What Is Privilege

Merriam-Webster defines privilege as:

  • a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others ...

  • the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society [1]

In the context of what we're talking about, privileges are normally unconsciously tooltip available bestowed on people by society. Marginalized popover available people are often already pretty aware of the privileges others have but they don't. Even if they don't have the language of privilege to describe them.

I know that in my experience, I could identify privileges in others based on this "I wish I could..." thought pattern.

  • I wish I could just leave the house in sweatpants
  • I wish I could just see any doctor who's cheap
  • I wish I could feel safe walking home at night

Cisgender tooltip available women don't have to worry about being seen as men for wearing something "masculine", or finding a doctor that's already educated about transgender tooltip available healthcare. Cis tooltip available women do also fear walking home at night, but white men popover available typically do not.

These are privileges others have which I lack. I, myself, also have privileges that others lack. I can climb stairs, which gives me access to a lot more buildings than a lot of other disabled people. I'm white, so police and store clerks treat me with a lot more respect and politeness than people of color, at least until they realize I'm a trans tooltip available (but even then, still better than if I were a black trans woman). My white privilege lends a level of protection in society not lent to people of color.

The big thing about privilege is that most people don't even realize popover available what in their life is actually a privilege that they receive, and others don't. To be unaware of your privilege is, itself, a privilege.

There's been plenty of articles about privilege written about how to recognize your own privilege. I'm not here to try and help you understand the experiences of other people, but to describe your own experiences and cope with them. Most of the time, learning what, in your life, is a privilege comes down to learning about the experiences of others, who do not share that privilege. I cannot tell you what it's like to be someone I'm not; I can hardly tell you what it's like to be me. So if you want to learn more about recognizing your own privilege, I'd recommend one of these articles and videos:

[1] “Definition of: Privilege.” Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, October 21, 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/privilege .

[2] Derald Wing Sue. Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010.

[3] Vidal, Ava. “‘Intersectional Feminism’. What the Hell Is It? (And Why You Should Care),” January 15, 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10572435/Intersectional-feminism.-What-the-hell-is-it-And-why-you-should-care.html .