May 18, 2011
a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons
and it’s dawning on me that I have this. It’s a funny thing, when as a woman, as a feminist, I’ve spent so much of my energy fighting for what I deserve (y’know, equal rights, etc.) and it’s taken me this long to really really understand everything I have. Privilege. White privilege. Middle-class privilege. Education privilege. Cisgendered (look that one up here) privilege. Able-bodied privilege…. These are a few of the things that automatically make my life a bit easier than a woman of colour, a woman with disabilities, a woman in poverty, heck most women out there.
At first I felt a bit ashamed. I have high standards for myself and I thought I was more aware than all that. But then I remembered I wrote an article for Muse Feminist Magazine about how one of our contemporary challenges is to help fight to extend all rights for all women in all places… and a small wave of relief washed over me. Maybe I’m not starting from square one. But I still have a lot to learn.
Minimal awareness, where I am now, is just the first step. This needs to deepen and grow to inform my actions and words. Check in with me later to see how that’s working out for me.
In the meantime, here is the backstory. I twigged to the topic of privilege by reading criticism of the new ‘SlutWalk’ movement. On one side it’s a great thing, challenging rape culture, especially as perpetrated by police and dumb and misogynist police speaking in public, on the other hand, it’s being accused of making some groups invisible by ignoring their existing negative experiences of the police and related systems.
In other words, if you have the time and feel safe enough to protest the police on a ‘slut walk’ then you’ve got smaller problems than many other women out there. Follow the link and read the blog. It’s interesting and illuminating. I don’t agree with everything it says but that’s the beauty of opinion. I don’t learn anything from people who’s opinions echo mine.
It made me think. I hope others will too. Visiting the SlutWalk Toronto site I can see that they are listening, learning and engaging in conversations about privilege. I applaud them for their courage to have organised the walk and to engage respectfully in discussion. Not all do so.
I’ll still aim to go to SlutWalkAotearoa: Wellington because I believe that I should use my privilege to make a noise where and when I can. But I will also work to increase my awareness of my own blindspots and assumptions.