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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Check your privilege

Three recent conversations had me realising that often we get so blinded by our confirmation bias, that we're unable to recognise our own sets of privilege. Two of the three conversations left me wanting to just slap those folks upside the head while saying "Check your privilege." The other was a reminder to myself that I too have moments where I need to check my privilege.

I look at privilege as being intertwined in terms of gender, class and race. So you could be privileged in terms of gender, but not in class or race...or really in any combination of the three.

The first conversation was me trying to explain to another women that by her desire for equal rights she is a feminist. She did admit that she was talking about the one extreme view of it when she labled herself as not a feminist. But the difficulty in the conversation for me was that she could not see that the system was designed to promote and take care of certain people - white, and male - and that the only way we will get it right is to change the system. And yes, that does mean you need to push for people of colour and women.

Her view, is that it's always supposed to be the best person for the job gets the job. Something I agree with. But the problem is that often the pool is narrowed to only pick the best from a selected group, and not all. And so the conversation went on in a repeating loop of the same variation, with both of us agreeing to disagree. Only I feel that in being able to firmly stick to equal rights in that form, it does speak to the privilege that the person who argues for that has.

I didn't really partake in the second conversation, so much as observed it. Two women who I follow on twitter were talking about how they don't understand people who rent once they leave university. They were of the opinion, buy small, fix and sell. For some that is a way of life that works. But the hangup for me was the after university portion. A lot of students leave university - or other forms of tertiary education - with massive amounts of student debt. Debt which needs to be paid off before you can consider bigger lifestyle decisions. So again for me, it reeked of "Check your privilege". Not everyone has their studies fully funded in some form. Not everyone manages to get the right kind of employment post studies. Just because some were fortunate enough to have things work out for them that way, doesn't mean you can apply that logic to all.

The third one was reminder to myself, that although there are instances where the system doesn't necessarily work for me, given that I'm a coloured female; I have had some advantages and have some class privilege. We have some gaming acquaintances from public games at a FLGS. One recently married couple are having a baby in June. I was chatting to the mom-to-be and asking her how the check-ups are going - I found the 13 week one to be anxiety inducing until they gave the all clear. She mentioned going to a government hospital for it, and being told that they don't do those.

And that was just a big slap upside the head, telling me that I need to check my privilege. When I was pregnant there was no question of having or not having tests. There was no going to a government hospital for check-ups, we just paid what we needed to see a gynae.

So yes, we all get blinded by our confirmation bias. And we need to remember that those we are surrounded by don't show the entire picture. Check your privilege.



  6 comments:

  1. So many valid points! Especially with regards to the privilege of medical aid (because it is a privilege) and being able to buy your own house. Well said!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nikki. It is scary just how much we take for granted.

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  2. I can so relate, especially with the "buy your property after varsity" debate. This grates me on so many levels, not least of which is the self-satisfaction of people who think that their university degree makes them somehow superior to others. (Yes, that's a chip on my shoulder - got somethin' to say 'bout it? Back off or I'll cut you, bitch!) Also, what if where you live right now is affordable and convenient but not where you want to be tied down, long term? What about unpredictable property markets - so many people buy and fix up properties, spending copious amounts of money only to find that they've over invested in a property they then cannot sell for a decent price afterwards? What about people who simply don't want to buy other people's badly designed properties and would rather build up reserves and set themselves up for longer term financial freedom and then BUILD the home of their dreams? And who the fuck wants to do and have the same as everybody else does, anyway? The very fact of some people's naivete in this regard reeks of privileged ignorance! *end rant*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me the buy property thing also only speaks to a certain type of lifestyle. Not everyone wants to own. Agreed, why does everyone need to be the same. And yes, thinking that everyone wants/must do things the same way does indicate privilege.

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  3. I'm guilty of the scan one too. I had a high risk pregnancy and saw the dr quite regularly and got a scan at every single appointment. I realised I was privileged when I found out you get 2 scans! Just 2 scans in 40 weeks at government hospitals! The things we take for granted!

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    Replies
    1. It is very scary. And only 2 scans at a government hospital is ridiculous, we can't improve our maternal and child mortality rates with that kind of service.

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