I’ve said a few times why i hate this term. I’ve been reading bits and bobs on the internet tonight and i’ve seen it dotted about. It makes me seethe and i think i’ve realised some reasons why.
One of the reasons it makes me cringe and rather cross is the idea that if someone doesn’t share something, or someone doesn’t make public their difficulties, that they haven’t anything to share, that nothing bad has happened or is happening to them. Well that’s possibly true, of course, but it’s possibly bullshit too. A fine example of this is in rape threads when some nasty person uses ‘privilege’ to shut a man up. How do they know that man, that individual, has not been raped? They don’t. Does that person have to share that intimate piece of information to be taken seriously? Or can we perhaps, you know, just be adults and realise that all of us, whether we’ve been raped or we haven’t, have a right to air an opinion or share an experience, or make a suggestion, or keep something secret?
This brings me on to another annoyance with it… The idea that those poor, deprived and hard done to people lacking in whatever priviege have all shared THE SAME reaction, experience, fear that all the other people have. Your parents are divorced? You’ve lost a brother? You’ve been in a terrorist attack? You’ve been homeless? You’re only a woman? That doesn’t mean you speak for all others who’ve done (or are) the same, it doesn’t mean you experience the same now, it doesn’t mean you got over it in the same way (or that you even needed to!). Sure, sharing things with people who’ve been through the same shit can be helpful to gain further understanding, but it is also true that sometimes you can meet people who’ve been through the same thing you have and you feel very very differently to them. One of you may see the thing as terrible and the other one just as something bad, but not as bad as something else and others as simply a fact about themself as much as the school they went to, or the colour of their hair.
Then this brings me on to another thing i dislike. It’s like there is a hierarchy of bad stuff. I don’t know where it starts and where it ends, but it might start with something like being His Royal Highness Sir Bill Gates and end up with something akin to an ethiopian polar bear who has been gang raped and then contracted mumps. I dunno, i don’t make these lists. See i reckon anyone able to type the word, probably is themself quite “privileged” and should stfu about it all.
Now all this said, i’m not suggesting that everyone’s opinions are equal and are all equally valid. If someone were to ask me my opinion on how we should solve homelessness, well i’d be a bit flummoxed. The ironic thing is there are people in my family who have been homeless, but whatever. I’ve not been. I’ve not looked into it. I’ve not worked in that industry. I’ve not thought about it in enough detail to come up with any answers. But i don’t think that just because someone lives in a detached country cottage in some beautiful English county and has possibly voted Conservative all their life that they’re automatically out of the conversation, you know? And to me that’s the crux of this whole thing. In using this word ‘privilege’ to throw those out of the discussion who may not have had such shit things happen to them (or may not wish to disclose their experiences), we may well be throwing out those who do have good ideas, or things to share, or even an opinion, a valid opinion. We’re certainly shutting out voices, and i can’t see that as a good thing, even if the voice is a different one to our own.
I’ve shared it before, but i’ll share it again… When you say ‘privilege’, this is what i hear…