The Problem With Privilege…

Howdy, howdy!  Any time something awful happens in the world, after the initial shock wears off, there seems to be an uptick in talk about “privilege” among my Interwebz friends.  I don’t know why.  Awful things happen because people suck, not because they’re privileged.  But still, the debates arise.  Normally, I avoid these conversations and keep my opinions to myself because, frankly, my opinion doesn’t really matter and doesn’t mesh with most of my friends’ opinions.  So, instead of joining the debates on Facebook and Twitter (which almost always devolve into name calling), I thought I would share my thoughts about privilege and my experience with it here.

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I, in fact, do not like to live dangerously, but here it goes

I actually really hate it when people start throwing around the word “privilege.”  It’s not because I don’t believe it exists, but because I don’t believe it’s an insult to the people you’re calling privileged.  Nor is it something to be ashamed of.  A privilege is a good thing.  According to the OED, a privilege is “a right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by an individual, corporation of individuals, etc., beyond the usual rights or advantages of others.”  Why would anyone in their right mind be ashamed of that?  Granted, not everyone has earned these benefits, but be honest… if you received some kind of special treatment from other people, would you feel guilty?  I don’t, and I get a lot of special treatment (cripple privilege is very much a thing).

The word “privilege” is, however, an insult to everyone you’re not including in it.  I’m white, which comes with its own set of privileges according to the people who bandy that word around.  I’m also female, crippled, and not entirely heterosexual.  All of which, according to these same people, make me somehow lesser in the eyes of others.  Don’t get me wrong, these people will tell me that I’m just as good as everyone else, just as good as a straight, white, able bodied male, then they turn around and say that the male has more privilege (read: is treated, and thus viewed as, better by others) because of the way he was born.  That’s a contradiction.  I’ve had this conversation before (oddly enough, never with the straight, white, able males because I’ve never met one with the gall to insinuate I’m lesser to my face) and I really want to tell people to make up their damn minds.  Are we equal or is he (the so-called privileged guy) better?  You can’t have it both ways.

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I also dislike calling people privileged just because they got certain genes, because it gives them a kind of power they don’t deserve.  Everyone deserves respect and courtesy, but that’s because we’re all humans.  Treat people the way you want to be treated until they give you a reason to treat them differently.  Don’t give them special treatment then call them privileged, because at that point they’re just accepting what others are offering them.  Now, if they demand to be treated better than everyone else, they’re entitled asshats.  Entitlement is different from privilege.  Entitlement means they’re assuming they’re special.  Privilege means you’re assuming they’re special.  At least, that’s how I feel about it.

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This is what I think of when they talk about privilege.

I know this post will piss people off, but it’s just my own thoughts.  “Privilege” isn’t something we should feel bad about having.  It’s something that is given to us by other people and it can be taken away.  All the word really does is reinforce the idea that some of us are lesser because of genetics, which is stupid and hurtful.  I think a better phrase to describe people who think they’re privileged is to say they have an unhealthy “sense of entitlement.”  That’s all.

Feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

On Accomplishments and Regrets

Howdy, howdy!  A friend recently sent me a questionnaire she received from a career coach, so that I too could experience the equal parts torture and enlightenment (her words).  I fully admit that I’ve never been able to take things like this seriously.  My answers always range from sarcastic to literal (and occasionally both).  For instance, one of the questions is “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?”  My initial reaction was “Walk!  No, wait… telekinesis!  No… take over the world.  That’s my final answer.”  I mean, if I can’t fail, why not aim big?  But anyway, one of the questions actually managed to get to me: “What accomplishments must, in your opinion, occur during your lifetime so that you will consider your life to have been satisfying and well liveda life of few or no regrets?”  So, I thought I’d answer it here since I don’t know what else to ramble about today.

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If that’s not achievement enough, I don’t know what is.

I suppose this is the kind of question where people write down things like having kids or becoming a CEO of some big company or founding a charity or whatever, which are all  wonderful goals to have, but I don’t think they’re musts.  I actually don’t believe any accomplishment is a must in order to lead a fulfilling life.  For me, that kind of thinking is sad.  I mean, do I hope to publish a bunch of books and become a famous author?  Hell yes.  If I die tomorrow without achieving those goals, does that make my life any less well lived?  No.  I’ll be dead.  I won’t care about that kind of unfinished business.  So, why should I put that kind of pressure on myself while I’m alive?  If I fail, I fail.  It’ll be disappointing, but ultimately, it doesn’t make my whole life unsatisfying.

The accomplishment itself is just the reward at the end of a very long journey.  I believe that journey, with all its little setbacks as well as its forward momentum, is more important than being able to point at a finished project and say “look what I did!”  Don’t get me wrong, achieving a goal feels great, but when you look back at it, you remember the path you took to get there more than the moment of completion.  At least, I do.  As long as the good parts outweigh the bad and as long as I know I’m trying, then I consider my life a success whether I have anything to show for it or not.

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Success is awesome, but don’t forget the rest of this stuff.

As far as regrets go, I think they’re useless and that’s probably what bugged me the most about the question.  I’m not going to have a bunch of regrets simply because I fail to accomplish my goals.  If I’m trying my best, why would I regret that?  I suppose when most of the things you would change about your past are out of your control, it puts all potential regrets in perspective.  Are there things I wish I could’ve done differently?  Yeah.  Would I have actually done them differently?  No, because then I wouldn’t become the person I am now.  Plus, my experiences that led me to those decisions would be the same, so the likelihood of me making different choices even if I had a do-over are slim to none.  So why worry about it at all?  Regrets change nothing.

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Because Uta no Prince-sama.

I guess maybe I’m weird to not worry about big accomplishments.  Or maybe it’s part of the whole cripple privilege thing that I can focus on other things without people judging me and making me feel like I’m wrong (not that I’d care what they thought anyway).  Or maybe I just worry more about the every day stuff than I should.  But to me, being happy, enjoying life, and knowing that I’m trying my best are more important than actual success (not that accomplishments aren’t exciting and fulfilling).  What about you?  How would you answer the question?

Growing Up Cripple

Hi all!  I really had no idea what to blog about, so I procrastinated for a while with the help of social media, and that’s when I noticed something strange.  I’ve seen a lot of “growing up” hashtags on Twitter (growing up a girl, growing up black, etc.), but there isn’t a hashtag for growing up cripple.  Yeah, you can find growing up disabled and growing up in a wheelchair, but they’re few and far between (plus, they’re mostly depressing).  Since I’m not all that Twitter adept (140 characters just isn’t enough), I decided to blog about it.

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It’s me! According to the copywrite date, I was four. I used to be so cute. What happened?

People act like growing up anything but a straight, white, able, cis, male puts you at some kind of disadvantage (cue the “privileged” arguments), but I disagree.  Growing up, I never really felt like my crippleness put me at a real disadvantage or made me any less of a person.  Don’t get me wrong, back then and to this day I’ve encountered people who seem to think I’m invisible, people who actually cross the street when they see me (I’m not contagious, I swear!  Though, I do bite.), people who say or ask less than intelligent things, and the like, but I learned quickly that that was their problem, not mine.  Just because some people are idiots doesn’t mean their behavior is in any way my fault.

Were things ever more difficult than they should’ve been?  Yeah, of course!  I mean, when stairs and curbs are your mortal enemies, you’re going to run into problems.  Luckily, I was raised in a family where finding ways around obstacles was a challenge readily accepted.  Can’t reach your mouth with that fork?  Let’s tape a plastic one to a skewer!  Can’t reach the keyboard with your right hand?  Try this backscratcher!  Keep getting stuck in the mud out back?  Let’s build a deck!  And the list goes on and on.

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Prom. I designed the dress and Mom made it.
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High school graduation. Most of the immediate family.

Granted, the whole stuck in a chair thing also makes outings much more annoying (no, it’s not just something that affects home life), but it doesn’t stop me.  That’s one thing Dallas has going for it, most places are accessible at least to a point (SMU, I’m looking at you when I say “to a point”), so I go to clubs and concerts and out to eat and to cons and renfests and all of that delightful stuff.  You want to talk about privilege?  Try being a cripple at clubs and cons and such.  I was raised never to expect special treatment, but you’d be surprised how often places offer front of the line privileges among other stuff (and who am I to turn such thoughtfulness down?).  Let’s see the straight, white, able, cis dude get that kind of treatment on a regular basis… I think not.

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I miss my purple hair. And the red hair. And the teal. You get the idea.

Anyway, I guess my point is that life is what you make of it.  Yes, my crippleness makes life a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s the hand I was dealt.  I’m not inspirational (though I kindly thank those who think I am, because they’re being nice when they say that kind of stuff).  I’m simply living my life.  Life is hard, but do you want to know a secret?  Everyone has problems (even that privileged white guy).  You can either deal with your own issues and try to live happily for the most part, or you can focus on all the bad and be miserable forever.  It’s your battle.  No one can fight it for you.