Learn & Grow: A Primer on Privilege
TW: crime/violence/murder, systematic oppression/marginalization, sexual assault/rape
It’s 2017 and we’re really still having this conversation. People are really still putting their privilege above helping others.
‘Not ALL men/white/cishet/ableds!’
Actually…? Yes, all of you?
Here’s the thing with privilege. You have it whether you want to or not. You can’t give or wish your privilege away — or lend it to another without said privilege.
Trust me, I’ve tried.
I hate the history associated with my whiteness — the horrible things done to benefit me over others. The things my ancestors likely took part in like colonization and slavery, especially since my genetics are all over the British Isles and Western Europe.
The best way to handle our privileges is to acknowledge them.
"We are experimenting with new strategies of survival. Their efficacy is necessarily not reflected in dominant culture…www.restforresistance.com
Advertisement Advertisement When people think of white supremacy, they think of Nazis, of white guys with shaved heads…unapologeticfeminism.com
When someone calls you on your privilege or begins to explain how their experiences as a marginalized person differ, the right response is to listen. We tone police enough.
This article was originally published by EverydayFeminism.com and is republished with permission. To be completely…thebodyisnotanapology.com
One of the things that bothered me about the discussions that happened over the HS debacle in the last few days was the…groupthink.kinja.com
Having a hard time grasping privilege?
Let’s play a bit of an imagination game: You are sitting at home and across the street you hear screaming. You look out the window and see a crime taking place between who you identify to be a man and a woman in a possibly heterosexual relationship with each other. There is yelling going on and seem to be threats of physical violence. Instead of calling the police or intervening, though, you assume that this is just a lover’s quarrel and that you needn’t get involved.
The next day, you find out that the woman in this scenario was murdered. While you’re not legally an accessory to the crime, you certainly played a role, didn’t you, by not intervening? You had privilege to believe this would pass, to not be fighting for your life.
Surprise! The above actually fucking happened.
Back in 1964 in Queens, New York, people assumed a lover’s quarrel was going on between Kitty Genovese and a man and that it would work itself out. Police were called twice but did not respond due to their belief that this was domestic. By the end of the night, Kitty had been murdered by Winston Moseley — some random man she didn’t know but who had been committing B&Es and sexually assaulting women. Her partner, Mary Ann Zielonko, shared an apartment with Kitty and they were labeled roommates due to the time period.
The bystander effect idea was developed as a result of this case. It’s the idea that, when there are more people around, those people will be less likely to help during an incident because they assume someone else will do it. We’ve seen this time and again with assault & battery, medical emergencies, kidnappings, sexual assaults of women/femmes at parties, bullying, racism and xenophobia, photographers taking pictures of impoverished kids without doing a thing to help, and so much more.
Bystanders ignored a Chicago assault victim lying lying on the street. Moments later, a taxi accidentally ran over his…www.huffingtonpost.com
It sounds unimaginable: someone witnesses a friend being sexually assaulted, but instead of seeking help, they film it…www.huffingtonpost.com
On a humid subway ride into work a few days ago, a woman on the other end of my car had a seizure. Above the buzz of…www.huffingtonpost.com
(CNN) -- For more than two hours on a dark Saturday night, as many as 20 people watched or took part as a 15-year-old…www.cnn.com
Two Muslim women are accosted and pushed on a Toronto subway. Another is assaulted and robbed after dropping off her…www.cbc.ca
Just because someone may not actively take part in a crime but is a bystander makes them, in my eyes, party to the crime. This is especially true when we look at people recording sexual assaults while they stand around and laugh about it, but saying later they knew it felt wrong and wanted to speak up.
One act of empathy and compassion can save lives.
Getting back to privilege, the above is the same with social justice work. If you’re not working on behalf of the victims/marginalized, you’re helping the abusers/oppressors. If you’re white like me, this means that when you’re not calling out racism, you’re contributing to it and benefiting from it.
As an example, we white people benefit from the oppression of so many others — Blacks, Asians, Latinx, Native peoples, etc. If you’re not actively fighting that — and even if you are — you still benefit from being white.
There are many well-meaning white people who say things like “I’m color-blind” or “I’ve moved past race.” These things are extra harmful because they erase what people who aren’t white go through FROM racists and the systematic racism involved in our socioeconomic and political systems .
See this and learn it and recognize the importance of what race does in our lives. Understand this: race as an issue isn’t ‘coming to an end.’ It didn’t end when Obama was elected and it certainly still infiltrates our nation when we have President Trump who openly displays racist and xenophobic ideals.
“So Kirsten,” you ask, “what are some other forms of privilege?”
Oh, I’m so glad you asked, valued reader!
Here is a list. Keep in mind that, as I have privilege, this may not be a comprehensive list. It’s also important to remember that these various types of oppression interact and intersect with one another.
Many people benefit from oppression of non-mainstream-Christian-sects, ranging from those who practiced Judaism and Islam to Buddhism and Hinduism to Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Antisemetism would fall here as well. You may see this listed as Religious Imperialism, too.
Look at the details of his plan, and the bigotry becomes crystal clear.www.vox.com
Classism tends to go top-down, meaning that those in more ‘beneficial’ financial positions tend to be seen as more successful. These people are preferred over those living in poverty for many things — jobs, apartments or houses, vehicles, even cell phones.
For years, class has been a taboo topic. Here are some frequently asked questions to move past that taboo. What do you…www.classism.org
This is generally the idea that women are inferior to men (misogyny), though this can be used whichever way involving any of the sexes.
Has thousands of links on sexism, racism, and other prejudices, with searchable databases and fascinating interactive…www.understandingprejudice.org
This is the practice of treating people like shit for having a disability or chronic illness or chronic pain condition or other condition not ‘typical’ in abled people. (Note: there is a difference between able-bodied and abled — I use the latter as able-bodied people can have mental health issues and do suffer ableism as well.)
This is a special kind of ableism that preys on those of us *waves* dealing with mental health issues.
As I was reading about the stigma of mental illness, I was struck by the lack of a mainstream term to describe the…www.ivacheung.com
This is based in our practice of valuing thinner bodies over thicker ones.
Asking people to consider the size inclusivity of the stores they shop at is not too much to ask.theestablishment.co
This is where people of a certain age are valued more than others. We see this go both ways now, with debates on millennials raging on and promoting ageism towards younger people.
Age-based prejudice toward young people is so rife and so naturalised that even advocates for young people often have…thecannyoutlaw.com
Or, where people ‘native’ to a land are treated better than colonizers or newcomers. Essentially, this is an -ism way of stating xenophobia, benefiting ‘native’ people. (I’ve put native in half-quotes here because this isn’t about Native People and their right to their lands generally speaking, but about Americans using xenophobia to keep non-Americans out or, more linguistically precise, jingoism.)
The United States has long been a destination for immigrants seeking a better life. Yet, newcomers haven't always been…ww2.kqed.org
This is like Nativism, but the flip side — where things are better for the colonization group than the ‘native’ population. THINK ANY COLONIZATION STORY EVER.
When the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp on 27 January 1945, among the prisoners left behind were a…www.huffingtonpost.com
This lovely POS is like how people in certain religious and political groups want to force everyone to be heterosexual and refuse to recognize love, relationships, and partnerships/marriages between other groups. Think of this as a nicer way of saying homophobia, but more inclusive of those of us not homosexual but that fall elsewhere on the sexuality spectrum. Heteronormativity is certainly a related term — essentially, heterosexuality is seen as the ‘norm’ sexuality.
What is it? How is it part of our lives? What effect does it have on all of us?apps.carleton.edu
Think transphobia, but more inclusive of those of us who aren’t exactly transgender but also are gender non-conforming (GNC) or non-binary.
Cisgender ( /ˈsɪsdʒɛndər/) (or cisgendered) is an adjective used in the context of gender issues and counselling to…www.tghiv.com
This is where people are judged for the literal coloring of their skin — not just are they black or white but are they light-skinned black people versus dark-skinned, etc.
"What are you mixed with?" is something I'm asked regularly. It's the most common question I receive from a stranger…elitedaily.com
Discrimination against sex workers
Not many people realize this, but a lot of people tend to be prude AF. This means that they shame people who do or have done sex work, whether that was a necessity or a choice. Funny enough, sex work is one of the most accessible in terms of disability things one can do.
Ok, so maybe I wasn’t a full on SWERF, like I didn’t want to take rights away from sex workers but I did think that sex…medium.com
This is the practice of treating people poorly because they engage in sexual play that you don’t agree with or don’t think is ‘normal.’
We now live in a society which is more open and positive about sex than ever before, but one expert says we're not as…www.independent.co.uk
I am sure that there are others that I am not thinking of between my privilege and the fact that it’s 3 AM.
*insert Matchbox 20 joke here*
We have to start recognizing these issues, pointing them out, and working to fix them. Without these steps, our justice work isn’t intersectional — which means it’s just based in abled white cishet privilege land.
To learn more about intersectionality & privilege:
It seems like a given that feminism should try to help all women, especially those who are most disadvantaged. But…www.bustle.com
Let’s debunk some myths about identity labels, shall we?theestablishment.co
As a rather newbie intersectional feminist, I sometimes feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. White, pushing 50…wearyourvoicemag.com
Or, Why You Need Intersectionality as a ‘Social Justice Warrior’medium.com
There is no one-pager solution to systemic oppression.theestablishment.co
Advertisement This article is part of our "Beyond White Feminism" series. To read other articles in the series, click…resistmedia.org
Invisibility dominates my experience of oppression. I am a genderqueer who is usually assumed to be a cisgender woman…writingalchemy.net
When you brag that your protests had no arrests, I wonder what you think that says about you.theestablishment.co
Here are 21 ways that able-bodied privilege looks. Some of them are self-explanatory. Others? Well, just read on: 1…thebodyisnotanapology.com
Learn more about marginalized experience:
Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed 2. Not every black person considers these words coded, nor are they coded in every context…www.buzzfeed.com
Advertisement There was a scene in episode seven of Insecure that stuck with me. In it, Molly tells Issa about a mutual…resistmedia.org
There is no way to hide the fact that white people are put as a priority when it comes to the makeup industry. People…affinitymagazine.us
In social justice spaces, online and college campuses alike - Non-Black People of Color (NBPOC) use the words, us, we…www.huffingtonpost.com
"The fact that the disparity grew dramatically over the period of time, and the fact that it varies by geography, that…www.buzzfeed.com
Let's start here, even though this should go without saying: We don't think that all men are inherently abusive or…everydayfeminism.com
A few weeks ago an old friend reached out to me on Facebook with a problem: Anna (not her real name) works at a high…www.newnownext.com
Hi, my name is Hon'mana Seukteoma and welcome to my channel. So it has been almost one year since the Center for…everydayfeminism.com
Originally published on The Body Is Not an Apology and cross-posted here with their permission. It was after three…everydayfeminism.com
Queer and trans immigrants rights activists in Phoenix blocked the route of the city's Pride parade on Sunday with a…fusion.net
Would a licensed medical doctor with years of training really be unsure of what to do with a broken arm just because it…www.dailydot.com
It's been close to a decade since I legally gender transitioned. While it was a great relief to finally live…trans-fusion.blogspot.com
"You're so confusing. Are you a boy or a girl?"www.buzzfeed.com
In fact, if you Google "genderqueer is," here are the top fill-ins that come up: "bullshit," "a fad," and "not real.…everydayfeminism.com
YouTube is working on ways to filter out offensive content, but some vloggers have noticed that one of its latest…www.teenvogue.com
In consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships, the partners involved agree that having more than one sexual and/or…www.lehmiller.com
When Dalea Rundblad was 14 going on 15 years old, she eavesdropped on a conversation that changed her life. But before…latinousa.org
In a way, there is a safety that comes with being out in public holding a boy's hand. I'm seen as straight, feminine…thebodyisnotanapology.com
When researchers taught capuchin monkeys how to use money, it didn't take long for one of the male monkeys to offer a…www.cato-unbound.org
With Backpage.com shut down by the government, many sex workers are being left without income or resourcesthenib.com
My name is Bree Olson, I'm a former porn star, and since retiring I remained silent. Silent about being discriminated…www.dailydot.com
Leave a Comment October is National Kink Month, an observance established by Stockroom.com in 2012. October seemed to…rampyourvoice.com
At my last doctor's appointment, my doctor had to take my weight for my pre-operative examination. I stepped on the…www.kinkly.com
The idea of good and bad when it comes to sex is entirely subjective, but it's largely true to say that ifwww.kinkly.com
Six years ago, whips and chains were anything but mainstream. But thanks to literary juggernaut-turned film phenomenon…www.cosmopolitan.com
I don't remember a time when I didn't have fantasies about being dominated. I would imagine someone gripping my hair…fusion.net
What happens in your head when you get flogged? Scientific researchers and professional dominatrixes talk about…broadly.vice.com
Kinkly provides the open, honest, sexual education you wish you got in high school, with a little bit of fun.www.kinkly.com
Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a story titled "Disabled or just desperate?" that painted a bleak picture of rural…talkpoverty.org
Advertisement Advertisement I won't beat around the bush: Mental illness has pushed me to the edge many, many times…unapologeticfeminism.com
Advertisement During one of my high schooler's conferences, one of his teachers told me that he appreciated my son's…resistmedia.org
Alex Spourdalakis was 14 when his mother and godmother decided to kill him. The women tried to poison the boy, who had…www.huffingtonpost.com
During the course of 2016 I saw more ableist slurs tossed around than ever before. From casual conversation to mass…thebodyisnotanapology.com
The Medical World:
So we came up with some foolproof ways that you, as a woman, can be taken seriously by your doctor! You're welcome. 1…www.buzzfeed.com
When I was 17, I started having a really hard time breathing. My primary doctor told me it was just asthma. It became…www.buzzfeed.com
By a standard test most African-Americans have low levels of vitamin D. But most African-Americans also have strong…www.npr.org
I wrote this as a personal blog entry in 2012. I’m republishing it today because it’s obviously still relevant.medium.com
Kati McFarland is 26 years old. If you look at her YouCaring page, you can see she has a septum piercing; she wears…www.buzzfeed.com
X-rays and other "objective" instruments influenced controversies about whose pain should be believed. Pain is…www.theatlantic.com
Navigating healthcare is tricky for young people. For young, bisexual people, it's even trickier. According to a study…www.teenvogue.com
I was surprised when, after one of these run-ins, my psychopharmacologist said this sort of behavior was all too common…www.nytimes.com
There are plenty of other resources out there. Some of my favorites?
- The Body Is Not An Apology
- Everyday Feminism
- Unapologetic Feminist
- Wear Your Voice
- The Establishment
- Here on Medium!
The Chronic Sex Pinterest page has a lot of items listed above and more. There is a ton out there, but a quick word: You do want to evaluate sources when you can.
- It’s a fair bet that any site actively trying to sell you something is likely not legitimate.
- Look for org or edu endings for super vetted sources.
- Is the author easy to identify? Can you learn more about the site via an ‘about’ page if not?
- When is this from?
- Have you heard of this site before?
- Is this written by an actual marginalized person? Someone who is involved in allyship with a group?
Making sure you vet sources properly will help to enhance your learning, both on privilege and in general.
THIS IS SO MUCH WORK. UGH. Can’t I just ask my black/disabled/non-binary friend questions?
Many marginalized people are happy to share feelings or experiences to help you learn and grow. That said, not everyone feels like sharing — or feels like sharing all the time — or feels like sharing about one particular marginalized identity they have or incident they had. Don’t press it if someone doesn’t want to talk about something.
That’s just rude.
And, hey, we aren’t your Google or EBSCOhost or Bing or whatever. You can search for things on your own (again, vet sources). You’re more than capable of finding answers because you’re awesome.
Feel free to tell us what you found — we’re often touched you took the time to look into things (or, at least, as a disabled, gender non-conforming, queer person, I am).
You can kindly ask for help understanding things while recognizing it may be uncomfortable for us, but have no right to demand answers from anyone ever.
Marginalized people do not owe you emotional labor.
Kirsten is a genderqueer writer, sexuality educator, and chronic illness/disability activist in Wisconsin. She runs Chronic Sex which highlights how illnesses and disabilities affect ‘Quality of Life’ issues such as self-love, self-care, relationships, sexuality, and sex.