I propose we start acknowledging the privileges of hair-colour, handedness, parents, allergies and TV.
The “Straight White Cis Male TM” is a cliche. I declare it’s time for exciting new privileges instead! Let’s get obscure, let’s get myopic and disproportionate, let’s get reactionary and ridiculous!
Not being ginger-haired.
Having both parents, and being raised by your biological parents.
How many of these do you agree with? Which ones are sensible, and which ones are silly? Which ones apply to you? Are you generally privileged by “traditional” means? Do these new metrics let you win the oppression Olympics?
These were not hard to come up with, especially the handedness one. I’m left-handed myself. Did you know what “cack-handed” means? Because now you do!
On the other metrics, I’m a 4 out of 5 – I’m a positive privilege queen!
- I was never removed from my parents care, and both of them are alive. I’m saved from awkward assumptions about “guardians” and “caregivers”, because I fit into the majority norm.
- Being allergy-free is a pretty obvious life-perk. If you were picking out traits in a game of life, “not being allergic to stuff” is pretty neat. What fool would choose being allergic to lavender, or bees, or water, or their own sweat, instead of choosing to be a healthy functioning human, who isn’t bought to their knees by pollen? Living without fear of grass is a thrill-ride.
- TV is a controversial one. We all know that truly posh people don’t ever let their precious darlings watch the idiot-box; instead they are lavished with exciting activities, charming wooden toys, skiing trips, sports, au-pairs. For other kids, the TV is their parent, whilst their actual parents work away from home. I can’t pretend to know about this one, but what I do know is that you miss out culturally if you don’t watch at least some TV once in a while. For example, if you never watched Disney, you’re gonna feel awful lost among all the other Millennials….
- Not being ginger. I could have easily made this about being specifically blonde; however, we all know how that ties back into boring well-known privileges of race and class, so lets go spicy with this one instead. Red-head people are a minority, and treated alternately with fascination and revulsion. How much do us “regular” toned people appreciate how lucky we are compared to our funky crayola-coloured carrot-top friends? Probably not enough.
Now, circling right back to the left-handed thing again, because I haven’t told the full story here.
Yes, it’s a bit depressing to find out your handedness was a slur only 50 years ago, but it doesn’t really affect anything major*, right?
Well, no, unless you live in a country where anti-leftie discrimination and suspicion is still active.
There are young people today from places like Poland or Nigeria who were raised forbidden from writing with their dominant left hand. I know this because I’ve met them, and been blown away. The suspicion is a fun quirky part of history for me, but for them, it’s still reality.
I met a nurse who apologised for her awful handwriting every time she wrote; her left-handedness, and more importantly failure at being adequately right handed, followed her everywhere she went.
Even in the UK, where being a lefty is (almost) a non-issue, she couldn’t just switch hands. She hadn’t built the skills, or the strength.
It’s only silly when it’s not affecting anyone. When the person is right in front of you, the triviality of the difference only makes it more tragic and ridiculous.
There are complicated reasons why some physical or cultural traits make our lives easier or harder to lead. Many of them are to do with perceptions of strength, morality, survival. They might be based on an ancient and skewed history, written by the winners for the winners.
They might be based on misplaced faith in good bodies and bad bodies, on what is worthy and what isn’t. Even more simply, maybe a majority always relates to itself better than a mysterious “other” minority.
I don’t think any privilege is really a joke.
Privilege isn’t something we can necessarily change, but it’s something we can notice. If something’s “weird” about someone, we can ask why.
Is it weird to not have both parents only because it’s the minority? And is it fair to make those people uncomfortable by forcing them to always explain?
Most questions about privilege are about being fair.
If we believe in a world where everyone is equal, it’s obvious we need to let go of our attachment to being different. Let go of deciding between weird and normal. Imagine seeing everyone as an individual, without comparison, not wholly advantaged or disadvantaged by their traits.
The type of world I want to live in is emphatic and equal. Sadly, for many people the idea of a kind world is still the biggest joke.
Thanks for reading!
If you want more like this, check out:
- True Life: I was a SJW University Student
- This Debate is EMBARRASSING: Jordan vs Cathy
- We can Do More Than Punching Nazis
- “The Greta Thunberg Divide” – Bonus Poem