated to take orders and rarely have the right to give them. Some fundamental injustices associated with powerlessness are
inhibition to develop one's capacities,
lack of decision making power, and
exposure to disrespectful treatment because of the lowered status.
The powerless in the US do not participate in basic democratic processes because they feel that they can't or that their participation won't mean anything. In most cases it means not voting or participating in any decision making process. Cultural Imperialism Cultural Imperialism involves taking the culture of the ruling class and establishing it as the norm. The groups that have power in society control how the people in that society interpret and communicate. The beliefs of that society are the most widely disseminated and express the experience, values, goals, and achievements of these groups.
India was colonized by the British Empire. Their language and some of their belief system was taken over by the language and belief system of the British. Therefore, modern Indians speak English and have many mannerisms of the British generations after their enslavement by Britain has ended.
Those who are oppressed by cultural imperialism are both marked by stereotypes and made to feel invisible. Traditionally, oppression means the exercise of tyranny by a ruling group, but it can create injustice in other circumstances, too. In many cases, a well-intentioned liberal society can place system-wide constraints on groups and limit their freedom. Oppression can be the result of a few people's choices or policies that cause embedded unquestioned norms, habits, and symbols.
Oppression is when people reduce the potential for other people to be fully human. This could mean treating them in a dehumanizing manner, or it could also mean denying people language, education, and other opportunities that might make them become fully human in both mind and body. Violence Violence is probably the most obvious and visible form of oppression. Members of some groups live with the knowledge that they must fear random, unprovoked attacks on their persons or property. These attacks do not necessarily need a motive but are intended to damage, humiliate, or destroy the person.
In American society, women, Blacks, Asians, Arabs, gay men, and lesbians live under such threats of violence.
All forms of sexual violence and hate crimes are prevalent examples of violent oppression.
Most, if not all, violent oppression is the direct result of xenophobia. Culture of Silence Oppressed people become so powerless that they do not even talk about their oppression. If they reach this stage, it creates a culture wherein it is forbidden to even mention the injustices that are being committed. They have no voice and no will.
Oppressed actually believe they are "naturally inferior" and they don't know they have a voice. They are dehumanized and taught to believe the negative perceptions as fact which then becomes part of the oppressed person's own beliefs. This information is adapted from "Five Faces of Oppression", a chapter in Oppression, Privilege, and Resistance by Iris Young. The portion of the information titled "Culture of Silence" is from the same article and adapted from Paulo Freire's "Historical Conditioning and Levels of Consciousness" in The Politics of Education.
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