This was hard to write, and even harder to post. Harder still to post publicly. Still, here it is – after having sat in my drafts folder for about four months, but thrown to the world at last.
In an effort to help people understand privilege, its forms and complexities, I'm going to use myself as a case study. I'm going to examine a lot of the ways privilege affects my life, positively and negatively. So, while I will be pointing out ways in which I'm disadvantaged, I'm also going to try to own up to a lot of my own privilege, because it's really not a simple thing. You can be privileged in one way and disprivileged in another.
This isn't meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive. It's meant to provide a few glimpses into things people might not otherwise think about, especially with regards to the difference between who and what you are
and what privilege you are accorded
. It's beginning to unpack the invisible knapsack
, but it's not finishing it.
It's a starting point, which will hopefully get people thinking.
So let's start.
Privilege I have( Read more... )
Privilege I sometimes have( Read more... )
Privilege I don't have( Read more... )
Special notesPrivilege is not universally desirable.
One of the things that seems to tag along with male privilege is the privilege to be intimidating. While this is useful in warding off some types of harassment, it can be very unsettling when invoked accidentally. When I used to walk home alone while my city was having its big, well-reported problem with people being sexually assaulted walking around after dark, I'd occasionally find myself walking down the same stretch of road, presenting as male, to all appearances following a solitary female pedestrian. As someone who doesn't want to come across as threatening to innocents, this was not a comfortable space to be in.Privilege is not universally bad.
In a lot of cases, the effects of privilege aren't things people should feel guilty for experiencing. The problem arises when they're privileges
and not rights
- the privilege to escape harassment, for example, is a privilege because it's a right which is denied to people like women, transgendered persons, poor persons. etc. The privilege to be taken seriously by doctors is a right which is often denied to fat people and people of color
.Passing is a way of accessing privilege.
If I pass for male, I access aspects of male privilege. If someone passes for white, they access aspects of white privilege. This can happen involuntarily as well as voluntarily, and someone can be passed
as well as passing. One example of this is a person of color who's granted "honorary whiteness" by their friends - their friends will stop noticing that they're a person of color, even to the point where they'll have a moment of "Huh, they are" when it's brought up. Another example is a person with a mixed ethnic background who appears white enough that people assume they are white.Privilege is multifaceted.
Even at its most simplistic, we can split it into two parts which have to be evaluated separately: the personal, what one experiences
, and the social, what one is accorded
. This is how someone with severe gender dysphoria who nonetheless passes for their assigned gender can both experience and lose cisgender privilege; feeling comfortable with one's own body and expected social roles is a cisgender privilege which they have lost, while the ability to exist and function in society without being harassed on the basis of their gender is one they maintain.