Lately there’s been this whole drama surrounding a student at Princeton who feels attacked because every time he tries to share an opinion people are like, “Check your privilege, bro.” So the other day he wrote an essay that was all, “Listen, just because I’m a white male doesn’t mean I have privilege! My grandparents went through shit,” and then Violet Baudelaire at Jezebel was like, “Dude, you’re missing the point; just acknowledge that you’re white and move on,” and then this rebuttal happened and then finally I was like, CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET THE FUCK ALONG?
Now, I’m of the firm belief that our physical characteristics have absolutely nothing to do with what actually matters — spirit — which knows no color or gender or money (or penis size, for that matter, which is unfortunate because I’m huge). We are all cut from the same cloth, and if everyone would realize this — that we’re all in it together — then the world would pretty much heal immediately and we could all live the rest of our lives in perfect utopian harmony drinking light beer and listening to soft rock every day.
But I realize that the world is filled with judgy douche canoes, and so things like privilege and arguments and arguments about privilege exist, whether anybody wants them to or not.
And so, because I’m self-obsessed and live in fear of ever being called out as an out-of-touch asshole, I’d like to formally check my privilege right now so that in the future when I say, “Why do I feel so oppressed right now?” and someone comes back at me with, “ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PRIVILEGE, BITCH!” I can be like, “Ba! Ha! I ALREADY DID,” and send them a link to this blog post.
So. I’m white. Which means I haven’t had to deal with much racial profiling (except for when people automatically assume that I enjoy Greek yogurt and/or can’t dance—only one of which is true) in my life. I’m also a man, which means that I automatically have the privilege of being able to vote (wait…?) and also I’ll probably never have to push a baby out of my vagina that I don’t have.
But I’m also gay (Yay! +10 minority-group-credibility points for me!), which in my opinion is a personal blessing but most definitely not a societal privilege. I have to deal with shit like homophobia. And the fear of getting gay-bashed. And politicians that are all “NO
SOUP EQUAL RIGHTS FOR YOU!” (Note: I wouldn’t put it past them to also try to deny me soup, if it were constitutionally an option, which, I don’t know anything about politics so maybe it is and I should stock up on Progresso while it’s still legal? That or learn politics.)
Okay, one more privilege: I’m the tallest person I know. My driver’s license says 6’3” but that measurement was from Mariah Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi era and so I think I’m actually closer to 6’4” these days, which some people might call “freakish and carnival-esque,” but I like to think of as “the thing that comes before ‘dark and handsome.’”
My height often works to my benefit—mostly when I’m looking for people in crowds, attending general admission concerts, or being roped into conversations with bigots who hate little people. Other times, though, it puts me at a major disadvantage to others—like when I try to hide from police, get drunk on a limited supply of alcohol, or drive a Volkswagen.
What would your privilege Venn diagram look like?