Thread: Privilege
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Old 12-30-2011, 06:14 PM
seebs seebs is offline
God Made Me A Skeptic
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Minnesota
Default Re: Return to Gender 101

Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
Um, I thought it was very clear that privilege is a social phenomena?
Well, I had thought so. But people have used handicaps as examples in other discussions, and insisted that people who can use stairs have privilege and need to be conscious of it. And having run errands with my mom, who needs a walker, I'm even sort of inclined to think there may be something to this.

And the math thing... If most people could do it, our culture likely would take it for granted. Consider the thing a lot of grocery stores do where they label items with price-per-ounce. That's an accommodation for people who can't do the math in their heads... Which happens to be nearly everyone. If it weren't, though, the ability to buy the most cost-effective thing could be a kind of privilege, if not a very exciting one.

The conclusion I am drawing:

* It is clear that there is a Real Thing Happening.
* In fact, it is clear that there are several Real Things.
* Determining whether a given kind of othering or taking-for-granted is "privilege" is not a clearly-defined thing with unambiguous rules.
* Many of the people who use this language, however, *act* as though it has unambiguous rules.
* But they use different, and sometimes conflicting, unambiguous rules.

The problem is that if I dispute a given specific conclusion, people tend to assume that I am attacking the entire concept.

The problem, I think, is... This is by nature a thing about more subtle things. Everyone seems to be able to understand that "well, of COURSE a mob beat him up. He's black" is bad. It's obvious, it's easy to spot. But stuff like "there seems to be a disproportionate number of traffic stops for blacks" is harder to spot. Stuff like "skin colored" bandages is obvious if you know about it but people don't tend to think of it.

The problem is that once you get into the fuzzier areas, it gets harder for people to agree on whether a given thing is a good example. But the entire point is the assertion that the less obvious things are real and significant. So it's hard to risk saying "well, maybe that one's not a big deal" when that might lead people to dismiss the whole concept.

Also, honestly, most of the time when I've run into this previously, it's been teenage social justice advocates on tumblr or something like that, who are primarily acting with intent to promote their reputation as strident speakers against social injustice, which means that they're almost certainly going to overclaim and show unjustified certainty. I had gotten as far as figuring out that there was something real behind this, but not found a good venue for discussing it and figuring out what the idea was before it got flanderized.
Hear me / and if I close my mind in fear / please pry it open
See me / and if my face becomes sincere / beware
Hold me / and when I start to come undone / stitch me together
Save me / and when you see me strut / remind me of what left this outlaw torn
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