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Anti-Oppression: Additional Terms

This guide is meant to provide users with a familiarity of many different types of oppression and how to work toward a better world by combatting oppression.

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. Marian Wright Edelman


In the interest of full disclosure, the creator of and collaborators for this guide identify with some, but not all of the oppressed identities presented here. As members of the Penn College community, we strive to encourage diversity, inclusion, awareness, equality, and equity. While I have made an attempt to collect and present some of the more timely, relevant, and quality resources on the topics of oppression, I recognize that my collaborators and I are still susceptible to our own implicit biases, privilege, and perspectives. Given our own limited experiences, any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, particularly from members of any marginalized populations, are sincerely welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Ambivalent Sexism is the combination of both benevolent and hostile sexism. Ambivalent sexism is an ideology that was developed by Professor Peter Glick of Lawrence University and Professor Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University in 1996. One's ambivalent sexism can be measured with the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, a questionnaire comprised of two 11-item subscales that measure both hostile and benevolent sexism. 

Benevolent Sexism is often described as chivalrous actions or attitudes that many men and women deem positive, but are actually sexist. Benevolent sexism is harmful because it portrays women as weaker than men and in need of male protection. An example of benevolent sexism would be when a man opens a door for a woman, or when women are described as more nurturing than men.

Body shaming is similar to sizism, but is the result of more than just a person's height or weight. Body shaming may include criticism of facial features, body shape, perceived "imperfections" such as stretch marks or scars, or simply the clothes one is wearing.

Diversity means a range of different things. In terms of identity, diversity refers to the many different traits or characteristics that make every one person uniquely individual. These include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, physical or mental attributes or abilities, race, or gender identity. Diversity, like inclusion, generally acknowledges, celebrates, and values those differences in people. 

via MEME

Equality is a concept that supports individuals or groups being provided with the same opportunities or resources, regardless of the particular circumstances or needs of those individuals or groups.

Equity is a structural concept, quality, or ideal of being impartial or fair. Equity is different than equality in that it recognizes that each individual or group has separate and different circumstances or needs and attempts to allocate resources and opportunities in such a way that those individuals or groups can attain equal outcomes. Equity is strongly linked to justice in that actions, policies, and practices of justice result in equitable outcomes, opportunities, and treatment. 

via MEME

Gaslighting is a term that is used to describe a common type of manipulation that affects many marginalized people on a daily basis. Gaslighting intends to make people doubt themselves, and often stems from narcissistic and/or sociopathic tendencies.

via MEME

Gender Stereotyping, also known as Role Stereotyping, means assuming an individual has specific attributes, characteristics, or roles simply because that person is either male or female. Examples of gender stereotyping are assuming men can't be nurses or women can't be construction workers, based on the belief that the former are not nurturing and the latter are not strong.

Cathy comic strip about male and female gender roles.

Hostile Sexism is a much more antagonistic and misogynistic form of sexism. Hostile sexists often view women as manipulative, angry, and prone to using seduction to control men. Hostile sexism generally results in women feeling objectified or degraded. Hostile sexism attempts to keep women in subordinate positions because men have fear, anger, or resentment toward them. This type of sexism can eventually culminate in harassment or violence. An example of hostile sexism is when a man tries to deflect blame on a woman by suggesting that she's interpreting an "innocent" joke or remark as sexist.

Intersectionality is a theoretical framework and sociological theory that focuses on understanding how individual’s differing social and political identities (e.g. gender, race, class, sexual orientation, disability, etc.) combine, or intersect, to create distinctive privileges and discriminations. In short, oppression, or inequities result from not a single identity factor, but from intersections of divergent identity factors. The term was coined in 1989 by black legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, when she argued that black women were marginalized or discriminated against, not simply for being black or for being women, but for being a combination of the two. Since Crenshaw’s first writing on the subject, the term has grown to include all marginalized experiences beyond just black womanhood. Today, the concept of intersectionality refers to the way that individuals face multiple types of oppression based on how their different social and political identities intersect. 

It is important that activists fighting against oppression and discrimination recognize and champion against intersectional systemic oppression in an effort to be as inclusive as possible and to work toward breaking the barriers to equity.

Justice is the act of attempting to remove systemic barriers to opportunities or systemic disadvantages faced by individuals in marginalized populations. Justice is closely linked to equity in that the actions, policies, and practices of justice result in equitable outcomes, opportunities, and treatment.

via MEME

Microagressions are words, phrases, interactions, or behaviors that are common in everyday life, but that intentionally or unintentionally communicate biases toward historically marginalized people. 

Everyday Feminism comic about microaggressions

Privilege means receiving advantages that are not earned and are restricted to specific groups, but highly valued within an entire society.

Often, you'll hear the argument that someone is not privileged because s/he grew up poor or had to work hard to achieve success. This is a harmful statement because it ignores that certain groups of people (in America, white, heteronormative males), receive certain benefits or entitlements or experience fewer barriers because their identities have historically been considered superior according to binarized, normative hierarchies. Individuals may have different forms of privilege, and that privilege may be tangible or intangible. For example, representations of heteronormative couples in advertisements is an intangible privilege because it suggests that type of relationship is more valued in our culture. Being privileged enough to always have bandaids available in your skin color is a tangible privilege.

Sizism most commonly is used in terms of a person's weight; however, it can also refer to biases, stereotypes, or prejudices based on a person's height.