Scalzi explains privilege

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Scalzi explains privilege

Postby monk » Tue May 15, 12:45 2012

Have I mentioned that I really like John Scalzi?

In a way I believe we are the same person in views and outlook. We are one year apart in age and we grew up about 50 miles apart in Southern California so our cultural heritage is almost identical. I like to think I could be him if I was a little more eloquent and a little less of an asshole. Anyways he has a blog that's been around forever called Whatever and today he is in very simple terms that may help some of us out trying to explain it to others.

Enjoy.

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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby rowan » Tue May 15, 12:50 2012

No fair, I was going to post that!

I thought it was a pretty great analogy. It's been posted on FB/G+ by a bunch of my guy friends.

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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Rainbow Dolphins » Sun May 20, 0:15 2012

I saw this on fb and thought it was awesome. I think this will be a good resource link for future conversations about privelege.

I am also glad I'm not the only one who sees that the resistance is generally to the word itself, and not necessarily the concept, and I'm glad someone else is working on a way around that resistance.
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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby lillerina » Mon May 21, 1:25 2012

I wonder why there's resistance to the word. I don't really see it being used very often outside of social justice conversations. In the back of my head there's a seedling of a theory that nobody wants to believe that the world has been made easier for them, because that somehow diminishes their achievements. People want to think, "Yeah, I bought a house, awesome accomplishment, I worked hard and I deserve that!" without thinking "Okay, I bought a house, but it was easier for me to buy that house because I'm abled/grew up middle class/had a university education/am white/am male/etc. So yeah, I worked hard, but I don't deserve that more than someone who is as hardworking as I am but started from a harder level."
If I bang my head against a brick wall five times and get five lumps, why am I surprised when I bang it a sixth time and get a sixth lump?

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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Aum » Mon May 21, 4:19 2012

^ I think there are definitely competing realities when it comes to privilege and non-privilege. My problem with the term is that many use it to equivocate on suffering and life challenges. It's like saying that I haven't suffered a lot because I'm white, even though my life has had a lot of torturous problems in it, many of them driving me to suicidal ideation, and many of which the social discourses don't care about because I'm written off for being a white man.

If we want to talk about social inequities, then fine. Just like it's racist/classist/sexist to say that someone isn't worthy because of their status in society, it's equally as racist/classist/sexist to presume my life has been easy because I'm a white guy. Both approaches ignore an individual's personal story.
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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Sonic# » Mon May 21, 7:13 2012


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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Snarky » Sat May 26, 1:29 2012

I have to admit, at first when encounter the word I was very resistant. I knew the concept of 'privledge' made a lot of sense, it's something I think I knew all along, but putting a word to it... something was very uncomfortable about it, it made me feel all weird and sad, and certainly guilty. I know it's not supposed to, but that's what happened, and I hear that not an uncommon reaction- so maybe many people feel this and just immediately resist?

I'd also agree that there's a problem when explaining it, of having to be very careful not to down play peoples suffering, and accomplishments, as already stated.

Something about the word- not the definition, but just the very feel of the word, denotes a feeling of blame. Just in my opinion of course.

Also, any time someone tells me I HAVE to be a part of a group, I feel the natural urge to resist. Despite how nonsensical it might sound, one of my first reactions was "Who are you to say I'm white/male/striaght?!" .... even if it's true. I guess I don't like being categorized is the thing. Does that one make sense to anyone other than me? I have a feeling this is a rather confusing thing to try to explain.

I do understand privledge though, I'm simply trying to put words to why I had a negative reaction towards it at first, to try to explain why others also might.

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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Rainbow Dolphins » Sun May 27, 5:27 2012

I don't know, I really don't like the word privilege just because of the negative connotations. I think it might be because when you say something is a "privilege" it often means something you earned. Obviously, nobody "earns" the privilege of being white or male or abled or straight or what have you. It's just something that happens to you. Since the word implies some kind of agency, when you try to tell someone they have privilege their gut reaction is to be defensive. They think, well, I didn't do anything, why are you getting on my case about something that's not my fault? Maybe they feel like you're saying they have this privilege that they didn't earn, so they don't deserve it. Of course, that is not what we are saying... we want all people to have the privilege of not fearing sexual assault, and not being judged based on their clothing or appearance first, or to not be assumed less capable based on nonrelevant physical attributes.

I don't really have a suggestion for a better word, but "privilege" has always struck me as one of those buzzwords that tends to do more harm than good, because a single word simply cannot sum up such an important and deep concept. I think this is a damn shame because it is so, so important for EVERYONE to understand if we are going to fight sexism and other forms of discrimination.
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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Mathmo » Sun May 27, 11:35 2012


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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby lillerina » Sun May 27, 13:54 2012

Etymologically, privilege means private law - lege as in legislation. Privilege is a way that the world works for you that it doesn't work for other people.
If I bang my head against a brick wall five times and get five lumps, why am I surprised when I bang it a sixth time and get a sixth lump?

"Isn't it funny that the only time your race or gender is questioned is when you're not a white man?" - Wanda Sykes

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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Ama » Mon May 28, 0:34 2012

Privilege bothers me too. I don't really have much else to add to that. A different word could make the concept more palatable I think.
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Re: Scalzi explains privilege

Postby Rainbow Dolphins » Mon May 28, 1:04 2012

"Everything's gonna be OK soon, maybe tomorrow- maybe the next day." -the Mountain Goats
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