A point to make about privilege....

Hi there! I’m new to this forum, so let’s hope I’m doing this right. Warning: long-winded post!

I saw a twitter post from Hank regarding white privilege. I’m somewhat conflicted about certain aspects of this topic, and for a while I’ve been curious about Hank’s opinion on this. I believe this is a topic which needs more civil discourse, so I hope this post can positively add to the overall discussion. Three points I want to nail down before I continue:

1.What is privilege? More or less, it’s: “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” (dictionary). Essentially, a privilege is some advantage you have in life because of some quality about you or your life.

2.There are many different kinds of privilege (probably too many to post) and each different kind of privilege grants differing amounts of privilege (IE differing quantities of advantage to your life, if you follow me).

3.Racial privilege positively affects a person born to a particular race because being a certain race makes a person more likely to be born affluent, and certain areas of the country (referring to the US here) treat certain races differently, such as employment. In a lot of ways, this is a subjective privilege, because it’s dependent on where you live/work.

(Note: this post IS an oversimplification of the issue, but I don't want to write a book here)

Based on these points, I want to make the argument than while racial privilege exists, it’s not as effective (is that the right word?) a kind of privilege as socio-economic privilege. In other words, the advantages gained by a person for being born a particular race is not as effective an elevator of the quality of your life as being born into a wealthy family.

A good piece of evidence to support this assertion is compare the quality of life for a poor white family with that of a wealthy black family. In this case, the poor family DOES have white privilege, but the improvement felt by this privilege is much less influential than the privilege experienced by the wealthy family. Someone who’s poor will always have less privilege than someone who's wealthy, regardless of race or gender, at least in western society as it exists today. This is an important point to make, because it illustrates how the most determinant factor for a person's privilege is their wealth, not their race, and this fact goes against the narrative you sometimes see online. Not to say that these other privileges don't exist; I’m saying I don’t think their impact is as significant.

I’m still new to the whole privilege thing, so it might be that I used the term incorrectly. I know there is a lot here that’s debatable, but I thought this at least was a good addition to the discourse at large. I'd love to hear what you guys think!

Comments

  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,335 ✭✭✭
    I've really come to hate that phrase "Check your privilege" it has quickly like almost immediately as it started become the most over used phrase. By over used I mean I can see some situations where it might be relevant to say that but in most cases it's completely lost whatever meaning it was suppose to have.

    There are times I've heard people say that even in conversations that have nothing to do with race or gender. I'm a straight white man so it seems to be this stereotype now that straight white men are just automatically more privileged that everyone else. Again in certain situations I can see where that's true however randomly shouting that phrase for no reason makes no sense. You don't need to tell every white man you see to check their privilege. If you're going to say something like that there needs to be a reason behind it otherwise you're the one being sexist and racist not the person you're saying it too.

    That being said there are also situations where I feel women are more privileged than men. Just out of my own life, I've been sexually harassed. People have almost practically forced me to take my shirt off in public which I'm not comfortable doing. It shouldn't matter than I'm a man, if a woman was treated that way the person harassing her would be arrested but in my case I can't even report it because it's not illegal to harass a man that way. I've been turned down for jobs which are traditionally women's jobs because of my gender. Feminists always talk about this happening to women but they never talk about it happening to men. Babysitters are usually girls. My ex has no problem letting me baby sit her son but other mothers have turned me down just because of my gender. I'm constantly harassed to play sports or talk about sports even though I hate sports. Women who want to play sports are not only supported but encouraged which is great because only the girls that are actually interested have to deal with it but it's still really hard to be a man that doesn't like sports because men are suppose to like that stuff. I can't have long hair, even though I also have a beard without being told I look like a girl. I actually started loosing my hair and I think keeping it long makes it less obvious that I'm going bald so I stopped cutting it. Plus Hawk (my female alternate personality) likes it better this way.

    Just from my personal experience, it seems like woman are able to do whatever they want. They may of had to fight for it in the past but now days it seems pretty easy for them. I want the rights that they have, I want to be able to wear a shirt when I go swimming, I don't want people to think it's OK to touch my chest without my permission just cause I don't have female breasts. I want to be able to work with kids without people making assumptions about my sexual orientation. I want to be able to leave a conversation about sports without being asked 20 questions about why I don't like sports or having people making false assumptions about why I don't like sports. I just don't, it doesn't interest me, why can't people just accept that? I can't really complain too much about the hair thing cause I know some girls with short hair cuts also get the "you look like a boy" comments that I was just complaining about so in that situation neither one of us is really privileged.

    As for the supposed "male privilege" I would gladly give up whatever privileges I do have to get the many privileges woman have that I don't. I think maybe that's why I have a female alternate personality because maybe she represents that part of me that wishes I was born a girl.

    Can't we all just agree that there are some things that are better for men than for woman and other things that are better for women than men instead of assuming that it's all one sided all the time? Plus everyone is different, we all have different interests, different opinions, regardless of gender so something that might be a privilege to another man may not necessarily be a privilege for me. The going shirtless thing for example. There's a group of women that see being able to go topless in public as a privilege that men have but I don't view that as a privilege to me it's a burden. I view it as something that I'm forced to do against my will not something I actually want to do. I'd rather have the woman's right to cover up and not be harassed about it.

    The only real privilege I think men have that woman don't... We elected the worst candidate for President I've ever seen rather than electing a woman... I don't think she was really that great either and I wish it was a different woman (Elizabeth Warren) running instead of her, but if we're stupid enough to elect Trump I don't think any woman would have been able to beat him. It seems that president is the one position in the U.S. that women can not seem to ever get into. We had our first black president and I would of loved to see the first woman come in immediately after him instead we got a bigot who I fear is well on his way to undoing all of progress that has been made in the last 50 years. You might have grand kids before we even have another female candidate running again. It seems ridiculously easy for a man to get elected when he's running against a woman and that shouldn't happen unless he's legitimately a better candidate. Trump was a terrible choice. Hillary, though not great either for entirely different reasons was easily the better of the two. I almost thought Trump was a joke candidate that wasn't really running because he's that bad. I thought there's no way he can win against anyone but now here we all with this political joke of a president.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
  • RolloRollo Operative 6081, MiniTrue Airstrip Three, OceaniaPosts: 1,904 ✭✭✭

    There are times I've heard people say that even in conversations that have nothing to do with race or gender. I'm a straight white man so it seems to be this stereotype now that straight white men are just automatically more privileged that everyone else.

    I'm a straight white male aged between 20-45. I am the cause of most domestic violence, most crimes of turpitude such as rape, most robberies and assault and I command a higher wage than everyone else in my age group but not because of reasons of qualification or skill.

    I command fear in people despite them knowing nothing about me personally.
    "I speak an infinite deal of nothing and I am not bound to please thee with my answers."

    I've written four books - you might like to buy them: Linky - Doobly Doo
  • MeroviusMerovius Zürich, SwitzerlandPosts: 24
    There are many, many points to be made about all of this. First, let me start, by giving some context on ways in which I'm privileged and ways in which I'm not: I'm a white, mostly straight, male person, born in an industrialized nation with an above average IQ and currently wealthy (compared to a lot of other people in my home country and the western world). At the same time, I am mentally ill and I was born and raised in a very poor family, to an abusive single mother.

    Now, the main point I want to make is, that it's fundamentally flawed to talk about "more" or "less" privilege. Privilege is multidimensional and situational and definitely not totally ordered. Yes, there are totally situations where women or non-white people have advantages over men or whites. There are situations in which my mental illness or my poor upbringing is a strength - it makes me kinder and more empathetic and my relationship to money less toxic. But privilege is not a contest.

    When someone tells you to "check your privilege" or when someone tells you that your privilege is showing, they are, in general (all of what I'm saying here is true for the vast majority of feminists I know or interacted with), not trying to insult you, but they are pointing out exactly that; that you seem privileged in a way that allows you to oversimplify a situation because you never where forced to deal with the complications. If a male person says that institutionalized sexism against women doesn't exist, they show male privilege, because most women have experienced first hand and where forced to confront this. Absolutely the same, of course, goes for a women saying that being male is unequivocally better than being female - she shows here privilege in never being confronted with toxic masculinity or the pressures put on men to behave in a certain way. If an able-bodied architect doesn't built ramps into their design, they are showing their privilege, because they never had to consider, that stairs might be an insurmountable obstacle (and note, that this architect could be a black, gay, trans woman with major depressive disorder. It doesn't change their able-bodied privilege). When I say, getting a math degree is simple or getting a computer science degree is trivial, I am ignoring the privilege of being born with a knack for these topics. And if someone tells me that I should just sit down and work if I want to, or that I just need to make that phone call, what's the big deal, they are showing their privilege in never having to deal with crushing anxiety and ADHD.

    I have a good, well-paid job now and I can attribute a large part of that to having worked hard and I'm proud of that work. But I also can not fully disconnect that from the fact that I am a white male with a genetic predisposition to STEM and that made it much easier. I also was poor and had ADHD my whole life, which made it much harder. Both are true at the same time.

    None of these examples is an attack on the person. It's just a fact, a reminder that you might not consider (or be able to fully appreciate) another persons viewpoint because you never had to face the same realities as them. And when someone tells you to "check your privilege" you should just pause for a second and maybe acknowledge that, yes, you just did a simplification or ignored an issue due to *some* privilege and difference in how you experienced the world (and maybe you come to the conclusion that that's not the case and that you really *can* fully appreciate what it means to face institutionalized sexism in the workplace without being a woman and, honestly, that's fine too. You don't have to always agree with everyone). And stop treating it like a contest. If it is one, then everyone can only loose it.

    And to speak to @zogfotpik's point specifically: Yes, a wealthy black person, in most situations, will often be more influential and powerful than a poor white person. But again, this is situational: Several of my black colleagues, who *are* very wealthy, have stories of being arrested, beaten up and in other ways abused by the police for the sole, uncontested reason of being black at the wrong time in the wrong place. In a police control, it's pretty much unequivocally better to be white, than black, your wealth won't help you there.
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,335 ✭✭✭
    @Merovius I read your entire post and one thing I don't understand. To me when someone says "check your privilege" all they're doing is saying is saying your problems don't exist or don't matter, you are inherently more privileged in every aspect of your life even though I know nothing about your life. And I think that's what most people think when someone says to check your privilege.

    Maybe in a specific situation I am more privileged than someone else. However if I don't see that it's because I'm not a freaking mind reader. I don't know what that person is dealing with, I only know what I'm struggling with, I can only see my side of the issues. Unless you want to actually sit down and have an open discussion where we can both discuss our problems so I can actually hear another point of view other than my own, then just saying "Check your privilege" doesn't tell me anything. All that does is shuts down anything I have to say and pushes your own agenda which is going to do nothing except start an argument about who has things worse.

    Everyone has problems, no one is inherently better or worse off than anyone else. It might seem that way at times but that's only because you're in an echo chamber only listening to your own issues.

    There are times when I try to actually talk about my problems but most of the time I'm ignored because the issues of straight white men are considered less important or the stereotype that men are suppose to be tough and not talk about their feelings, or some other stupid reason why no one gives a PIZZZAA. The only thing people tell me when I talk about my problems are suck it up, man up, grow up, or any other number of insults to make my problems seem unimportant. Nerdfiteria is really the only place where I've been able to talk about some of my problems without all that negative feed back. I post something like I've been in constant physical pain all my life and will continue to feel this way till I die anywhere else and most of the comments are things like "I was stabbed in a bar fight, suck it up butter cup." For most people pain is temporary and no one really understands what it's like when pain is a constant part of your life. Even fewer people are sympathetic towards it.

    I think if I was a woman more people would actually care about my condition because in general more people care if a woman gets hurt than a man. There's even that whole saying about it's wrong to hit a woman. It should be wrong to hit anyone but for this saying makes it more acceptable to hit men then women. I even knew a guy who said even if a woman hit him first, even if it was in self defense, he still would not fight back. This basically means that if a woman decides to attack me for no reason and I even attempt to defend myself, I'm more likely to be arrested for assault because of my gender. No one would believe that I was only defending myself, they would automatically assume that she was the victim even if she threw the first punch. Especially factoring in my height, I'm 6'4", people always assume things about me because of my size, that I must be inherently stronger than most people. But it doesn't work that way, size and gender doesn't matter. I know women half my size who could very well kick my ass if they wanted to. I've never given them reason to and thankfully none of them are crazy ass "all men are inherently evil" feminists, otherwise they probably would. And then I'd go to jail for assaulting a woman.

    The only woman I really worry about that happening with is my mom cause she hit me when I was younger and couldn't fight back but now that I'm older and actually am stronger than she is at this point, she hasn't done anything. I won't throw the first punch just to get revenge but I'm not going to just sit back and take more unwarranted punishment. I'm always afraid I'm going to wind up in prison just for defending myself.

    Now women can comment telling me their opinions, their point of view, and I'd be happy to listen to them. Maybe they might say something I hadn't thought of before and would never think of on my own because I'm not a woman and have never experienced what they have. But the phrase "check your privilege" all that tells me is that you don't care about anything I just said. You're not going to listen to my side of the issues. You think your problems are worse and/or more important than mine. And if that's the response I get then I'm not going to believe anything you have to say. It's not productive to tell someone check your privilege. All that does is build a wall where neither side wants to listen to the other. If I think you don't care about my problems then I won't care about yours either.

    The better thing to do is to acknowledge what the other person has to say as a real issue and not just dismiss it with phrases like "Check your privilege" then they're going to be more willing to listen to your side of things and accept whatever else you have to tell them as real problems that you have to deal with. You should always try to avoid saying things that make it sound like you're trying to push your own agenda without considering anyone else. Even if it's not intentional, it can come off that way. You really have to be careful how you say things, especially when your discussing such sensitive issues as sexism.

    I personally think sexism against women is rare these days. I mean you still can't get a woman in the white house for some reason but other than that women, from my personal perspective are far better off. Of course not being one there might be stuff I don't see, haven't experienced, and will never experience. But the check your privilege argument doesn't tell me any of that. All it tells me is that you're automatically assuming things about me based on my gender which in an ironic twist means that you are sexist.

    And to clarify, most of the time whenever I hear that, it's from a woman who support abortion and she literally tries to make the claim that I want to control women's bodies. A claim which is nothing more than an assumption based on my gender and in reality has nothing to do with why I'm against abortion. I have often made the argument that in any other situation I don't care what a woman does with her own body. My concern is that she's getting to commit legalized murder. Abortion has nothing to do with a woman's body, it has to do with a child's life.

    I have a cousin/aunt who was the product of rape. Her mother/sister was pressured into getting an abortion but she refused feeling that would be murder. It wasn't the child's fault she was raped, it was my [censored fowl language because there are minors on these forms but I really want to cuss because there's no other way to describe him] grandfather's fault. Most people who support abortion don't know this about my family and even if I tell them they don't care. Literally I have told people and then still insist I want to control women's bodies. That cousin/aunt is a full grown adult now and actually works as a custodian at Disney World. To me by their logic, she should have to die because of the circumstances of her conception. They argue that a fetus isn't a life but it is, I've seen that life grow up. Abortion is murder. As far as I'm concerned advocating for the death of a fetus is no different than advocating for the murder of my fully grown adult female cousin. It's rather ironic that a woman's cause is advocating to kill a woman.

    Again, if you want to have a civil discussion and explain why you think a fetus isn't alive you need to avoid saying things like check your privilege and especially don't make baseless claims about my opinion that I've never actually made. Another one that annoys me is when other Atheists try to shut me down by calling me a Bible thumper. My stance on abortion has nothing to do with religion. The fact that some pro-lifers are religious has nothing to do with me personally. It's always a bad idea to just assume things about what someone believes. If you want to have a real discussion with a person on a topic you need to be willing to listen to their side of the discussion and not just assume things that were never said. That's what starts arguments and flame wars is when you assume things about the other person and stop listening to what they actually have to say.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
  • RolloRollo Operative 6081, MiniTrue Airstrip Three, OceaniaPosts: 1,904 ✭✭✭
    NLE:RC (Not Long Enough: Read Carefully)

    Before we get lost in walls of text and invective, these are the two cruces of this discussion.

    This:
    Merovius said:

    None of these examples is an attack on the person. It's just a fact, a reminder that you might not consider (or be able to fully appreciate) another persons viewpoint because you never had to face the same realities as them.

    And this:

    To me when someone says "check your privilege" all they're doing is saying is saying your problems don't exist or don't matter, you are inherently more privileged in every aspect of your life even though I know nothing about your life. And I think that's what most people think when someone says to check your privilege.

    Both are valid.

    This sort of thing is where arguments are perceived as extremes of themselves.
    "I speak an infinite deal of nothing and I am not bound to please thee with my answers."

    I've written four books - you might like to buy them: Linky - Doobly Doo
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,335 ✭✭✭
    Just to be clear I agree that Merovius did make a valid point. All I'm trying to say is that actually explaining your point of view, why you feel I might be more privileged than you are, makes for a much better discussion than simply telling me "Check your privilege."

    As was said earlier, and it's something I agree with in Merovius' post, the other person might have issues that I haven't even considered. But it's impossible for me to see the other person's point of view if they don't actually bother explaining what that is. Check your privilege doesn't tell me anything. I'm never going to experience whatever it is that other person has that makes them feel like I'm privileged so if they don't tell me what their problem is all I can do is assume that there isn't one. From my perspective the other person is the one that needs to "check their privilege" but again, unless I tell them why I think they're privileged they're never going to know what I'm talking about because they haven't experienced the things I have.

    Saying "Check your privilege" accomplishes nothing except pissing people off and making them think you're complaining just to complain. That's why people hate SJWs. Their intentions might be good but that kind of stuff really does more harm for their causes than good.

    I've also had people accuse me of being an SJW because now people think that anyone with a cause is one of those annoying people. That's the kind of harm their doing by saying things like that. Even the people who actually want to discuss the issues and not just leave "Check your privilege" comments can't be heard anymore because those people are louder than the rest of us.

    It's easy to say check your privilege but who ever said that fighting for equal rights was easy? It's not. You have to be willing to discuss difficult issues. That can be hard to do, there's still things that I really don't like to talk about publicly. I've mentioned them anonymously on other sites. I don't like to have the Rial Vestro name tied to those comments cause it's personal and to be quite honest they're things I haven't even talked to my family about. My dad watches my YouTube comments and there's some issues that I'm too embarrassed for him to see so I post those under a different user name where no one knows it's me on a site that my family don't even know I've been on.

    The issues that matter to me the most are the ones I have the hardest time talking about. It would be so easy to say check your privilege because then I don't have to talk about it but that would mean nothing. You don't know what privilege it is that I'm even talking about. As far as you may be concerned I'm going on about nothing and won't say what it is because it doesn't exist. But really I won't say what it is because I'm too embarrassed to even talk about it. All I'm going to tell you is that it's something that in the U.S. only effects men. If you want to do the research on your own and learn more about men's issues, rights that women have that we don't, you're bound to discover what I'm talking about. You may also discover things that don't personally effect me but do effect other men and that's OK too cause I'd rather you not know for sure exactly what it is I'm talking about.

    I might explain in a private message, depends on how you speak to me when you message me but I just don't feel comfortable discussing publicly.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
  • Luke_Earl_MolleLuke_Earl_Molle Earl of Peace Jefferson, IaPosts: 3,008 ✭✭✭✭
    I agree that socio-economic privilege is way more prevalent in the region I come from. I am a straight white cis male that grew up very poor (homeless twice).

    I spent a majority of my childhood being bullied because I am poor and scrawny.

    There was one day in my advertising class this year when we were talking about farming and such, and in Iowa farmer privilege is a real thing. We were talking about how the price of corn was really low and how if anybody sold their corn at that time they may not break even for the year and I said something about being glad that we rented our land out, several kids looked at me and expressed surprise that we still held land. After that day the farm kids in that class started respecting me more.

    I should also mention that I am no longer on the same side of the poverty line as I was a month ago, I moved into my father's house and now I live on the family land and am in a middle class household, now I have significantly more privilege than I used to and it actually affects the way people act towards me.
    I am the Duke of Earl, and I also am Earl For To and Of Peace
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,335 ✭✭✭
    In regards to money... I wouldn't really consider my family rich... Jeff Foxworthy made a joke that if you had to help your richest relative that the wheels off their mobile home, you might be a red neck... well that makes my parents the richest relatives because we're the ones who had wheels taken off our mobile home.

    I actually had the opposite experience in school. Whenever I went over to a friend's house and saw the trailers they were living in, I quickly realized that I was the richest kid among my friends... That still feels weird to say because we're not rich but we are a bit better off than some other people.

    The thing is though it wasn't always like that. The first place we lived in was a rental property and the land lord was a B. Our roof was leaking, the electrical wiring was a hazard. That type of wiring has sense been made illegal because it was discovered to be the leading cause of household fires. We needed to be out of the house in order for these issues to be fixed. It was only suppose to be temporary. My parents were still paying rent on the place but without even telling us, the land lord sold the house.

    The house was sold to the fire department who had no idea that there were people still paying rent on the place. We realized the house had been sold when the fire department used it for training purposes and set a controlled fired on the house. It was later paved over a turned into a parking lot.

    Anyway for a little while we were actually homeless. Back then we didn't know about renter rights and plus we couldn't afford a lawyer anyway so there was no way to sue that land lord. My parents not wanting to go threw the same thing again decided the next place we moved into they would own. For a while we lived with my aunt until my parents managed to save up enough money to buy the trailer that they still live in today... which only cost $800 back then... and now days the cheapest place to buy is like $10,000.

    Anyway, I've heard people say that renting is better because if something breaks you just call the manager and it gets fixed but from my experience it's never that simple. Plus while renting may seem cheaper in the short term, in the long term it's actually cheaper to buy. I think this is the main reason why my family who owned a home was rich compared to my friends who rented. We really weren't that much better off, we just saved a few hundred extra each month from not having to pay rent. That money added up over time. If we had continued to rent we would of been in the same position they were.

    There are other people doing much better off than my family as well. Most of my friends seemed poor by comparison but one guy in high school I found out lived in a two story house. That was one of the few times when I saw someone who was doing much better off than I was. And there were probably more kids like that but they were in different social groups. It's probably more rare to see someone doing better than you are than to see someone doing worse than you are economically because people in higher wage groups rarely associate with people less fortunate than themselves. You kind of have to experience that in order to truly appreciate what you have and have sympathy for the people who are less fortunate than you are.

    It's pretty easy to fall into that trap, again, of making assumptions about people you know nothing about. People who have money often assume things that aren't true about people who don't. Usually that they're lazy and/or uneducated. But even a hard working well educated person can fall onto hard times and be homeless. It's hard to understand how that happens when it's not your life but very easy when it's happened to you.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,335 ✭✭✭
    I thought I should point out people assume things about the rich too. Most commonly the assumption that they can't have any problems because they have money but money isn't the solution to every problem. Their problems are different from the poor but they still have problems of their own.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
  • Luke_Earl_MolleLuke_Earl_Molle Earl of Peace Jefferson, IaPosts: 3,008 ✭✭✭✭


    There are other people doing much better off than my family as well. Most of my friends seemed poor by comparison but one guy in high school I found out lived in a two story house. That was one of the few times when I saw someone who was doing much better off than I was. And there were probably more kids like that but they were in different social groups. It's probably more rare to see someone doing better than you are than to see someone doing worse than you are economically because people in higher wage groups rarely associate with people less fortunate than themselves. You kind of have to experience that in order to truly appreciate what you have and have sympathy for the people who are less fortunate than you are./blockquote>

    Where I come from you always see people with more money than you if you are poor. I live in a farming community in rural Iowa and in the specific town that I go to school in elitism is everywhere. There are some kids that are pretty damn rich, quite a few that are middle class, and quite a few that are in varying places below that. There isn't much separation between us because everybody in the county goes to the same school and like my class has about 130 people in it I think.

    I am the Duke of Earl, and I also am Earl For To and Of Peace
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