What is privilege and why don’t people realize it?

I would define privilege as the set of benefits given to a group of people, based on race, ethnicity, gender, class or other factors that are not due to an individual’s merit or personal accomplishments. In other words, privilege is what is given to you simply for which groups you may belong to. If this is true, why don’t people realize the unequal benefits that they receive?

I think people are unaware of the privileges that they receive until they are forced to confront the reality that others lack these privileges, or until they are forced to be without these privileges themselves. Privilege is often subtle. For instance, many in my school didn’t accept the existence of white privilege until they discussed that they had never been followed around a store, unlike their black counterparts. In “Whipping Girl,” Serano, whom others formerly identified as a man, transitions into being accepted as a woman. Afterwards she realized “men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby voices when addressing me.” (Whipping Girl, Pg. 222) Though many men might realize that women are treated differently, the extent of their own male privilege cannot be comprehended until they are forced to live without it.

 

What do you guys think?

Serano, Julia. “Experiential Gender.” Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Emeryville, CA: Seal, 2007. 223. Print.

 

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