1. The authors argued 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?
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”).
3. How does the example of women’s suffrage illustrate the difference between discrimination and oppression?
1. a. Working with a partner with whom you share a dominant group identity, draw on experiences from your own life in order to generate examples of how your internalized dominance (as a member of the group identity you share) manifests. Begin by thinking about privileges that you take for granted every day, and how those privileges may be affecting minoritized group members in relation to you.
b. Next, working with a partner with whom you share a minoritized group identity, generate a list of examples of how internalized oppression manifests in your life. Draw on your lived experiences to generate specific examples of internalized oppression. (If you have no minoritized identity, choose a different dominant identity and repeat 1a.)
c. As a whole group, discuss which task was easier to do. What does this reveal about how internalized oppression and internalized dominance work?
2. Research the life of Dolores Huerta (see Figure 5.2). Write an essay that describes how her life and work exemplify the intersection of identities, including race, class, and gender.
Patterns to Practice Seeing:
1. When are people’s group identities most often named (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, ability)? Consider movie directors, teachers, movie stars, writers, etc. Which group identities are most likely to be named, and which are not?
2. Pay attention to participation patterns in class discussions and other group settings. Which group members tend to speak first and most often? How do these patterns change depending on the topic under discussion?
Understanding Privilege Through Ableism
“No one’s handed me anything. I’ve worked hard for what I have.”
This chapter explains the privileges automatically received by being a member of the dominant group. From a critical social justice perspective, privilege is defined as systemically conferred dominance and the institutional processes by which the beliefs and values of the dominant group are “made normal” and universal. While in some cases, the privileged group is also the numerical majority, the key criterion is social and institutional power. This chapter also extends the discussion of related concepts such as “internalized oppression” and “internalized dominance,” and offers examples of how these dynamics work to hold existing relations of power in place.
Vocabulary to practice using: internalized dominance; internalized oppression
A female prime minister was strategizing with her all-male cabinet about how to address a string of recent sexual assaults on women throughout the city. Someone suggested a 9:00 p.m. curfew, which the cabinet thought was a good idea. The prime minister also nodded her head in agreement, “Yes. No men will be allowed out after 9:00 p.m.” Her cabinet was shocked and said that was unfair, it was women who should stay in after 9:00 in order to ensure their safety. They only had the best interest of women in mind, they insisted, and the curfew was for their own good. The prime minister replied, “It is men who are committing these assaults, not women. Why should women’s movements be restricted?”
Imagine from a woman’s perspective what it would be like to walk
freely throughout a city at night with no fear of sexual assault from men. But also notice whose movements are assumed to need restricting and who would be blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time were an
assault to occur. In Chapter 5 we discussed the relationship between dominant and minoritized groups. In this chapter, we examine a key aspect of that relationship for the dominant group: privilege.