Something I’ve been seeing gain steam in the last few years is talk of privilege – the idea, which grew out of a professor’s book in the 80’s, that being in certain categories gives you inherent advantages in life. Example: being white means you won’t experience discrimination like minorities. Same for straight over gay, male over female, etc. You have to be an idiot or a bigot to deny historical facts clearly supporting this, like voting rights, positions of power and the like. Where the concept has fallen off the rails for me is that it’s being used a club of guilt to bludgeon people with now; usually the wrong targets also. The other thing is that, just like anything, everyone is getting greedy with it and exclusive also. I saw, in my limited research on this, a small group was claiming “cognitive privilege” was being experienced by the smart. Dumb it down, brainiacs! Your privilege is showing.
Again, I’m not denying that privilege exists, but I saw this quiz on a random post and it honestly made my brain begin to ooze out of my ears. It was a very unscientific privilege checker. From here out I’ll put the questions in quotations. “I have never been called a fairy or other derogatory slur for homosexuals.” Well, I have, but I’m straight…so does it somehow lessen my privilege that another straight guy in high school called me a queer while playing pickup basketball?
It continues like this. “I work in a salaried job” was a question right after “I have never been raped.” So having a salary over hourly is the same level as being raped on the old privilege-ometer, everyone! So that question is already odd, never mind the fact that being raped or not raped has equal points as “I don’t have student loans.” So if you have a student loan, throw your arm around a woman who’s been sexually assaulted and tell her you’re in the same boat, after all. Moreover, what if you got a full ride because you applied to a dozen scholarships? What if you don’t have loans because you lived at home to save money vs. the student who wanted to party in a dorm and took on more debt? What if you don’t have student loans because you didn’t go to college? The last question I asked shows another hole – so having a student loan, which you didn’t have to sign up for, makes you less privileged than someone who, for example, went to be factory worker or truck driver, for example.
More hits include “I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender or salesperson.” I’m in sales now, so I’m less privileged? “I’ve never been shamed for my body type.” Well, if you’ve ever been to high school, you can’t check that one off no matter what body type you have. Fat? Forget it. Skinny? Forget it. I was in great shape in high school, but my torso is longer than my legs, so I took a beating for it. Does that reduce my privilege?
I would go on, but you see what this quiz was, clickbait, but it was presented as very serious. (I chose not to promote it, but it’s on Buzzfeed if you want to check.) The biggest issue I have with the whole thing? Now what? So I’m privileged/not privileged. Does that mean I should lie on the ground and cry from guilt/hopelessness? Should I scream at someone five points ahead of me or hold someone three points behind me and tell them it will be OK? Again, it’s a clickbait link – hell, I did the quiz, but what’s the end game? If used as a tool to show people how isolated or difficult others have it, fine. When it becomes a “Ooo! Ooo! I’m less privileged than Jerry!” it loses any point and I daresay, becomes a wedge driver that does more harm than good. I picture two people from completely different worlds arguing with one another based off 100 questions, rather than on their life experiences and intellect. I also can’t tell you many white people love to scream into the wind to other white people about privilege, which leads to this exchange. White person 1: “Check your privilege!” White person 2: “I had a horrible childhood, what are you talking about?” Then it just goes right into the gutter and people block each other, stop speaking, unfriend, and so on.
Of course, when I commented I thought the quiz was sad and divisive, it was later pointed out that I was straight and white and a man, so I guess none of this blog or anything I’ve ever said matters. Well, poop, time to delete all my social media accounts and move into a cave in the hills. Nice knowing everyone, sorry for existing! I’ll just keep my yap shut and let people who have been servers claim the same status as people who have been ostracized from their families for their sexual orientation and rape victims.
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