The mission of this page is to provide the Brockport community with a starting place to examine issues related to oppression as well as resources to act against oppression. As a college, we support the Better Community Statement.
We firmly acknowledge that there are several other groups creating similar resources. The purpose of our guide is not to be all-encompassing, but rather to provide a few key resources to help students who are writing papers on the topics of anti-oppression. We point to these guides for a more comprehensive approach:
-misia vs -phobia
This definition is taken directly from Simmons College's Anti-Oppression Guide.
The suffix "phobia" comes from the Greek word for "fear of," and so it denotes an intense aversion to the part of the word that precedes it (e.g. arachnophobia is a fear of spiders). Words like "homophobia" or "Islamophobia" are pretty recognizable, and most folks understand them to mean a position or perspective that is prejudicial and discriminatory against LGBTQIA+ identities and the religion of Islam respectively.
The problem with using "phobia" terms as labels for prejudice is that there are folks who actually have phobias (real anxiety disorders in which someone experiences intense anxiety or fear that they're unable to control—Claustraphobia, for instance). So when we use terms like "homophobia," we are equating bigotry with a mental health disorder, which does several problematic things:
- It relies on and reinforces the harmful stigma against mental illness;
- It inaccurately attributes oppression and oppressive attitudes to fear rather than to hate and bigotry;
- It removes the accountability of an oppressive person by implying their actions and attitudes are outside their control.
So since labeling oppression with "phobia" suffixes is harmful, many folks are exchanging them for "misia" suffixes instead. Misia (pronounced "miz-eeya") comes from the Greek word for hate or hatred, so similar to how Islamophobia means "fear of Islam," the more accurate Islamomisia means "hatred of Islam."
For these reasons, our guide will be using "misia" language in place of "phobia" in an effort to be as accurate, clear, and inclusive as possible.