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!

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.