Theorizing Oppression

Sonia Kruks

in Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381443
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979165 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Theorizing Oppression

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This chapter draws on a variety of Beauvoir's works to explore the different dynamics through which oppression operates. Oppression functions so as to close down the ambiguities of embodied subjectivity and to deny freedom, most often by objectifying and treating persons as if they were things. It may, however, operate in different ways, and three primary modes of oppression are distinguished and discussed: asymmetrical recognition, indifference, and aversion. These are paradigmatically described by Beauvoir as they operate, respectively, in the spheres of gender (in The Second Sex), race (in America Day by Day), and age (in The Coming of Age). The question of to what extent oppressed groups may become complicit in their own oppression is also addressed: Sometimes the line between oppressors and oppressed is far from unambiguous.

Keywords: age; America Day by Day; asymmetrical recognition; aversion; Beauvoir; The Coming of Age; embodied subjectivity; gender; indifference; oppression; race; The Second Sex

Chapter.  17473 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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