Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


Ann Cudd’s Analyzing Oppression ends on the question of resistance, where she details how each social group identified within oppressive systems should take up the project of creating a more just social structure. To do this, Cudd distinguishes between the oppressed, the merely privileged, and the oppressors, each with their own unique responsibilities for dismantling oppression. I find Cudd’s definition of ‘oppressors’ to be too narrowly tailored, and am arguing that seeking to increase or maintain one’s privilege relative to another group is sufficient to qualify an individual as an ‘oppressor’. Additionally, I will be expanding Cudd’s analysis of deformed desires to include the desires of the privileged in order to demonstrate the ways in which members of privileged groups act to improve or sustain their privileged position. These desires are deformed by a person’s privileged state and operate to maintain systems of oppression. It is these systems of oppression which mold a society that recognizes the culture of the privileged group as the dominant culture. It is for this reason that privileged individuals see their desires as naturally occurring, inherently good, and universally desired. I will argue that given that these desires are a direct result of a culture founded on false presumptions that some social groups are superior to others, these desires are neither natural nor universal, and would not be desirable in an egalitarian society. I will be applying these desires to all individuals who belong to privileged groups and will argue that this expansion of Cudd’s deformed desires can help us further distinguish between those who are merely privileged and who are oppressors. By applying this expansion to Cudd’s argument we will have gained an improved and more intimate examination into the experiences and motives of privileged individuals.

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