Anti-Oppressive practice is something that the Anti.Violence.Project is working on bringing into all of our work.
What is Anti-Oppression?
Oppression is the use of power to disempower, marginalize, silence or otherwise subordinate one social group or category, often in order to further empower and/or privilege the oppressor. Social oppression may not require formally established organizational support to achieve its desired effect; it may be applied on a more informal, yet more focused, individual basis.
Anti-Oppression work seeks to recognize the oppression that exists in our society and attempts to mitigate its affects and eventually equalize the power imbalance in our communities.
Basically there are certain groups in our society and communities that hold power over others based on their membership in those groups. For example, if you were to look at the demographics of the CEO’s of any major corporation, city council, parliament etc. you would notice that most if not all of these positions of great power are populated by white (publicly straight) males. On the flip side, if you were to look at the demographics of janitorial staff or fast food workers you might notice that these positions are populated largely by persons of colour, specifically women of colour. When studying the statistics of those receiving social assistance or state aid you would also notice that the vast majority of those in our communities living in this poverty are folks with disabilities and the elderly.
What does Anti-Oppressive practice look like in anti-violence work?
This is something we’re asking ourselves all the time. How can we do our work in ways that recognizes the power and influence we have? How can we make our services as accessible as possible? How can we respect and recognize the local territories on which we do our work? What does it mean to do anti-violence work in a colonial society? How can we address multiple forms of violence and not just focus on the way that, say, gender informs our work as an anti-violence organization? What kinds of privilege do each of us have, and what kind of power do we hold as an organization? How can we use our privileges and power for social justice?
Here are some resources and articles that we have found useful in our own work:
My Open Letter to the Sex Work Movement by Jess Yee – we can’t find this online any more, if you know a link please let us know!