The word oppression still exists in the everyday lives of women but has changed its tyrannical implications, meaning there is no dictator to influence or force negative actions toward women gender. According to Iris Young, the author of the chapter Five Faces of Oppression, the word oppression has come to represent communities and individuals that are being discriminated by the way society is structured, rather than a single leader oppression. Most people do not think women are subjected to discrimination but it still exists, yet women individually have proven that they are able to overcome it.
As a woman, I most definitely agree that we are often the receivers of violence from dominant groups like men, and are often expected to be okay with living in the patriarchy which we do today. While I am fortunate that I have not experienced any serious violence from a man, sadly I know many of my friends that have been the victims of violence and abuse against them, based solely on their gender. I agree that many women do have to live in fear everyday of possible violence against them, whether it is from a stranger or not.
As I am finishing up my college education and ready to venture out into the real world to pursue a career, I am well aware of the discrimination that many women have to deal with while trying to get ahead. By just being a woman, there are stereotypes which are often upheld by men, making it difficult for many women to reach their full potential and success in what are otherwise considered a “man’s occupation”. This is not always true. A perfect example of a man and woman working side by side with equal power in the decision making and their successes are my parents.
For over twenty-five years my parents owned a successful restaurant business defeating the stereotypical, “glass ceiling,” “a term used to describe barriers that prevent women and minorities from advancing to management positions in corporations and organizations”. Not only did my parents raise a family together but they also financially worked together. Their incomes were the exact same because they shared everything. The money they used to put clothes on our backs and food on the table to eat was because of them together not individually.
This is not only a perfect example of an individual women trying to have success in the work place but actually having success in the work place and working alongside a man. She made many executive decisions alongside my father to do what was best for the business and the family. The definition of the “glass ceiling” was developed in the late 1980’s but has been proven to be false in many instances. While each argument in Five Faces of Oppression brings forth many influential points, I found that those who are powerless are most affected by oppression.
In all five of these categories, the dominant group who oppressed people are those who actually hold power. I agree with Young’s idea that the way to oppress others it to obtain power, and until we can demolish the gap between privileged and non-privileged, we will always have a group suffering from oppression. Examples of women who are powerless when it comes to the act of decision making are those who follow through with the horrible act of being persuaded in to getting an abortion, especially for unplanned parenting.
Although, women as a group are given the freedom of choice to have the baby or not, in many states there are laws and guidelines that must be followed by each member of that group. Abortion is the worst idea in many instances yet can save someone from ruining theirs and another innocent baby’s life. Oppression can work against the individual and group aspects of abortion that only women know how to overcome. It is not the easiest decision to take a life that has not left the womb but at the same time it is worse when the child that you gave birth to is unhealthy.
The fact that the anatomical creation of a baby starting from a zygote, to an embryo, then to a fetus cannot be created on its own and a man is needed for this development to happen shows that women in a sense are powerless on the consequences of a man’s anatomy as well. “The feminist intuition” the idea that “preferences influenced by oppressive norms” cannot be autonomous (Charles). ” Meaning it is not the individual that is likely to be influenced by the discrimination of women but they are being negatively categorized as a group.
To break apart from the oppressed class, one needs to stand up for their rights, and uphold the belief of fairness and equality. Alexandra Nemser, a student in multi cultured environment grew up in an area of Florida where oppression is quite hidden and “swept under the carpet. ” The realization of oppression actually existing is minimal compared to minority’s plight in Chicago. The area being predominantly white and affluent, the daily struggles of minorities is typically hidden from the general society. An example in Nemser’s home of oppression was her parents that eventually split up and got a divorce.
While her father worked long hard hours during the week to make the most amount of income her could for his wife and children, her mother was to do the expected and cook, clean and handle the laundry as well as make sure her and her brother were off to school on time. Her mother was, unknowingly, being oppressed by the man she started a family with because he was the one she thought she loved. Her mother had no choice in the matter because while her husband at the time made all the money she was keeping her children entertained and sidetracked from the lack of having a father present during the day other than financially.
Once they were separated, her mother, who had not finished her college education, struggled for several years to live up to the income her children were used to. Other than her not being financially stable, she had the joy and love from her children that never changed just because the amount in her bank account did. Throughout the article, Young describes the Five Faces of Oppression that exists, whether or not it is seen. The world has diversity and adversity yet it is up to the people to influence equality.
Throughout her piece, Young presents several arguments and ideas which struck me as innovative as well as eye opening. Young believes that there are many groups of people who suffer from oppression, but that they are all disadvantaged in different ways depending on the period of time in which they live. While Young has written a substantial amount of work on the subject of oppression, arguably her most influential work is The Five Faces of Oppression.
If at any point in time one of these five conditions is present, the group is considered to be oppressed. The “exercise of tyranny by a ruling group” has been demolished through Young’s perspective and has developed into, “disadvantages and injustice some people suffer not because of tyrannical power but because of everyday practices of well-intentions liberal society” (218). Women unfortunately have continuously been discriminated against as a group, but may be able to overcome it through individual circumstances that differentiate them from the masses.