Typically narcissistic blogging.

Privilege II: Yes, You Have Privilege

Since I posted “Privilege“, I’ve had a number of discussions with clueless folk about the privilege they do not believe they have or would like to discard because they are tired of being called out on it.

First, I am going to go over some basics in a list that is not comprehensive (please note, I am offering examples of experiences on a systemic level. Just because you, personally, have experienced something different doesn’t actually negate what I am saying below):

Congratulations! You have privilege.

White people: You have privilege. You aren’t immediately flagged as potential trouble in stores and airports. You are more likely to get a job than the more melanin-enabled. People don’t assume you will be lazy, or late, or trouble on the streets. You don’t get extra targeted by cops. There is no such thing as Driving While White. You get to wonder why the brown people are upset about racism in movies and tv, because it’s just entertainment.

Men: You have privilege. You don’t worry about being sexually assaulted if you go out alone. You don’t have to automatically wonder if that guy in the elevator with you is a creep. You get paid more than women. Nobody assumes that you don’t know what you are talking about professionally just based on your gender. You don’t have to sue companies for promotions, universities for tenure, newspapers to be allowed to get out of the researcher/secretary pool. You get to wonder why women get so upset when you approach them on the street.

Rich folk: You have privilege, and everybody knows it. You get to wonder how families can possibly live on only $250,000/year.

Straight people: You have privilege. You don’t have to constantly fight for the legitimacy of your intimate relationships. Your right to marry is not up for a vote. Nobody says things like, “I’m not heterophobic, but…”. You don’t have to wonder if your state will let you adopt a kid, or if you will have any parental rights over the kids you are helping to raise. You don’t get bullied, beat up, maimed, or killed for being openly straight. You get to wonder why the queer folk want to deal with the misery and complications of marriage.

Cisgendered people: You have privilege. You haven’t had to go through an extensive (and expensive) medical, psychological, and emotional process just to feel like your body is your own. You haven’t faced bigotry from every single community around you because your outsides don’t match your insides and you need to do something about it. You don’t get bullied, beat up, maimed, or killed for identifying as a gender that does not match the one on your birth certificate. You get to say stupid shit like, “That’s so weird. I would never put myself through that.”

Educated people: You have privilege. You have never had to have somebody read a document to you because you cannot. You have never faced the embarrassment and shame that our culture heaps on the uneducated. You aren’t stuck in jobs that nobody else wants because you never had the opportunity to finish grade school, let alone high school and college. You have never been without a voice. You get to wonder about and mock all the godawful grammar on the internet. (Approximately one in seven people in the US can’t even read this post I am writing.)

Able-bodied people: You have privilege. The world is basically designed for you. You don’t have to worry about elevators being out, people getting bitchy because you take up more space and time on public transit, or aisles being too narrow. You aren’t limited to specific jobs, specific forms of entertainment, or even specific locations. You get to complain about your inability to use handicapped parking spots.

Tall people: You have privilege. Just kidding! I know it sucks to be able to reach everything.

Second, I am going to make a point I seem to have to make repeatedly, but never seems to get taken to heart:

tumblr_lo6twkrWwN1qgy0fio1_500

The lack of one kind of privilege does not cancel out all other forms of privilege.

Grew up poor as shit, but still straight, white, cisgendered male? Guess what? You still  have privilege. Grew up poor, brown, gay, and male? Guess what? You still have privilege. Poor, brown, queer, female with an amazing education? You still have privilege.

I can keep going with the combinations until this looks like an LSAT question, but I won’t, because the LSAT sucks. (I get to make that shitty joke because I get to claim educational privilege.)

Third, I am going to expand on what I discussed in “Privilege”:

meme-privilege

It’s just something you have.

No, you didn’t ask for privilege. You aren’t necessarily looking for the special treatment you receive because of it. You may not even be conscious of it. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have it.

The thing about privilege is that the benefits are automatic and not always visible to the privileged. Which is another way of saying, you don’t notice you aren’t being discriminated against. Men don’t notice that they aren’t on constant alert against being sexually assaulted on the street. Straight people don’t notice that they aren’t being treated differently when with their partners.

When you get called out on  your privilege, nobody is telling you to change it. Nobody is telling you that you are a bad person because of it. Nobody is saying that it’s your fault. What you are being told is, people who do not field specific kinds of discrimination have a very different perspective on the world than people who do. What you are being told is, what is an intellectual exercise for you may not be for somebody else.

What you are being told is, take yourself out of your privileged shoes and put them in somebody else’s (let me guess—they don’t fit. Kinda uncomfortable, right? You’d like to take them right back off, right? Yeah. That’s what people are talking about when they call you out on privilege). This goes back to my initial post. Because ultimately you need to recognize that you have it. You should acknowledge it. And while acknowledging it doesn’t change the fact that you have it, it does go a long way toward helping you understand where people are coming from when they say, “Dude. You realize you just spilled a bunch of cold unpleasant privilege into my lap.”

In conclusion:

Don’t be afraid of those uncomfortable shoes. Seek them out. Walk in them for a minute, if you can. Marvel at the blisters and bruises. So that when you put yours back on, you can appreciate how well they fit, and how comfortable they are. That, metaphorically, is what you should be doing when your privilege is pointed out to you.

ETA: Since enough people have the need to make this argument, I feel it ought to be addressed. There seems to be a new “solution” to the use of the word “privilege” that seems to have been created by people who are deeply afraid of the word. I have tried to unpack it in this post, but I guess I can’t stop people just reacting to it instead of seeing that. So please let me state: calling discrimination “human rights violations” instead of using the word “privilege” changes absolutely nothing about the above post. All it does is try to shift focus and say, “I don’t have privilege, these people are simply being wronged.” Not only is the use of “human rights violations” a bit overwrought, it doesn’t work that way. People are being wronged, it’s true. But it is on a systemic level, and thus it is what actually creates privilege. The fact that people are suffering from various kinds of discrimination and lack of safety on a systemic level is the very reason that people who do not suffer—on that same systemic level—experience privilege. Taking the focus off of the privileged for these discussions does nothing to change that, it just makes those who are uncomfortable with it and think people who are using it are calling them bad people feel a little better in the moment. My suggestion is that you stop reacting to the word and start really considering what it means in this context.

42 responses

  1. Shana

    I found this comment in a discussion about white male murderers. Thought is was realvent. Not at all disagreeing, just some interesting perspective. Enjoy.

    “This is why calling it “privilege” is one of the worst terminology and paradigm mistakes in the history of social science. In the context of this article, white males were never given “privileges.” They were/are afforded RIGHTS that are withheld from others (thus it’s seen as a privilege in comparison.) Calling it a privilege insinuates they’re not entitled to it. These things are not gifts given to white men, they are rights that are stolen or withheld from others. It should have been called what it was from the start. Human rights violations perpetrated on women and ethnic minorities.

    Silly articles like this that examine the issue from the incorrect prism of “privilege” completely skew the reality. “Perhaps the greatest asset that unearned privilege conveys is the sense that public spaces “belong” to you.” – They do. They’re public. That’s what “public” means. The space is supposed to equally belong to all of us. We are, in fact, equally entitled to it. “It’s that white men are raised to expect to be welcomed wherever they go.” Everyone should be raised that way. That is not a privilege. That is a right that should be afforded to everyone. If a woman goes to school and earns a degree in her field, there is no reason she should not be welcomed into her field. To call it a “privilege” is misleading. It implies that the welcome or the assumption of competence is unearned. It’s not unearned. The assumption of competence is a right that should be afforded to everyone unless they prove otherwise. This article is basically trying to blame the killers choice of location on his assumption of basic human rights. And that those human rights should be null and void because they’re not afforded to everyone (which is the actual problem. Not the rights themselves.)

    This is why feminist sociologists and psychologists need to consume and replace “Gender Studies” as a legit field. Gender Studies is basically The Sociology of Gender without the pesky logic or science.”

    January 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    • This is a comment written by somebody who doesn’t actually know what “privilege” means and thus is using semantics as an argument against privilege, and it’s an argument used by people who don’t want to admit that privilege exists. It’s basically a red herring, and it’s utter bullshit.

      January 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm

  2. Shana

    I really liked the part about human rights violations. I think it is calling it like it is. Considering the word privilege is such a buzz word now a days, I think it helps remind people that their privilege strips others of basic human rights. For instance how men do not spend near as much, if anytime at all, wondering if someone is gonna sexually harass them while walking down the street. I can see how that is a basic human right women should have that men do have.

    Thanks for the article, well written!

    January 31, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    • Yeah, you are buying into the semantics, and saying that people should have the same rights and abilities–which is true–without acknowledging the argument that I am making, which is that people DON’T have that. And while people don’t have that equality on the street, other people have the privilege associated with it. I choose to use the word “privilege” because that’s how I see it. But calling the other side of it a “right” changes nothing and in fact muddies the legal terms that go along with it.

      January 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      • Shana

        I see your point dear.

        January 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm

  3. I like what you wrote here: straightforward and to the point. In other words, totally unlike my own attempt at tackling the subject:

    http://a-wry.livejournal.com/82748.html

    January 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    • But I really like what you wrote. It puts it into different contexts, which is often necessary for people who get so wrapped up in the words being used that the concept is beyond them.

      February 1, 2013 at 7:04 am

  4. Liz

    Thank you. I’ve been trying to explain these concepts to various people for a while, especially the part about how an academic understanding of not having a certain sort of privilege (because of the privilege that I have) is always going to be academic. No matter how many people I know who don’t have the same kinds of privilege that I do, and no matter how well I listen to their stories, all I can ever do is try to imagine what it might be like to flagged as trouble in convenience stores, or passed over by taxicabs. Even with a good imagination, though, that is not my reality (never has been, not likely to be), so all I can really do is acknowledge what I don’t (and can’t) know and be a sympathetic ear and interested listener when someone who doesn’t have the privilege that I do tries to tell me about how their life is particularly difficult in a particular way.

    (Also, I suppose I can try not to do blindingly stupid things like try to express solidarity by telling someone who is facing a real challenge because of his/her lack of a particular variety of privilege that hey, it’s not as bad as it used to be.)

    January 31, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    • It’s funny how difficult it is to slip up with regard to the privilege we have. I was only recently alerted to the fact that my very education is a form of privilege and now I regret any number of things I have said to people. Being aware is, in some cases, just exactly the best thing we can do.

      February 1, 2013 at 7:06 am

  5. M

    Semantics are psychologically important to actually improving the situation: calling it “privilege” alienates potential allies because it is used in a negative and accusatory way. Calling it a ‘human rights violation’ shifts from an accusatory and hostile tone, to a tone that is asking for help. It wins you allies. Basically, I wouldn’t help the author of this article, but I’d help the person with the comment. And this is why the privilege accusers will always be on the losing side with few allies that have to fight so hard to get anything done. You cannot keep alienating people who would otherwise help your situation.

    February 1, 2013 at 12:50 am

    • Calling people who point out privilege “accusers” is also not particularly helpful. Additionally, calling it a “human rights violation” not only sounds absurd, it doesn’t actually change the fact that the people who are not dealing with this every day, are in fact privileged. It merely points out that the people who are dealing with this every day shouldn’t have to.

      February 1, 2013 at 6:21 am

    • Kris

      You’re missing the whole privilege point; saying you have privilege is not accusing you of anything–privilege arrived gift-wrapped on your doorstep, entirely not your doing. Privilege is being born on third base, where it becomes a problem is when you start thinking you’re on third because you hit a triple. (This isn’t a perfect metaphor, because privilege doesn’t always lead to accomplishments, but I’m going to run with it anyway.)

      As an owner of all but one of the types of privilege mentioned here, it is a sad day when you realize you’re on third because you were born there and not because of your spectacular hitting, and frustrating to realize the unfairness that those born on first or second have worked as much as you but aren’t as far along as you. I get that. But denying the whole phenomenon because you’d rather it didn’t happen is not helpful.

      As a side note, when someone says “alienates potential allies” I start thinking “this person wants to be declared an ally, but really isn’t.”

      February 1, 2013 at 7:38 am

      • parallaxtz

        I get that a lot of people are not accusing of anything. I get that I have been given a lot of shit that other people don’t/won’t get. And that there are people who deserve it way more (because they’re probably better people than me — because I admit that). I don’t think I’m missing the point, at least not entirely. Afford me a moment to explain what I’m trying to say.

        Today wouldn’t be the first time some used the word “privilege” as an accusation at me. It happens. So the word has become loaded and offensive, because these people have used it at me and then began spew awful things at me without even knowing me. Immediately I’m some “evil” “privileged” “oppressor” who is the “cause” of their hardship. Which is bullshit, since I didn’t do anything. And I’m not the only one they’re actively attacking. So it really bothers me when people label and stereotype when, ultimately, they’re complaining about having been labeled and stereotyped (likely at birth), because it only seems to perpetuate the cycle rather than do something to stop the cycle. I get that they’re angry about their lot, but they’re also not helping anyone solve what I think is the bigger problem / the reason behind it.

        Basically, for me, the way anything like this is approached goes a long way to getting people to listen and address the baser problems — which, from my current perspective: labels, why people are labeled, and that being labeled affords/removes particular “privileges”. That a systemic cultural shift against labeling people / stereotyping is needed. Basically, that we need attempts to remove the root cause, in addition to treating the symptoms (instead of only treating the symptoms).

        But you’re probably right — I guess I’m not technically an ally. The cause I’m caring about is a different one. One that I believe is the reason (or at least a major factor) for these other problems. Maybe I’m wrong about that. But I’m still gonna do whatever I can about it and hope that that really will help with the other problems.

        February 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm

        • I am sorry you have had that experience, but that is people misusing privilege as both an idea and a term, not an invalidation of the term, itself.

          February 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm

        • Kris

          So, a police officer stops a black man driving a nice car in a relatively rich neighborhood for a minor reason (something he wouldn’t have stopped a white man for).

          You could perhaps say the police officer is racist. You could likewise say the black man is a victim of racism. But what word do you use to describe the freedom from being stopped for no good reason (or freedom-from-racism) experienced by the white man who lives next door to the black man? As I understand the word (which could be wrong), that’s the thing “privilege” tries to capture. Do you have a better, less accusatory word to suggest?

          Or is it inherently accusatory to point out that because of your race, gender, education level, etc, one experiences the same world differently?

          February 5, 2013 at 9:24 am

    • Ruth

      Human rights violation is far too extreme. Being eyeballed in a convenience store sucks; being treated as stupid because you haven’t had the benefit of constant exposure to standard English is unfortunate. I’ve been in situations where I didn’t “know the code” (Iron Worker’s daughter at Prep School camp and white lady at Oakland Swap Meet). Were any of my human rights trampled on? No. Would it wear me down if I had to deal with that day after day? Yes. It’s a shame “privilege” is seen as an accusation; I know it is because I worked with very privileged young men who resented deeply being informed that they were privileged. I say, let’s stick with the word, because it is most accurate, and make it clear that privilege is often an accident of birth and does not undermine a person’s achievements and hard work. But it is real. I can accept the many ways that I’m privileged and still take pride in my accomplishments, because I know the real effort they required.

      Samples of my privilege as a middle class white woman: Ability to quell fights in public, assumed benevolence of purpose in public places
      As a grad student at Berkeley: very prompt response to emails for work/educational purposes
      As a not grad student at Berkeley: noticeably less prompt return to emails pertaining to work/educational purposes

      The loss of these privileges doesn’t constitute a Human rights violation. Maybe it will take some time for “privilege” to lose its sting (although we know semantic shifts happen). But labeling them Human rights violation cheapens a phrase that ought not to lose any of its impact.

      February 6, 2013 at 9:51 am

  6. Charlotte A. Cavatica

    I understand the basic tenets of privilege. I accept that, as an educated, heterosexual middle-class white person, I have loads of privilege. Did I ask for it? No. Does it make me FEEL BAD in my whineparts? No. I do not discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or identification, race, ability, nationality, religion, or socioeconomic alignment. In short: I am grateful for my advantages and I try to be good to others, whether they were as fortunate, more fortunate, or less fortunate than I am.

    But I feel stonewalled by the cognitive dissonance on the part of those pointing out the prevalence of privilege. Because THIS IS A PRIVILEGED POINT OF VIEW. You have the wherewithal to recognize a disparity where others may not. And rather than simply saying, “Listen. White hetero dudes. I’m trying to help you here,” the argument often feels hostile and exclusive, not to mention supercilious: “/I/, the enlightened minority, have a point of view fundamentally superior to yours. Suck it, bourgeois scum.” Irony much?

    Maybe that’s not what /you’re/ saying. You seem more reasonable than that. At least you’ve offered an answer to the question, “Okay, I’m privileged — what do you expect me to DO about it?” Most others don’t. In fact, most others would seem to say that ANY penance I might do is, godforbid, PATRONIZING. I see that over and over and over again in this discussion. “DON’T PATRONIZE ME.” You mean you don’t want me to acknowledge that you’re right? But… you do? Dude, what am I supposed to SAY?

    It’s like this whole argument is “Does this dress make my ass look fat? BE HONEST.” Um… yes, it does. I mean, no! It doesn’t! But– I mean– fuck, I’m sleeping on the couch, aren’t I.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

    • I understand your frustration. I think part of the issue is that many of the people calling others out on privilege are 1. Exhausted and 2. Too angry at those who deny privilege/refuse to do good with the privilege they have to recognize when the issue needs to be brought up as a discussion and not as an introduction to a fight. Which doesn’t excuse them, but having been in that position, I get it, too.

      While being able to point out privilege can be considered a privileged perspective, you usually will not find any person more willing to acknowledge their own privilege–especially if you point it out in a productive way.

      I don’t expect anybody to do penance because they have privilege. I don’t want to punish people for what they cannot help because it is so very invisible. I expect people to acknowledge it and use it for good. I use my educational privilege to get the message out via my blog, through my profession, etc. White people should advocate for brown people, straight people should advocate for queer, etc. Additionally, actively trying to understand why somebody is upset about a thing that you don’t get on a fundamental level is really important. It makes a difference.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

      • Charlotte A. Cavatica

        Long story short: Empathy is probably something we could ALL use a little more of.

        February 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

    • Ruth

      I don’t know, if the penance is some kind of action, I bet a lot of people wouldn’t mind a little patronization. Actually, I think realizing one’s privilege might help one avoid verbally patronizing or saying insensitive things to others.

      So yeah, it could be offering to use the aspect that gives you privilege to help others with time or money. It could be something so subtle as not suggesting expensive restaurants because you have the privileges that come with being wealthy when you know other friends don’t share that.

      But one thing that does keep this privilege thing from being a white thing only; all contexts are different. There are places where the qualities that give me privilege in an airport are liabilities. Those moments are when you learn what privilege is. Go to a place where you are a fish out of water and think about how you would like to be treated and I guess that’s a starting point.

      February 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

      • irismay mcginnis

        yu realize yu made a lame joke at the expense of people with disabilities, right?

        February 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        • I don’t. Please explain.

          February 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        • Ah, wait. It was my use of the word lame that you were upset about, even though you used it in the exact same context, thus communicating next to nothing except bitchiness. Good job. I apologize for the use of the word and will change it. I am glad you brought it to my attention, but you may try communication next time instead of ridiculous, hypocritical, passive-aggressive comments.

          February 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm

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  8. bintalshamsa

    If you ever decide to edit this post again, I hope you’ll consider adding able-bodied privilege to your list. The comment(s) by whiskeypants make it very clear that this exists and that people are often unwilling to even acknowledge it without blaming someone else or trying to deflect by focusing on what they perceive other people have said/done that was even worse.

    March 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  9. Sunshine

    totally forgot right handed privilege – never made fun of for “Writing funny”, never had issues with scissors or a can opener, never had a teacher try to make your write with the other hand, never had someone slam your mouse around because it’s on the ‘wrong side’. You get to wonder why left-handers high five each other (with the wrong hand) like they are some secret society and think they should get over it and adapt already.

    March 29, 2013 at 8:11 am

    • P Smith

      This site and discussion came up via a search, with “Sunshine’s” mention of right handed privilege.

      As an adult, right handed privilege can usually be worked around or dealt with – if a bank teller refuses to hand me a pen after I ask, I rip the pen off the cord and start writing with my left. No one would dare criticize an adult for being a lefty. But in my job, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to kids in Asia, I see something that annoys me no end, something I haven’t seen since I was a kid and experienced it myself.

      “Corporal punishment” in public schools is illegal in most countries, including those I’ve worked in. But in many, verbal, emotional and physical abuse of children who are left handed is still considered “acceptable” – hitting kids for holding a pen with the left, or marking their work as wrong because it was done with the left hand. And yet, the worst doesn’t involve violence – lefty kids are ignored, given ZERO instruction on how to write properly. Nearly all have horrible penmanship and writing is painful for them, which means they often get lower grades and it affects their education.

      “Teachers” and crappy parents wouldn’t dare try that on an adult, but they think it’s perfectly okay to treat kids like crap. I guess they think it’s okay because children can’t fight back and defend themselves.

      December 20, 2013 at 11:00 am

      • My mother is left handed and her teacher would tie her left hand behind her back, make her do her work, and then hold up the pictures and writing for the other kids to laugh at. So, yeah. I know. It’s total bullshit.

        December 20, 2013 at 11:03 am

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  11. Sunny Buns

    Well said! As someone who is actively trying to educate myself in regards to privilege and the social climate I exist in, I found that very helpful. Well written, clear, and anti inflammatory. Which is something you can say about a post on the internet probably.
    I like you, basically.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm

  12. I think part of the reason that the word “privilege” is seen as an attack, is that it’s being used that way.

    I’m not going to argue that it doesn’t exist, because it clearly does. Ageism, Sexism, Racism and every other -ism mentioned are real problems that real people face every day. I am privileged to not have to deal with some of that discrimination. Some of it I do have to deal with, but I know it could be worse.

    The issue with the way I see “privilege” being used is that people say it in such a way that it undermines any real effort that went into getting where you are.

    “Of course you have a job. Your white privilege makes it easy to get one.” – This completely discounts that I worked hard to get where I am, and am fighting to maintain a job in a field that is typically dominated by older men with multiple degrees and certifications.

    Would it be easy for me to walk into a retail store and get a job as a young, white, female? Almost certainly. A minimum-wage job is an easy target.

    Those same “qualifications” work against me as a Network Specialist.

    Yes, I am privileged. No, you don’t get to use that to disqualify any effort I put in to get to where I am.

    January 9, 2014 at 8:27 am

    • Nobody is saying people haven’t worked hard. What I and others are saying is, your privilege adds to your hard work in a way that it doesn’t for others.

      It’s a scary thought, that maybe you got that job over other, just as qualified, applicants because of your privilege. But if you can’t acknowledge that, then you aren’t really acknowledging your privilege. I understand that the idea of privilege is used as an attack–however, the interesting thing is that even in the event of an attack, if you stop being defensive, acknowledge your privilege, and walk away from that conversation, you are winning.

      If all you do is bitch about being called out on your privilege, you are whining.

      January 9, 2014 at 8:41 am

    • clynne

      Hey, Lozer Ette, I’m a woman and have been a unix system engineer for about 20 years. I know what you’re talking about in terms of feeling alone and put upon in networking, and I’m really sorry you’ve had to put up with it. It sucks.

      Privilege is the fact that a young white man would find that retail job even easier. Privilege is the fact that engineering, especially computer engineering, is a [white] boys’ club, and a really strong, nasty one at that. When you hear people disqualifying your accomplishments, I think it’s probably because of intersectionality of privilege — you still have white privilege, but it’s being trumped by your lack of privilege here as a woman.

      I’m not there with you, so this is just a guess. It might be that all three (white, young, woman) are working against you, but in general I haven’t found that being of color or older are advantages in the field as much as being a guy.

      Have you tried any of the various meetups available for young, female engineers? I know they do often ignore ops in favor of developers, but it really does feel good to be around other technical women, valuing each other for our achievements. Just knowing other women have the same struggle can help you pick it up and face the onslaught another day.

      February 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

  13. “…You don’t worry about being sexually assaulted if you go out alone.” False. I’m a white male who went out with some co-workers in the Army ~30 years ago and woke up being assaulted. It is clearly a rarer event, but the term MST was created because of how endemic the issue is. Assault mostly isn’t about sex, it is about power and when males are isolated, the power dynamic is shifted internally to whoever is perceived as the weakest. I’m just now doing the work to heal myself after decades of being broken by it, and blocking it. Not denying my priv. but broad statements like that insult those who have had it happen, and water down the collective power of survivors of all categories banding together to work on and insist the problems are solved and power collectives like the military work on the solutions with us.

    January 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

    • I am talking on a systemic level, which is where privilege exists–not anecdotal. I am not saying men do not have to fear sexual assault. I know men who have been. But on a systemic level–yeah, men do not have to be as hyperaware of their surroundings as women.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:04 am

  14. Hello! This post is amazing! I only wish you’d added thin priv to the list cause that’s a big one! About to go read the earlier post so if it’s in that one and i missed it, apologies in advance. Thanks bunches for writing this!

    January 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm

  15. Heehee, the tall people thing made me laugh! :)

    July 9, 2014 at 1:31 pm

  16. I wish I could make everyone who’s ever said “I don’t see sexism/racism/homophobia/etc. therefore it doesn’t exist” read this. Your explanation for why people don’t notice their privilege is so true, and I love how you focus on how people point out privilege not as a criticism, but to allow for a person to me made aware. You can’t change your privilege, but you can accept that you have it and be courteous of those who don’t in one form or another. For instance, I always take extreme caution when talking about problems for which I possess privilege. It makes a difference. We can’t entirely abolish discrimination and privilege in the near future, but we can address it and allow it to develop our outlook on the world and other people. We can educate ourselves on the issue and be empathetic to those worse off than ourselves.
    Also, tall people totally have privilege. I know that both from being below average in height and having to constantly find things to climb on to reach what I need, and from my friendship with someone with dwarfism who has asked for my help getting in and out of seats at restaurants.

    August 19, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    • Yeah, this world really wasn’t made for short people. Sigh. But thank you–for reading but also for being willing to keep the conversation going. :)

      August 21, 2014 at 8:37 am

  17. I know you said this was not a comprehensive list, but I think you left out a couple of important situations. People who are very physically attractive have privilege, and people who are living in a culture and language that they were raised in have privilege. Just a thought.

    August 21, 2014 at 8:15 am

    • Yes. I get that. And everybody has their pet issues. Feel free to write your own blog post covering those.

      August 21, 2014 at 8:36 am

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