Intersecting Axes of Privilege, Domination, And Oppression

axes of oppression described in more detail below

Description and Axis labels

This is a diagram attempting to represent different aspects of privilege across dominant and oppressed levels.  Each axis is a line crossing through a centre point with some attempt (possibly inaccurate) to determine the level of oppression based on the angle of the line. I haven't tweaked the original locations other than to add a wealthism line (as separate from class) so there could be discussion around whether the locations are appropriate or not - I do think the literacy/credentialism is one of the most significant in the country I am from (UK) as without good literacy many employment, housing, healthcare and social situations are difficult or impossible.  

I think for the sake of argument much of it doesn't matter where each line is, it's about the idea of all of us fitting somewhere along each of those axis lines with relative privileges and oppressions.   Some of us can move up and down these lines throughout life e.g. age and attractiveness. I also argue that some may not apply as much in some countries as the UK, or even in the UK. 

I shall briefly describe each axis in turn and not go into discussion of each no matter how tempting it is, or this webpage will be 5,000 words long!

* Credentialism and literacy is the line with credentialed (recognised formal education such as certificates and qualifications) at the top and non-literate at the bottom. 

* Ageism is the next line working clockwise around the circle, with young at the top and old at the bottom.  

* Politics of appearance is next with attractive at the top and unattractive at the bottom. 

* Classism is the next around the circle with upper and upper-middle class at the top and working class at the bottom (my diagram removes wealth indicators from the original and creates a separate axis for them)

* Language bias for the UK (modify for your own country if needed) so how you speak English and whether it is your first language or not. Anglophone (English Speaking - I had to look that up!) is at the top and English as additional language is at the bottom.

* Colourism (yes I added a u cos I'm in the UK) is next with light or pale skinned at the top and dark skinned at the bottom. (Racism and its elements seems to be broken out over several axes)

* Anti-semitism with gentile or non-Jew at the top and Jews at the bottom.  

* Pro-natalism is next, this is an academic word for fertility, the ability to have children with fertile at the top and infertile at the bottom. I think this means biological fertility rather than any other factor affecting ability to have children. 

* The horizontal axis is simply a dividing line between the top of the diagram which is privilege or society norms and the bottom which is oppression or resistence. 

* Genderism is the next axis working clockwise with gender "deviance" being on the bottom and the society norms of male and masculine and female and feminine at the top.

* Sexism or androcentrism is next with female at the bottom and male at the top. 

* Racism is the label for the next axis as separate from skin colour and other aspects. Black, minority, ethnic people (BME)  which is the UK's standard definition for non-white and non-ethnic British people is at the bottom with white at the top.  

* Eurocentrism follows and again is linked to ethnicity and nationality with non-European at the bottom and European at the top. 

* Heterosexism is the next one and while I have tagged it LGBTQ* at the bottom I wonder if I should take the T out as it is covered in genderism and this is specifically sexual orientation/sexuality which is separate. Will think on that.  The top label is heterosexual. 

* Wealthism is an axis I added to the originals as separate from class identity with wealthy and financially stable at the top and poor or financially insecure at the bottom. 

* Disablism is next, I've changed this from "ableism" and persons with a disability to disabled people as this is current UK terminology which differs from the US and Canada. I have also broken out mental illness. At the top is non-disabled and mental good health and at the bottom is disabled people and mentally ill people. 

That makes up all of the axes.  The more I write about this descriptively the more I see problems with the diagram. I think there's an art to knowing when not to get too complicated though and saying "it's a model, it's good enough for now" especially given the energy levels I have to put into this. 

What I have changed

I have adapted some of the terminology to UK-ish English and current for 2014. I have also added an axis of "wealthism" because I think class and financial situation are not the same as there are working class people who are not poor, and there are middle class people who can be in poverty (often linked to another axis of oppression).  

Editable version for adapting (please retain the original authors' citations and acknowledgements)

I traced the original image using Inkscape a free vector graphics program and saved the image file as an SVG which anyone can edit.

Original citation and source

Adapted from Kathryn Pauly Morgan (1996) "Describing the Emporaro's New Clothes: Three Myths of Education (In)Equality." in  The Gender Question in Education: Theory, Pedagogy & Poitics, Ann Diller et al., Boulder, CO: Westview.

Associated text:

“Society recognizes the ways people are different and assigns group membership based on these differences; at the same time, society also ranks the differences and institutionalizes them into the fabric of society… This implies that meanings associated with difference exist beyond the intentions of individual people. These rankings of groups and their members create a hierarchy in which some ways of being, like being abled or heterosexual, are valued more than others, like being disabled or gay or lesbian.” 

 - Susan Shaw and Janet Lee, Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions 4th Ed.

Where I originally got the diagram

I originally got this diagram from 

Natalya Dell,
Feb 10, 2014, 3:44 PM
Natalya Dell,
Feb 10, 2014, 3:15 PM