Oppression

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Primarily it’s important to define the concept of oppression. Oppression implies to "any way in which humans as individuals or as groups, are treated with less than complete respect." (McCullough, p6). Many people engage in conversations that discuss various oppressions such as racism, sexism, heterosexism and classism, but rarely do we discuss how these oppressions interact with each other. In the Combahee River Collective’s “Black Feminist Statements” the women write about the importance of identifying connections among various kinds of oppression; “The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.” Thus they suggest all systems of power are involved in the producing and reproducing of one another. What makes this “interlocking” approach different from the way other feminist conceptualize oppression is that it does not start with gender and then add other oppressions such as race, class, sexual orientation, disability, etc but it connects them as one system, in which they are all dependent on one another. Thus instead of focusing on which system is more oppressed than the other it focuses on how they interact with various individuals in different situations. “Replacing additive models of oppression with interlocking ones creates possibilities for new paradigms. The significance of seeing race, class, and gender as interlocking systems of oppression is that such an approach fosters a paradigmatic shift of thinking inclusively about other oppressions, such as age, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity.”(Charles C. Lemert) Most individuals prefer to see their own victimization as the most major oppressions and value others as less important. Thus if each individual creates a...
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