Chapter 5 Questions

  1. The authors agreed that Mary (who was prejudiced against a presumed gay candidate) was enacting oppression, but Liz (who was prejudiced against a male candidate) was not. Review the reasons for this distinction. Why was Mary enacting oppression but Liz not?

Within this story both Liz and Mary had opposition to hiring this candidate because he was outside of normal for an elementary school teacher. Mary enacted oppression and Liz did not (as argued by the authors) because gay people have been systematically oppressed in our Western society’s history through serving jail time and being “converted”, while men are just less traditionally teachers. I might disagree with the authors on this, because while Liz was not enacting oppression she still let her bias get in the way of making decisions for the hiring process.

2. In your own words. explain the authors’ argument that there is no such thing as a reverse form of oppression (i.e. no “reverse racism” and no “reverse sexism”).

A reversal of oppression is simply not true because people in the majority of class, sexual orientation, race, gender and ability have never been systematically oppressed. The history of oppression does not exist for these people and simply the anecdotal evidence that people of the majority are seeing oppression cannot be backed up by data.

3. How does the example of women’s suffrage illustrate the difference between discrimination and oppression?

As defined by the authors, discrimination is the dynamic between a group of people while oppression is the institutional power that holds a group back from doing things others can. In the example of women’s suffrage, men may have discriminated against women in the workplace and other social situations but the oppression came in the institutional ruling that women were not allowed to vote.

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