Be Careful of Taking the Easy Road Out

Tonight I want to talk about the concept of privilege. I was going to blog about this on Fat Heffalump but on further thought I think it’s about more than just fat discrimination. It’s about any kind of discrimination or prejudice.

Let’s start with a definition.
privilege: A special advantage, immunity, permission, right or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual class or caste.
The context I am talking about today is the idea that any member of a majority has privilege over the minority, and therefore cannot understand, criticise or challenge that minority in their thinking.
I’m going to probably make myself quite unpopular here, but that’s ok, I’m used to it. But I really think too many people use the concept of privilege as a cop out when it comes to discussions and debates.
While I do think the concept of privilege is valid, and sometimes yes, someone who is particularly close minded and cloistered in their privilege is never going to get it. But I think all too often those who feel marginalised and are unable to articulate their point just throw their hands up and state “Oh I can’t get through to you, you’re coming from privilege.”
When the truth is, they either want out of the discussion, or don’t have a valid argument to continue it. It is often used as the metaphorical equivalent of taking your bat and ball and going home.
Perhaps I see this because technically I live on both sides of the privilege. I am a fat woman, so I do not have privilege on my side in that aspect. But I am also a Christian in Western society, which technically does put me in privilege.
So I’ve seen it from both sides of the fence so to speak. As I said, I do believe there are instances when people just simply cannot understand or they use their privilege to silence those in the minority. But I think that those of us who are in the minority for whatever reason need to be very careful about how we use the cry of privilege.
Do we we really want to end up being the boys and girls who cried wolf?

August 29, 2009. debate, definitions, discrimination, discussion, privilege.

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