In an earlier post I talked about how privilege is itself diverse. That is, everyone has a little privilege over someone else. I want to go into more depth on that today. Our identity (how we see ourselves) and our role (where society imagines us to fit) can be said to be constructed, in many ways though not completely, by where we happen to fall in the social or cultural categories most people “see”. Some of these groups are more privileged than others. When I say privilege in this sense I’m talking about those special advantages or immunities enjoyed by a member of a certain group.
Lets look at some of these categories and some of the groups (western) society recognizes with them:
Sex and Gender
- Native American
- Currently able-bodied
- Working class
- Middle class
- Upper class
…I could go on and on, but I think we have enough to work with. As you look over those you will no doubt see that in every category there is a group with more privilege than the others. Some have less privilege (remember we’re talking about special advantages or immunities here) than the “top dog”, but more than other groups in the category. Got it?
Now think about which of these groups you are a part of. For myself I am cisgendered, male, white, atheist, heterosexual, middle class, and because I’m fat and bald I don’t conform to cultural standard for my appearance. In some of those categories I am in a privileged group (cis, male, white, hetero) in others I am less so (atheist, non-conforming to appearance ideals). Like myself I’m sure that you are in a mix of privileged and unprivileged groups. The only person I can think off the top of my head who is universally privileged is Mitt Romney, and he’s an asshole.
What’s your point, Sasha?
My point here is that while everyone has varying levels of privilege, some of us are more privileged than others. My point is that just because we get the shitty end of the stick sometimes doesn’t mean we should pass that on to someone else. My point is that privilege is real, it is powerful, and it fucks with us all. The fact that I’m a funny looking atheist and sometimes suffer for that doesn’t bean it’s “fair” for me to walk all over women.
Be aware of your privilege, recognize what it is, and don’t assume you have a real right to it. If we all do that I think we’ll be okay.
– Sasha Pixlee