3. Deﬁnitions of Oppression, Privilege, and Intersectionality
Oppression – the systematic mistreatment and/or exclusion of a group of people
- To be oppressed means that one is repeatedly met with obstacles when trying to access the goods and services provided by institutions (such as educational, medical, or financial systems).
- Forms of oppression: sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, ageism, colorism
Privilege – advantages enjoyed by a group; easy access to the goods and services provided by institutions
- In this context, privilege doesn’t mean you necessarily have an easy life free from challenges, but that you are not burdened by that particular system of oppression.
- Institutions are organized to make it easier for certain groups of people (white people, men, heterosexuals, cisgender people, able-bodied people, etc.) to enter and participate, including entry to positions with benefits and power.
Intersectionality – the experience of contending with two or more forms of oppression (ex. being queer and black)
- For those who experience multiple oppressions, the institutional obstacles are multiplied. Interacting with institutions becomes exhausting.