I’m sick of the word privilege. It’s turned from something that was supposed to help us to quickly illuminate the differences between a non-privileged group and a privileged group.
If you’re from a non-privileged group you know the differences. You know the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which you’re treated differently because of some aspect of your being. The privileged person often does not know of them, does not see them, does not realize that they live under different rules in a different playing field than a non-privileged person.
The concept of privilege was invented for the privileged. It is they who need to be shown the differences, and instead of every non-privileged person having to individually explain how their treatment in life differs, there are lists and posts drawn up for the sole purpose of illustrating things that privileged people take for granted as available to everyone.
That’s not how I see it being used now. Instead, it’s simply become a divisive wedge between marginalized groups. Something to use to shut up other people or groups that are saying something you disagree with or dislike. The concept of privilege has become a distraction from our goals.
What are our goals? What are my goals? My goals are a society where people of any (a)/sexual orientation can be treated as equal and normal. A society where people are not shamed for their sexuality, and that includes people that are kinky or poly. What is the point in seeking to build a society where it’s okay to be homosexual but if you like, say, being tied up, well that’s immoral and disgusting? We don’t seek our goals in spite of other groups. We have to seek our goals with other groups because to do otherwise is to build a world that is exactly the same except that we get to be the privileged ones.
Passing privilege. Vanilla Privilege. Sexual or Asexual Privilege.
Let’s talk about Passing Privilege, for instance. This is one of the nastiest ones I’ve seen, where people use this concept to erase people’s ethnicity and sexuality. “You can be mistaken for white, or straight, or sexual? Well you have that privileged group’s privilege, because people treat you as such!”
Which is missing the point. Why do people pass in the first place? If a woman uses skin lighteners and can pass as white, does this change the fact that she grew up in a world where there was gain in hiding her natural coloring? Does this change the disregard she sees for people of her race? Do years of being treated as inferior by society suddenly disappear?
Just because people don’t realize you’re black, or gay, does not make you immune from feeling their scorn, or feeling shame for who you are. Instead of examining the differences in the treatment people received based on how they’re perceived by other members of society, let’s tell “passing” POC that they aren’t allowed to discuss racism that they’ve experienced. Heck, they don’t deserve to call themselves POC, do they? They’re appropriating that racial designation! They should label themselves as white, since some people think they are.
Now, the idea that bi, pan, and asexual people have passing privilege is interesting to me. The argument I have seen for bi people’s passing privilege is that when they are dating a member of the opposite sex they are read as straight.
I get read as straight too-but I’m not dating a member of the opposite sex. I’m just affectionate with my brother when I’m out in public, and I was pretty surprised when one of my relatives, trying to get in contact with me, had learned that I lived with my boyfriend. I don’t. I don’t have a boyfriend. I live with my brother. My neighbors think I’m a straight lady. Ha!
I also get read as gay. Because, you guessed it, I’m a huggy-cuddly person with my sister too, and we live together, and people mistake us for a couple.
Basically, I don’t really understand how asexuals and bisexuals and pansexuals supposedly have such an easier time passing for straight. It seems like anyone can pass for straight if they want to. In regards to asexuals-we’re more often mistaken for gay because of our lack of interest in the opposite sex. Heck, a lot of asexuals even get mistaken as gay by LGBTQ people who think we’re just ashamed or repressed or whatnot.
Back to privilege-bashing now. Did you know being a disprivileged group was a rare, in-demand commodity? Yep. See, if you acknowledge that there’s one more disprivileged group out there, it diminishes the importance of your own disprivileged group! Your problems are trivialized and your goals less important because there is another group out there that has problems and goals. /sarcasm
So for instance, if we believe that there is sexual privilege, and that asexuals are disprivileged, then LGBTQ people’s problems are less important. Give up, we’ll never win the struggle for equal marriage rights now that Asexuals’ goals are existent. [sarcasm warning yet again for those with broken sarcasm-meters]
As much as I’d like to live in an ideal world where I could bring up the idea of sexual privilege and have sexuals thoughtfully and considerately ponder the possibility, I don’t live in that world. I live in a world where asexuals who ask the question get harassed and demeaned, treated as homophobes and get to enjoy having their (a)sexuality attacked and erased. I live in a world where the concept of privilege has divided me from groups who’s goals are largely the same as mine. I live in a world where I am not free to ask the question of potential privilege, because to do so is to incite attack. I live in a world where the concept of privilege has become just a weapon and a silencing technique.
I don’t care who’s privileged anymore. I have goals to accomplish, and that’s what my time is for.