Part II Assignment In Class – Essay on Oppression

Nicki Bannerman

Dr. S. Pete

ECS 110

October 4, 2012

Part II Assignment In Class

There are many ways a person can be oppressed, and most often, the reason a person is oppressed is that he or she is different. A person may be considered other than “normal” if they are different because of race, class, gender, ability, or sexual orientation. Oppression means to limit what other people can do, and prevent them from participating with other people free of discrimination. The differences mentioned above that people have can repress an individual or a group. While these differences cannot usually be changed, people who are considered different are often repressed because they are seen as “abnormal.”

Race is an obvious feature, and people of colour can often be harassed or discriminated because they are different from the dominant culture of the society. From the article, “The Canon Debate, Knowledge Construction, and Multicultural Education” we can see that people have strong opinions of how knowledge should be taught in schools, although there are different ways of knowing and teaching that can be beneficial to other races and cultures. Races and cultures other than the dominant white population learn about different ways of knowing in their homes. If schools and teachers were able to teach using different ways of knowing it could help students who are culturally different from us to be able to understand better. While the Western traditionalists feel that they need to defend their ways of knowing to remain dominant, they do not see the benefits they could acquire from adopting a well-rounded learning, which is what the multiculturalists are trying to achieve. The Afrocentrists want their cultures to be dominant in schooling so that their students will be able to find connections with what they are learning, and ultimately succeed. This is also discussed in the reading “Schooling and Education in North America: Recentring Indigenous Knowledges.” Indigenous people feel that their ways of knowing can be used in school, and that the use of these types of knowledge can help to empower the people who are oppressed, that is Indigenous people whose ways of knowing have been seen as unimportant. Another article, “Poor-Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion” shows that racism and class discrimination can create other people feeling like they have the right to control you. This was shown in the article when the landlord threatened the mother that he would call social services because she had kept her children out too late, in his opinion. Race is not something a person can change about him or herself, yet people of the dominant race often use racism to oppress others.

Class was shown to have a close connection to oppression in people of different races, especially since it is the stereotypical idea that most people who are lower class are people of other ethnic backgrounds. The chapter in “Poor-Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion” shows that coloured people on welfare that lived in the “poor” section of town were discriminated against because of where they lived, which was where they could afford, as well as by their race. It did not matter that these people were trained, only that they did not have meaningful jobs and were of a different race. Discrimination based on class is also apparent in “Social Class and School Knowledge.” Here, some of the differences between each class mean different standards of education for the children. The working class children were shown prejudice by stereotyping them, and saying that they would not need more than basic education because they would not be able to succeed. The higher-class schools, such as the affluent professional school and executive elite school, were given more opportunities and a higher standard of education because these children were not only believed, but also expected to succeed. In these ways class structure is able to oppress people, while allowing others to benefit from their status.

Gender is another topic of discrimination that can be used to oppress people. In the article “There’s a Beautiful Girl Under All of This: Performing Hegemonic Femininity in Reality Television” men were able to show authority over women by deceiving them with ideas of an ideal female body. Women with self-confidence and self-esteem issues were sent to a reality show that would perform plastic surgery to give the woman a body that was considered perfect in the male plastic surgeon’s mind. These women were treated as projects, and no consideration was given to how they felt about their bodies, and the real issues underneath the surface.

Another way to discriminate a person is based on their sexual orientation. In “Lesbian Teachers Walking the Line between Inclusion and Exposure” it is argued that people who do not have a heterosexual orientation should not be allowed to become teachers. It says that they affect the educational system by trying to teach their own secret objectives and goals, instead of simply trying to include everyone and provide a well-rounded and well informed education about sexuality differences. The article shows that teachers will “abnormal” sexual orientation show not be included and seen as equal. If this is shown between adults in a school, how are students supposed to learn to treat people with different sexual views? In “Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies: Disability and Queerness” the speaker shows how she was discriminated because of her sexuality and a disease that she had. The way her body looked more masculine made people make assumptions about her sexual preferences and treat her differently because of it.

Another type of discrimination involves a person’s ability. People who are seen as not being able are seen as being disabled and having something wrong with their bodies. “Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies: Disability and Queerness” shows different paradigms of disability, which are medical, charity, supercrip, and moral models. It also stresses the importance that social injustice is not separate from the body, in fact people who have disabilities have a relationship with their body, and the ways in which they are oppressed because of their body. Disabled persons are, but should not be, defined by their disabilities, or that their bodies are wrong or bad. These bodies are seen as broken or dysfunctional, instead of seen for what they have the ability to do.

In conclusion, people can be discriminated on because of their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or ability. All of these people can be oppressed because of these ideas. A person should not be discriminated or oppressed because of these topics, but allowed equality. People may be discriminated because they have more than one of these topics, and that allows for an interconnected structure. Society should not limit or oppress what other people can do, or prevent them from participating with other people; instead we should strive to create a society based on equality that is free of discrimination from all of these aspects.

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