3 Dec 2012

Privilege lists

Why “Female Privilege List” Is Garbage | Clarissa's Blog

Those who make privilege lists are working from a strange premise.  Sure, some people have privileges, but what does it really mean?  I imagine that in the minds of those who make up these lists it means that the privileged ones OWE something to the unprivileged ones.  It implies a relationship of debt, much like what David Graeber talks about in his recent book:


So, if males are privileged and women are not, this implies that males owe women something.  If it is the other way, the relationship of debt is reversed.  If both men and women have privileges, only of a different sort, then debt flows in both directions and both parties are responsible for covering their debts in relation to the other.

But, honestly, is that what you want? And, if so, why do you want it?

To be owed something by someone means they become effectively your slave.  To concede that one owes another person something means one is in slavery to them -- until such time as the debt is paid off.

Is that what you're after? You don't like men or women, but you think they should work for you?   The relationship becomes ever more binding in this way.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that some people don't manage to glide through turnstiles that lock for the rest of us.  That inconsistency in permissions, that happens when people subconsciously block others, whilst allowing only certain sorts of people to gain most of the power in society, is real.

The thing is, turning to the nearest person who seems to fit the definition of those more often allowed through, and declaring to that person, "You owe me big time!" doesn't seem a useful way to solve the problem of systemic inequalities.

I do think the issue has to be addressed in other, more rational ways.

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